Ativan (Lorazepam)

It isn’t uncommon for those dealing with anxiety to also experience the effects of insomnia. Both health conditions can cause a vicious cycle that’s hard to break. This is where Ativan can provide some help, as the medication can offer benefits that allow people to manage their anxiety and insomnia symptoms.

As usual, Ativan isn’t always a viable solution for every individual, and the drug comes with many specifics that every patient should know about. Ativan works in a niche area between insomnia and anxiety, and it can be extremely helpful for individuals that are suffering from both issues.

This article is going to highlight how Ativan works, its use cases, and who is considered a good candidate for the prescription drug.

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The Unique Difference in Ativan

A brand-name prescription drug used for insomnia and anxiety, Ativan can enhance the effect of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA on GABA receptors. This creates an inhibition of nerve signals along with a decrease in nervous excitation. Ativan can be administered in either extended-release capsules, tablets, or concentrate.

It should also be considered that it’s common for the drug to be administered two to three times throughout each day. The schedule in which Ativan is administered also pertains to its use case, whether it’s being used for anxiety, insomnia, or both.

Although liver injury from Ativan is extremely rare, this doesn’t mean it can’t cause any damage. Considering Ativan is also in the benzodiazepine family, there is an inherent risk of abuse, dependence, and the potential for withdrawal symptoms.

Doctors will always advise that the drug isn’t taken with other central nervous system depressants. There are other use cases for Ativan outside of anxiety and insomnia. In less common circumstances, the drug can be used to help with nausea and vomiting that stems from cancer treatments. It can also be used to help control agitation that comes from symptoms related to alcohol withdrawal.

How Ativan works in the body

The way the drug works pertains to the process of binding to benzodiazepine receptors in the GABA-A ligand-gated chloride channel in the central nervous system. What this does is increase the flow of chloride ions into the cells, which leads to hyperpolarization and stabilization of the plasma membrane.

The effect of Ativan is dependent on its binding site. It’s important to note that different sites in the brain lead to different activities in the body. Binding to different sites, such as the amygdala or cerebral cortex, can help manage symptoms related to anxiety and seizure disorders.

Ativan’s mechanism of action is pretty easy to understand, but its capabilities and applications are quite substantial. Although the drug comes with numerous use cases, it’s not a viable option for every patient with anxiety and insomnia. As with any prescription drug, there are a number of precautions every patient should keep in mind before taking Ativan.

Talking points with your doctor

There’s a lot of ground to go over before diving in head first with prescription medication. The discussion you have with your doctor should be thorough, and it requires both parties to ensure no stone is left unturned. Before taking Ativan, you should discuss any current prescription or non-prescription medication you’re taking. This also includes any supplements, vitamins, in addition to herbal products.

Individuals who struggle with narrow-angle glaucoma, sleep apnea, seizures, lung complications, and heart or liver disease may not be suitable candidates for Ativan. Any woman who is currently pregnant or plans to become pregnant in the foreseeable future should consider the drug has the potential to cause withdrawal symptoms. Breastfeeding should also be strictly avoided when taking Ativan.

It’s also a drug that shouldn’t be combined with the operation of heavy machinery as it can impair judgment and normal bodily functions to a degree. These various points may sound rather restrictive, but Ativan comes with its pros and cons, like any other prescription drug.

The biological half-life of Ativan

Half-life pertains to the amount of time it takes for a drug’s concentration to be reduced by half within the body. In healthy male participants, Ativan has been shown to have a half-life of eight hours for oral doses and eleven hours for sublingual doses.

The study pertaining to these findings comes with the conclusion that sublingual doses could result in faster absorption rates. Health factors such as weight, age, and liver function can play a part in the pharmacokinetics of Ativan.

Based on each patient’s particular needs, dosage and frequency of administration is bound to vary. Even though many medical professionals widely trust Ativan, there are a number of potential health risks associated with the medicine.

Known health risks

Some people may be more susceptible to certain health risks when taking Ativan. Your doctor will be sure to cover all side effects associated with Ativan, many of which range from extremely mild to more severe.

A few of the most common side effects include:

  • Weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Changes in appetite
  • Restlessness
  • And more

There’s no argument that these have the potential to be quite uncomfortable, but there’s no guarantee you’ll experience any of them. In rare circumstances, some patients have reported experiencing more severe side effects, and you can find a list of those down below.

  • Difficulty speaking
  • Shuffling walk
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Persistent or fine tremors
  • Yellowing of the eyes or skin
  • Swelling of the face
  • Rash
  • Hives

In the event you experience any of these symptoms, you should always contact your doctor immediately for advice on how to move forward. Putting an immediate halt to your usual prescription schedule isn’t a good idea, and your doctor will be able to provide direction on your next move. Always remember that these side effects can be managed with proper guidance, and they aren’t going to be permanent.

The intricacies of prescription medication can lead to a lot of questions. Feel free to review the FAQ section below to find direct answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding Ativan.

Ativan FAQ

How long does Ativan last after administration?

This varies between each person, and there are numerous factors that play into this question. The half-life of Ativan is roughly 12 hours, but the drug’s effects can last between 10 and 20 hours. Some people may experience shorter or longer time frames. It may seem like a long time, but it simply has you covered for the majority of your day.

However, this isn’t to say that the strength of the effects remains entirely consistent throughout this entire timeframe. To get the most out of your Ativan medication, it’s crucial that you stick to the intake schedule that’s prescribed to you.

Can Ativan be used for symptoms of PTSD?

The use of Ativan for symptoms related to PTSD may sound like a good idea, but this is actually far from the truth. Due to its habit-forming nature, doctors will likely steer clear of prescribing Ativan for those who are dealing with PTSD.

Unfortunately, in this circumstance, the drug can do more harm than good, and it’s best to be avoided. People with PTSD are prone to many other health complications, and there’s a possibility that Ativan only exacerbates these issues.

Is there a recommended dose for Ativan?

You can’t look at the dosage of the Ativan drug as a universal number. Depending on the severity of your particular symptoms, your doctor will prescribe a dose and administration schedule that’s suitable for your individual needs. Some people may need less or more than others.

Regardless of how much you’re supposed to take, it’s vital that you don’t stray away from the necessary dosage. Many medications require consistent intake amounts to work effectively, and an inconsistent schedule can lead to lackluster results.

Can the elderly use Ativan?

Although Ativan can be taken by those who are 65 years or older, administration and dosage can’t be looked at the same. It’s wise for the elderly to take much smaller doses of Ativan as it can have adverse effects on their health.

The potential side effects related to the elderly can be much more severe and life-threatening, and some doctors may decide not to prescribe the medication whatsoever. Considering their age, elderly people are much more prone to health risks, especially when it comes to prescription medications.

How does Ativan compare to similar medications?

There are a handful of differences between the two drugs, even if they focus on similar health issues. Xanax is known to have a shorter duration of action. With Ativan, the duration of action is a bit longer, sitting at roughly eight hours. It should also be mentioned that Xanax is more prone to clash with health conditions such as obesity, alcoholism, liver or kidney disease.

Ativan is less likely to be affected by such complications. The performance-impairing effects that are generally associated with such medications are more substantial when it comes to Xanax. Although you can experience this with Ativan as well, they tend to dissipate much faster.

What symptoms are associated with Ativan withdrawal?

Withdrawal from Ativan is something that every patient should do their best to avoid. However, if it does occur, there are a few symptoms you want to look out for. Some of these include increased heart rate and blood pressure, anxiety, and difficulty sleeping.

Symptoms can become more widespread over time, and it’s possible to experience headaches, nausea, abdominal cramps, confusion, heart palpitations, and more. These symptoms can be avoided by following a strict tapering schedule rather than immediate cessation of the drug.

Is Ativan a good solution for treating seizures?

It may not be the core focus of Ativan, but it is an anticonvulsant. This means the drug is a viable solution for those who are suffering from seizures. There’s a possibility that your doctor may not look to Ativan as a first choice for seizures, but it can definitely help with the health condition.

Ativan also has the ability to help with health concerns that stem from seizures, and it has proven to be effective for many patients all over the world. You want to consider that your doctor may not suggest Ativan for your seizures, so don’t hesitate to ask about it if you feel like it’d be helpful for your circumstance.