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Ativan Medication: Everything You Need to Know





Generic Name: Lorazepam.

What is Ativan prescribed for?

Ativan is an anxiety medication which is used for the treatment of anxiety disorders for the short-term relief of anxiety symptoms. This anxiety medication belongs to the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines.
What do I need to know about this anxiety medication?
When using Ativan you should always be aware of the fact that tolerance and dependence can develop with its use. You should also be very concerned about withdrawal symptoms which you may experience if you stop using this medicine abruptly. You should follow your doctor’s recommendations if you decide to discontinue or change your dosage.

How should you take this anxiety medication?

You should always take Ativan exactly as it is prescribed by your physician.

What if you miss a dose of this anxiety medication?

If it is within an hour or so of your usual scheduled time you should take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If not, you should skip the dose and go back your regular schedule. You should never take two doses at once.

How is it stored?

You should store this and similar anxiety medications at room temperature in a tightly closed container away from the light.

When should Ativan not be prescribed?

This anxiety medication should not be prescribed if you are sensitive to or have ever had an allergic reaction to this or similar antianxiety medications such as Valium. You should also avoid Ativan if you have had the eye disease acute narrow-angle glaucoma. Do not take Ativan to relieve the symptoms of normal everyday tension or anxiety. Everyday stress and worry does not require treatment with Ativan. You should discuss your anxiety symptoms thoroughly with your physician before trying Ativan or similar anxiety medications.

Ativan side effects:

What Ativan side effects may be expected?

Ativan side effects cannot really be anticipated, but if any develop or a change in intensity you should notify your doctor immediately. Only your physician can determine if it is safe to continue taking this anxiety medication.




If you experience any side effects to Ativan, they will usually appear at the beginning of your medication treatment. They will usually disappear as you continue to take this drug or if you reduce the dosage.

Ativan side effects may also include:

Dizziness, memory problems, sedation, transient amnesia, unsteadiness, weakness
Side effects of Ativan due to a rapid decrease in dosage or abrupt withdrawal:
Abdominal muscle cramps, convulsions, depressed mood, inability to fall or stay asleep, sweating, tremors, vomiting

What are some of the other special concerns related to Ativan?

Ativan and similar medications may cause you to become drowsy or less alert. You should never drive or operate dangerous machinery or participate in hazardous activities which require full mental attention when taking this medication. Also, if you suffer from depression you should consult your doctor before taking Ativan. If you have decreased kidney or liver function the use of this antianxiety drug should be discussed with your physician. If you’re an elderly individual, or if you have been using Ativan for a prolonged period of time, your physician may want to monitor you closely for stomach and upper intestinal problems.

What are some the possible food and drug interactions when taking this drug?

This and other similar anxiety medications are known to increase the effects of alcohol. You should always avoid alcohol when taking these anti-anxiety medications. When taken along with some other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased or otherwise altered. It is very important to consult your doctor before combining Ativan with barbiturates (Phenobarbital, Seconal, and Amytal) or sedative-type medications such as Valium and Halcion.

Can you take this medication if you’re pregnant or breast-feeding?

You should not take Ativan if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Clinical experience and research has identified an increased risk of birth effects. Also, is not known if Ativan shows up in breast milk. If this medication is essential to your health, your doctor may advise you to discontinue breast-feeding until your medication treatment is finished.

Ativan dosages recommended for adults and children:

Ativan dosage for adults:

The common Ativan dosage recommended for adults is a total of 2mg to 6 mg per day divided into smaller doses. Usually, the largest dose is taken around bedtime. The total daily Ativan dosage may vary from 1mg to 10 mg per day.

Dosage for Insomnia due to anxiety:

Ativan is usually taken at bedtime in doses of 2mg to 4 mg.

For anxiety:

The usual starting Ativan dosage is a total to 3 mg per day taken in two or three smaller doses.

Ativan dosage for children:

The safety and effectiveness has not been established for using Ativan for children under the age of 12 years of age.

For older adults:

The usual starting Ativan dosage for the elderly and for those in a weakened condition should not exceed a total of 1mg to 2 mg per day, evenly divided into smaller doses to avoid oversedation. This dose can be adjusted by your doctor as necessary.

Ativan overdosage:

All medications taken in excess of the recommended amounts may have very serious consequences. An overdose of Ativan can be fatal, although this is relatively rare. If you suspect an overdose, you should seek medical attention immediately.

Symptoms of an overdose may include:

Coma, confusion, drowsiness, hypnotic state, lack of coordination, low blood pressure, sluggishness.

Information adapted from The PDR Pocket Guide to Prescription Drugs – Sixth Edition

Additional Information and webpage by Paul Susic  Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist  (Health and Geriatric Psychologist)




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