Alprazolam vs. diazepam quick comparison
- Diazepam (Valium) and alprazolam (Xanax XR, Niravam) are benzodiazepines used to treat anxiety. Both are available as generic drugs.
- Both drugs are in the same class as other benzodiazepines including clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan), and flurazepam (Dalmane).
- Diazepam also is used for the treatment of agitation, tremors, delirium, seizures, and hallucinations resulting from alcohol withdrawal, while alprazolam also is used to treat panic attacks.
- Similar side effects of both diazepam and alprazolam include drowsiness, fatigue, speech problems, confusion, and memory problems.
- Different side effects for diazepam include diarrhea, rash, euphoria, and ataxia (loss of balance).
- Different side effects for alprazolam include constipation and changes in weight.
- Both diazepam and alprazolam can lead to addiction (dependency). Withdrawal symptoms include insomnia, headaches, nausea, vomiting, lightheadedness, sweating, anxiety, and fatigue. Seizures can occur in more severe cases of withdrawal.
What is alprazolam? What is diazepam? How do they work?
Alprazolam (Xanax XR, Niravam) is an anti-anxiety medication in the benzodiazepine family. It is used to treat anxiety disorders and panic attacks. Alprazolam and other benzodiazepines act by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter (a chemical that nerve cells use to communicate with each other) that inhibits activity in the brain. It is believed that excessive activity in the brain may cause anxiety or other psychiatric disorders.
Diazepam (Valium is an oral benzodiazepine medication used to treat anxiety. Diazepamt also is used to treat agitation, tremors, delirium, seizures, and hallucinations resulting from alcohol withdrawal.
What are the uses for alprazolam vs. diazepam?
Alprazolam (Valium) uses
Alprazolam (Xanax) is used for the treatment of anxiety disorders and panic attacks
- Diazepam is used for the treatment of disorders with anxiety.
- Diazepam also is used for the treatment of agitation, tremors, delirium, seizures, and hallucinations resulting from alcohol withdrawal.
- It is used for the treatment of seizures, relief of muscle spasms in some neurological diseases, and for sedation during surgery.
What are the side effects of alprazolam vs. diazepam?
Alprazolam side effects
Alprazolam is used for the treatment of anxiety disorders and panic attacks. Anxiety disorders are characterized by:
- Unrealistic worry and apprehension
- Symptoms of restlessness
- Shortness of breath
- Smothering sensation
- Cold clammy hands
- Exaggerated startle responses
- Problems concentrating
Panic attacks occur either unexpectedly or in certain situations (for example, driving), and can require higher dosages of alprazolam.
Diazepam side effects
The most common side effects of diazepam are:
Other important side effects include:
- Paradoxical reactions with excitability
- Muscle spasm
- Lack of sleep
- Speech problems
- Double vision
Possible serious side effects:
Are alprazolam and diazepam addictive?
Both alprazolam and diazepam can lead to addiction (dependency), especially when higher dosages are used over prolonged periods of time. In patients addicted to diazepam or after prolonged use, abrupt discontinuation may cause symptoms of withdrawal such as:
- Seizures can occur in more severe cases of withdrawal. Therefore, after extended use, diazepam should be slowly tapered under a doctor's supervision rather than abruptly stopped.
What is the dosage for alprazolam vs. diazpam?
- The starting dose for treating anxiety is 0.25-0.5 mg 3 to 4 times daily using immediate release tablets. The dose may be increased every 3-4 days to a maximum dose of 4 mg daily.
- The starting dose for treating panic attacks is 0.5 mg 3 times daily. Doses can be increased every 3-4 days but by no more than 1 mg daily.
- The effective dose for preventing panic attacks may be as high as 10 mg daily for some patients. The starting dose when using extended release tablets to treat panic disorder is 0.5 mg once daily and the average dose is 3-6 mg once daily.
- Alprazolam may be taken with or without food.
- Diazepam may be taken with or without food.
- Diazepam is disposed of by the liver and excreted mainly by the kidney. Dosages of diazepam may need to be lowered in patients with abnormal kidney function.
- The usual oral diazepam dose for anxiety or seizures is 2-10 mg given 2-4 times daily.
- The usual rectal dose is 0.2-0.5 mg/kg and depends on the age of the patient.
What drugs interact with alprazolam vs. diazepam?
Alprazolam drug interactions
- Ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Sporanox), nefazodone (Serzone), cimetidine (Tagamet), and fluvoxamine (Luvox) increase concentrations in the blood of alprazolam and therefore may increase the side effects of alprazolam.
- Alprazolam interacts with alcohol and medications (for example, barbiturates, and narcotics) that suppress activity in the brain by suppressing activity more and causing sedation.
- Carbamazepine and rifampin reduce the effect of alprazolam by increasing metabolism and elimination of alprazolam in the liver.
Diazepam drug interactions
Alcohol or medications that cause sedation may add to the sedative effects of diazepam. Patients taking benzodiazepines should avoid such combinations.
The following drugs may prolong the effects of diazepam by inhibiting liver enzymes that eliminate diazepam so dosages may need to be decreased when these drugs are used with diazepam.
- cimetidine (Tagamet)
- ketoconazole (Nizoral)
- itraconazole (Sporanox)
- omeprazole (Prilosec, Rapinex)
- clarithromycin (Biaxin)
- darunavir (Prezista)
- fluvoxamine (Luvox)
- fluoxetine (Prozac)
Are alprazolam and diazepam safe to take if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?
- Benzodiazepines like alprazolam and diazepam can cause fetal abnormalities and should not be used during pregnancy.
- Both alprazolam and diazepam are excreted in breast milk, and can affect nursing infants. Therefore, diazepam should not be used by women who are nursing.