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Prescription onlyLower-cost generic available

Our pharmacists’ bottom line

Ativan (Lorazepam) is okay for occasional or short-term use (up to 4 weeks) for anxiety and sleep. Less likely to have drug interactions, but more likely to cause withdrawal symptoms compared to similar drugs.

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  • Effective at relieving short-term anxiety and sleeplessness.
  • Can be used together with antidepressants to manage anxiety disorders. Especially helpful for anxiety symptoms while you wait for an antidepressant to kick in (it can take several weeks).
  • Less likely to have drug interactions compared to other benzodiazepines, so it might be a better option if you're taking multiple medications.
  • Can cause memory problems, drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion.
  • Can be habit-forming, so it's not typically used for long-term treatment, or for people who've had problems with drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Compared to other benzodiazepines, more likely to cause withdrawal if you take it for a long time and then stop suddenly.
  • Most people find that it gets less effective over time.

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Side effects for Ativan (Lorazepam)

From clinical trials of Ativan / Anxiety ( 3500)

  • Relaxation or sleepinessRelaxation or sleepiness16% for Ativan vs.0% for placebo
  • DizzinessDizziness7% for Ativan vs.0% for placebo
  • WeaknessWeakness4% for Ativan vs.0% for placebo
  • UnsteadinessUnsteadiness3% for Ativan vs.0% for placebo

Manufacturers don’t say how common these side effects are

  • Abnormally slow breathing
  • Aggression
  • Agitation
  • Agranulocytosis
  • Allergic skin reactions
  • Amnesia
  • Anxiety
  • Autonomic manifestations
  • Blurred vision
  • Change in appetite
  • Change in libido
  • Coma
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Convulsions/seizures
  • Dangerously low body temperature
  • Decreased liver function
  • Decreased orgasm
  • Disorientation
  • Double vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Dysarthria/slurred speech
  • Euphoria
  • Excitation
  • Extrapyramidal symptoms
  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss or baldness
  • Hallucinations
  • Headache
  • Hostility
  • Hypersensitivity reactions
  • Impotence
  • Impulsiveness
  • Increase in alkaline phosphatase
  • Increase in bilirubin
  • Lack of muscle coordination
  • Low blood cell count
  • Low blood sodium
  • Low mood disorder
  • Memory impairment
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Rage
  • Serious allergic reactionc/oid reactions
  • Sexual arousal
  • Siadh
  • Skin problems
  • Sleep disturbances/insomnia
  • Stopped breathing
  • Suicidal ideation/attempt
  • Thrombocytopenia
  • Tremor
  • Unmasking of depression
  • Vertigo
  • Visual disturbance
  • Worsening of obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Worsening of sleep apnea
  • Yellow skin or eyes

What to expect when you start Ativan (Lorazepam)

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Tips from our pharmacists
  • Good for short-term relief of anxiety symptoms.
  • Starts working in 45 minutes when swallowed.
  • Starts working in 10 to 20 minutes when dissolved under your tongue.
  • Can cause temporary dizziness and drowsiness.
  • Addictive. Long-term use can cause dependence or abuse.
  • Not safe to use with alcohol.

Risks and Warnings for Ativan (Lorazepam)

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    • Higher risk if:
    • Taking more than the prescribed dose
    • Taking longer than 4 weeks
    • History of drug abuse

    If you use Ativan (Lorazepam) for 4 weeks or more, it's likely that your body will develop tolerance to it, which means that more and more of the medication is needed to achieve the same effect. You're also likely to become physically dependent on the medication, which means that you'll feel withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it all at once. You can avoid withdrawal by weaning off of the medication very slowly with the help of a doctor. Take only the prescribed dose to minimize risks of abuse and overdose. Ativan (Lorazepam) should not be used by people with a history of drug abuse if an alternative medication is available.

Means that some groups have a high risk of experiencing this side effect

Tips from pharmacists and people taking Ativan (Lorazepam)

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The FDA category for this medication is D. It is advised that you: Weigh risks vs. benefits
  • Upsides and downsides from our pharmacists
  • Can be habit-forming, so it's not typically used for long-term treatment, or for people who've had problems with drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Tips from our pharmacists
  • Not safe to use with alcohol.
  • Risks from our pharmacists
  • Stopping Ativan (Lorazepam) suddenly may cause withdrawal symptoms such as nausea, anxiety, agitation, flu-like symptoms, trouble sleeping, and muscle pain or burning. Withdrawal symptoms can last 6 weeks or longer. Work with your doctor to gradually reduce your dose.
  • Take the lowest dose possible; less side effects. I use it at night for sleep; if I keep to the lower dose I have no problem with being groggy in the morning
    Age: 59
    Gender: woman
    Taken for: Insomnia
    Duration taken: two years or more
  • Took for sleep and anxiety. Some jittery side effects. Can keep you calm
    Age: 54
    Gender: man
    Taken for: Anxiety
  • Use as needed after panic attack to sleep, use minimal dose (0.25-0.5mg only) and helps sleep, try not to use during day as it makes me very drowsy
    Age: 49
    Gender: woman
    Taken for: Anxiety