ADHD Medication and Treatment Reviews


Generic Name: Lorazepam

What is Ativan?

Ativan (Generic Name: lorazepam) is a benzodiazepine primarily used for short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety disorders in adolescents and adults. It may help relieve excessive worry, shortness of breath or heavy perspiration, feelings of edginess, and difficulty sleeping due to anxiety. The safety and effectiveness of taking lorazepam for more than four months in unknown.

Ativan is also used off-label to treat alcohol withdrawal, insomnia, and to prevent nausea from chemotherapy.

How to Use Ativan

Before starting or refilling an Ativan prescription, read the medication guide included with your pills, as it may be updated with new information.

This guide should not replace a conversation with your doctor, who has a holistic view of your or your child’s medical history, other diagnoses, and other prescriptions. If you have questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist before you begin taking the medication.

Dosage for Ativan

As with all medications, follow your Ativan prescription instructions exactly. Lorazepam is taken orally with water or another liquid, with or without food. Tablets are available in 0.5mg, 1mg, and 2mg doses.

Do not drink alcohol while taking this medication.

The dosage varies by condition treated and by patient health. A typical schedule is 2 to 6 mg per day in divided doses. The highest dose is given before bed, when the potential reaction of sleepiness is less disruptive. Your doctor may increase your dosage gradually over time to decrease the potential for side effects.

Doctors may recommend starting with a lower dosage for the elderly patients or patients with advanced liver or other debilitating disease who may be particularly sensitive to benzodiazepines.

When discontinuing treatment, or decreasing dosage, patients should work with a doctor to gradually taper the level of medication. Stopping lorazepam suddenly can create withdrawal symptoms, and seizure can occur.

Some patients develop a tolerance to lorazepam. Do not increase your dosage without discussing it with your doctor. Your doctor should periodically reassess if the treatment is still useful. Long-term treatment with lorazepam increases the risk of dependence, and may cause difficulty when terminating treatment. After an extended period without symptoms, a patient may work with his or her doctor to taper off the medication gradually.

Side Effects Associated with Ativan

The most common side effects of lorazepam are similar to those associated with Alprazolam and other benzodiazepines, and are as follows: drowsiness, dizziness, weakness, unsteadiness, and symptoms of dependence/withdrawal with long-term usage.

Other serious side effects include constipation, depressive thoughts, loss of appetite, sexual problems, jaundice, memory impairment, headache, and blurred vision. If you stop taking lorazepam suddenly, a life-threatening seizure can occur.

In rare cases, lorazepam can have the opposite of the desired effect — called a paradoxical reaction —and increase anxiety, aggression, insomnia, or agitation. This effect is more common in children and the elderly.

Taking lorazepam may impair your ability to drive, operate machinery, or perform other potentially dangerous tasks. This side effect usually wears off with time. If side effects are bothersome, or do not go away, talk to your doctor.

Most people taking this medication do not experience any of these side effects.

Disclose to your physician all mental health issues including any family history of suicide or depression. Lorazepam may create new or exacerbate existing behavior or mental problems. Call your doctor immediately if you or your child experiences new or worsening mental health symptoms including hallucinations or changes in mood.

Lorazepam can cause kidney or liver problems. Elderly or debilitated patients with impaired renal, hepatic, or pulmonary function should use caution and be observed closely when taking lorazepam. Seek medical help right away if you experience yellowing eyes or skin, seizures, or signs of an allergic reaction.

Benzodiazepines like lorazepam have a low potential for abuse and addiction among people who have anxiety. It is a “Schedule IV Stimulant,” a designation that the Drug Enforcement Agency uses for drugs with a low potential for abuse. Other Schedule IV drugs include Valium, Alprazolam, and Ambien. However, long-term treatment in higher dosages with lorazepam increases the risk of dependence, especially for people with a history of substance abuse. Taking the medication exactly as prescribed can reduce potential for abuse.

The above is not a complete list of potential side effects. If you notice any health changes not listed above, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Precautions Associated with Ativan

Store Ativan in a secure place out of reach of children, and at room temperature.

You should not take lorazepam if you are sensitive to benzodiazepines, or have acute narrow angle glaucoma.

If you are thinking of becoming pregnant, you should not take lorazepam, because there is a high potential for fetal harm or withdrawal symptoms after delivery. Lorazepam is passed through breastmilk, so it is recommended that mothers do not nurse while taking it.

Interactions Associated with Ativan

Before taking lorazepam, discuss all other active prescription medications with your doctor.

You should not take lorazepam if you are taking:

  • Central nervous system depressants (e.g., alcohol, barbiturates, sedatives, etc.)
  • Clozapine
  • Valproate
  • Probenecid

Share a list of all vitamin or herbal supplements, and prescription and non-prescription medications you take with the pharmacist when you fill your prescription, especially any drugs that cause drowsiness. Let all doctors and physicians know you are taking lorazepam before having any surgery or laboratory tests. The above is not a complete list of all possible drug interactions


2 Ativan Comments & Reviews

  1. 33 year old male, 1 mg dose as needed, prescribed for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

    I take Ativan 2-3 times per week (sometimes more or less), usually at night, just before bed. I’ll take it when I get “that feeling” that I’m going to have a tough time sleeping. Without Ativan, my GAD will wake me up every 1-2 hours and my mind will be humming. The Ativan helps me chill out and transition to bed, fall asleep faster, and stay asleep longer, usually the whole night. I sometimes feel a little groggy in the morning, but it is worth it for the full night’s rest. As a grad student, I often have to work on assignments and projects until I HAVE to go to bed (there is never enough time), which makes it hard to relax and fall asleep, and then I start to worry about being unrested, which exacerbates the GAD, etc. Ativan stops all that. I will typically take the dose about 30 minutes before bed. If I take it for more than 3-4 nights in a row, it is noticeably harder to fall asleep on the next night. The body gets used to it quickly.

    In the past (2-3 years ago), when my GAD was much worse, I have taken Ativan as often as twice a day for several weeks on end. I would then wean off of it (reduce dose, reduce frequency, etc.), which wasn’t too bad. I don’t have frequent panic attacks anymore, but when I did, the Ativan would cut it off almost immediately, and then prevent me from worrying all day. The Physician’s Assistant suggested I allow the tablet to dissolve under my tongue for faster effects.

    The positive effects I feel are a sense of calm, balance, clear-mindedness, peace, and just “chill.” Depending on the time of day, the sleepiness can be considered a positive or negative side effect (good for me since I most often take it at night). Negative side effects are mostly sexual; it is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve orgasm. I do not drive anymore while taking this medication. When I was taking it regularly, I would limit driving to in-town only, and avoid driving right after taking the dose. You have to allow your body to get used to it. I always wait a minimum of 6 hours after drinking alcohol (longer if I’ve had more) to take this medication.

    Ativan has made a really positive difference in my life. In addition to before bed, I will also take it on airplanes or when my sleep schedule has been disrupted and I just need to recover sleep. It is definitely habit-forming, but not if you only take it every now and then (1-2 nights in a row every week or so for me).

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