Medical Advice

Valium vs Ativan for Anxiety: What’s The Difference?

Valium vs Ativan for Anxiety

From time to time, people suffer from various disorders. Anxiety is a disorder that is most common in adults as well as children. According to several studies, more than 40 million adults suffer from this mental illness and it increases day by day. In today’s time, there are various medications available to treat anxiety. The two medications that doctor prescribe to their patients are Valium and Ativan. In this blog, we will discuss these medications and draw an analysis of Valium vs Ativan.

What is Valium?

The branded medication Valium is used to treat anxiety disorders. It can also be used to treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms, muscle spasms, and seizures. It functions by calming down the nervous system.

A certain chemical known as GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) is increased in the brain. This element is a neurotransmitter and decreases the pain generating signal. As a result, the brain becomes calm and the person feels relaxed.

What is Ativan?

This drug is a Schedule IV controlled substance and has a high potential for misuse, abuse, and addiction. This is a benzodiazepine drug and is primarily used to treat anxiety problems in patients. Ativan medicine is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If a patient discontinues all of a sudden or without the doctor’s consulting, they may experience withdrawal syndrome. Doctors recommend this medicine for short-term use, i.e., not beyond 4 months.

Ativan’s half-life is 12 hours and it may take 5 half-lives for the drug to be totally removed from the body, this means it can take almost 60 hours for the total dose of Ativan to be cleared from the person’s body.

Differences: Valium vs Ativan Drugs

1) Uses

a) Valium

Valium, a prescription drug is used for the treatment of anxiety disorders, muscle spasms, seizures, etc. People can also use it before surgery to help produce a sleeping effect in the patient.

b) Ativan

It is also an FDA-approved prescribed drug to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and anxiety associated with depression. Doctors prescribe this anti-anxiety medicine for off-label purposes for several conditions, such as insomnia, panic disorder, rapid tranquilization of agitated patients, and so on.

2) Dosage Strengths and Doses

Both drugs have different dosages and come in different forms. Ativan comes in the form of an injection and as a tablet. Valium is available as a oral tablet only.

Below are the various strengths:

a) Valium

This medicine comes in tablet form with various strengths such as –

The typical dose of Valium is 2 mg to 10 mg in oral form, 2 to 4 times a day depending on how severe the patient’s symptoms are.

b) Ativan

Ativan comes in three standard strengths:

In an injection form as:

  • 2 mg/mL
  • 4 mg/mL

The normal dose of Ativan is 2 mg to 6 mg orally 2 to 3 times a day. But it can vary depending on the health condition. People can take the 2-3 mg normal dose in two to three doses throughout the day.

For example, if the daily dose is 3 mg, the patient can take 1 mg in the morning and 2 mg before going to bed. Depending on the person’s response to the drug, and his health condition the doctor can increase the dosage. The maximum dose of this medicine is 10 mg per day.

3) Effectiveness: Valium vs Ativan

a) Valium

Valium is meant for short-term treatment of anxiety and seizure disorders. Taken by mouth, the drug starts to decrease the anxiety symptoms in 15 to 60 minutes.

If taken via an injection, the drug takes nearly 1 to 5 minutes to show its effectiveness.

b) Ativan

The Lorazepam tablets start to show their effectiveness nearly 20 to 30 minutes after taking. Total sedating effect can last up to 6 or 8 hours. In the daytime, people may feel sleepy. Never take these tablets longer than 4 weeks.

Side Effects of Valium and Ativan Medicine:

Common side effects of Valium and Ativan can Include:

1) Tiredness

2) Drowsiness

3) Headache

4) Muscle weakness

5) Lack of coordination

Serious Side Effects of Valium can Include:

1) Breathing problems such as breathing becoming slow and respiratory failure.

2) Low blood pressure

3) Serious allergic reaction

4) Seizures or convulsions

5) Liver problems

6) Bladder problems where one can have difficulty in urinating or inability to hold urine.

Serious Side Effects of Ativan can Include:

1) Serious heart problems such as fast, irregular, heartbeat, shortness of breath, and sudden dizziness.

2) Sudden loss of eyesight, blurred vision, eye pain or swelling, and tunnel vision.

3) Severe headache, high fever, and profuse sweating

4) Weakness in arms or legs, very stiff muscles, and trouble walking.

5) Loss of coordination, feeling unsteady, or tremors.

Precaution and Warnings:

1) Take these drugs after consultation with the doctor because they can lead to misuse and addiction.

Use of Valium drug can lead to physical dependence and withdrawal if one stops taking the drug suddenly. Withdrawal symptoms can be fatal to life.

2) Using Valium and Ativan with opioid drugs can produce fatal effects such as slowed breathing, severe drowsiness, coma, and death. If taking diazepam with an opioid with the doctor’s consultation, one may need close monitoring.

3) When taking Valium avoid alcohol. This drug can interfere with motor skills and thinking power.

Performing heavy task like operating machinery, driving or tasks involving alertness of mind should be avoided.

4) When patients take Valium medication orally by kidney patients, more of the diazepam drug stays in the body for a longer time putting the patient’s health at risk.

5) Ativan and other related benzodiazepine medicines can worsen symptoms of depression. Sometimes an individual may develop a suicidal tendency to take these drugs.

6) During pregnancy never take these drugs.


In conclusion, we have seen the uses, dosages, and side effects and compared the anti-anxiety medicines- Valium and Ativan. Although they are similar, some differences also exist. An individual must follow precautions while taking these drugs.

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