Medical Specialty >> Pharmacy

Doctors Lounge - Pharmacy Answers

Back to Pharmacy Answers List

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Doctors Lounge ( does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the Site.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician. Please read our 'Terms and Conditions of Use' carefully before using this site.

Date of last update: 9/5/2017.

Forum Name: Pharmacy & Drug Topics

Question: Ativan compared to xanax

 jmasterson - Mon Apr 02, 2007 2:19 pm

Hello, I am a 20 year old male who has been prescribed .5mg ativan pills for anxiety management. I usually don't need to take them more than three times a week so my doctor thought it would be fine for me to take them long-term. Anyway they do help with the anxiety but they also make me tired for a while. I have heard that Xanax is also very effective for managing anxiety. I was wondering if a psychiatrist (or any other expert) could explain to me the difference in the effects of Xanax as compared to Ativan. Also, would Xanax make me tired like Ativan does?
 Carolyn Merritt, LPN - Sun Apr 08, 2007 12:46 am

User avatar Dear jmasterson:
Ativan is in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines that is often prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, and seizures.
Ativan is used to relieve anxiety, nervousness, and tension associated with anxiety disorders. It is also used to treat certain types of seizure disorders and to relieve insomnia (induce sleep).
Ativan may be habit forming. Physical and/or psychological dependence can occur, and withdrawal effects are possible if the medication is stopped suddenly after prolonged or high-dose treatment.

Xanax is a tranquilizer used in the short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety or the treatment of anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorder is marked by unrealistic worry or excessive fears and concerns. Anxiety associated with depression is also responsive to Xanax.

Xanax is also used in the treatment of panic disorder, which appears as unexpected panic attacks and may be accompanied by a fear of open or public places called agoraphobia.
Tolerance and dependence can occur with the use of Xanax. You may experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop using the drug or reduce the dosage too quickly.

While both drugs can have a sedating affect, Ativan tends to cause sedation more often in patients.
You need to discuss with your doctor which medication would be beneficial in your case.
Best Wishes,
Carolyn LPN
 psisci - Fri Apr 13, 2007 11:39 am

I agree with Carolyn.

Ativan and Xanax act in a very similar fashion in the CNS both being benzodiazepines. Ativan has a longer t1/2(half-life), and stays in the body longer. Xanax is generally quicker acting, but more prone to abuse.

Scott Wylie, Psy.D.
Medical Psychologist

| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us