Lorazepam review – general information and side effects
Ativan Review answering F.A.Q. ( Frequently Asked Questions)
Click on a FAQ to read the answer
What is lorazepam?
Lorazepam is a sedative medication that provides short-term relief of anxiety disorders and insomnia as well as some types of seizures. Ativan is a popular brand name for the drug.
Is lorazepam a benzo or a narcotic?
Lorazepam (Ativan), is a benzodiazepine and not a narcotic.
Why do people take lorazepam?
Lorazepam (Ativan) mainly treats anxiety. The US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approved Ativan as an anti-anxiety medication.
Ativan also treats insomnia, and some kinds of seizures including those due to status epilepticus.
Medical procedures sometimes use Ativan for sedation or to induce amnesia (so you don’t remember the procedure).
Ativan is also helps to alleviate symptoms of alcohol withdrawal.
It also treats nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.
Generally speaking, Ativan treats severe anxiety such as:
- generalized anxiety disorder
- social anxiety disorder
- anxiety associated with depression
Being quick to take effect, Ativan helps in treating panic anxiety or panic disorder.
Ativan also treats insomnia, particularly if the cause of the insomnia is anxiety or night terrors.
Lorazepam tablets (Ativan) in most cases is regarded as a short-term treatment. It is prescribed for just a few weeks.
This is because Lorazepam (Ativan) becomes less effective the longer you take it.
What are all the things lorazepam treats?
- Anxiety – Lorazepam is approved for the short-term treatment of severe anxiety.
- Nausea – Lorazepam reduces nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy. It also treats psychologically induced nausea and vomiting.
- PTSD – According to the University of Maryland Medical Center in the US, Lorazepam relieves post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.
- Seizures – Lorazepam can be good for stopping acute seizures. It is therefore used to treat epilepsy. See below for a bit more detail, Ativan and seizure control.
- Withdrawal – Lorazepam treats and even prevents withdrawal symptoms. It can be helpful for people reducing or stopping drinking alcohol. It is an anti-convulsant and central nervous system depressant.
- Bipolar disorder – Lorazepam is sometimes used as an initial short-term measure to control symptoms of bipolar disorder while other mood stabilizer drugs take effect.
- Catatonia – Lorazepam treats some kinds of catatonia.
- Flying (fear of flying) – There appears to be no clear evidence that Lorazepam can help overcome fear of flying. However there are numerous forums where people say their doctor prescribed it specifically for them to take before their flights to keep them calm. According to user reviews, a small dose can take the edge off your fear of flying.
- Insomnia – Lorazepam can be a useful short-term treatment for insomnia – for a few weeks at most – before it stops becoming effective.
- Pain – Although this is not one of its main uses, lorazepam relieves back pain and muscle spasms. It has muscle relaxing properties. It also indirectly reduces muscle tension caused by anxiousness. It’s also sometimes used to relieve spasms in those with cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis.
Are lorazepam sleeping pills?
Lorazepam tablets are not sleeping pills as such, in that their main approved use is to reduce anxiety rather than to help sleep. However, lorazepam can provide short-term relief of insomnia as they do induce y drowsiness or sleepiness.
Does lorazepam cure seizures?
Ativan has anti-convulsant properties which means it can reduce or prevent seizures. For this purpose, it’s generally given intravenously. For example, intravenous lorazepam can be a first-line treatment for status epilepticus and it’s effective at stopping acute seizures.
The downside is that its sedative effects can linger on.
However, lorazepam tablets aren’t a first choice of treatment for seizures. Patients quickly develop tolerance to lorazepam reducing its effectiveness.
This aspect is discussed further in Lorazepam addiction and withdrawal.
How lorazepam works?
Lorazepam is a central nervous system depressant. This means that it basically slows down activity in the nervous system, including the brain.
As such, it can have various effects such as:
- relieving anxiety,
- inducing sleepiness,
- interfering with memory formation (amnesic effects),
- relaxing muscles,
- countering seizures.
How does lorazepam makes you feel?
Based on its above effects, lorazepam can make you feel calm, relaxed and sleepy. It can also make you fell unsteady, confused, hungover.
To read more on these less pleasant side-effects see: lorazepam side effects.
When was lorazepam invented?
D.J. Richards of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (USA) developed the drug. Lorazepam first applied for a patent in 1963.
When did lorazepam (Ativan) come on the market?
Lorazepam first hit the market in the US in 1977 and sold under the names Ativan and Temesta and made by Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.
Who manufactures Ativan?
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer now makes Ativan (lorazepam). Pfizer took over Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, the original manufacturer.
However generic versions of lorazepam are now widely available in most countries, even the US.
Lorazepam side effects
Below you will find a complete list of questions and answers on lorazepam side effects. Click on the questions below to view.
Who should take Ativan?
Various factors affect whether and how you should take lorazepam (Ativan).
Age is one of them.
The elderly must be very careful taking Ativan since it’s more likely to cause side-effects, and at lower doses, which can result in falls and hip fractures.
As such, it’s usually recommended that the elderly take lorazepam for no more than four weeks and often at a lower dose than younger adults.
Although lorazepam isn’t approved for people under 18, it has sometimes been used to treat acute seizures in the young.
Other medical conditions you have can make lorazepam unsafe or otherwise unsuitable for you.
You need to make sure that your doctor knows about these before you get prescribed lorazepam.
You may not be able to take it, or the doctor may need to adjust your dose to accommodate these.
Such conditions include:
- acute narrow-angle glaucoma (lorazepam can worsen it)
- asthma or other lung or respiratory problems or sleep apnea (it can reduce your body’s respiratory effort)
- myasthenia gravis – lorazepam may worsen it (since it has muscle relaxing properties)
- heart disease
- liver disease
- any history of drug or alcohol abuse or addiction puts you more at risk of becoming dependent on lorazepam – see: Why is lorazepam addictive?
- any history of psychiatric disorders (you’re more at risk of experiencing paradoxical effects
- if you’re allergic to lorazepam or any other benzodiazepine drugs (which usually have a ‘z’ in them and end in ‘pam’), then you shouldn’t take it.
What are lorazepam side effects?
Lorazepam side effects – lack of mental focus
Some of the most common lorazepam side effects include feeling sleepy, weak, dizzy, unsteady.
Of course, some of lorazepam side effects are good effects such as sleepiness if you’ve got insomnia, or amnesia if you’re undergoing minor surgery. It depends on the context.
You can also find yourself feeling confused, having a sort of hangover from it, and having memory problems.
All this means that you shouldn’t drive or operate machinery or do anything else that needs you to be fully alert while taking Lorazepam.
Any mental impairments such as memory problems or confusion wear off after you stop taking Lorazepam.
When you use lorazepam, or other benzodiazepines, in the long-term then it can take at least six months for any mental impairments to disappear.
Lorazepam side effects – depression
Another lorazepam side effect results in depression. This lorazepam side effect gets worse if you’re depressed. You could even feel suicidal. This could be due to ‘unmasking’ existing suicidal thoughts, or reducing fear of it.
Lorazepam side effects – paradoxical effects
More than other benzodiazepines, lorazepam can also have “paradoxical effects” – in other words, effects which are the opposite of the effects it usually has. So instead of calming you, it could make you more agitated or aggressive, or instead of reducing your seizures, it could make them worse. This is less common, and more likely if you’re taking higher doses of lorazepam.
Lorazepam side effects – risk of dependency and addiction
Also, a major ‘side-effect’ is that everyone who takes lorazepam for any longer than a few days is at risk of becoming physically and emotionally dependent on it, and potentially addicted to it.
You are then at risk of withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it suddenly. More on this below: Why is lorazepam addictive?.
If you’ve any history of drug or alcohol abuse, you may be more at risk of this.
Lorazepam side effects – allergic reactions
And of course, as with all drugs, there’s a risk of having an allergic reaction to it. So if you have hives, itching or swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat, or trouble breathing, get medical help urgently.
The lorazepam dose strength you take influences the prevalence of Lorazepam side effects of Lorazepam. The higher the dose, the more likely and more severe the side-effects. It is always keep to the lowest dose that works for you.
Why is lorazepam are addictive?
Lorazepam (Ativan) can be addictive because of how your body deals with the drug.
What happens is that your body develops a tolerance to the drug. Your body builds up a tolerance to lorazepam.Hence you need to take a higher dose to get the same effect.
Basically, your body comes to treat the presence of the drug as essential for normal functioning, and doesn’t function as well without it.
You can then become physically dependent on it, so that if you stop taking it, your body suffers withdrawal effects.
Lorazepam can also be psychologically addictive. Some lorazepam users experience psychological withdrawal symptoms as well as physical ones.
If you stop taking it you can feel uneasiness, dissatisfaction, difficulty experiencing pleasure.
Of the benzodiazepine drugs, lorazepam is one of the most likely to cause dependence. That is partly due to the highly potent and short-lived effects of lorazepam.
You may even experience a mild withdrawal between dose, and desire for another dose.
Once you have become physically and/or psychologically dependent on Ativan, it’s a short step to actually being addicted to it.
The key to avoiding addiction is to not take lorazepam for too long, or in large doses.
Even if you’re not addicted to it, you could still experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it. One third of people who take it for four weeks experience withdrawal symptoms when stopping.
The key to avoiding these is to come off lorazepam gradually. Your doctor can work out a schedule with you.
How to withdraw from lorazepam?
When you stop taking lorazepam, you may be at risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms, which are not too pleasant, such as:
- panic attacks,
- and even seizures and psychosis
These are ‘rebound’ effects, as they are recurrences, usually more intense, of the symptoms the drug was treating.
Other symptoms include convulsions, tremor, cramps, vomiting, and sweating.
See the question above for an explanation of why this can happen.
Also read this wikipedia article for a fuller list of possible withdrawal symptoms: wikipedia.org/Lorazepam.
To minimise withdrawal symptoms, you need to withdraw from lorazepam gradually.
Sometimes, a doctor may recommend switching from lorazepam to an equivalent dose of diazepam (Valium) and then gradually reducing your dose of that. Diazepam lasts longer in the body after each dose, making it easier to reduce your dosage without noticing it so immediately in your body.
Is lorazepam (Ativan) bad for you?
Ativan, or lorazepam, can be bad for you because it may have undesirable side-effects and because it is easy to become dependent on, and potentially addicted to.
Once you’re dependent on a medication, you can experience really unpleasant symptoms once you stop taking it. See the two questions above for more details on this.
For some people with certain medical conditions, or who’re taking certain other medications, or who’re very young or old, taking lorazepam can even be dangerous – see above, “who should take lorazepam?” for details.
Can I take lorazepam when pregnant or breastfeeding?
No. Taking lorazepam during pregnancy could harm the baby and result in birth defects.
Even taking it in the later stages of pregnancy could mean the baby suffering withdrawal symptoms once it’s born.
You need to make sure that you’re using birth control when you’re taking lorazepam. Don’t take lorazepam before trying to conceive.
Taking lorazepam when breastfeeding is not recommended although the risks are less known. Lorazepam can pass into your breast milk and may harm the baby, so don’t take it when breastfeeding.