What are anti-anxiety meds? Has your doctor prescribed one of these medications recently? These drugs are often given to those with anxiety and panic disorders and belong to the benzodiazepine drug class. The medication works by slowing down the brain’s activity and producing a relaxing effect. The most common, Ativan, is also known as lorazepam; the normal Ativan dosage can be between 0.5 and can go to 3 mg depending on the individual, length of time on the medication, and his or her anxiety level.
Ativan is in the same class of drugs as Xanax (alprazolam) but Xanax has a shorter half-life, which means the medication has to be taken more often to produce the same effects. Xanax has a half life of 6 to 12 hours while Ativan has a half life of 10 to 20 hours. The ‘half life’ of a drug means that in a specific number hours half of the drug has exited the body. Klonapin, another benzodiazepine has a much longer half life of 18 to 50 hours, which means this drug stays in the body longer.
It has been shown that longer acting benzodiazepines are less likely to produce abuse than the shorter acting anti-anxiety medications. For instance, Ativan can be more effective for many people that suffer from anxiety since the dosage doesn’t need to be repeated as often as Xanax and thus, those prone to ‘benzo abuse’ or taking more than prescribed, is lessened.
Ativan is just one of several drugs used to treat anxiety, but because everyone is different, it may work better to reduce anxiety symptoms than another drugs in the same ‘class’ or family. This is the case for many drugs – for instance, there are many different types of anti-depressants, but one may work better for one person than it does for another.
Many people taking benzodiazepines are concerned with long term dependency, however, this should not be a concern as long the person is under a doctor’s care and only taking the prescribed dosage. Dependency and addiction are entirely different, and therefore as long as the drug is is taken as prescribed, abuse is not possible even if the body does become ‘dependent’ for a short period of time. In a case of dependence, the patient is instructed to reduce the amount over a period of time to reduce withdrawal symptoms.
While Ativan works very well to reduce anxiety, it is sometimes be used as an off-label drug to help promote sleep. When a doctor does prescribe this medication it is normally on a trial and error basis since it may be too sedating for some people that take it, which makes daily tasks difficult. Lastly, all of the benzodiazepines are typically taken on a short-term or an as needed basis, since long-tern use may reduce the effectiveness due to tolerance.