Compare Xanax vs. Ativan

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

Xanax
(alprazolam)

Ativan
(lorazepam)

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.Helps you relax. Ativan (lorazepam) is an effective medicine for occasional or short-term anxiety. It's less likely to have drug interactions, but more likely to cause withdrawal symptoms compared to similar drugs.
Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
5.35Xanax
Reviews for Xanax
74%
of people (All ages) say Xanax is worth it
55%
say it works well
13%
say it's a big hassle
1287 reviews
Have you used Xanax (alprazolam)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Reviews for Ativan
71%
+3% better vs. Xanax
51%
+4% better vs. Xanax
15%
+2% better vs. Xanax
642 reviews
Have you used Ativan (lorazepam)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
XanaxAtivan
  • Drowsiness 34%
  • Fatigue and tiredness 6%
  • Impaired coordination 23%
  • Irritability 3%
  • Memory impairment 11%
  • Increased appetite 10%
More Xanax side effects »
  • Sleepiness 16%
  • Dizziness 7%
  • Weakness 4%
  • Unsteadiness 3%
More Ativan side effects »
How it works
XanaxAtivan
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.Ativan (lorazepam) is a fast-acting benzodiazepine. It affects areas of the brain that help calm you down. This reduces anxiety and can cause sleepiness.
Type of medication
XanaxAtivan
Prescription onlyPrescription only
Available as
XanaxAtivan
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Liquid
  • Injection
Used for
XanaxAtivan
Risk factors for serious side effects
XanaxAtivan
  • 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
Detailed Xanax (alprazolam) risks & warnings »
  • Taking with opioids
  • Taking more than the prescribed dose
  • Taking Ativan (lorazepam) for longer than 4 weeks
  • History of drug abuse
  • Long-term use
Detailed Ativan (lorazepam) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy

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.

Interactions
XanaxAtivan
No interactions related info.
  • Less likely to have drug interactions compared to other drugs like it, so it might be a better option if you're taking multiple medications.
Alcohol
XanaxAtivan
  • 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.
  • 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.
Kidneys and liver
XanaxAtivan
  • Processed by the liver, so might not be the best choice if you have liver problems.
No kidneys and liver related info.
Sleep
XanaxAtivan
  • Can cause temporary dizziness and drowsiness.
  • Can cause memory problems, drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion.
  • Can cause temporary dizziness and drowsiness.
  • Can cause memory problems, drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion.
Upsides and benefits
XanaxAtivan
  • 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).
  • Effective at relieving short-term anxiety.
  • Can be used together with antidepressants to manage anxiety disorders. Especially helpful for anxiety symptoms while you wait for an antidepressant to kick in.
  • Less likely to have drug interactions compared to other drugs like it, so it might be a better option if you're taking multiple medications.
Downsides and risks
XanaxAtivan
  • 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.
  • 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 similar medicines, Ativan (lorazepam) is more likely to cause withdrawal if you take it for a long time and then suddenly stop.
  • Most people find that Ativan (lorazepam) gets less effective over time.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
XanaxAtivan
  • 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.
  • Can cause temporary dizziness and drowsiness.
  • Take only as much as your doctor prescribes. Taking more than directed or taking this for a long time can cause you to become dependent on it.
  • Not safe to use with alcohol.
  • Use caution or avoid use in older adults.
Learn more
More about XanaxSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Xanax (alprazolam)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about AtivanSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Ativan (lorazepam)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it