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Haldol vs Ativan

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Haldol Details

Ativan Details

Comparative Analysis

Haldol Prescription Information

Ativan Prescription Information

Haldol Side Effects

Ativan Side Effects

Safety Information

Cost Analysis

Market Analysis



For patients dealing with symptoms of psychosis, anxiety, or severe agitation, certain drugs that alter the concentrations of compounds in the brain linked to mood and behavior can help manage these symptoms. Haldol (haloperidol) and Ativan (lorazepam) are two such medications often prescribed for these conditions. They each influence different neurotransmitters in the brain but both have effects on stabilizing mood and reducing agitation. Haldol is an antipsychotic medication functioning as a dopamine antagonist by primarily affecting levels of dopamine — a key compound implicated in psychosis. Ativan, however, is classified as a benzodiazepine which enhances the effect of GABA neurotransmitter resulting in sedative, anti-anxiety and muscle-relaxing effects.

Haldol vs Ativan Side By Side

Brand NameHaldolAtivan
ContraindicationsShould not be used with dopamine agonists due to dangerous interactions. Requires clearance period if on MAOIs.Contraindicated if using opioids due to risk of severe respiratory distress or death. Requires clearance period if on MAOIs.
CostFor brand name, around $900 for 30 tablets of 5 mg. For generic, costs range from about $0.20 to over $1 per day for dosages between 5 and 40mg daily.For brand name, about $220 for 60 tablets of 1 mg. For generic, prices generally stay within a range between about $0.05 and $2.
Generic NameHaloperidolLorazepam
Most Serious Side EffectNeuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS), a potentially fatal condition.Severe allergic reactions, significant memory problems, involuntary eye movement.
Severe Drug InteractionsDopamine agonists, MAOIs.Opioids, MAOIs.
Typical Dose0.5–20 mg/day, with 1-3 mg/day sufficient for most cases.0.5-1 mg administered orally two or three times daily for anxiety disorders, up to 2 to 6 mg/day.

What is Haldol?

Haloperidol (the generic name for Haldol) was one of the first drugs in a class known as typical antipsychotics, which marked an important advancement from previous therapeutic options. Haloperidol received FDA approval in 1967 and is used primarily to treat psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia. It works by reducing the activity of dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation, thereby managing symptoms like hallucinations or disordered thoughts. Like Prozac's selective action on serotonin, haloperidol specifically targets dopamine with little effect on other neurotransmitters.

On the other hand, Lorazepam (Ativan) belongs to the benzodiazepine class of medications and acts differently than Haldol. Approved by the FDA in 1977, Ativan enhances the effects of GABA—a calming neurotransmitter—thereby reducing anxiety and promoting sleepiness or relaxation. Just as Prozac impacts serotonin more than dopamine or norepinephrine resulting in fewer side effects; Ativan primarily affects GABA while having minimal influence on other neurotransmitters.

What conditions is Haldol approved to treat?

Haldol (Haloperidol) is approved for the treatment of different psychiatric disorders:

  • Schizophrenia and acute psychosis
  • Tourette syndrome, to control tics and outbursts
  • As adjunctive therapy in controlling nausea and vomiting in certain patients

On the other hand, Ativan (Lorazepam) is indicated for:

  • Anxiety disorders or short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety or anxiety associated with depressive symptoms
  • Insomnia due to anxiety or transient situational stress
  • Preanesthetic medication to produce sedation, decrease patient recall, relieve anxiety, and provide amnesia.

How does Haldol help with these illnesses?

Haldol assists in managing symptoms of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia by reducing the amount and effects of dopamine within the brain. It does this by blocking specific receptors, called D2 receptors, that are targeted by dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical messenger in the brain and throughout the body that plays an important role in reward-motivated behavior, motivation, pleasure sensations, movement coordination amongst other things. In certain mental health conditions like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, there can be excessive amounts of dopamine present leading to hallucinations or delusions. Therefore, by reducing dopamine activity through receptor blockage, Haldol helps manage these symptoms and stabilize patients' condition.

Ativan on the other hand helps manage anxiety disorders or provide short term relief from severe anxiety symptoms. It does so by enhancing the effects of GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), another neurotransmitter which inhibits nervous system activity thereby calming down nerve activities related to fear and anxiety responses.

What is Ativan?

Ativan is the brand name for lorazepam, which belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. It functions by enhancing the effects of a certain natural chemical in the body (GABA), promoting calmness and relaxation. First approved by the FDA in 1977, Ativan differs from antipsychotics like Haldol as it primarily serves as an anti-anxiety medication rather than treating psychotic disorders.

As lorazepam does not act on dopamine receptors, its side effect profile is different from that of antipsychotic medications such as Haldol. Its actions mainly cause sedative effects and can lead to physical dependence with long-term use unlike typical antipsychotics. The calming effects on GABA make Ativan particularly beneficial in treating anxiety disorders and symptoms of acute agitation or insomnia.

What conditions is Ativan approved to treat?

Ativan is a medication that has been approved by the FDA for use in treating:

  • Anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety
  • Preoperative sedation and relief of anxiety related to surgical procedures.

How does Ativan help with these illnesses?

Ativan, just like Haldol, is utilized to manage a variety of symptoms but mainly focuses on anxiety disorders. It operates by increasing the levels of GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid), a neurotransmitter that inhibits activity in the brain, thus reducing excessive anxiety and producing a calming effect. Ativan's influence on GABA can not only help with nervousness and tension but also potentially mitigate symptoms related to agitation or manic episodes. This makes Ativan an effective treatment for certain mood disorders as well as for patients experiencing acute symptoms during detoxification from substances like alcohol. While it does not significantly affect dopamine levels like Haldol does, it is sometimes prescribed when a patient does not respond well to typical antipsychotics or may be combined with them.

How effective are both Haldol and Ativan?

Both haloperidol (Haldol) and lorazepam (Ativan) have established histories of success in managing acute agitation, anxiety, and delirium; they were initially approved by the FDA several years apart. Since they act on different neurotransmitters - Haldol being an antipsychotic reducing dopamine activity while Ativan is a benzodiazepine enhancing GABA inhibitory effects - they may be prescribed under different circumstances. The effectiveness of haloperidol and lorazepam was directly studied in various clinical trials, exhibiting similar efficacy in managing symptoms like agitation or acute psychotic episodes.

A 2004 review demonstrated that Haloperidol's side effect profile includes extrapyramidal symptoms such as dystonia, akathisia and Parkinsonism but its potent antipsychotic properties make it a first-line treatment for psychosis-related conditions including schizophrenia. While potentially causing drowsiness or sedation among other side effects, it has been shown to be effective from the first dose with optimal dosing varying depending upon the severity of symptoms.

Lorazepam's use is widespread due to its rapid onset of action making it particularly useful for acute management of anxiety attacks or inducing sedation before medical procedures. Its safety profile demonstrates potential risk for dependency if used long-term which warrants careful consideration when prescribing. Nonetheless, Lorazepam is considered a first-line treatment option for short term relief from severe anxiety not responsive to non-pharmacological interventions with significant data supporting its efficacy as stand-alone treatment.

In comparing both drugs further studies are needed especially where co-prescribing might augment patient outcomes without increasing adverse reactions significantly. This can be crucial for patients who did not respond well to either drug alone or need added benefits like sleep induction alongside acute psychosis management.

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At what dose is Haldol typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Haldol range from 0.5–20 mg/day, but research has shown that 1-3 mg/day is sufficient for treating most individuals with schizophrenia or acute psychosis. For Ativan, adult doses for anxiety usually start at 2–3 mg/day divided into two or three doses; this can be increased gradually if needed and tolerated. Children's dosage should be determined by a healthcare provider as it is based on weight. In both cases, the dosage can be adjusted after a few weeks if there is no response. The maximum daily dose of Haldol should not exceed 30-40mg in most severe cases while for Ativan it should not exceed 10mg per day.

At what dose is Ativan typically prescribed?

Ativan treatment typically begins with a dosage of 0.5-1 mg administered orally twice a day or three times daily for conditions like anxiety disorders. If necessary, the dose may be increased to 2 to 6 mg/day, divided into multiple doses throughout the day and based on individual patient response and tolerability. However, it's important that this increase is done gradually over time as needed — not all at once — to ensure the safety of the patient. The maximum dose can go up to 10 mg/day divided into smaller doses given every few hours under severe circumstances such as status epilepticus (a serious seizure condition). As always, any changes in dosing should only be made under direct medical supervision and if there is no response or inadequate control of symptoms at lower doses.

What are the most common side effects for Haldol?

Common side effects of Haldol (haloperidol) may include:

  • Restlessness or nervousness
  • Insomnia
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • General weakness and lack of energy
  • Muscle stiffness, spasms, tremors, or twitching
  • Dry mouth or increased salivation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty urinating

Ativan (lorazepam), on the other hand, might cause:

  • Drowsiness and sedation
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Unsteadiness
  • Disorientation
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Change in appetite
  • Vision changes

It's important to note that everyone reacts differently to medications. What one person experiences may not be what another person experiences. Always consult with your healthcare provider for any concerns regarding medication side effects.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Haldol?

While rare, potentially serious side effects can occur in some patients taking Haldol or Ativan:

  • Signs of allergic reactions such as hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of your face or throat
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) - a potentially fatal condition marked by fever, muscle stiffness/rigidity, altered mental status and symptoms related to autonomic instability like irregular pulse or blood pressure
  • Parkinson-like symptoms including tremors and movement difficulties
  • Changes in vision such as blurred vision or tunnel vision; eye pain/swelling/redness/bulging eyes
  • Heart issues manifested by fast/pounding/irregular heartbeats that may cause chest pain or feeling like you might pass out
  • Severe nervous system reaction with symptoms like high fever, sweating confusion and severe muscle rigidity
  • Low sodium levels leading to headache, slurred speech, severe weakness,vomiting & loss of coordination.

If any unusual side effects appear during treatment with either Haldol or Ativan , it is crucial to contact your healthcare provider immediately.

What are the most common side effects for Ativan?

Ativan, a medication commonly used for anxiety and sleep disorders, has its own set of side effects that may manifest in some individuals. These can range from:

  • Dry mouth or increased saliva production
  • Light-headedness and dizziness
  • Changes in appetite leading to weight changes
  • Constipation
  • Heartburn
  • Difficulty concentrating or memory problems
  • Feeling unsteady or lack of balance
  • Muscle weakness, back pain or joint discomfort
  • Insomnia or unusual dreams
    Indications of more serious reactions such as confusion, hallucinations, mood swings and trouble sleeping should be immediately reported to your doctor.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Ativan?

While Ativan is typically well-tolerated, there are potential serious side effects that should not be ignored. If you experience any of the following while taking Ativan, seek immediate medical attention:

  • Signs of severe allergic reaction such as hives; difficulty breathing or swallowing; swelling in your face, lips, tongue or throat
  • Unusual mood swings or changes in behavior patterns
  • Sudden restlessness or feeling overexcited
  • Significant memory problems
  • Changes in vision including blurred vision and seeing halos around lights
  • Involuntary eye movement
  • Sleep disturbances like insomnia
  • Breathing issues particularly during sleep (sleep apnea)

Remember that it's important to always use medications as directed by a healthcare provider and report any adverse reactions promptly.

Contraindications for Haldol and Ativan?

Just like with any other medications, Haldol and Ativan may produce adverse effects in some people. If you notice an increase in symptoms such as restlessness, confusion, depression or other unusual changes in behavior while using these drugs, seek immediate medical attention.

Haldol should not be used if you are taking dopamine agonists (medications that stimulate dopamine receptors), as it can lead to a dangerous interaction. Similarly, Ativan is contraindicated if you are currently using opioids - the combination of these two classes of drugs can result in severe respiratory distress or even death.

Always inform your doctor about all medications you are currently using; certain substances will require a period of clearance from your system to prevent harmful interactions with either Haldol or Ativan. For example, if you're on certain types of antidepressants known as MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), they need around 2 weeks to clear from your body before starting treatment with Haldol or Ativan.

How much do Haldol and Ativan cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of 30 tablets of Haldol (5 mg) averages around $900, which works out to approximately $30/day, depending on your dose.
  • The price of 60 tablets of Ativan (1 mg) averages is about $220, working out to roughly $3.66/day.

Thus if you are in the higher dosage range for Haldol (i.e., 10 mg/day or more), then brand-name Ativan is less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. Please note that cost should not be a primary consideration in determining which of these drugs is right for you.

For the generic versions Haloperidol and Lorazepam:

  • Haloperidol (5 mg tablets) can be found in packs from 15 up to several hundred pills with approximate costs ranging from about $0.20 to over one dollar per day for dosages between 5 and up to even 40mg daily.
  • Lorazepam comes similarly packed starting at quantities as small as ten capsules all the way up to hundreds with prices generally staying within a range between about five cents ($0.05) and two dollars ($2).

Popularity of Haldol and Ativan

Haloperidol, available in generic form and under the brand name Haldol, is an antipsychotic medication primarily used to treat schizophrenia. In 2020, approximately 1 million prescriptions were filled for haloperidol in the US. Despite being classified as a typical or first-generation antipsychotic - which are known for their substantial side effects - haloperidol remains frequent in use due to its effectiveness.

Lorazepam, also known by its brand name Ativan, is a benzodiazepine used for treating anxiety disorders or short-term relief from severe anxiety symptoms. It was prescribed to around 14 million people in the USA during 2020. Lorazepam accounts for just over 10% of all benzodiazepine prescriptions and has seen steady usage rates over the past decade. Its popularity can be attributed largely to its efficacy at rapidly reducing acute anxiety symptoms when compared with other similar drugs.


Both Haldol (haloperidol) and Ativan (lorazepam) have long-standing records of usage in managing psychiatric conditions, with numerous clinical studies indicating their effectiveness. In some cases, these drugs may be combined under careful medical supervision as they can interact with one another. Due to their different mechanisms of action - with Haldol primarily blocking dopamine receptors while Ativan enhances the effects of a natural chemical called GABA – they are prescribed for different situations.

Haldol is often used in treating schizophrenia and acute psychotic disorders, whereas Ativan is typically employed as an anti-anxiety medication or to manage symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.

Both medications are available in generic form which represents significant cost savings especially for patients who must pay out-of-pocket. Both Haldol and Ativan may require an adjustment period; it might take several weeks before full therapeutic effects become apparent.

The side effect profiles between the two differ significantly: common side effects associated with Haldol include extrapyramidal symptoms such as tremors or rigidity, while those linked to Ativan use include drowsiness and dizziness. For both drugs, patients should monitor any changes closely when starting treatment, particularly if they notice worsening symptoms or develop suicidal thoughts; immediate medical help should be sought in such cases.