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 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
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
5.35Xanax
Reviews for Xanax (Alprazolam)
74%
of people (All ages) say Xanax (Alprazolam) 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 (Lorazepam)
71%
3% vs. Xanax (Alprazolam)
51%
4% vs. Xanax (Alprazolam)
15%
2% vs. Xanax (Alprazolam)
642 reviews
Have you used Ativan (Lorazepam)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
XanaxAtivan

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

More about Xanax 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
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 neurotransmitters in the brain and calms the nervous system. This reduces anxiety and can cause sleepiness.
Type of medication
XanaxAtivan
Anti-anxiety
Benzodiazepine
Prescription only
Anti-anxiety
Benzodiazepine
Prescription only
Available as
XanaxAtivan
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Dissolving tablet
  • Liquid
  • Pill
  • Liquid
Used for (click to learn more)
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 risks & warnings »
  • Taking more than the prescribed dose
  • Taking longer than 4 weeks
  • History of drug abuse
  • Long-term use
  • Alcohol
Detailed 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.

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 benzodiazepines, so it might be a better option if you're taking multiple medications.
Alcohol
XanaxAtivan
  • 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.
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 memory problems, drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion.
  • Can cause temporary dizziness and drowsiness.
  • Can cause memory problems, drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion.
  • Can cause temporary dizziness and drowsiness.
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 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).
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.
  • 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.
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.
  • 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.
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