Ativan (lorazepam)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Is Ativan (lorazepam) available as a generic drug?

Yes

Do I need a prescription for Ativan (lorazepam)?

Yes

Why is Ativan (lorazepam) prescribed to patients?

  • Ativan (lorazepam) is used for the management of anxiety disorders, the short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety or anxiety associated with depression.
  • Ativan is effective for insomnia and panic attacks, and is used in combination with other medications to prevent nausea and vomiting resulting from chemotherapy.
  • Ativan also is administered before anesthesia for sedation and used for prevention and treatment of alcohol withdrawal.
  • It also is used for treating seizures (status epilepticus).

What are the side effects of Ativan (lorazepam)?

The most common side effects associated with Ativan are:

Other side effects include:

Possible serious side effects include:

  • Extrapyramidal symptoms
  • Respiratory depression
  • Suicidal ideation/attempt
  • Seizures
  • Depression

WARNING:

  • Like all benzodiazepines, Ativan can cause physical dependence. Suddenly stopping therapy after a few months of daily therapy may be associated with a feeling of loss of self-worth, agitation, and insomnia. If Ativan is taken continuously for longer than a few months, stopping therapy suddenly may produce seizures, tremors, muscle cramping, vomiting, and sweating.
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What is the dosage for Ativan (lorazepam)?

  • The dose of Ativan is tailored to the patient's needs.
  • The usual dose for treating anxiety is 2-6 mg orally every 8 to 12 hours as needed.
  • Insomnia is treated with 2-4 mg given at bedtime.

Which drugs or supplements interact with Ativan (lorazepam)?

  • Ativan and all benzodiazepines accentuate the effects of other drugs that slow the brain's processes such as alcohol, barbiturates, narcotics, and tranquilizers, and the combination of Ativan and these drugs may lead to excessive sedation. There have been cases of marked sedation when Ativan was given to patients taking the tranquilizer loxapine (Loxitane); it is unclear if there is a drug interaction, but caution should be used if Ativan and loxapine are used together.

Is Ativan (lorazepam) safe to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?

  • Ativan and other benzodiazepines have been associated with fetal damage, including congenital malformations, when taken by pregnant women in their first trimester. Ativan is best avoided if at all possible in the first trimester and probably throughout pregnancy.
  • Ativan is excreted in human milk and should be avoided during pregnancy.

What else should I know about Ativan (lorazepam)?

What preparations of Ativan (lorazepam) are available?
  • Tablets: 0.5, 1, and 2 mg.
  • Oral solution: 0.5 mg/5 ml, 2 mg/ml.
  • Injection: 1 mg/0.5 ml, 2 mg/ml and 4 mg/ml
How should I keep Ativan (lorazepam) stored?
  • Tablets should be kept at room temperature 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F).
  • Oral solutions should be refrigerated at 2 C to 8 C (36 F to 46 F).
  • Injectable solutions should be refrigerated.
How does Ativan (lorazepam) work?
  • Lorazepam is thought that excessive activity of nerves in the brain may cause anxiety and other psychological disorders. Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that nerves in the brain use to send messages to one another that reduces the activity of nerves in the brain. It is thought that lorazepam and other benzodiazepines may act by enhancing the effects of GABA in the brain to reduce activity. Because lorazepam is removed from the blood more rapidly than many other benzodiazepines, there is less chance that lorazepam concentrations in blood will reach high levels and become toxic. Lorazepam also has fewer interactions with other medications than most of the other benzodiazepines.
When was Ativan (lorazepam) approved by the FDA?
  • The FDA approved lorazepam in March 1999.

Reference: FDA Prescribing Information

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See more info: lorazepam on RxList
Reviewed on 11/9/2016
References
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information

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