CSN Login
Members Online: 9

Ativan vs. Xanax

goldielocks222
Posts: 13
Joined: Sep 2009

I have a question on what is the difference between Ativan and Xanax? I never heard of Ativan before until it was prescribed for my mom when she first heard the news, and then I heard about it on this forum.

She already had a perscrition for xanax and they still prescribed Ativan. Does anyone know why? Is it used more in cancer patients, and if so what are the reasons?

If you have taken both, what do you feel are the differences between the two and the advantages and/or disadvantages for taking a specific one over the other?

Thank you in advance.

DONCARLOS
Posts: 66
Joined: Jun 2009

I have been using Xanax (Alprazolam) since before my diagnose. I use it only as needed when I get a panic attack. Prior to my diagnose and even surgery I was using it very little, However, after my Surgery I had many panic attacks and I asked my Dr. He told me to continue with my Xanax and perhaps increase it a little, so I take .5 before I go to bed and if needed only during the day. However, there are times when I get so upset and I take a Xanax and go to bed for a while. If I am working I never need Xanax. I do not know about any other Anxiety medication except Vallium and I will never take Vallium. I am very afraid of addiction to these drugs.

Don Carlos

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

My understanding is that Ativan is a quicker acting drug than Xanax, thus, perhaps, the reason for Doc making that move. The Xanax is probably used daily by mom to control anxiety/depression, while the Ativan is being prescribed for the more general anxiety associated with the cancer issue.

You can find commentary specifically related to this simply by entering the word Ativan in your search engine. When I did so, the first things that popped up on the list were Ativan v Xanax discussions and commentary. As always, take what you read with a sizeable grain of salt.

Clearly, if the doctor who prescribed the Ativan is not aware of the Xanax, that needs to change at once. Despite the differences in their properties, after all, they are both of the same family of drugs and, in any event, the doctor should ALWAYS be aware of any pre-existing medications, as you must know.

Best wishes to mom and her family.

Take care,

Joe

DONCARLOS
Posts: 66
Joined: Jun 2009

Hi Joe: I have always used Xanax, and you are correct it works slow, but it helps me. I dindn't know there was another one (Ativan) for Cancer patients/survivors. I don't know if they have anything for depression. I hear that many survivors do get depression even if and when they are told that they are clean of Cancer. I do get depressed almost every day.

Thanks Joe

DonCarlos

soccerfreaks's picture
soccerfreaks
Posts: 2801
Joined: Sep 2006

DonCarlos, if you gathered from my message that Ativan is a 'cancer drug' then I did not make myself clear, and for that I apologize. My suggestion, instead, was that perhaps mom had been taking Xanax for some time even prior to her cancer diagnosis, and that Ativan was offered by her doc either because he was unaware or as an additive specifically related to cancer-related treatment or diagnosis.

Although my own introduction to Ativan came while in the hospital recovering from a cancer-related surgery, I know that my dad was given the same drug while recovering not so long ago from a surgery to repair his rotator cuff (non-cancer-related). Incidentally, when he seemed to be going off the deep end mentally at one point, I spoke to one of his nurses over the phone and insisted that the reason was a psychotic reaction to IV Ativan, as I had previously experienced the same personally. It took some time to convince her (the nurse) of this, but in short order they removed this medication from his regimen and he got well fast.

It seems that the IV version, for some reason, has much folklore about it concerning this very reaction, although I am not sure there is any documentation for such.

Both, DonCarlos, are anti-depressants, but with a few differences. There are others as well, of course, and your doctor should be working with you to find the best one for YOU (along with proper dosage and frequency). There is no elixir for depression, my friend, just as there is no elixir for cancer, but you have some choices available among medications and ALONG with medications (including therapy, among others) just as you do when confronting cancer.

Among the sad things brought to us by cancer, as you know, DonCarlos, is, for some of us, the depression that follows. I have likened it to a mid-life crisis, one that comes along regardless of our age: the examination of life and its worth, its failings and so forth, the realization of mortality (a simplification of what is going on, to be sure). That is not scientific, DonCarlos, but only the pondering of yours truly over time, so definitely take it with a grain of salt.

It does not seem right that you should survive cancer and still be depressed, DonCarlos (although I am intimately familiar with that particular outcome). I would suggest you look into changing meds, or seeking some therapy, or maybe looking at getting active in some area where you can revitalize your sense of self-worth and meaning. Volunteering comes to mind :).

Take care,

Joe

DONCARLOS
Posts: 66
Joined: Jun 2009

Joe; Thanks so very much. You are always there to help. I am getting back into business, but the wait is a little pressing. I lost most of my clients and now I must go back and re-build.

Thanks my friend

DonCarlos

PeterTran
Posts: 2
Joined: Sep 2012

I have been on several benzos, for many years now. One thing that you should not forget is the addictive properties all of these benzos have. Whether it be Ativan or Xanax you are going to experience some difficulties with your body and or sleep with use over a period of time. In general Ativan is a faster acting Benzo than most. http://drpullen.com/ativanvsxanax

dennycee
Posts: 658
Joined: Mar 2011

Ativan is contra indicated for long term use. What PeterTran said about the addictive qualities is one of the most important factors to remember.

Last year before my back problems I tapered off my OxyContin with no problems. I had a terrible time eliminating ativan even with the taper. My doc prescribed Paxil for depression and anxiety and it was not until I had been on it for a while that I could give up the Ativan. I do fine with the Paxil.

mbhamel
Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2012

I was perscribed Ativan when I started my Chemotherapy because they said it would help with the Nausea.  I didn't even realize it was an anti anxiety drug and they did not say anything to that affect about it. I read the pamphlet that came with the drug and found out from asking others. I've been off chemo for over a year now but I still take  1mg a day at nighttime just to help me sleep or when the stress and aniety gets to much during the day I find that a pill helps. 

Subscribe with RSS
About Cancer Society

The content on this site is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition. Use of this online service is subject to the disclaimer and the terms and conditions.

Copyright 2000-2014 © Cancer Survivors Network