National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Brand name: Ativan®
Generic name: lorazepam (lor A ze pam)
Medication class: benzodiazepine, anxiolytic (anti-anxiety)
What is Ativan® and what does it treat?
Lorazepam is a benzodiazepine. It is approved for the treatment of anxiety, status epilepticus (continuous seizures), and as a medication given right before anesthesia. However, benzodiazepines are also commonly used to treat difficulty sleeping and alcohol withdrawal.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) occurs when a person experiences excessive anxiety or worry for at least six months. Other symptoms include
What is the most important information I should know about Ativan®?
Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you because you may notice that you feel tired or dizzy.
When starting lorazepam, anxiety or insomnia may improve rapidly or over a period of days.
Benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam, are often used for short periods of time only. They may produce emotional and/or physical dependence (addiction) even when used as recommended. Only your healthcare provider can determine the length of treatment that is right for you.
Do not stop taking lorazepam without talking to your healthcare provider first. Stopping lorazepam abruptly may result in one or more of the following withdrawal symptoms: irritability, nausea, tremor, dizziness, blood pressure changes, rapid heart rate, and seizures.
Are there specific concerns about Ativan® and pregnancy?
If you are planning on becoming pregnant, notify your healthcare provider to best manage your medications. People living with anxiety disorders who wish to become pregnant face important decisions. It is important to discuss this with your doctor and caregivers.
Regarding breastfeeding, caution is advised since lorazepam does pass into breast milk.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before taking Ativan®?
How should I take Ativan®?
Lorazepam may be taken with or without food.
Lorazepam may be taken everyday at regular times or on an as needed (‚ÄúPRN‚ÄĚ) basis. Typically, your healthcare provider will limit the number of doses you should take in one day.
Your healthcare provider will determine the dose and method of taking the medication that is right for you based upon your response.
Lorazepam liquid: Measure with a dosing spoon or oral syringe which you can get from your pharmacy.
If you take the medication everyday (instead of ‚Äėas needed’), use a calendar, pillbox, alarm clock, or cell phone alert to help you remember to take it. You may also ask a family member or friend to remind you or check in with you to be sure you are taking your medication.
What happens if I miss a dose of Ativan®?
If you miss a dose of lorazepam, take it as soon as you remember, unless it is closer to the time of your next dose. Discuss this with your healthcare provider. Do not double your next dose or take more than what is prescribed.
What should I avoid while taking Ativan®?
Avoid drinking alcohol and using illegal drugs while you are taking lorazepam. They may decrease the benefits (e.g., worsen your condition) and increase the adverse effects (e.g., sedation) of the medication. Alcohol increases the risk of accidental overdose with medications like lorazepam.
What happens if I overdose with Ativan®?
If an overdose occurs call your doctor or 911. You may need urgent medical care. You may also contact the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
Symptoms of overdose include confusion, impaired coordination, slow reflexes, coma, and death.
A specific treatment to reverse the effects of lorazepam does exist. This medicine, called flumazenil, can reverse the effects of lorazepam but must be given through an IV at a hospital. Only a doctor can decide if you need this medication.
What are the possible side effects of Ativan®?
Common Side Effects
If you experience these side effects after starting lorazepam they will often improve over the first week or two as you continue to take the medication.
Rare Side Effects
Increased heart rate, headache, memory impairment, irritability, restlessness
Serious Side Effects
Some people taking benzodiazepines develop a severe allergic reaction and swelling of the face. This can occur as early as with the first dose.
Some people taking benzodiazepines for sleep have experienced various behaviors while they were asleep/not fully awake, such as sleep driving, making phone calls, and preparing or eating food. The individuals have no memory of the events when they awaken.
Are there any risks for taking Ativan® for long periods of time?
Lorazepam is a safe and effective medication when used as directed. Benzodiazepines may produce emotional and/or physical dependence (addiction) even when used as recommended. Physical dependence may develop after 2 or more weeks of daily use.
What other medications may interact with Ativan®?
Lorazepam should not be taken with other benzodiazepine medications.
Lorazepam causes drowsiness, so caution should be used when combining it with other medications that cause drowsiness. These could include:
How long does it take for Ativan® to work?
When starting lorazepam, anxiety or insomnia may improve rapidly or over a period of days or within hours of the first dose of medication.
Provided by the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists