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Ativan Side Effects

Generic Name: lorazepam

Note: This page contains information about the side effects of lorazepam. Some of the dosage forms included on this document may not apply to the brand name Ativan.

Not all side effects for Ativan may be reported. You should always consult a doctor or healthcare professional for medical advice. Side effects can be reported to the FDA here.

For the Consumer

Applies to lorazepam: oral solution, oral tablet

Other dosage forms:

In addition to its needed effects, some unwanted effects may be caused by lorazepam (the active ingredient contained in Ativan). In the event that any of these side effects do occur, they may require medical attention.

You should check with your doctor immediately if any of these side effects occur when taking lorazepam:

More common
  • Drowsiness
  • relaxed and calm
  • sleepiness
Incidence not known
  • Abdominal or stomach pain
  • aggressive, angry
  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • attack, assault, or force
  • black, tarry stools
  • bleeding gums
  • blood in urine or stools
  • bluish lips or skin
  • blurred vision
  • change in consciousness
  • chills
  • coma
  • confusion
  • confusion about identity, place, and time
  • convulsions
  • cough or hoarseness
  • dark urine
  • decreased urine output
  • difficulty in breathing and/or swallowing
  • difficulty in speaking
  • discouragement
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up from a lying or sitting position suddenly
  • drooling
  • dry mouth
  • excitation
  • false or unusual sense of well-being
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • fear or nervousness
  • feeling sad or empty
  • fever with or without chills
  • general feeling of tiredness or weakness
  • headache
  • hives
  • hyperventilation
  • increased thirst
  • irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing
  • irritability
  • itching
  • loss of appetite
  • loss of balance control
  • loss of consciousness
  • loss of interest or pleasure
  • loss of memory
  • lower back or side pain
  • muscle pain or cramps
  • muscle trembling, jerking, or stiffness
  • nausea or vomiting
  • not breathing
  • painful or difficult urination
  • pale or blue lips, fingernails, or skin
  • pinpoint red spots on skin
  • problems with memory
  • puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips, or tongue
  • rash
  • reddening of the skin, especially around ears
  • restlessness
  • seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
  • seizures
  • shaking
  • shortness of breath
  • shuffling walk
  • sleeplessness
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on lips or in mouth
  • stiffness of limbs
  • sweating
  • swelling of eyes or inside of nose
  • swelling of face, ankles, or hands
  • swollen glands
  • thoughts or attempts at killing oneself
  • tightness in chest
  • trouble concentrating
  • trouble sleeping
  • twisting movements of body
  • unable to sleep
  • uncontrolled movements, especially of face, neck, and back
  • unexplained bleeding or bruising
  • unpleasant breath odor
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • vomiting of blood
  • wheezing
  • yellow eyes or skin

If any of the following symptoms of overdose occur while taking lorazepam, get emergency help immediately:

Symptoms of overdose
  • Changes in patterns and rhythms of speech
  • increased sweating
  • loss of strength or energy
  • low blood pressure
  • nightmares
  • shakiness and unsteady walk
  • slurred speech
  • trouble in speaking
  • unsteadiness, trembling, or other problems with muscle control or coordination
  • unusual drowsiness, dullness, tiredness, weakness, or feeling of sluggishness
  • unusual excitement, nervousness, restlessness, or irritability
  • unusual paleness unusual weak feeling

Some of the side effects that can occur with lorazepam may not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine during treatment these side effects may go away. Your health care professional may also be able to tell you about ways to reduce or prevent some of these side effects. If any of the following side effects continue, are bothersome or if you have any questions about them, check with your health care professional:

Incidence not known
  • Being forgetful
  • clumsiness
  • constipation
  • decreased interest in sexual intercourse
  • disturbed color perception
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • double vision
  • drowsiness
  • feeling of constant movement of self or surroundings
  • hair loss, thinning of hair
  • halos around lights
  • hostility
  • inability to have or keep an erection
  • increased in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
  • increased interest in sexual intercourse
  • lack or loss of self-control
  • lethargy
  • loss in sexual ability, desire, drive, or performance
  • low body temperature
  • muscle aches
  • muscle twitching
  • muscle weakness
  • night blindness
  • overbright appearance of lights
  • rapid weight gain
  • sensation of spinning
  • shakiness in legs, arms, hands, or feet
  • shivering
  • sleepiness
  • stupor
  • trembling or shaking of hands or feet
  • tunnel vision
  • weak or feeble pulse

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to lorazepam: compounding powder, injectable solution, intravenous solution, oral concentrate, oral tablet

Nervous system

Nervous system side effects have been common and have included drowsiness, fatigue, confusion, impaired cognition, daytime anxiety, asthenia, amnesia, headache, dizziness, and ataxia. Orofacial dyskinesias have been observed rarely.[Ref]

One study has suggested that the amnestic effects of lorazepam may be increased in patients who consume a large amount of ethanol.

The manufacturer has stated that elderly patients may be associated with a greater incidence of central nervous system depression.[Ref]


Respiratory side effects including depression have been observed rarely with parenteral administration of lorazepam (the active ingredient contained in Ativan) [Ref]

Equipment for resuscitation should be immediately available when parenteral lorazepam is used.

The manufacturer has stated that elderly patients may be associated with more respiratory depression.[Ref]


Other side effects have included withdrawal symptoms after abrupt cessation of lorazepam (the active ingredient contained in Ativan) Withdrawal symptoms have included agitation, restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, convulsions, tremor, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and sweating. Mania and delusional depression have also been observed rarely.[Ref]


The vehicle for the injectable form of lorazepam (the active ingredient contained in Ativan) is propylene glycol, which can cause hyperlactatemia and elevated osmolar gaps. Propylene glycol may also interfere with renal tubular function and may blunt renal compensation for respiratory acidosis. While some guidelines seem to indicate that propylene glycol toxicity occurs at high dose (>18 mg/hr) lorazepam infusions, multiple instances of propylene glycol toxicity from far lower dose (4 to 6 mg/hr) lorazepam infusions have also been reported.[Ref]

Local side effects at the site of intramuscular injection (pain, burning, local irritation and swelling) occur in about 8% of patients. Rarely, vascular impairment after inadvertent intra-arterial injection has occurred, sometimes with severe consequences.[Ref]


Hematologic side effects including hemolytic anemia, pancytopenia, neutropenia, and aplastic anemia have been reported.[Ref]


Endocrine side effects including the syndrome of inappropriate secretion of ADH have been reported rarely in association with lorazepam (the active ingredient contained in Ativan) use.[Ref]


Musculoskeletal side effects including myopathy and one case of rhabdomyolysis have been reported.[Ref]


Renal side effects have been reported including a case of hyperlactatemia, increased osmolar gap, and renal dysfunction during continuous lorazepam (the active ingredient contained in Ativan) infusion.[Ref]


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2. Nichols JM, Martin F, Kirkby KC "A comparison of the effect of lorazepam on memory in heavy and low social drinkers." Psychopharmacology (Berl) 112 (1993): 475-82

3. Cohen S, Khan A "Respiratory distress with use of lorazepam in mania." J Clin Psychopharmacol 7 (1987): 199-200

4. Keshavan MS, Moodley P, Eales M, Joyce E, Yeragani VK "Delusional depression following benzodiazepine withdrawal." Can J Psychiatry 33 (1988): 626-7

5. Kales A, Bixler EO, Soldatos CR, Jacoby JA, Kales JD "Lorazepam: effects on sleep and withdrawal phenomena." Pharmacology 32 (1986): 121-30

6. Allen D, Curran HV, Lader M "The effects of single doses of cl284,846, lorazepam, and placebo on psychomotor and memory function in normal male volunteers." Eur J Clin Pharmacol 45 (1993): 313-20

7. Cutler NR, Sramek JJ, Hesselink JMK, Krol A, Roeschen J, Rickels K, Schweizer E "A double-blind, placebo-controlled study comparing the efficacy and safety of ipsapirone versus lorazepam in patients with generalized anxiety disorder - a prospective multicenter trial." J Clin Psychopharmacol 13 (1993): 429-37

8. Sandyk R "Transient global amnesia induced by lorazepam." Clin Neuropharmacol 8 (1985): 297-8

9. Kearns GL, Mallory GB Jr, Crom WR, Evans WE "Enhanced hepatic drug clearance in patients with cystic fibrosis." J Pediatr 117 (1990): 972-9

10. Dominguez KD, Crowley MR, Coleman DM, Katz RW, Wilkins DG, Kelly HW "Withdrawal from lorazepam in critically ill children." Ann Pharmacother 40 (2006): 1035-9

11. Rigby J, Harvey M, Davies DR "Mania precipitated by benzodiazepine withdrawal." Acta Psychiatr Scand 79 (1989): 406-7

12. Lapierre YD, Labelle A "Manic-like reaction induced by lorazepam withdrawal." Can J Psychiatry 32 (1987): 697-8

13. Howe JG "Lorazepam withdrawal seizures." Br Med J 280 (1980): 1163-4

14. "Product Information. Ativan (lorazepam)." Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, Philadelphia, PA.

15. Arbour R, Jacobi J "Propylene glycol toxicity occurs during low-dose infusions of Lorazepam." Crit Care Med 31 (2003): 664-5

16. El-Sayed S, Symonds RP "Lorazepam-induced pancytopenia." Br Med J 296 (1988): 1332

17. Engel WR, Grau A "Inappropriate secretion of antidiuretic hormone associated with lorazepam." Br Med J 297 (1988): 858

18. Fernandez-Real JM, Ricart-Engel W, Camafort-Babkowski M "Hyponatremia and benzodiazepines result in rhabdomyolysis." Ann Pharmacother 28 (1994): 1200-1

19. Greenblatt DJ "Clinical pharmacokinetics of oxazepam and lorazepam." Clin Pharmacokinet 6 (1981): 89-105

20. Morrison G, Chiang ST, Koepke HH, Walker BR "Effect of renal impairment and hemodialysis on lorazepam kinetics." Clin Pharmacol Ther 35 (1984): 646-52

21. Verbeeck RK, Tjandramaga TB, de Schepper PJ, Verberckmoes R "Impaired elimination of lorazepam following subchronic administration in two patients with renal failure." Br J Clin Pharmacol 12 (1981): 749-50

22. Reynolds HN, Teiken P, Regan ME, Habashi NM, Cottingham C, McCunn M, Scalea TM "Hyperlactatemia, increased osmolar gap, and renal dysfunction during continuous lorazepam infusion." Crit Care Med 28 (2000): 1631-4

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.