Buspar vs Ativan - Comparison of Uses & Side Effects

Buspar

It is the brand name of a drug called buspirone which treats the symptoms of anxiety. It operates on the central nervous system’s neurotransmitters, such as – dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine, and norepinephrine.

These brain chemicals are involved in the transmission of nervous impulses from cell to cell.

The medication is produced by Bristol-Myers Squibb, an American pharmaceutical company with the headquarters in New York City, USA. The US Food and Drug Administration originally approved it in 1986.

Uses

It is commonly used to treat symptoms of anxiety, such as – dizziness, tension, pounding heartbeat, fear, and irritability. Also, it is used to treat symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

Dosage

The initial recommended adult dose is 7.5 mg a day given in 2 divided doses. The recommended maintenance dose may be increased in 5 mg increments every 3 days up to 20 to 60 mg a day in two divided doses.

The initial recommended pediatric dose is 2.5 to 10 mg a day. The recommended maintenance dose may be increased in 2.5 mg increments every 3 days to 15 to 60 mg a day given in two divided doses.

Important note – it is important that you continue to take this medication as your doctor has recommended. It may take up to 2 weeks for the medication to work correctly.

Side Effects And Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • constipation;
  • dry mouth;
  • headaches;
  • stomach pain;
  • weakness;
  • upset stomach;
  • drowsiness;
  • vomiting;
  • diarrhea;
  • nausea;
  • lightheadedness;
  • fatigue;
  • numbness;
  • dizziness.

Less common side effects may include:

  • feeling nervous or excited;
  • a feeling like you might pass out;
  • excitement;
  • shortness of breath;
  • depression;
  • difficulty sleeping;
  • chest pain.

Alcohol

Avoid drinking alcohol while taking the medication since it may increase the risk of side effects, especially drowsiness and confusion.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Women should let their healthcare provider know if they are or may become pregnant before taking the medication because it can affect the unborn baby in a negative way.

Moreover, it may pass into breast milk, however, it is not known exactly whether it is safe to take this medication while breastfeeding. It is better to contact your doctor before taking the medicine if you are breast-feeding a baby.

Drug Interactions

It may negatively interact with other medications, particularly:

  • baclofen (a muscle relaxant);
  • lithium and haloperidol (for mental illness);
  • diltiazem (to treat angina);
  • monoamine-oxidase inhibitors, such as – phenelzine (for depression);
  • digoxin (to treat heart failure);
  • tramadol (a painkiller);
  • seroquel;
  • rifampicin (to treat tuberculosis);
  • fluvoxamine (for depression);
  • diazepam (to treat anxiety);
  • trazodone;
  • benzodiazepines, such as – nitrazepam or temazepam;
  • warfarin (to treat blood clots);
  • Breo Ellipta;
  • St. John’s Wort;
  • cimetidine (to treat stomach ulcers);
  • nefazodone and L-tryptophan;
  • lofexidine (to manage drug withdrawal);
  • erythromycin, itraconazole, and linezolid (to treat infections);
  • triptan drugs (to treat migraines);
  • MAO inhibitors, such as – Isocarboxazid (Marplan), Tranylcypromine (Parnate), Phenelzine (Nardil), or Selegiline (Emsam);
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as – fluoxetine (for depression);
  • nabilone (to treat vomiting and nausea);
  • antihistamines (to treat allergic reactions);
  • phenobarbital, phenytoin, carbamazepine (to treat epilepsy);
  • calcium channel blockers, such as – diltiazem (to treat high blood pressure).

Ativandrug

It is the brand name of a drug called lorazepam that belongs to the class of medications called benzodiazepines. It has a sedating effect on brain activity.

The medication was originally approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1977.  It is produced by Valeant Pharmaceuticals, a multinational pharmaceutical company based in Laval, Canada.

Uses

It is used for the short-term treatment of severe anxiety, without or with associated insomnia in adults, when these problems are causing unacceptable distress or disabling.

Dosage

For insomnia, caused by transient situational stress or anxiety, there is a single daily dose of 2 to 4 mg recommended. For anxiety, the usual recommended dose is 2 to 3 mg per day.

Side Effects and Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • weakness;
  • drowsiness;
  • lack of balance or coordination;
  • memory problems;
  • dizziness;
  • feeling unsteady;
  • slurred speech.

Rare side effects may include:

  • unusual changes in mood or behavior;
  • severe drowsiness;
  • worsened sleep problems;
  • thoughts of hurting yourself;
  • sudden restless excitement;
  • hallucinations;
  • muscle weakness;
  • aggression;
  • vision changes;
  • confusion;
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
  • dark urine;
  • upper stomach pain;
  • trouble swallowing;
  • drooping eyelids.

To make sure that this benzodiazepine is safe for you, tell your healthcare provider if you have:

  • asthma or other breathing disorder;
  • seizures or epilepsy;
  • a history of suicidal thoughts or behavior;
  • liver disease (especially alcoholic liver disease);
  • a history of drug or alcohol addiction;
  • kidney disease;
  • if you use a narcotic medication;
  • open-angle glaucoma.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Tell your healthcare provider if you are breastfeeding a baby before taking this benzodiazepine since taking this medication while breastfeeding can cause side effects in the infant.

Additionally, there are no well-done studies to determine the safety of this medication during pregnancy, hence, tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to fall pregnant.

Alcohol

Avoid consuming alcohol while taking this drug since alcohol may increase the risk of side effects, particularly dizziness and drowsiness.

Addiction

Do not stop taking this benzodiazepine abruptly as it may cause withdrawal symptoms, such as – behavioral disorder, convulsions, and anxiety.

Drug Interactions

Before taking this benzodiazepine, tell your healthcare provider if you are using any of the following medications:

  • antipsychotics, like – Thorazine, Abilify, Clozaril, Haldol, Prolixin, Fanapt, Loxitane, Zyprexa, Latuda, Orap, Symbyax, Navane, Seroquel, or Geodon;
  • other benzodiazepines, like – Librium, Xanax, Librax, and Valium;
  • antiseizure drugs, like Depakene;
  • birth control pills;
  • anesthetics;
  • barbiturates, like – Butisol, Amytal, Fioricet, Luminal, Nembutal, or Seconal;
  • Theophylline (Theo-24, Uniphyl);
  • sleep medications, like – Unisom, Lunesta, Rozerem, or Ambien;
  • Scopolamine (Transderm Scop);
  • narcotic medications, like – Stadol, Vicodin, Lortab, Demerol, morphine, or Darvon.

Bottom Line – Buspar vs Ativan

Buspar (active ingredient – buspirone) is a drug which falls into an anxiolytic class of medications known as azapirones. One of the major benefits of taking this medication is that unlike other popular anti-anxiety medications, it is not potentially habit-forming.

Ativan (active ingredient – lorazepam) is used to treat anxiety disorders. It belongs to a group of drugs called benzodiazepines that affect chemicals in the brain which may be unbalanced in sufferers with anxiety.

According to a 1988 study that was done at the Department of Psychiatry, University of Munich, Germany, both medications were more efficacious in reducing anxiety symptoms than placebo during the treatment.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2789590/
https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/buspirone
https://www.cadth.ca/media/pdf/htis/may-2012/RC0349%20buspirone%20Final.pdf

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