Ativan Side Effects

by on March 13, 2012


Very few of the side effects of Ativan are serious, but certain populations may be more susceptible to harmful complications resulting from its use.  Always discuss the benefits and risks of any treatment option with your doctor first.  The most serious side effect of Ativan is the risk of developing a dependency to the drug. Drowsiness, weakness, and a sense of unbalance are the most commonly experienced side effects. Be sure you know how your body will react to Ativan before driving or performing other activities that require alertness.

Common Ativan Side Effects

The side effects a person experiences while taking Ativan (or generic Lorazepam) will depend on the purpose of the treatment and the dosage.

Higher dosages intensify most side effects. Not all patients benefit from all of the different functions this medication performs. A person taking Ativan to prevent nausea, for example, may find its amnesic and sedative properties bothersome. Discuss the benefits and possible side effects of Ativan with your doctor to decide if this medication is right for you.

The most common side effects may include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Appetite changes
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Mild nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Changes in urination patterns
  • Lack of sexual desire and/or performance
  • Unusual excitement or restlessness
  • Blurred vision
  • Lack of balance or coordination
  • Forgetfulness or mild amnesia
  • Inability to focus

If any of these side effects interfere with your daily routine or become worse, contact your doctor.

Serious Ativan Side Effects

When used as directed for no longer than a 4-week period, very few patients experience serious side effects. If you have any of the following symptoms, contact your physician immediately:

  • Fever
  • Severe skin rash
  • Tremors
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Hyperactivity
  • Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Swallowing or breathing complications
  • A shuffling walk
  • Fainting
  • Hallucinations
  • New or worsening depression
  • Aggressive or violent behavior
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

Some people may experience an allergic reaction to lorazepam. If you develop hives, have difficulty breathing, or experience swelling in the face, tongue, lips, or throat, seek emergency care.

Ativan in the Elderly

Elderly patients are at a higher risk of experiencing adverse side effects while taking Ativan and these symptoms typically occur at much lower dosages in older individuals. Cognitive impairment from long term use is much harder to reverse in elderly patients; the sedative effects of lorazepam can be much more harmful; adverse interactions are also more likely because many seniors take several daily medications. A more serious side effect in elderly Ativan users is the increased risk of falls from a lack of coordination or inability to balance.

Ativan is an effective medication for a number of applications. Serious Ativan side effects are rare, but the tendency to develop a dependency to the drug limits the number of ways it can be used and the individuals who are best suited to use it. Be sure your physician is aware of your medical history and background, as well as the current medications you are taking, before discussing the benefits and risks of taking lorazepam.