Compare Ativan vs. Xanax

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Ativan
(Lorazepam)

Xanax
(Alprazolam)

Helps you relax. Ativan (Lorazepam) is okay for occasional or short-term use (up to 4 weeks) for anxiety and sleep. Less likely to have drug interactions, but more likely to cause withdrawal symptoms compared to similar drugs.Helps you relax. Xanax (Alprazolam) is okay for occasional or short-term use (up to 4 weeks) for anxiety, and longer-term for panic attacks. More likely to cause withdrawal symptoms compared to similar drugs.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
5.1035598705501615Ativan
Reviews for Ativan (Lorazepam)
70%
of people say Ativan (Lorazepam) is worth it
50%
say it works well
15%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Xanax (Alprazolam)
74%
+4% vs. Ativan (Lorazepam)
55%
+5% vs. Ativan (Lorazepam)
13%
+2% vs. Ativan (Lorazepam)
Side effects
AtivanXanax

The Ativan FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about Ativan side effects »
  • Drowsiness 34%
  • Impaired coordination 22%
  • Slurred speech 17%
  • Memory impairment 11%
  • Constipation 11%
  • Increased appetite 10%
  • Weight gain 9%
  • Cognitive disorder 8%
  • Decreased libido 6%
  • Fatigue and tiredness 6%
More Xanax side effects »
How it works
AtivanXanax
Ativan (Lorazepam) is a fast-acting benzodiazepine. It affects neurotransmitters in the brain and calms the nervous system. This reduces anxiety and can cause sleepiness.Xanax (Alprazolam) is a fast-acting benzodiazepine. It affects neurotransmitters in the brain and calms the nervous system. This reduces anxiety and can cause sleepiness.
Type of medication
AtivanXanax
Anti-anxiety
Benzodiazepine
Prescription only
Anti-anxiety
Benzodiazepine
Prescription only
Available as
AtivanXanax
  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Liquid
Used for (click to learn more)
AtivanXanax
Risk factors for serious side effects
AtivanXanax
  • Taking more than the prescribed dose
  • Taking longer than 4 weeks
  • History of drug abuse
  • Long-term use
    • Alcohol
    • Taking other medicines that make you less alert
      Detailed Ativan (Lorazepam) risks & warnings »
      • History of drug abuse
      • Taking with alcohol or drugs
      • Taking more than 4 mg/day or longer than 12 weeks
      • Stopping Xanax (Alprazolam) suddenly
      • Severely depressed
      • Taking with alcohol or drugs
      • First trimester of pregnancy
      • Current liver problems
      Detailed Xanax (Alprazolam) risks & warnings »
      Pregnancy category
      AtivanXanax
      DFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

      Research studies with real people found harmful effects on unborn babies, but the benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

      See the FDA package insert
      DFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

      Research studies with real people found harmful effects on unborn babies, but the benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

      See the FDA package insert
      Alcohol
      • Can be habit-forming, so it's not typically used for long-term treatment, or for people who've had problems with drug or alcohol abuse.
      • Not safe to use with alcohol.
      • Can be habit-forming, so it's not typically used for long-term treatment, or for people who've had problems with drug or alcohol abuse.
      • Not safe to use with alcohol.
      • Xanax (Alprazolam) has a risk of physical and psychological dependence. The risk is greater if you take more than 4 mg per day or use it longer than 12 weeks. Decreasing the dose or stopping the medication can make panic attacks and anxiety come back just as bad or worse than before starting treatment, or cause withdrawal symptoms including seizures, confusion, muscle cramps and twitching, diarrhea, and blurred vision. The risk of seizures is greatest 24 to 72 hours after the last dose. Get help from a doctor to increase your dose or discontinue treatment; it's dangerous to do so on your own. Don't use alcohol or drugs while taking Xanax (Alprazolam).
      Food
      No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
      Kidneys and liver
      No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
      Sex
      No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
      Sleep
      • Can cause memory problems, drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion.
      • Can cause temporary dizziness and drowsiness.
      • Stopping Ativan (Lorazepam) suddenly may cause withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, agitation, flu-like symptoms, trouble sleeping, and muscle pain or burning. Withdrawal symptoms can last 6 weeks or longer. Work with your doctor to gradually reduce your dose.
      • Can cause memory problems, drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion.
      • Can cause temporary dizziness and drowsiness.
      Weight
      No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
      Upsides and benefits
      AtivanXanax
      • Effective at relieving short-term anxiety and sleeplessness.
      • Less likely to have drug interactions compared to other benzodiazepines, so it might be a better option if you're taking multiple medications.
      • Can be used together with antidepressants to manage anxiety disorders. Especially helpful for anxiety symptoms while you wait for an antidepressant to kick in (it can take several weeks).
      • Effective at relieving short-term anxiety.
      • Effective longer-term for panic attacks.
      • Can be used together with antidepressants to manage anxiety disorders. Especially helpful for anxiety symptoms while you wait for an antidepressant to kick in (it can take several weeks).
      Downsides and risks
      AtivanXanax
      • Most people find that it gets less effective over time.
      • Can cause memory problems, drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion.
      • Can be habit-forming, so it's not typically used for long-term treatment, or for people who've had problems with drug or alcohol abuse.
      • Compared to other benzodiazepines, more likely to cause withdrawal if you take it for a long time and then stop suddenly.
      • Processed by the liver, so might not be the best choice if you have liver problems.
      • Can cause memory problems, drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion.
      • Can be habit-forming, so it's not typically used for long-term treatment, or for people who've had problems with drug or alcohol abuse.
      • Compared to other benzodiazepines, more likely to cause withdrawal if you take it for a long time and then stop suddenly.
      Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
      AtivanXanax
      • Starts working in 10 to 20 minutes when dissolved under your tongue.
      • Good for short-term relief of anxiety symptoms.
      • Starts working in 45 minutes when swallowed.
      • Can cause temporary dizziness and drowsiness.
      • Addictive. Long-term use can cause dependence or abuse.
      • Not safe to use with alcohol.
      • Good for short-term relief of anxiety symptoms.
      • Starts working in 45 minutes when swallowed.
      • Can cause temporary dizziness and drowsiness.
      • Addictive. Long-term use can cause dependence or abuse.
      • Not safe to use with alcohol.
      Learn more
      More about AtivanSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
      More about XanaxSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert