The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient's unique health circumstances and needs.
Ativan is a sedative-hypnotic prescription medication in the benzodiazepines class, sometimes referred to as an anxiolytic drug. It is also available as lorazepam in generic form.
This medication is listed as a Schedule IV controlled substance. Though it has a low potential for abuse, it can cause dependency if used for a long period. Like other medicines, it may also cause side effects at the beginning of treatment. In this post, we’ll review the most common side effects of Ativan as well as the rare ones. But first, let’s learn more about the uses of this medication and how it works.
Consult EZCare doctors to get the most suitable medication for you.
Ativan Uses and Working Mechanism
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), approximately
Being a fast-acting tranquilizer, Ativan immediately affects the central nervous system (CNS). The medication increases the levels of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that blocks specific signals to lower CNS excitability. The medication, however, has chemicals that can be dangerous if used without control, so it should be used carefully with medical guidance.
Ativan is available in 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg tablets. The dosage of the medication is tailor-made to suit a person’s overall health condition and response to the treatment.
To help patients avoid side effects, doctors usually start by prescribing low doses of Ativan that can be gradually increased later. Daily dosage ranges from 1 to 10 mg (usually 2 to 6 mg/daily) and is administered in divided doses, taking the largest dose at bedtime.
For the elderly, treatment starts with 1 to 2 mg daily, with a gradual increase as they adjust to the drug. Ativan overdose can be fatal, more so when taken together with other CNS depressants.
Common and Rare Lorazepam Side Effects
All medications have side effects, and lorazepam is no exception. Its common and rare side effects are listed below.
Common Side Effects of Ativan
- Blurred vision
- Change in appetite
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Inability to concentrate
- Loss of coordination or balance
- Muscle weakness
- Nausea or vomiting
- Skin rash
- Mood changes
EZCare doctors are here to provide personalized support and tell about all the medication intake requirements.
Rare Side Effects of Ativan
The side effects of Ativan are sometimes severe. A patient should contact the doctor if they get serious, life-threatening side effects. Some of them include:
- Breathing complications. The medication may stop or slow down the patient’s breathing.
- Convulsion, body tremors, or seizures.
- Severe allergic reactions such as hives, swollen tongue, lips, or face.
- Low blood pressure that may cause fainting.
- Paradoxical reactions whereby the medication produces the opposite reaction of the expected results. For instance, instead of calming down brain excitation, the medication may cause rage, aggression, agitation, hostility, insomnia, etc.
Effects of Prolonged Use of Ativan
Ativan is recommended for short-term treatment and is safe in that case. Its long-term use (of more than 4 months) has not yet been proven beneficial and may cause complications such as:
- Misuse, abuse, or addiction. Taking Ativan longer than prescribed or taking higher doses without consulting a doctor increases the risk of abuse and misuse, which may lead to addiction. Using Ativan along with other medications or alcohol can increase the frequency of adverse effects too, including hypoventilation, overdose, delirium, paranoia, abdominal pain, memory loss, suicidal thoughts, or death.
- Dependence. As a result of continued therapy, the body starts depending on the drug to be able to function normally. Behavioral or psychological dependence makes it difficult to discontinue or rapidly reduce the dosage of the medication since it would cause severe withdrawal effects.
- Acute withdrawal symptoms. These occur as a result of abrupt dose reduction, sudden discontinuation of medicine, or administration of flumazenil that reverses the effects of Ativan. These include dizziness, abnormal involuntary movements, anxiety, impaired vision and memory, fatigue, etc. Some more severe symptoms such as seizures, convulsions, hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts can also be life-threatening.
- Protracted withdrawal syndrome. These are withdrawal symptoms that may last from 4-6 weeks to more than 12 months. These are indicated by anxiety, depression, cognitive impairment, poor muscle control, prickling sensation, and tinnitus.
To avoid these, patients should be monitored regularly and started on the minimum dosage possible.
Ativan has a few contraindications that can cause severe effects in certain patients. People with the following conditions should not use Ativan:
- Allergy to any benzodiazepine medication (Valium, Versed, Xanax, Klonopin, Diazepam, Alprazolam, etc.), yellow food dye, or aspirin.
- Acute narrow-angle glaucoma.
Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals should consult their doctor about taking Ativan because this medication may cause risk to the fetus. Also, elderly persons should discuss the choice of medication with their healthcare providers. Ativan side effects in the elderly may include slowed breathing, dizziness, or drowsiness.
Ativan is a benzodiazepine drug used to treat anxiety disorder, insomnia, and panic attacks, among other mental disorders. A patient may experience any short-term or prolonged side effects of Ativan. Also, although the medication rarely causes addiction, it may cause dependency if used for a long period. To reduce the risks, patients should adhere to the doctor’s instructions on the prescription dosage. In case of severe adverse reactions or withdrawal symptoms, seek medical help immediately. And to know more about what medication will help treat your symptoms best, contact our doctors online.