Compare Valium vs. Ativan

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

Valium
(Diazepam)

Ativan
(Lorazepam)

Helps you relax. Valium (Diazepam) is okay for occasional or short-term use (up to 4 weeks) for anxiety and for pain and sleeplessness from muscle spasm. Less severe withdrawal symptoms compared to similar drugs.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.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
5.115466101694915Valium
Reviews for Valium (Diazepam)
69%
of people say Valium (Diazepam) is worth it
52%
say it works well
16%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Ativan (Lorazepam)
70%
+1% vs. Valium (Diazepam)
50%
2% vs. Valium (Diazepam)
15%
+1% vs. Valium (Diazepam)
Side effects
ValiumAtivan

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

More about Valium side effects »

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

More about Ativan side effects »
How it works
ValiumAtivan
Valium (Diazepam) is a fast-acting benzodiazepine. It affects neurotransmitters in the brain and calms the nervous system. This reduces anxiety and muscle spasms, and causes sleepiness.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.
Type of medication
ValiumAtivan
Anti-anxiety
Benzodiazepine
Prescription only
Anti-anxiety
Benzodiazepine
Prescription only
Available as
ValiumAtivan
  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • Rectal gel
  • Pill
  • Liquid
Used for (click to learn more)
ValiumAtivan
Risk factors for serious side effects
ValiumAtivan
  • 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
      • Current liver problems
      Detailed Valium (Diazepam) risks & warnings »
      • 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 »
          Pregnancy category
          ValiumAtivan
          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.
          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 Valium (Diazepam) 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.
          • 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.
          Weight
          No specific weight-related info.No specific weight-related info.
          Upsides and benefits
          ValiumAtivan
          • Effective at relieving muscle spasms caused by a variety of conditions.
          • Less severe withdrawal symptoms compared to other benzodiazepines.
          • Effective at relieving short-term anxiety and sleeplessness.
          • 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).
          • Less likely to have drug interactions compared to other benzodiazepines, so it might be a better option if you're taking multiple medications.
          • Effective at relieving short-term anxiety and sleeplessness.
          • 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
          ValiumAtivan
          • 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.
          • Most people find that it gets less effective over time.
          • Compared to other benzodiazepines, more likely to cause withdrawal if you take it for a long time and then stop suddenly.
          • 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.
          • Most people find that it gets less effective over time.
          Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
          ValiumAtivan
          • Starts working in 30 minutes when swallowed.
          • Helpful with muscle spasms.
          • Good for short-term relief of anxiety symptoms.
          • Can cause temporary dizziness and drowsiness.
          • Addictive. Long-term use can cause dependence or abuse.
          • Not safe to use with alcohol.
          • Starts working in 45 minutes when swallowed.
          • Starts working in 10 to 20 minutes when dissolved under your tongue.
          • Good for short-term relief of anxiety symptoms.
          • 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 ValiumSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
          More about AtivanSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert