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By Kajal Jain

M. Pharm

26 December 2022
Medically reviewed by
Kajal Jain
M. Pharm
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You must have heard of the benzo drug Ativan if you have Anxiety or panic disorder. It is a short-acting tranquilizer that contains Lorazepam as its active constituent. It is a fast-acting medicine, with most people feeling its calming effects between 20 to 30 minutes after taking it, exerting a tranquilizing influence on the brain and body. 

About 40 million American adults," 18 % of the U.S. population," suffer from some form of Anxiety, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. As with most medicines, Ativan has side effects and can interact with other drugs. 

Generally, Ativan is safe and effective when used as directed by a physician. However, when it is misused, Ativan can be addictive and dangerous. This blog includes information about Ativan and its possible side effects, drug interactions, and warnings to use it safely.

What Is Ativan (Lorazepam)?

Ativan (Lorazepam) treats medically diagnosed health disorders such as Anxiety and panic disorders and short-term relief of symptoms from Anxiety and anxiety-associated depression. It is a Schedule IV benzodiazepine drug that can be classified as a tranquilizer or sedative because of the calming effects and feelings that they cause. 

Lorazepam is not suitable for everyone. It can be taken by adults and children 13 years and older for Anxiety. It can also be taken by children of 5 years or older as a "pre-medication."

As an Off-label (non-FDA-approved), Ativan is used for Alcohol withdrawal delirium, Alcohol withdrawal syndrome, Rapid tranquilization of the agitated patient, Insomnia, Delirium, Chemotherapy-associated anticipatory nausea and vomiting (adjunct or breakthrough), Psychogenic catatonia, and Vertigo. 

How Does Ativan Work?

Gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors (GABA), a neurotransmitter in the brain, regulate sleep and feelings of Anxiety and relaxation. Ativan act on this receptor to slow down the Central Nervous System (CNS). This reduces excess excitement in the brain and agitation, inducing a calming and relaxing effect.

Ativan can also reduce the intensity of panic attacks and Anxiety by depressing the CNS. It is a fast-acting drug, making it an effective solution to manage panic symptoms temporarily. The drug enters your system rapidly and lasts a few hours.

How Does Ativan Make You Feel?

The FDA indicated that Ativan is meant to fight Anxiety disorders from depression and short-term relief from anxiety-related symptoms. Ativan has tranquilizing and sedating effects. This makes you feel calm, serene, and relaxed.

It can also cause drowsiness or sleepiness as a side effect. When a person takes Ativan in a manner as prescribed, under the close surveillance of a physician, they will not feel high as the drug serves to balance out the previously unbalanced nervous system.

The high effect of Ativan can be directly correlated with that of Xanax, as both drugs are used to treat Anxiety. However, Ativan leaves the Central Nervous System more quickly. Short-term relief is under four months of use. 

Suppose a person administers a higher dose of Ativan and is not suffering from any Anxiety or depression stemming from anxiety. In that case, a person can get the euphoric sensations to peak within 30 to 60 minutes of administration. This effect can last between 5 to 8 hours, where the subject will experience feelings of an amplified sedation effect.

Ativan causes short-term changes in mood or behavior, such as anger, restlessness, crying, confusion, or overthinking.
Weight loss and decrease in appetite are common side effects of Ativan when it is taken short-term, whereas long-term Ativan use results in weight gain.
Some people who take Ativan report having more appetite than usual. This causes them to eat more and gain weight.

How Would You Feel After Consuming Ativan And Exercising?

You probably realize that many things, including medications, can affect your exercise performance – your eating and sleeping habits, your training regimen, and your state of mind. It is reported that swallowing a sedating antihistamine (like Benadryl) or a benzodiazepine (like Ativan, Valium, or Xanax) is likely to make you tired and impair your coordination at the gym. 

The drug's sedating and calming effects may deplete the motivation to exercise. Furthermore, Ativan is addictive, and this can also have a significant impact on appetite, eating habits, and weight fluctuations.

How Long Do Ativan Effects Last?

When starting with Ativan medicine, insomnia or Anxiety may improve rapidly, within hours or for days of the first dose. Benzo drugs may produce emotional or physical dependence even when taken as prescribed.

Physical dependence may develop after two or more weeks of regular use. The risk of withdrawal reactions when discontinuing therapy with this drug increases with prolonged medication use. 

Possible Side Effects Of Ativan

Mild, moderate, or severe side effects may occur with the use of Ativan. The side effects of Ativan tend to be more potent with high doses. Many people experience mild side effects as they get addicted to the medicine, but these usually pass on their own. 

If severe side effects occur, contact the prescribing doctor immediately. If it appears that someone is in an overdose state due to taking Ativan or other benzodiazepines, get emergency medical help directly.

Common side effects

Severe side effects

Drowsiness or sleepiness

Lorazepam lowers blood pressure


Convulsions or seizures


Allergic reactions


Suicidal thoughts


Erectile dysfunction

Dry mouth

Breathing difficulty (or respiratory failure)




Swelling on lips/tongue

Dosage Of Ativan

Ativan medications are available in different strengths.

  • Oral tablet: 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg
  • Intramuscular injection: 2 mg/ml, 4 mg/ml
  • Intravenously: 2 mg/ml, 4 mg/ml

The adequate dosage of Ativan depends on several factors, such as age, weight, type, and severity of the condition or any other medical condition. Your medical practitioner will start your treatment with the lowest possible dose and adjust it with time to reach the correct dosage that provides the desired effect.

However, be sure to take the dosage as prescribed by your doctor. 
      - The recommended oral dosage for Ativan is 2 to 6 mg daily. 
      - This dosage amount is usually divided into doses and taken two or three times daily.

Dosage of Ativan tablets

  • Anxiety dosage: 2 to 3 mg taken twice or thrice daily.
  • Insomnia due to Stress or Anxiety dosage: 2 to 4 mg at bedtime 

Precautions Of Ativan

Before taking Ativan, speak to your doctor about any medical conditions you are suffering from, as Ativan might not be appropriate for you if you have these conditions.

  • Breathing disorders: Ativan can slow breathing rate. People with COPD, sleep apnea, or other breathing disorders should be cautious with this medicine.
  • Kidney or liver problems: The renal or hepatic disease affects how your body breaks down medicine after taking a dose. Your doctor might prescribe a different dose of Ativan in this case.
  • Acute narrow-angle glaucoma: Ativan might increase eye pressure, worsening glaucoma. 
  • Allergic reaction: Avoid taking Ativan if you have had an allergic reaction to this drug or any of its ingredients.
  • Depression: Ativan and other benzodiazepine drugs can worsen the symptoms of depression. 
  • Breastfeeding: Ativan should be avoided while breastfeeding. 
  • Pregnancy: Ativan should be avoided during pregnancy. 

Using Ativan, even in a prescribed manner, can cause physical dependence and withdrawal if you abruptly discontinue taking the drug. Withdrawal of Ativan can be life-threatening, and its misuse can increase the risk of overdose and death.  

Ativan Interactions

Ativan (Lorazepam) can interact with several medications. It should not be taken with other benzodiazepine medications such as alprazolam, clonazepam, diazepam and midazolam. 
Medicine interactions can cause various effects. For instance, some medications can interfere with how well a drug acts, while others can cause increased side effects.

Ativan causes drowsiness, so caution should be taken while taking it in combination with other medications that cause drowsiness. These could include:

  • Antihistamines such as diphenhydramine 
  • Narcotic pain medication such as morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone
  • Sleeping medications such as zolpidem 
  • Opioid cough medications such as codeine cough syrup
  • Other anti-anxiety medications, antipsychotic medications, certain anticonvulsant medications, and tricyclic antidepressant medications (such as amitriptyline)
  • Barbiturates such as phenobarbital
  • Antipsychotic drugs such as haloperidol, clozapine, risperidone
  • Cannabis

Ativan can also interact with certain supplements and foods. Taking Ativan with herbs or other sedative supplements can cause excessive drowsiness. These include Lavender, Kava, Melatonin, Chamomile, and Valerian.

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions

Benzodiazepines are CNS depressants that increase the levels of GABA in the brain to produce relaxation and reduce nerve activity. Ativan is a benzodiazepine that relieves feelings of Anxiety. It makes you feel calm, serene, and relaxed. It can also cause drowsiness or sleepiness as a side effect. It should be cautiously administered under the surveillance of the concerned medical practitioner.

Because the drug reduces Anxiety, people may be reluctant to discontinue its use due to fear of Anxiety's return. This is when Anxiety symptoms return with increased severity following the last service.

With this being true, many will continue the pattern of Abuse, addiction, and dependence to avoid the perceived risk.

The unwanted and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms associated with substance dependency can be reduced or eliminated with appropriate, professional treatment.

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  • Longo, Lance P., and Brian Johnson. "Addiction: Part I. Benzodiazepines-side effects, abuse risk and alternatives." American family physician 61.7 (2000): 2121. Obtained on 26-12-2022

  • Shyken, Jaye M., et al. "Benzodiazepines in pregnancy." Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology 62.1 (2019): 156-167. From https://doi.org/10.1097/GRF.0000000000000417 Obtained on 26-12-2022

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