Lorazepam (Ativan) is a generic prescription medication used to treat anxiety in adults and children ages 12 years and older. It’s also used short term to treat anxiety related to depression in these age groups. With anxiety, you may have symptoms including panic, heart palpitations, sweating, or nervousness.

It’s not known whether lorazepam may be safe to take for longer than 4 months or what effects the drug may have when it’s taken long term. So your doctor may recommend taking lorazepam short term.

Lorazepam comes as an oral tablet. It also comes in other forms, such as oral capsules, an oral solution, and an injection. However, this article does not cover them. For more information about these forms, talk with your doctor.

As with other drugs, lorazepam can cause side effects (adverse effects). Read on to learn about potential common, mild, and serious side effects. For a general overview of lorazepam, including details about its uses, refer to this article. Your doctor can also tell you more about lorazepam.

Lorazepam can cause certain side effects, some of which are more common than others. These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days to weeks. However, if the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

These are just a few of the more common side effects reported by people who took lorazepam in clinical trials:

* To learn about Lorazepam and sleepiness, see the “Lorazepam: Sleepiness” section below.

Mild side effects can occur with lorazepam. This list doesn’t include all possible mild side effects of the drug. For more information, you can refer to lorazepam’s prescribing information.

Mild side effects that have been reported with lorazepam include:

These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days to weeks. However, if the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks and reviews side effects of the medication. If you develop a side effect while taking lorazepam and want to tell the FDA about it, visit MedWatch.

* To learn about Lorazepam and sleepiness, see the “Lorazepam: Sleepiness” section below.
† For more information about this side effect, see “Lorazepam: Side effect specifics” below.

Lorazepam may cause serious side effects. Though serious side effects aren’t common, they still may occur. The list below may not include all possible serious side effects of the drug. For more information, you can refer to lorazepam’s prescribing information.

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.

Serious side effects that have been reported and their symptoms include:

* Lorazepam has a boxed warning for this side effect. This is a serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To learn more, see the “Lorazepam: Side effect specifics” section below.
Lorazepam has a boxed warning for this side effect. This is a serious warning from the FDA. To learn more, see the “Lorazepam: Withdrawal symptoms” or “Lorazepam: Misuse” sections below.
‡ An allergic reaction is possible after taking lorazepam. However, it’s not clear whether this side effect occurred in clinical trials. To learn more, see the “Lorazepam: Side effect specifics” section below.

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 988.

Click here for more links and local resources.

Older adults (ages 65 years and older) taking lorazepam may have an increased risk of certain side effects compared with younger adults taking the drug. For example, older adults may have an increased risk of sleepiness* or balance problems. This may also increase the risk of falling.

If you’re an older adult needing treatment for anxiety, talk with your doctor to determine whether lorazepam is safe for you. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a lower dose of lorazepam. Other times, they may recommend a different treatment option.

* To learn about Lorazepam and sleepiness, see the “Lorazepam: Sleepiness” section below.

Lorazepam may cause several side effects. Here are some frequently asked questions about the drug’s side effects and their answers.

How do side effects of lorazepam 0.5-mg and 1-mg oral tablets compare?

You may have an increased risk of side effects if you take a higher dose of lorazepam. This is because when you take a higher dose of a drug, you’re exposed to more medication. And having more of the drug in your body increases your risk of side effects. So people taking 1-milligram (mg) lorazepam tablets may have a higher risk of side effects than someone taking the 0.5-mg tablets.

If you’re concerned about your risk of side effects, talk with your doctor about the best dosage and treatment plan for you.

Does lorazepam cause crying as a side effect?

Lorazepam may cause changes in mood, which can cause depression or even suicidal thoughts. Symptoms of these mood changes may include crying. So although crying wasn’t specifically reported as a side effect of lorazepam, it’s possible that the drug can increase your risk of crying.

If you notice that you’re crying often while taking lorazepam, talk with your doctor. If you’re having mood changes, your doctor may recommend a different treatment option for you.

Should I expect long-term side effects if I take lorazepam?

It’s possible to experience long-term side effects from taking lorazepam. However, these are uncommon. Examples of long-term complications that can occur may include memory loss and mood problems, such as depression.

If you’re concerned about long-term side effects from taking lorazepam, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Is weight gain or weight loss a side effect of lorazepam?

No, you should not experience weight gain or weight loss as a side effect of lorazepam. Weight changes weren’t reported in clinical trials of people taking lorazepam.

However, weight changes may be a symptom of certain side effects of lorazepam. These include mood changes, such as depression. It’s possible for these side effects to cause weight changes, including weight gain or weight loss.

If you’re experiencing weight gain or weight loss during your lorazepam treatment, talk with your doctor. They can help determine what may be causing your weight changes. They may also recommend ways to help manage your weight.

Are there reviews from people who had side effects with 0.5-mg lorazepam oral tablets?

No, there aren’t currently any reviews of side effects from people taking 0.5 mg of lorazepam. However, if you’d like to learn more about side effects reported in clinical trials, see the drug’s prescribing information.

If you have additional questions or concerns about side effects that you may experience from lorazepam, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Some people may experience sleepiness from taking lorazepam. In fact, sleepiness was the most common side effect that people taking lorazepam reported in clinical trials.

You may have an increased risk of sleepiness if you take lorazepam along with other drugs, such as opioids* or certain antihistamines. This risk may also increase if you drink alcohol with lorazepam. Older adults (ages 65 and older) taking lorazepam may also have an increased risk of feeling sleepy.

Due to the risk of sleepiness, your doctor will likely recommend avoiding driving or operating other machinery until you know how the drug may affect you.

In rare cases, sleepiness may be a symptom of respiratory depression (slow breathing).† Other symptoms include trouble breathing or taking shallow breaths. So if you or another person taking this drug have these symptoms, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.

If you take lorazepam and develop sleepiness that’s severe or bothersome, talk with your doctor. They may recommend ways to help manage this side effect.

* Lorazepam has a boxed warning for risks with opioid use. This is a serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To learn more, see the “Lorazepam: Side effect specifics” section below.
† Respiratory depression is a serious side effect of lorazepam. For more details, see the “Lorazepam: Serious side effects” section above.

It’s possible for lorazepam to increase your risk of dependence and withdrawal, which can be life threatening. In fact, the drug has a boxed warning for this risk. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from 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.

With withdrawal, you experience uncomfortable side effects after you stop taking a substance that you’ve been dependent on. With dependence, you need a substance to feel as you typically would. This can happen even if you’re taking lorazepam as prescribed by your doctor.

Symptoms of lorazepam withdrawal may include:

If you take high doses of lorazepam or take the drug long term, you may have an increased risk of developing withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can begin right after stopping lorazepam treatment. They may last up to 12 months after stopping treatment.

Due to the risk of withdrawal, do not stop treatment with lorazepam without first talking with your doctor. They’ll recommend slowly reducing your dose of lorazepam over time to help your body adjust to a lower dose of medication. This can decrease your risk of having withdrawal symptoms.

If you have concerns about dependence and withdrawal during lorazepam treatment, talk with your doctor.

Learn more about some of the side effects that lorazepam may cause. To find out how often side effects occurred in clinical trials, see the prescribing information for lorazepam.

Risks with opioid use

Some people may have an increased risk of serious side effects if they take lorazepam with opioid drugs. In fact, lorazepam has a boxed warning for this risk. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from 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.

Taking lorazepam with an opioid drug may increase your risk of serious side effects, which may be life threatening. These side effects may include:

What you can do

If you take an opioid and lorazepam and start to feel unwell, contact your doctor. If your symptoms seem life threatening or you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number

If you take any opioid drugs, tell your doctor before taking lorazepam. Your doctor will likely recommend you take the lowest dosages of lorazepam and your opioid drug. Then they may adjust your dosage based on how the drugs work for you. This can help decrease your risk of serious side effects. Your doctor will also recommend taking this drug combination for the shortest time possible.

Also, your doctor will likely recommend not driving or operating other machinery until you know how the drugs may affect you.

If you need to take an opioid along with lorazepam, your doctor or pharmacist will likely discuss the risk of side effects with you. Together, you can determine whether this drug combination may be safe for you.

* To learn about Lorazepam and sleepiness, see the “Lorazepam: Sleepiness” section above.

Nausea

Lorazepam treatment may cause nausea. However, this wasn’t one of the most common side effects that people taking this drug reported in clinical trials.

What you can do

If you experience nausea when you’re taking lorazepam, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. In some cases, taking the drug along with food may help relieve your nausea.

Your doctor or pharmacist can help determine the best ways to manage your nausea while you’re taking lorazepam.

Headache

Some people may experience headaches during lorazepam treatment. However, headache wasn’t one of the most common side effects that people taking lorazepam reported in clinical trials.

What you can do

If you develop headaches during your treatment with lorazepam, talk with your doctor. They can help determine whether lorazepam may be causing your headaches and the best way to treat them. In some cases, they may recommend an over-the-counter (OTC) treatment option, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), to treat your headaches.

Constipation

It’s possible to develop constipation from taking lorazepam. However, constipation wasn’t one of the most common side effects reported in clinical trials of lorazepam.

What you can do

If you notice constipation while you’re taking lorazepam, talk with your doctor. They may recommend ways to manage your constipation. For example, they may recommend an OTC treatment, such as polyethylene glycol (MiraLAX), to treat your constipation.

Memory loss

Lorazepam may cause memory loss. This wasn’t a common side effect reported in clinical trials of the drug.

What you can do

If you notice changes in your memory or memory loss during your treatment with lorazepam, talk with your doctor. In some cases, they may recommend a lower dose of lorazepam to determine whether your memory loss eases. Or they may recommend a different treatment option for your anxiety.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, lorazepam can cause an allergic reaction in some people. However, it’s not clear whether this side effect occurred in clinical trials.

Symptoms can be mild or serious and can include:

  • skin rash
  • itching
  • flushing
  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

What you can do

For mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, call your doctor right away. They may recommend ways to ease your symptoms and determine whether you should keep taking lorazepam. However, if your symptoms are serious and you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

Tell your doctor about any medical conditions that you have before starting treatment with lorazepam. They can help make sure that lorazepam is safe for you to take.

Boxed warnings

This drug has boxed warnings about the following. These are serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Risks of misuse and addiction. It’s possible for lorazepam to increase the risks of misuse and addiction. For details, see the “Lorazepam: Misuse” section below.

Risks of dependence and withdrawal. Taking lorazepam may increase the risks of dependence and withdrawal symptoms. For details, see the “Lorazepam: Withdrawal symptoms” section above.

Risks with opioid use. Taking lorazepam with opioid drugs may increase the risk of serious side effects. These include sleepiness or respiratory depression (slow breathing), which can be life threatening. For details, see the “Lorazepam: Side effect specifics” section above.

Other precautions

Be sure to talk with your doctor about your health history before you take lorazepam. This drug may not be the right treatment option for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. These are known as drug-condition or drug-factor interactions. The conditions and factors to consider include:

History of drug misuse or alcohol use disorder. Tell your doctor if you you’ve ever experienced drug misuse or alcohol use disorder before taking lorazepam. This medication may increase the risk of dependence, misuse, or addiction occurring. If you’ve ever experienced drug misuse or alcohol use disorder, you may have an increased risk of these side effects. In this case, your doctor may recommend more frequent monitoring during your treatment with lorazepam.

Mood problems. If you have any mood conditions, including depression or suicidal thoughts, be sure to tell your doctor before taking lorazepam. This drug may rarely cause depression or suicidal thoughts. If you’ve ever had mood problems, taking lorazepam may increase the risk of these conditions returning or worsening. Due to this risk, your doctor may recommend frequent monitoring to be sure that your mood condition isn’t getting worse.

Older adults. Adults ages 65 or older taking lorazepam may have an increased risk of certain side effects, such as sleepiness or balance problems. If you’re an older adult, your doctor may monitor you more often for side effects of lorazepam. In some cases, they may recommend a different treatment option for you.

Kidney problems. Certain kidney problems may increase your risk of side effects from lorazepam. Tell your doctor about any kidney problems that you have before starting treatment. They can help determine whether lorazepam may be safe for you.

Seizures. It’s possible for lorazepam to cause seizures in rare cases. If you have a seizure condition, taking lorazepam may worsen your condition. In this case, your doctor can help determine whether lorazepam is a safe treatment option for you.

Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to lorazepam or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe lorazepam. Taking lorazepam could cause you to have another allergic reaction. Ask your doctor what other medications may be better options for you.

Glaucoma. In some rare cases, taking lorazepam may make glaucoma worse. Due to this risk, you should tell your doctor if you’ve ever had glaucoma before taking lorazepam. Your doctor can help determine whether lorazepam may be a safe treatment option for you.

Breathing conditions. If you have any breathing conditions, such as asthma, tell your doctor before taking lorazepam. This medication can cause trouble breathing or respiratory depression. If you have a breathing condition, you may have an increased risk of these side effects. Your doctor can help determine whether lorazepam is safe for you to take.

Liver problems. It’s possible for lorazepam to make certain liver conditions worse. So if you have a liver condition, be sure to tell your doctor before starting treatment with lorazepam. In some cases, they may recommend a lower dose of lorazepam. This is to help prevent your liver condition from worsening.

Memory conditions. Tell your doctor about any memory problems that you have, such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. Lorazepam can increase your risk of memory problems occurring. If you already have a memory condition, taking lorazepam can make it worse. In this case, your doctor can help determine whether lorazepam may be a safe treatment option for you.

Lorazepam and alcohol interaction

You should not take lorazepam with alcohol. Taking this drug with alcohol can increase your risk of serious side effects. These include sleepiness, breathing problems, and coma. (For details, see the “Lorazepam: Sleepiness” and “Lorazepam: Serious side effects” sections above.)

It’s also possible that drinking alcohol with lorazepam may cause life threatening side effects, such as respiratory depression. If you have questions about drinking alcohol while taking lorazepam, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking lorazepam

It’s not safe to take lorazepam during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Your doctor will likely recommend avoiding the drug if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

In animal studies, congenital anomalies (also known as birth defects) were reported in some animals exposed to the drug. However, animal studies don’t always indicate what may happen in humans.

Currently, there aren’t many studies of lorazepam treatment in pregnant people. However, some studies of drugs similar to lorazepam show that there may be an increased risk of congenital anomalies when the drug is taken during pregnancy. This was specifically reported during the first trimester.

In addition, children born to females* taking lorazepam have shown withdrawal symptoms after birth.† Symptoms of withdrawal in a newborn include:

  • sleepiness
  • trouble breathing
  • trouble feeding

Lorazepam also passes into breast milk. So a child who is breastfed will likely be exposed to the drug. Due to this risk, your doctor likely won’t recommend breastfeeding while taking lorazepam. It’s possible that children who are exposed to the drug during breastfeeding may experience sleepiness or trouble feeding.

If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant or if you’re breastfeeding, talk with your doctor before taking lorazepam. They can recommend the best treatment plan for you.

* Sex and gender exist on spectrums. Use of the term “female” in this article refers to sex assigned at birth.
Lorazepam has a boxed warning for this side effect. This is a serious warning from the FDA. To learn more, see the “Lorazepam: Withdrawal symptoms” section above.

Taking benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam, may increase the risks of misuse and addiction. Lorazepam has a boxed warning for this risk. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from 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.

With misuse, you take a drug in a way that’s different than how your doctor prescribed it. With addiction, you need to have a medication to function, even if it’s causing you harm.

Misuse or addiction can lead to overdose with lorazepam.* This may cause symptoms, such as trouble breathing, which can be life threatening. You may have an increased risk of overdose occurring if you take lorazepam with alcohol† or other drugs, such as opioids.‡ You may also have an increased risk of misuse or addiction if you take lorazepam long term or if you take high doses of the drug.

It’s important to tell your doctor if you’ve ever experienced alcohol use disorder, drug misuse, or addiction. They may recommend more frequent monitoring during your treatment with lorazepam.

Always take the dose of lorazepam that your doctor prescribes for you. Do not take a higher dose of medication than prescribed.

If you have questions or concerns about misuse or addiction related to lorazepam, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

* For details about lorazepam and overdose, see this article.
† To learn more about lorazepam and alcohol, see the “Lorazepam: Precautions” section above.
Lorazepam has a boxed warning for risks with opioid use. This is a serious warning from the FDA. To learn more, see the “Lorazepam: Side effect specifics” section below.

Lorazepam’s side effects are typically mild. However, serious side effects are also possible. If you’d like to learn more about lorazepam, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help answer any questions you have about side effects from taking the drug.

You can also ask your doctor about Ativan, the brand-name version of lorazepam. A generic drug and its brand-name version contain the same active ingredient, so they’re expected to have the same side effects. Referring to the following articles about lorazepam and Ativan can provide you with additional information:

  • More information about lorazepam. Get details about other aspects of lorazepam or Ativan.
  • Drug comparison. To learn how Ativan compares with Xanax, read this article. You can also find out how Ativan compares with Klonopin, Valium, and Ambien in this article.
  • Dosage. For information about the dosage of Ativan, view this article.
  • Interactions. To find out about the interactions of Ativan, see this article.
  • A look at your condition. For details about your condition, see our anxiety, mental health, and depression hubs.

Disclaimer: Medical News Today 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.