The People's Perspective on Medicine



Ativan is an anti-anxiety agent, similar in many respects to Valium.

Once called minor tranquilizers or sedatives, such drugs are prescribed to calm jittery nerves and relieve excessive tension. They belong to a class of medications called benzodiazepines.

Ativan is a little more rapid in action than many other such drugs and its calming effect lasts for a relatively short period of time.

Side Effects and Interactions

Side effects associated with Ativan include sedation, dizziness, unsteadiness, and confusion. These may fade after a few days or weeks.

Do not drive, operate machinery or undertake any activity that requires close attention.

Ativan may make narrow angle glaucoma worse and should not be taken by people diagnosed with this condition.

Other possible reactions include nausea, dry mouth, visual problems, depression, rash, itching, change in appetite, constipation, altered sex drive, urinary difficulties and reduced blood pressure. Report any such symptoms to your physician promptly.

Many drugs, including barbiturates, alcohol, antidepressants, digitalis-type heart drugs, scopolamine, and the schizophrenia drug Loxitane, can interact with Ativan.

People also should not combine the herb kava-kava with drugs such as Ativan. One man who did so actually went into a comalike state.

Oregon grape, which has sedative and anticonvulsant properties, probably should not be combined with antianxiety drugs such as Ativan.

Prudence suggests that the herb passionflower should not be mixed with Ativan.

Also, because of the possibility that valerian affects GABA receptors in much the same way benzodiazepines do, patients should be cautioned not to combine it with drugs such as Ativan.

It is not yet known if the sedative effects of the herb gotu kola are synergistic with those of other agents that promote sleep or reduce anxiety. Nontheless, it would be best not to mix gotu kola with Ativan until this is

Check with your pharmacist and physician to make sure Ativan is safe in combination with any other medicines or herbs you take.

Special Precautions

Regular reliance on Ativan for many months may lead to dependence.

Sudden discontinuation of the drug could trigger withdrawal symptoms including nervousness, agitation, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, fatigue, headache and nerve twitching.

Never stop taking Ativan without medical supervision. This medication may have to be phased out gradually over a period of weeks or months.

Ativan, like several other short-acting benzodiazepines, may cause problems with memory for events that happen the day after the medicine is taken. People may appear normal to friends and family, but later be unable to recall some of the things they did or observed during that time.

Taking the Medicine

Ativan can be taken with food, especially if it upsets your stomach.

Do not drink alcohol or use any other sedative while on this drug, as the combination may lead to dizziness, drowsiness, lack of coordination or confusion.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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The author of this article has misinterpreted the information. Ativan (Lorazepam) is not a quick acting medication and does not leave the body fast. Those medications that perform that action is called Xanax. Ativan takes a little time to dissolve in the system and is longer acting than any of the other Benzo’s. I don’t know where the author got that idea of “rapid acting” and short lived in the system. It is the longest acting benzo on the market. I have been taking Ativan (Lorazepam) nearly half my life, as I suffer from disabling anxiety and panic disorder, and have had many experiences with this medication and are very informed on this medication. The author is wrong.

As far as trying to wean yourself, gradually decrease your amount by .5 a day. (If you take 3 pills at .5 then start on day one taking correct dosage, then for the next couple of days *approx a week, change your dose to 2 x .5 mil. Then after that week, wean yourself again. It takes a couple of weeks to get in a place to get off of them, but NEVER quit cold turkey. It could cause life threatening problems. If you are not sure, talk to your doctor on how to come off. Just decrease the dosage slowly over a couple of weeks and you should be fine.

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet. This author is mistaken on his knowledge. This is a long lasting medication used for anxiety and panic disorders, by slowing the central nervous system.

I don’t know much about the herbal mixture, but they make sense.
It really is a great drug if you take it for its purpose. It has helped me for a long time. And I have had to increase my dosage over the years of course to have it work, as it will, like any drug, loose its effectiveness the longer you take it.
I normally don’t post on these types of things, but was really shocked to see the author being so misinformative to the story that I just had to say something.
Google it instead of being in forums. Webmd is a good place for accurate information.

From personal experience–slow and steady wins the race. As slow as you need to go. Do research on your medication and research sites that offer opinions form others who have been here. Two that I use are askapatient and crazymeds. The ladder has a wealth of information on all psych drugs from those who know what it is like, especially the owner, whose writing style is blunt but honest. Good Luck, take your time you will be OK. I had my beautiful daughter at 42 after weaning down to the smallest necessary med… I also kept up exercise and very good nutrition.

How do you get off of this stuff? I have had to take it 3 times a day (.5 mg each) for 1 1/2 years now. I also take a low dose of Trazedone at night to help me sleep, but I don’t want to be on this stuff anymore. I am so scared to stop, but I want a more holistic approach now, along with acupuncture, hypnosis and perhaps herbal/supplement remedies. I want to have another baby, but can’t while on this stuff. Someone please help…. my docs are no good when it comes to coming off. HELP !!

I would like to read comments left by others about getting off ativan.

I never thought this would be prescribed to me. I thought I had heart problems because of my family history. Due to tremendous stress in my life each day I would experience these shortness of breath and tightness on my chest. Until I started to take it right after getting it from the pharmacy. It really works for me, I only take it as needed.

You are/where having panic attacks. The doctor was right on by giving you this medication. It works well for this.
I have panic attacks too. Feels like your having a heart attack with all the right symptoms, but there is actually nothing wrong with your heart. (Make sure you rule this out with a test). If you had and your doctor gave you the ativan, then the symptoms you suffer is called “Panic”.
Good luck and I am sorry you are having these. They are very scary as I know from experience. Hope you get better…

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