Xanax vs Lorazepam: Which is Better For Anxiety And Panic Attacks?

Which benzodiazepine is best for panic disorder and panic attacks?

Anxiety disorder is a serious issue. If you have had a panic attack, you know how scary they can be. You may have felt like you were about to die. You couldn’t breathe, you had chest pains, and you felt a sense of impending doom. If you ended up in the ER, the doctor may have prescribed a benzodiazepine to help relax you and take away the anxiety symptoms. Alprazolam, lorazepam, clonazepam, and diazepam are examples of meds in this family. Which one do ER docs prefer? It depends on the doctor’s training and experience. 

The doctor prescribed Ativan (lorazepam) for my anxiety. Will it work?

You may only be familiar with a few of the benzodiazepine drugs. Most people know Xanax and Valium. Others, such as Klonopin and Ativan are less known. However, psychiatrists and family doctors may prefer them. Their reasons may be because certain drugs in the benzodiazepine class are longer lasting and less associated with abuse. Unfortunately, Xanax and Valium have a long and well-known history of being associated with drug abuse.

Are the side effects of Ativan worse than those of Xanax?

Actually, the side effects of the two drugs are very similar. If you take either for anxiety disorder, you will know that benzodiazepines cause drowsiness. Doctors and pharmacists, as well as the FDA, recommend that you do not drive or use heavy machinery while taking one of these oral tablets for panic disorder and general anxiety disorder. Also, there is the risk of physical dependence and suffering from withdrawal symptoms if you take the medication long-term. If you read the literature on these benzodiazepines, you will see that they essentially have the same list of side effects.

Which one works as a better sedative?

If you are wondering about which of the two drugs, Xanax or Ativan, works better for sleep, you may be interested to know that there are other benzodiazepines that have FDA approval for use as sleeping aids. There are Restoril and Halcion, for example. Xanax is typically not prescribed for sleep. Ativan is sometimes prescribed for sleeping problems, but it would definitely not be the doctor’s first choice of drugs. Also, because of the side effects and long-term risks of these drugs, doctors recommend that you do not take them for long as sleeping aids. Typically, a short-term treatment of two weeks or less is a common length of therapy.

If I quit taking alprazolam or Lorazepam, are the withdrawal symptoms dangerous?

Due to the effects on the central nervous system, the withdrawal symptoms of drugs, such as Ativan and Xanax, and also Klonopin, Valium and other benzodiazepines, can be dangerous and even life-threatening. It is possible to have a seizure as a result of abruptly stopping these drugs. A seizure can be a deadly consequence of withdrawal. Otherwise, withdrawal symptoms can include rebound anxiety and insomnia. Because of the fact that benzodiazepines do have serious side effects, stopping these drugs should be done carefully under the care of a doctor.

What are other concerning side effects of Xanax and Ativan?

Memory problems can occur with excess use of these drugs. if you find that you are having trouble remembering things while taking Xanax or Ativan, tell your doctor immediately. It is important to always tell your doctor about the side effects of medications, even common side effects.

So, which is better for anxiety? Ativan or Xanax?

There is no definite winner in this competition. Both benzodiazepines work well for anxiety, though there are better choices for initial treatment in many cases. Also, it is important to seek therapy with a psychologist. Therapy is often the best choice of long-term treatment for anxiety disorders. As far as the choice of medications in medical treatment for anxiety, this is a topic for you to discuss with your doctor who will determine which treatment will work best for you.

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