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Hydroxyzine vs Xanax: Which Anxiety Medication Is Right for You?

Clinically Reviewed by: Dr. Robin Campbell, LMFT, PHD

If you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety, you may be exploring medication options to alleviate symptoms and improve daily life. Two common medications prescribed for anxiety are Hydroxyzine and Xanax.

Understanding Anxiety Medications

Before we delve into the comparison, let’s briefly understand the designations of Hydroxyzine and Xanax:


  • Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine that can also be used to manage anxiety.
  • It is a non-addictive medication often prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
  • Hydroxyzine works by blocking certain neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to a calming effect.


  • Xanax, also known as Alprazolam, is a benzodiazepine medication.
  • Benzodiazepines are potent medications prescribed for various anxiety disorders.
  • Xanax works by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which promotes relaxation and reduces anxiety.

Key Differences

Let’s compare Hydroxyzine and Xanax based on several important factors:

1. Mechanism of Action:

  • Hydroxyzine acts by blocking specific neurotransmitters, while Xanax enhances GABA effects.

2. Addiction Potential:

  • Hydroxyzine is non-addictive, making it a safer option for long-term use.
  • Xanax, being a benzodiazepine, has a higher potential for addiction and dependence.

3. Onset and Duration:

  • Hydroxyzine may take longer to start working, but its effects can last for several hours.
  • Xanax provides rapid relief but has a shorter duration of action, leading to potential withdrawal symptoms.

4. Sedative Properties:

  • Both medications can cause drowsiness, but Xanax is more likely to induce sedation.

5. Tolerance and Withdrawal:

  • Tolerance and withdrawal symptoms are more common with Xanax, making it challenging to discontinue.

Which Medication Is Right for You?

Choosing between Hydroxyzine and Xanax depends on various factors, including the severity of your anxiety, your medical history, and your treatment goals. It is crucial to consult a healthcare professional who can assess your specific situation and recommend the most suitable medication.

Call New Hope Healthcare Institute Today!

At New Hope Healthcare Institute in Knoxville, TN, we specialize in dual diagnosis treatment for teens and adults. Our experienced team can provide personalized guidance to help you or your loved one make the right choice in managing anxiety. Contact us today at 866-806-1027 for assistance and support. Check out our blog where we post weekly on Medium.


Combining these medications can be risky and should only be done under the guidance of a medical professional.

Yes, there are natural approaches such as therapy, exercise, and mindfulness techniques that can help manage anxiety.

Side effects can vary but may include drowsiness, dizziness, and changes in mood or behavior.

Xanax is generally considered to be more potent in providing rapid relief from anxiety symptoms.

Hydroxyzine may take up to 30 minutes to an hour, while Xanax often provides relief within 20-30 minutes.

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