Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that have been around since the ‘60s. They are primarily used for treating anxiety but have also been found to be effective in treating several other off-label conditions as well. It is believed that benzodiazepines affect certain neurotransmitters in the brain. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is one of the transmitters that benzodiazepines manipulate to suppress the activity of nerves.
Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in the body that transmits signals across the synapse from one neuron (nerve cell) to another. The messengers are released from vesicles and are received by receptors on the target cell. These neurotransmitters help shape our everyday lives and functions. There are more than 200 chemical messengers that have been identified in the body although the exact number present is currently unknown. Researchers believe that anxiety and certain other psychological disorders may be caused by overactive nerves. Benzodiazepines are used to reduce that activity in the brain and spinal cord by enhancing the effects of GABA.
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What Is Ativan Prescribed for?
The neurotransmitter GABA is thought to be partially responsible for the feelings of relaxation and anxiety as well as regulating sleep. Ativan acts on GABA to slow down the central nervous system (CNS) to reduce agitation and excitement. Because it depresses the CNS, Ativan lessens the intensity of anxiety and panic attacks. The primary use of Ativan is for the management of anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and insomnia. It can also be used in combination with other medications to prevent nausea and vomiting that are brought on by potent chemotherapies. Some patients who have been diagnosed with certain seizure disorders may be prescribed Ativan as well.
Although Ativan has been used since the ‘70s, it isn’t without certain dangers. Ativan can be habit-forming and has the potential for abuse. Currently, the FDA recommends that it not be prescribed for more than four weeks to prevent addiction. Before doctors prescribe this medication, a complete patient assessment, as well as a review of the medical history, will be conducted. Individuals who have a history of chemical or alcohol dependency may not be able to take Ativan. Additionally, those who have been diagnosed with specific conditions such as glaucoma may not be candidates for treatment as well.
What Are Ativan’s Side Effects?
Virtually all medications have a risk of side effects; Ativan is no different. The most common side effects associated with this medication are:
- Low blood pressure
- Changes in appetite
- Sleep disturbances
- Suicidal thoughts
- Respiratory issues
To prevent or lessen any potential side effects, patients should take this medication at or about the same time each day. Be sure to discuss all the problems with your doctor. The therapeutic dosage for Ativan is determined by a qualified health care provider. The right dosage depends on the condition treated, age and health history, prior experience with drugs in the benzodiazepine group, and the patient’s response to the drug.
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What Are the Signs of Ativan’s Overdose?
Unfortunately, some individuals may accidentally overdose on any number of medications including Ativan. Signs of an overdose include:
- Sudden lack of physical coordination
- Disorientation to person, place, or time
- Severe drowsiness or passing out
- Slow or delayed movements and reflex responses
- Difficulties breathing
To prevent overdose, individuals should follow the prescription carefully. When used as prescribed, Ativan is a safe and effective method for treating anxiety and panic attacks.
Get Diagnosed With Anxiety?
In the United States, anxiety disorders are estimated to affect 40 million adults every year making it the most common mental illness. In truth, the term anxiety disorder isn’t just one condition. It is a group of mental illnesses that can cause someone to have difficulties in their everyday life. The development of an anxiety disorder is believed to be the result of genetic issues, brain chemistry, personality, and tragic events. Although the term anxiety disorder is an umbrella term that groups several conditions, these illnesses each have a set of symptoms that may or may not overlap.
The most common anxiety disorders are:
- Panic Disorder- A condition that results in panic attacks. Panic attacks occur when the feeling of terror strikes at random causing physical symptoms such as increased sweating, chest pain, heart palpitations, and the sensation of choking or as if experiencing a heart attack.
- Social Anxiety Disorder or Social Phobia is characterized by overwhelming worry and self-consciousness during social situations. Individuals who suffer from this condition will typically fixate on how others view them or unnecessarily feel that they are being judged or ridiculed.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder describes individuals who have an unrealistic worry or tension with little or no reason that dramatically affects how they cope with everyday life.
If you feel that you or someone you love has an unnatural or unhealthy amount of anxiety, the first step to an effective treatment regime is to be diagnosed. While most general practitioners will only diagnose the umbrella term “Anxiety,” to get a complete diagnosis, patients should seek out a qualified mental health professional. These providers will conduct what is termed as a “mental health exam.” Because no laboratory test can determine a mental health issue, this is the first step in the treatment process. Patients may also be asked to submit to blood and urine tests to determine if there is a lack of certain hormones or vitamins that can contribute to an underlying condition.
How to Ask Your Doctor for Ativan?
Once the determination of an anxiety disorder has been made, doctors will begin the process of treatment. Often, treatment will not just be some medication; instead, it will be a combination of pharmaceuticals and therapy. Therapy may include individual sessions with a mental health therapist or in a group therapy setting designed to help patients discuss the issues that exacerbate high-stress situations.
There are also several effective medications intended to treat anxiety. Ativan is one of the most popular short-term treatments. It is an integral part of the treatment process for patients to discuss their goals and expectations with their doctors thoroughly. If you believe that Ativan could help you, don’t be afraid to ask your doctor. Ativan can be an effective treatment for those who have been diagnosed with anxiety or panic attacks as well as those needing short-term help to overcome temporary but dramatic circumstances.
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