Generic Name: Lorazepam



Chemically, Ativan (lorazepam) is a short-acting anxiolytic belonging to a group of drugs known as benzodiazepines. It is usually prescribed to treat anxiety associated with mental health conditions such as depression and insomnia, panic, muscle spasm pain, and seizures. In some cases, it has also been used to manage symptoms associated with the acute phase of schizophrenia.

How Does Ativan Work?

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is an inhibitory neurotransmitter—meaning it does not cause excitement in the brain—produced in the central nervous system. It can help the body calm the nervous system and promote balanced activity within a person’s brain. To put it very simply, Ativan acts on GABA receptors and causes a release and enhancement of the GABA neurotransmitter, which promotes a relaxing, calming effect throughout the body.

Dosage FAQs

  • What is a safe dose of this drug?
    • Anxiety: Ativan is used for short-term relief of severe anxiety in a 1 mg to 4 mg divided dose. It is not recommended for long-term use.
    • Panic: A 3 mg to 5 mg divided dose may be administered for panic, but it is not without risk and should only be used when alternative measures have failed (such as antidepressant therapy).
    • Insomnia: A dose of 1 mg to 2 mg at bedtime is indicated for insomnia with anxiety.
    • For pain relief: A dose of 0.5 mg to 2 mg in divided doses can be used to relieve pain that is complicated by anxiety or muscular spasm.
    • Status epilepticus (epileptic seizures):  A slow IV dose of 4 mg is used for status epilepticus and, if necessary, the dose is repeated after 10 minutes. In children under 10, an IV dose of 4 mg is administered and repeated only if necessary
  • Is it safe to use this drug if I am pregnant?
    During pregnancy, this drug should only be used if there is a clear indication, for example seizure control. High doses during pregnancy can cause neonatal hypothermia and respiratory depression. It can also cause neonatal hypotonia (low muscle tone). It is classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a pregnancy schedule D drug, which means there is evidence of a risk to the fetus for pregnant mothers.
  • How is this drug processed in my body?
    This medication has a moderate rate of absorption with the peak concentration reached in one to six hours and a half-life of 10 to 20 hours. After metabolization, it has no active metabolites that are excreted through the urine.
  • If I am prescribed this medication for anxiety or panic, how do I get the most out of my treatment?
    Anxiety and panic-related mental health conditions are often treated with success with various types of psychotherapy. Finding a therapist or counselor to work with may help complement your treatment with psychotropic medication. A therapist can help you better understand if there are underlying conditions associated with what you are experiencing, help you work on developing a self-care routine to keep anxiety levels low, and help you develop coping strategies in case symptoms arise or become triggered.

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