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Lorazepam is an anti-anxiety drug. It works by boosting the effect of neurotransmitters in the brain and the nervous system that have a calming effect, reducing the effects of anxiety.
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What is Lorazepam?

Lorazepam is a drug used to treat anxiety. It belongs to a group of medications called benzodiazepines, which are a type of sedatives used to treat generalised anxiety disorder.

Lorazepam tablets can also be used as a sedative before surgery or operative dental treatment. Lorazepam is more widely known under the brand name Ativan. Generic alternatives are available. It’s also possible for a GP to administer a Lorazepam injection.

Lorazepam tablets are available only on prescription, and you must have a prescription from a GP in order to buy Lorazepam. Alternatively, we can prescribe it to you following a brief online assessment. Contact us to find out more.

For more information on Lorazepam, consult the patient information leaflet.

How it works

Benzodiazepines such as Lorazepam act by affecting chemical activity in the brain. They boost the activity of neurotransmitters in the brain and nervous systems that cause a calming effect, so the effects of your anxiety are reduced.

Lorazepam takes effect between one and six hours after taking it orally. We prescribe Lorazepam in 1 mg and 2.5 mg tablet strengths.

Before you take it

Lorazepam can affect your ability to drive. It may impair your vision and affect your concentration. You must not operate heavy machinery or motor vehicles until you are fully aware of how Lorazepam affects you. It is illegal to drive while under the influence of Lorazepam if it affects your concentration and makes you unfit to drive.

Mixing Lorazepam and alcohol can be dangerous. You are advised to avoid alcohol and any recreational drugs such as cannabis while taking Lorazepam, as some side effects may be made worse. Tell your doctor if you have a history of alcoholism or drug use.

Use of benzodiazepines such as Lorazepam has been associated with an increased risk of dependence. Lorazepam is generally only prescribed in the short term. If you take Lorazepam for longer than two to four weeks, it’s possible that you may develop a dependency. You should discuss with your doctor if you have a history of drug abuse or if you have ever been addicted to drugs in the past.

Lorazepam should not be taken during pregnancy. It’s possible that your baby may develop unwanted health problems or even withdrawal symptoms if you take Lorazepam during pregnancy. However, your doctor may prescribe you Lorazepam while pregnant if they feel the benefits of taking it outweigh the risks.

If you drink grapefruit juice or drinks containing caffeine, they can affect the way that Lorazepam works. You are advised to avoid consuming these drinks while taking Lorazepam.

Lorazepam passes into breast milk. If you take Lorazepam while breastfeeding, it may cause the baby to be less active and less inclined to suckle.

Don’t take Lorazepam if you are allergic to any of the active or inactive ingredients in your medication.

If you have liver or kidney problems, myasthenia gravis, glaucoma, depression or breathing difficulty, Lorazepam may be unsuitable for you. Talk to your doctor before taking Lorazepam to ensure it’s suitable for you to take.

Lorazepam can interact with some other drugs. You should discuss with your doctor before taking Lorazepam if you are taking any of the following:

  • Any kind of sedative, e.g. barbiturates, sleeping tablets or antihistamines
  • Any other anti anxiety drug such as Diazepam
  • Any drugs used to treat HIV
  • Drugs for any kind of addiction treatment, such as lofexidine or disulfiram
  • Antibiotics, such as erythromycin
  • Any opioid such as morphine or codeine

This is not a full list of warnings and drug interactions that may be caused by Lorazepam. For a complete list, consult the patient information leaflet.

Dosage Instructions

You should take Lorazepam exactly as directed by your doctor or pharmacist. Do not exceed the stated dose. If you are in any way unsure about how much to take, consult your doctor or healthcare professional for clarification.

The typical initial dose for anxiety in adults is 1 mg - 4 mg per day in divided doses. Your doctor will advise you how much to take and when to take it. Higher doses may be required in some cases - check with your doctor to be sure. Elderly or debilitated patients may need to take a lower dose.

Swallow your tablets whole, with plenty of water, with or without food. Do not crush, suck on or chew them.

Lorazepam is not suitable for long term use. If your symptoms do not improve, go to your doctor to discuss alternative treatment. You must not take Lorazepam for longer than instructed by your doctor.

Bear in mind that the beneficial effects of Lorazepam may become less apparent as you continue taking the medication.

Lorazepam should be stored at room temperature, in a dry place free of sunlight and moisture. Keep it out of the reach of children and pets.

Common Side Effects of Lorazepam

It’s possible for Lorazepam to cause side effects in some patients. Not all patients will experience side effects, but if you do, generally they will be mild to moderate in nature and will go away on their own as your body becomes used to the medication. However, if your side effects concern you, or they become worse, consult your doctor. Related side effects include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Poor muscle control
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle weakness

Lorazepam may also cause more serious side effects. These are comparatively rare, but if you experience these you must stop taking Lorazepam and consult your doctor. These side effects may include:

  • Depression
  • Changes in appetite, nausea
  • Memory loss or forgetfulness
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Respiratory depression
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low body temperature
  • Problems with vision
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Slurred speech

In some patients, a serious allergic reaction to Lorazepam may occur. This is very rare, but if it occurs, it is an emergency and you must immediately seek medical help. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include:

  • Skin rash; swelling, redness, itching, blistering, peeling
  • Hives or nettle rash
  • Wheezing, trouble breathing or speaking
  • Swelling of the tongue, mouth, facial area, throat or nose

This is not an exhaustive list of side effects, and for a complete list you should view the patient information leaflet.

Extra Support

Overuse of any benzodiazepine, including Lorazepam, may lead to physical and psychological dependence. If you’re struggling with addiction to Lorazepam or anything else, visit our addiction support page for help.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Lorazepam suitable for children?

Lorazepam is sometimes prescribed to children by GPs to treat numerous conditions. A child should not be given Lorazepam unless it has been specifically prescribed to them. We do not prescribe any medication to anyone under the age of 18.

I’m pregnant. Can I take Lorazepam?

You should not generally take this medication while pregnant. However, if you are prescribed Lorazepam it is because your doctor believes the benefits of taking Lorazepam outweigh the risks. Always follow your doctor’s instructions.

Will it affect my contraception?

Possibly. You should consider using another, non-hormonal method of contraception while taking Lorazepam.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you miss your regular dose of Lorazepam, simply take it as soon as you remember, unless it is nearly time for your next dose. In this case, skip the missed dose and continue with your next dose as normal. Never double up to make up for a missed dose.

What happens if I take too much?

An overdose of Lorazepam can be dangerous. You may experience more side effects or more intense side effects than usual. If you believe you have taken too much Lorazepam, you should immediately go to your local A&E centre or hospital casualty department.

More Information
Dosage Instructions Please see medicine label for the dosage instructions.