Benzodiazepines are used for the management of anxieties. These meds are also taken for a few other types of mental conditions such as panic attacks, mania, restlessness as well as being sleepless. Drugs like these bind with a few receptor-spots of the brain. In sum, the active ingredients are known to calm you. Of such drugs, Xanax and Ativan are most widely used to treat anxieties. These are commonly administered as a second line treatment option. In other words, when first line options are not available these are used instead. But, what are the differences between these two drugs?

Anxiety is a mental condition which can have far-reaching effects on your overall wellbeing. You may witness a disturbed sleep cycle, inability to remain calm and these may also affect your gastric health; in most cases, people living with anxieties lose their appetite. The food and drug administration (FDA) has a list of drugs approved for such mental conditions. Among these drugs, Xanax and Ativan are quite popular meds.

What is Xanax?

Xanax is used for the treatment of anxiety related disorders. This med needs only a shorter time to start working. In terms of hours, the remedial effects may show up in less than 1 hour. Owing to this, the calming effect (triggered by the sedative nature of this med) may show up sooner than most other drugs in this genre. Moreover, the effects of this med may vary across races of people. For example, among people of Asian origin / descent – the effects of this med is seen to last for a longer time.

What is Ativan?

This med is branded counterpart of lorazepam. Ativan is very similar to Xanax on multiple counts such as mechanism of action, etc. However, there are a few structural dissimilarities in between them. As a result, the effects of these two meds can vary sizably. For instance, Ativan takes more than 2 hours for the effects to show up as against an hour for Xanax. But, the effects of this med are likely to last for a longer time; here, Ativan can last more than 7 hours as compared to 5 hours of Xanax.

What are the similarities and key differences between Xanax and Ativan?

Both these meds boost a transmitting substance called gamma aminobutyric acid (in short, GABA). A reduced activity of this transmitter is known to cause a calming effect among users. As a result, you tend to stay calmer and may witness anxieties or other panic to go away. These two meds may trigger a few side effects, namely – being in a confused frame of mind, slurring of speech function, dizziness or drowsiness, increase in appetite level, drop in libido, difficulties to pass stools, etc.

The major differences in between Xanax and Ativan are: Xanax takes lesser duration for working. Its effects may start in about an hour’s time. On the other hand, Ativan needs nearly 2 hours (or even more) for its effects to take shape. The effects of Xanax may vary based on your race and age-groups of users. With Ativan, the effects are the same regardless of age and / or racial descent of users.

In terms of strength, 1 milligram (mg) of Ativan is equivalent to 0.5 mg of Xanax. Those living with prior conditions such as hepatic problems (like swelling of liver and / or cirrhosis), renal dysfunction (stones in kidneys, inflammation or a marked drop in filtration rate), etc. may need to tell their caregiving team prior to taking Xanax. Also, those are living with drinking problems or substance abuse must keep their treating doctor updated of such addiction.

In general, people who lead of sedative lifestyle and are hence obese must take needful precautions prior to taking benzodiazepines – especially, the intake of Xanax. Last but not least, people who are old (aged 50 years and above) may have a slowdown of their rate of metabolism; in such people, Xanax is known to work differently. As an overarching precaution, you are advised to use Xanax, Ativan or any of other form of benzodiazepines only after consulting with your physician and / or pharmacist.

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