What is oxazepam, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

  • Oxazepam (Serax, Zaxopam) is a member of a class of anti-anxiety medications called benzodiazepines. Other members of the benzodiazepine class include alprazolam (Xanax), chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clobazam (Onfi), diazepam (Valium), estazolam (Prosom), flurazepam (Dalmane), midazolam (Versed), lorazepam (Ativan), temazepam (Restoril), and triazolam (Halcion). It helps relieve anxiety by enhancing the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter (a chemical that nerve cells use to communicate with each other) that inhibits activity in the brain. It is thought that excessive activity of nerves in the brain may be the cause of anxiety and other psychological disorders. Benzodiazepines such as oxazepam help to relieve anxiety by increasing the effects of GABA in the brain and spinal cord.
  • Oxazepam was approved by the FDA in June, 1965.

Is oxazepam available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for oxazepam?


What are the side effects of oxazepam?

The most common side effects associated with oxazepam treatment are

Other side effects include

What is the dosage for oxazepam?

The recommended dose of oxazepam is 10-30 mg by mouth 3-4 times daily as needed.

Which drugs or supplements interact with oxazepam?

Excessive sedation can occur when oxazepam is combined with certain other medications or substances that slow the brain’s processes. Medications that should be avoided include sleeping aids, certain pain medications (narcotics), barbiturates, and alcohol.

Is oxazepam safe to take if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

  • Use during pregnancy may cause harm to the fetus and should be avoided.
  • Oxazepam may be secreted in human milk. It should not be used during breastfeeding.

What else should I know about oxazepam?

What preparations of oxazepam are available?
  • Oral capsules: 10 mg, 15 mg, and 30 mg.
  • Tablet: 15 mg
How should I keep oxazepam stored?

Oxazepam capsules and tablets should be stored at room temperature, between 15 C to 30 C (59 F and 86 F).

Medically Reviewed on 3/13/2019


Medically reviewed by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP; Board Certified Emergency Medicine


FDA Prescribing Information.