Anxiety is the most common mental disorder people suffer from in the United States, with 40 million adults affected. Unfortunately, only around 40% of people suffering from anxiety get treatment.
Even though many people go without treatment, there are a number of options available to you. Talk therapy, reduction of stressors, and medications are available to help control and manage anxiety and anxiety symptoms.
Both Valium and Xanax are commonly prescribed to those suffering from anxiety. In the Valium vs Xanax debate, there are different pros and cons to consider, along with different applications depending on your anxiety.
Keep reading to learn the differences between these two medications so you can decide which will work best for you.
What Is Anxiety?
Before we go into these two treatment options, let’s define what anxiety is. An anxiety disorder is defined as fear, stress, or worry that is consistent and often illogical.
There are a number of different types of anxiety disorders each of which has different definitions and symptoms.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is anxiety defined by compulsive behaviors, repetitive actions, and intrusive thoughts. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is defined by constant excessive worry and fear during normal everyday life.
Those with a panic disorder have anxiety and panic attacks when triggered. PTSD involves anxiety triggered by a traumatic event.
Each of these disorders is considered a type of anxiety and is connected with the shared experiences of:
- Irrational fear
- Excessive worry
- Sleep disturbances
- Difficulty Concentrating
Many people try multiple treatment methods for anxiety before trying prescription medication.
Valium vs Xanax: Treatment Similarities
Valium and Xanax both belong to a class of drug called benzodiazepines. These drugs work by interacting with several chemicals and neurotransmitters in the brain.
One that they’re known to interact with is the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is known for its effect on anxiety and anxiety disorders. Drugs like Valium and Xanax help to reduce nerve activity. This helps enhance GABA’s effect in the brain, thus reducing anxiety.
The reduction in nerve activity helps make you feel more relaxed and can help calm panic attacks, muscle tension, and sleep disturbances.
Both Valium and Xanax can be prescribed to treat anxiety disorders and panic disorders.
Valium vs Xanax: Treatment Differences
One of the biggest differences between Xanax and Valium is the difference in treatment applications, particularly the many applications of Valium that aren’t applicable with Xanax.
Valium can also be used to treat both muscle spasms and seizures. It can also be used to treat chronic sleep disorder.
It’s also prescribed to help alleviate symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, including:
Some physicians use Valium as a sedative for patients pre-surgery.
Both Xanax and Valium are available in a pill form as well as liquid form. Xanax is also available in an extended-release tablet as well as a dissolving tablet form as well.
Both Xanax and Valium have generic forms–alprazolam and diazepam respectively.
One big difference between Xanax and Valium is the time they take to kick in. While both are quick acting, usually within an hour, Valium is absorbed slightly faster meaning it works quicker. They both last for around 5 hours.
They both can have potentially dangerous drug interactions with:
- Other sedatives
- Muscle relaxants
- Pain medications
Be sure to give your doctor a full list of your other medications before starting on Xanax or Valium.
As with most all medications, there are side effects to these medications.
Both Valium and Xanax can result in:
- Speech problems (example: slurred words).
Since these medications belong to the same drug class, they will have some shared side effects. These effects are usually mild, but if you’re worried about addiction, speak with your physician.
Dependency is a risk for both of these medications. Stopping use after consistent or prolonged use can result in withdrawal symptoms. These include:
Severe withdrawal symptoms can escalate to seizures. Most physicians will taper patients off of these medications instead of stopping “cold turkey” to avoid the intense withdrawal you could experience.
Valium side effects you won’t see when taking Xanax could include:
- Double vision
These effects can be common when taking Valium. If they interfere with your everyday life, speak with your doctor.
There are also some serious side effects you should be aware of:
- Trouble breathing
- Neutropenia (low white blood cell count).
These are serious side effects that can be dangerous. See a doctor immediately if you notice any of these effects.
Xanax side effects include:
- Memory problems
- Fluctuation in weight
These are usually mild, but if they become an issue you should speak to your doctor.
We’ve already mentioned that both of these anxiety medications can result in addiction.
There’s some evidence to suggest that the withdrawal symptoms from Xanax are more intense than Valium.
Both of these medications have generic forms, which makes them more affordable and likely to be covered by insurance. However, Xanax is usually twice the price of Valium.
You can also use our online price comparison tool in order to find the lowest price for all of your medications.
Valium vs Xanax: Wrapping Up
The Valium vs Xanax debate has no “right” answer. Each medication has different treatment applications that may or may not work for your specific anxiety disorder.
There are also other things to consider: are you prone to intense withdrawal symptoms? Then Xanax might not be for you. Is price an important consideration for you? Then Valium might be the way to go. Do you want to treat a seizure disorder alongside your anxiety? Then Valium might be for you.
Be sure to take your specific needs and disorder into account when deciding which anti-anxiety medication is for you. We’ve compiled an extensive list of all anti-anxiety medications you can consider to manage your anxiety symptoms.17