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What is Ativan? Lorazepam Is An Anti-Anxiety Medication

Updated on May 2, 2015

What Is Ativan

Ativan (lorazepam) is a tranquilizer that is used primarily for the relief of anxiety. This anti-anxiety medication is a central nervous system depressant, regularly prescribed for other practical purposes, such as help with treating tension, sleeplessness (insomnia), irritable bowel syndrome, nausea and vomiting from alcohol withdrawal, and most often for many bipolar disorder symptoms. It is in the benodiazepine class of anxiety drugs. Long term use of Ativan is generally not recommended because of the rapid development of tolerance and dependency.

You May Ask, How Ativan Is Prescribed ?

When starting Ativan, many professionals start you out with the recommended dosage. That is typically a 1 mg tablet three times daily. This dosage may be higher if prescribed for insomnia, oftentimes being 2mg to 4 mg once daily at bedtime.

Many elderly people experience an increased sensitivity to Ativan, therefore it is often more comfortable taking a smaller dosage of 0.5 mg to 1mg daily. Your doctor will of course make the recommendations necessary for you.

Medical professionals often prescribe Ativan for alcohol withdrawal. Beginning with a small dosage and titrated up or down according to elevations of blood pressure, pulse rate, extent of agitation and existence of delirium and detoxification.

Take Meds As Directed
Take Meds As Directed

The Side Effects Of Ativan Are As Follows

Ativan is considered a safe and reliable medication with a low risk of adverse side effects. But like many medications used for anxiety or sleep there is the danger of addiction. If unfavorable side effects do develop, they are more likely to occur at the beginning of treatment, and are often times alleviated with continued treatment or lower dosages. As always contact your doctor of any side effects you are not comfortable with.

  • Clumsiness, or unsteadiness
  • Dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Stomach aches

    These side effects are usually mild, however you may want to voice your concerns with your doctor if they bother you, or become persistent.

    Mild Ativan Side Effects
  • Poor appetite
  • Amnesia
  • Blurred vision,
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Sweating
  • Hives
  • Rash

    While these side effects are not commonly serious, you would most definitely want to discuss them with your doctor. Hives or rash caused by Ativan may show signs an allergy is present. You should discuss discontinuation with your doctor if a rash persists.

    Serious Ativan Side Effects
  • Hallucinations
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Hallucinations
  • Low blood pressure
  • Excitement or anger,
  • Seizures or Convulsions
  • Jaundice

    All are rare, but serious symptoms, you should contact your doctor or seek emergency medical treatment immediately if these are present. Jaundice, while rare, may point to a severe allergic reaction and possible liver damage. Ativan should be discontinued immediately.

Other Cautions To Look Out For

Withdrawal Symptoms From Ativan

It is possible you could demonstrate physical withdrawal symptoms from taking Ativan, if you have been taking the drug longer than four weeks at a high dose. You should never stop taking Ativan abruptly. Decrease your dose as directed by your doctor.

Possible side effects from withdrawal include the following symptoms

  • Insomnia
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Nausea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Hallucinations

  • Ativan Overdose Symptoms

    If you overdose on Ativan, your symptoms can change. Some commonly reported symptoms of a Ativan overdose can include the following

  • Sedation
  • Coma
  • Confusion
  • Speech problems
  • Lethargy
  • Low blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of life.

Overdose symptoms are more likely if Ativan is combined with alcohol or other medications. Ativan is a central nervous system depressant and benzodiazepine, and this legitimate medication produces feeling of well being and euphoria. As a result it is very addictive, and often abused. If you or someone close to you overdosed seek medical attention immediately.


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    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      10 years ago from Washington MI

      Hey jasper-I go in streaks. Sometimes I don't need it at all. And other sometimes I take it at night to help me sleep. Thanks for reading and commenting :)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      I took ativan myself and i found it to be some what helpful great info thanks

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      10 years ago from Washington MI

      Thank you lambservant, I do my best to keep up on the medications I have been on at one time or another. Your comment is greatly appreciated.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      10 years ago from United States

      Great informative hub. It is refreshing to see someone give accurate information on this topic. Blessings

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      10 years ago from Washington MI

      DzyMsLizzy-Wow thanks for the clarification on the differences of medical marijuana. I am sure eventually most states will be made legal to prescribe it to more severe medical conditions. I can see the positive side of using it, being virtually little to no side effects.

      brightforyou-Thank you.The best way to get off Xanax is through a medically monitored period of tapering down your dosage. This can take a few months, but is safer and far less unpleasant than going "cold turkey." Sometimes your doctor will prescribe something in it's place so your withdrawal symptoms aren't so bad.

    • brightforyou profile image

      Helen Lewis 

      10 years ago from Florida

      Very good hub. Do you know much about getting off Xanax?

      Thanks for sharing.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      10 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Hi- again, crazybeanrider--

      Thanks for your input on my comment. I'm glad I was able to provide some info. ;-)

      I've been doing a LOT of research on the topic of late, and have found that "not all MJ is created equal." In other words, there are differences in the levels of the main chemicals involved.

      The main one with which everyone is familiar, whether or not by name, is "THC." This is the one that produces the "effects" often referred to as a "high." The other main cannabinoid is CBD..and has all the beneficial properties with very few to none of the "high" effects. Choosing a strain with a much higher ratio of CBD's to much lower THC's will have the medical effect without the psychoactive effect.

      Anxiety, depression, OCD, all are conditions for which there is much and mounting evidence of the efficacy of medical MJ. Also benefiting from medical MJ use are sufferers of epilepsy, parkinson's, MS, and a host of other ills. It's worth Googling.


    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      10 years ago from Washington MI

      billyaustindillion-koffeKlatch Gals

      Yeah it scary taking these kinds of meds sometimes. Being bipolar and OCD I have to take my chances or suffer the consequences. And that is never a picnic I want to be at. lol!

      Thank you guys for reading and commenting, I enjoy hearing from you guys :)

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      10 years ago from Washington MI

      DzyMsLizzy, it is unfortunate that doctors hand out drugs like m&ms these days. It is easier than trying to fix the original problem or sending them to a therapist I suppose. Even though I must say Ativan works really for me, as I take it for sleep, and OCD. Without I would be a wreck I think. As far as marijuana I could not take it, I have tried in the past and don't like the affect it has on me, so that is out. Though I agree if it works for people it should be prescribed. Thank you for your great and informative comments I always like hearing from you.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Hazelton 

      10 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Wow. It's too bad that something that may help some has such sideeffects. Thanks for sharing the information.

    • billyaustindillon profile image


      10 years ago

      There are so many side affects and the withdrawal affects sound scary - people need to be aware of these. Thanks for sharing.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      10 years ago from Oakley, CA

      An interesting relevant tidbit I was searching for earlier, and just located:

      It tells about how doctors continue to get kickbacks for prescribing certain drugs.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 

      10 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Interesting and informative hub. As with most manufactured chemical medications, (many of which are pitched to us in TV ads), there are many serious side-effects possible. Most come under "thanks, but I'll just keep my original problem--it's less serious!"

      A friend of ours was recently prescribed a medication at a low dose, & his doctor said, "we'll increase the dose by 5mg at a time, until you experience any side effects, then we'll back down to the previous effective dose.

      Our friend, being a very intelligent person said to the doc, "hold on--how about I take it at the first dose, and if it WORKS..I just stop there instead of opening myself up to the possibility of all these side effects?!"

      Yeah! Right on!

      Many chiropractors have a sign in their offices reading to the effect of: "If you give a healthy person drugs, it will make them sick; so why give them to a sick person?" (Many, if not most of our current arsenal of manufactured drugs are actually poisonous!) The first "miracle drug?" Aspirin. Guess what? It's natural--derived from willow bark. Next in line: Penicillin--also natural--derived, as most know, from bread mold.

      Now, if you live in a state with legal medical marijuana laws, that is a better thing to look into for anxiety. Ask your doctor if it's an option for you. It's natural, organic, has extremely few (and minor) side effects, is far less incapacitating than alcohol, and NOT addictive, as the propaganda machines would have folks believe. Alcohol, on the other hand, can be very addictive. Cigarettes are extremely addicting.

      It is wise to educate oneself prior to taking any medication, and hubs such as this one are a good, unbiased assist to that end.

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      10 years ago from Washington MI

      Thank you MMMoney for readig and commenting. I appreciate your comment.

    • MMMoney profile image


      10 years ago from Where U Can Make More Money

      very useful info thanks

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      10 years ago from Washington MI

      Your welcome stars. Ativan is a widely prescribed drug for anxiety. I prefer it myself over other anxiety medications. Thanks for comenting :)

    • stars439 profile image


      10 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      Thank you so much for this important information. I have always had anxiety situations so it is good to know about what certain drugs can do. God Bless You Dear Heart.

    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      10 years ago from Washington MI

      Hi vocalcoach, Thank you for reading and commenting. I have taken so many medications in the last few years I try to learn as much as I can about them. Being around people who take them as well helps me write about them as well. Thank you :)

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      10 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Good hub - I like learning about meds and side effects.


    • crazybeanrider profile imageAUTHOR

      Boo McCourt 

      10 years ago from Washington MI

      Hey Minnetonka, thank you for commenting. I mostly take ativan at night to sleep. It is when I seem to have most of my anxiety attacks as well. I jotted down Xanax in my Idea bank. I used to take it as well. A few years ago. Thank you so much for the rate up and reading :>

    • profile image

      Minnetonka Twin 

      10 years ago

      Another great hub with great info. Keep these coming as many of us are on anti-anxiety meds. I am on Xanax as needed and would love a hub from you on this. Rated up and useful.


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