If you have anxiety, you may be interested in learning more about lorazepam. It’s a generic prescription drug used to treat anxiety or anxiety associated with depression in adults and some children ages 12 years and older.
Lorazepam comes in two forms that you take by swallowing: an oral tablet and a liquid concentrate that you mix with a liquid or semi-solid food before taking. These forms of lorazepam are available as the brand-name drugs Ativan tablet and Lorazepam Intensol concentrate.
Lorazepam also comes in other forms that are available as brand-name drugs only. These are an extended-release capsule (Loreev XR) and an injectable form (Ativan). This article only covers the generic tablet and liquid concentrate.
In most cases, your doctor will recommend taking lorazepam short term. It’s not known whether it may be safe to take lorazepam for longer than 4 months.
This article describes lorazepam’s side effects, also called adverse effects. For more information about lorazepam oral tablet, including details about its uses, see this in-depth article. Your doctor can provide more information about the liquid concentrate.
Some people may experience mild to serious side effects during their lorazepam treatment. Examples of lorazepam’s commonly reported side effects include:
Keep reading to learn other side effects lorazepam may cause, which can be mild or serious.
You may develop mild side effects from taking lorazepam. Examples of mild side effects that have been reported with lorazepam include:
- feeling unsteady
- fatigue (low energy)
- withdrawal symptoms*
- memory loss
- mild allergic reaction*
* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Lorazepam’s side effects explained” section below.
In most cases, these side effects should be temporary. And some may be easily managed. But if you have any symptoms that are ongoing or bother you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. And do not stop taking lorazepam unless your doctor recommends it.
Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks side effects of the medication. If you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with lorazepam, visit MedWatch.
It’s possible to experience serious side effects from taking lorazepam, although these are less common than the drug’s mild side effects. Serious side effects that have been reported with lorazepam include:
- respiratory depression (severely slow, shallow breathing) or trouble breathing
- changes in mood, such as depression or suicidal thoughts or behaviors
- risk of dependence, misuse, and addiction*
- risk of serious side effects when taken with opioid medications†
- severe allergic reaction‡
* Lorazepam has a
† Lorazepam also has a boxed warning for this side effect. To learn more, see the “Lorazepam’s side effects explained” section below.
‡ To learn more about this side effect, see the “Lorazepam’s side effects explained” section below.
If you develop serious side effects while taking lorazepam, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.
Help is out there
If you or someone you know is in crisis and considering suicide or self-harm, please seek support:
- Call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
- Text HOME to the Crisis Textline at 741741.
- Not in the United States? Find a helpline in your country with Befrienders Worldwide.
- Call 911 or your local emergency services number if you feel safe to do so.
If you’re calling on behalf of someone else, stay with them until help arrives. You may remove weapons or substances that can cause harm if you can do so safely.
If you are not in the same household, stay on the phone with them until help arrives.
People ages 65 years and older who take lorazepam may have an increased risk of side effects from the drug. Side effects of lorazepam that older people may have a higher risk of include:
If you’re an older adult, your doctor may have you take a lower dose of lorazepam at the start of treatment to get your body used to the medication. They may then increase the dose as needed until you’re taking the right dose for your condition.
Learn more about some of the side effects lorazepam may cause.
Risk of serious side effects when taken with opioid medications
What might help
If you’re taking an opioid, tell your doctor before you start lorazepam treatment. They can determine whether it’s safe for you to take the drugs together.
Your doctor may recommend taking both lorazepam and an opioid for your treatment. In this case, they’ll have you take the lowest possible doses of the drugs for the shortest amount of time necessary.
Lorazepam may cause withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking the medication. Withdrawal symptoms can happen when your body becomes used to a medication, and then you suddenly stop taking it. In some cases, withdrawal symptoms may be long term, lasting anywhere from weeks to up to 12 months.
Examples of withdrawal symptoms that may occur include:
- insomnia (trouble sleeping)
- anxiety or depression
- nausea or vomiting
What might help
If you would like to stop treatment with lorazepam, talk with your doctor. Do not stop treatment with this medication without first discussing a plan with them.
Your doctor will likely recommend that you slowly reduce your dose of lorazepam so that your body can adjust to less medication.
If you develop severe symptoms of withdrawal, contact your doctor or emergency services immediately.
Lorazepam can cause nausea. But this wasn’t one of the more common side effects reported in studies of the drug.
What might help
If you develop nausea from taking lorazepam, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can suggest ways to ease this side effect, such as taking your dose of the drug with food.
For a few remedies you can try at home that may lessen nausea, check out this article.
Lorazepam may cause constipation, although this wasn’t a common side effect of lorazepam in studies of the drug.
What might help
If you develop constipation that’s bothersome to you while taking lorazepam, tell your doctor or pharmacist. They may be able to recommend ways to decrease this side effect. For example, taking an over-the-counter medication, such as MiraLAX (polyethylene glycol), might ease your constipation.
For at-home treatments that may also relieve constipation, see this article.
What might help
If you feel agitated during treatment with lorazepam, talk with your doctor. You may be having a paradoxical reaction. (This refers to experiencing effects that are the opposite of what is expected from the drug.) Such reactions are more likely to occur in children and older people (ages 65 years and over).
If you think you’re having a paradoxical reaction to lorazepam, talk with your doctor. They may recommend stopping lorazepam treatment or prescribe a different medication to treat your anxiety.
Like most drugs, lorazepam can cause an allergic reaction in some people.
Symptoms can be mild to serious and can include:
- skin rash
- flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
- swelling under your skin, usually in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
- swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe
What might help
If you have mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may suggest a treatment to manage your symptoms. Examples include:
- an antihistamine you take by mouth, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
- a product you apply to your skin, such as hydrocortisone cream
If your doctor confirms you’ve had a mild allergic reaction to lorazepam, they’ll decide whether you should continue taking it.
If you have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as swelling or trouble breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms could be life threatening and require immediate medical care.
If your doctor confirms you’ve had a serious allergic reaction to lorazepam, they may have you switch to a different treatment.
Keeping track of side effects
During your lorazepam treatment, consider taking notes on any side effects you’re having. You can then share this information with your doctor. This is especially helpful when you first start taking new drugs or using a combination of treatments.
Your side effect notes can include things such as:
- what dose of the drug you were taking when you had the side effect
- how soon you had the side effect after starting that dose
- what your symptoms were
- how it affected your daily activities
- what other medications you were taking
- any other information you feel is important
Keeping notes and sharing them with your doctor will help them learn more about how lorazepam affects you. They can then use this information to adjust your treatment plan if needed.
Get answers to some frequently asked questions about lorazepam’s side effects.
Can lorazepam cause mood-related side effects, such as crying?
Yes, lorazepam can cause mood-related side effects. In addition to crying, examples of such side effects include anxiety, depression, and hallucinations. In rare cases, lorazepam can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in certain people.
If you notice changes in your mood that are bothersome during treatment, talk with your doctor. Also, let them know if you’re experiencing effects that are the opposite of what is expected from the drug. Examples include developing agitation or aggression during treatment. In some cases, they may recommend that you take a medication other than lorazepam to treat your anxiety.
Is it possible to have long-term side effects from taking lorazepam?
Yes, it’s possible to have long-term side effects from taking lorazepam. Examples include memory loss and mood changes, such as depression. But long-term side effects weren’t commonly reported in studies of lorazepam.
People who suddenly stop taking lorazepam can develop withdrawal symptoms. These may be long term, lasting anywhere from weeks to up to 12 months. Examples include mood changes, tremors, and insomnia (trouble sleeping). For more information about withdrawal symptoms, see the “Lorazepam’s side effects explained” section above.
If you have concerns about long-term side effects from taking this medication, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Is weight gain a side effect of lorazepam?
No, you shouldn’t have weight gain from taking lorazepam. Weight changes weren’t reported in studies of people taking this medication.
It’s possible for the conditions lorazepam treats, anxiety and anxiety associated with depression, to increase the risk of weight gain or obesity.
If you have weight gain while taking lorazepam, talk with your doctor. They can determine what may be causing it. They may also recommend ways to manage your weight. For example, they may suggest changes to your diet or exercise routine to help manage your weight.
Lorazepam comes with several warnings.
Lorazepam has the
Risk of dependence, misuse, and addiction. Lorazepam may cause dependence, misuse, and addiction. Dependence on a drug can occur when you become used to it and need to take it to feel as you usually would. Misuse of a drug means using it in a way that’s different from how your doctor prescribed it. And addiction can happen when you feel you need to take a drug, even if it’s causing harm to you.
For details about this boxed warning, see the “Lorazepam and misuse” section below.
Risk of serious side effects when taken with opioid medications. Taking opioids together with lorazepam can increase your risk of serious side effects, such as respiratory depression and coma. It can even be fatal.
For more about this boxed warning, see the “Lorazepam’s side effects explained” section above.
Lorazepam may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions. These are known as drug-condition interactions. Other factors may also affect whether lorazepam is a good treatment option for you.
Talk with your doctor about your health history before starting lorazepam. Factors to consider include those described below.
Depression or suicidal thoughts. Although rare, it’s possible for lorazepam to cause changes in mood, which may result in depression or suicidal thoughts and behaviors. If you have or have had depression or suicidal thoughts, taking lorazepam may worsen your condition. In this case, your doctor may recommend more frequent monitoring of your mood. Or they may recommend a treatment option other than lorazepam for you.
Breathing or lung problems. Trouble breathing and respiratory depression (severely slow, shallow breathing) are side effects of lorazepam. If you already have a lung condition, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, you may have an increased risk of these side effects. In this case, your doctor may recommend a lower dose of lorazepam or a different treatment option for you.
Older people. If you’re an older adult (ages 65 years and over), you may have an increased risk of side effects from lorazepam. For more information, see the “Lorazepam side effects in older people” section above.
Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to lorazepam or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe lorazepam. Ask them what other medications are better options for you.
Liver problems. Lorazepam may worsen certain liver conditions. Before starting lorazepam treatment, tell your doctor about any liver problems that you have. They may recommend that you take a lower dose of the drug.
Glaucoma. Although very rare, lorazepam can worsen glaucoma. If you have glaucoma, tell your doctor before taking lorazepam. They will recommend a different treatment option for your condition.
Memory problems. Lorazepam can cause memory problems. In people who already have a condition that affects memory, such as dementia, the drug may worsen their condition. Before you take lorazepam, tell your doctor about any memory problems you may have. This will help them determine whether lorazepam is a safe treatment option for you.
Balance problems. If you have trouble with balance, taking lorazepam may make your condition worse. This is because unsteadiness and balance problems are possible side effects of the drug. Your doctor will discuss with you whether lorazepam is safe to take if you have balance problems.
Seizures. Although rare, it’s possible for lorazepam to cause seizures. If you have a seizure disorder, taking lorazepam may worsen your condition. Tell your doctor about any seizure disorder you have. This will help them determine whether lorazepam is safe for you to take.
Alcohol and lorazepam
It’s not usually recommended to drink alcohol while you’re taking lorazepam. This is because consuming alcohol while taking lorazepam may increase your risk of certain side effects, including:
If you have questions about drinking alcohol while you’re taking lorazepam, talk with your doctor.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking lorazepam
Lorazepam is not safe to take during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Lorazepam may increase the risk of problems with fetal development (commonly known as birth defects) if taken during pregnancy.
In addition, a newborn of someone taking lorazepam could develop withdrawal symptoms. These are side effects that can occur when a person no longer receives a drug their body has become dependent on. Withdrawal symptoms can include trouble breathing, feeding problems, and decreased activity.
Lorazepam can pass into breast milk. Due to the risk of side effects in a child who is breastfed, you should not breastfeed while taking lorazepam.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant or breastfeed, talk with your doctor before taking lorazepam.
It’s possible for lorazepam to cause dependence, misuse, and addiction. In fact, lorazepam has a boxed warning for this risk. A boxed warning is the most serious warning recommended by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The purpose of a boxed warning is to alert doctors and patients about the risks of taking a medication.
Drug dependence can occur when you become used to a medication and need to take it to feel as you usually would. You can develop dependence on a drug such as lorazepam even if you’re taking it as prescribed. Misuse of a drug means using it in a way that’s different from how your doctor prescribed it. And addiction can happen when you feel you need to take a drug, even if it’s causing harm to you.
Misusing lorazepam can increase your risk of serious side effects, which may be life threatening. To help prevent serious side effects, it’s important to always take lorazepam as prescribed by your doctor.
Taking lorazepam for a long period of time or in high doses may increase your risk of misuse, addiction, or dependence. Your doctor will likely recommend short-term treatment with this medication to help prevent these side effects.
Lorazepam can cause side effects. Although the drug’s side effects are usually mild, serious side effects are also possible from taking it.
If you have any questions about side effects that lorazepam can cause, talk with your doctor. You can also ask them about Ativan or Lorazepam Intensol, which are the brand-name versions of lorazepam. A generic drug and its brand-name version are expected to have similar side effects because they contain the same active ingredient. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.)
To learn more about lorazepam oral tablet or its brand-name version, Ativan, see these articles:
- All About Lorazepam Oral Tablet
- Dosage for Ativan: What You Need to Know
- Ativan Interactions: Alcohol, Medications, and Others
- Side Effects of Ativan: What You Need to Know
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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.