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Ativan Side Effects

Generic name: lorazepam

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 14, 2021.

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

In Summary

Common side effects of Ativan include: sedated state. Other side effects include: dizziness. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to lorazepam: injection solution

Other dosage forms:


Injection route (Solution)

Risks From Concomitant Use With Opioids; Abuse, Misuse, and Addiction; and Dependence and Withdrawal Reactions:Concomitant use of benzodiazepines and opioids may result in profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death. Reserve concomitant prescribing of these drugs in patients for whom alternative treatment options are inadequate. Limit dosages and durations to the minimum required. Follow patients for signs and symptoms of respiratory depression and sedation.The use of benzodiazepines, including lorazepam, exposes users to risks of abuse, misuse, and addiction, which can lead to overdose or death. Abuse and misuse of benzodiazepines commonly involve concomitant use of other medications, alcohol, and/or illicit substances, which is associated with an increased frequency of serious adverse outcomes. Before prescribing lorazepam and throughout treatment, assess each patient’s risk for abuse, misuse, and addiction.The continued use of benzodiazepines for several days to weeks may lead to clinically significant physical dependence. The risks of dependence and withdrawal increase with longer treatment duration and higher daily dose. Although lorazepam injection is indicated only for intermittent use, if used more frequently than recommended, abrupt discontinuation or rapid dosage reduction of lorazepam injection may precipitate acute withdrawal reactions, which can be life-threatening. For patients using lorazepam injection more frequently than recommended, to reduce the risk of withdrawal reactions, use a gradual taper to discontinue lorazepam injection.

Side effects requiring immediate medical attention

Along with its needed effects, lorazepam (the active ingredient contained in Ativan) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking lorazepam:

More common

  • Blue lips, fingernails, or skin
  • blurred vision
  • confusion
  • difficult or trouble breathing
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
  • irregular, fast or slow, or shallow breathing
  • sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
  • sweating
  • unusual tiredness or weakness

Less common

  • Decreased awareness or responsiveness
  • not breathing


  • Bleeding, blistering, burning, coldness, discoloration of skin, feeling of pressure, hives, infection, inflammation, itching, lumps, numbness, pain, rash, redness, scarring, soreness, stinging, swelling, tenderness, tingling, ulceration, or warmth at the injection site
  • bloody or cloudy urine
  • blurred vision
  • change in consciousness
  • cough or hoarseness
  • deep or fast breathing with dizziness
  • difficult, burning, or painful urination
  • dizziness
  • extremely shallow or slow breathing
  • false beliefs that cannot be changed by facts
  • fever or chills
  • frequent urge to urinate
  • headache
  • loss of consciousness
  • lower back or side pain
  • nervousness
  • numbness of feet, hands and around mouth
  • painful or difficult urination
  • poor insight and judgement
  • pounding in the ears
  • problems with memory or speech
  • problems with movement, walking, or speech
  • seizures
  • slow or fast heartbeat
  • trouble thinking and planning
  • vomiting

Incidence not known

  • Black, tarry stools
  • bleeding gums
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • dark urine
  • fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat or pulse
  • high fever
  • light-colored stools
  • loss of bladder control
  • loss of memory
  • paralysis
  • pinpoint red spots on the skin
  • sever muscle stiffness
  • stomach pain or bloating
  • sudden onset of severe breathing difficulty
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • unusually pale skin
  • yellow eyes or skin

Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur while taking lorazepam:

Symptoms of overdose

  • Loss of strength or energy
  • muscle pain or weakness
  • shakiness and unsteady walk
  • unsteadiness, trembling, or other problems with muscle control or coordination

Side effects not requiring immediate medical attention

Some side effects of lorazepam may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.

Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:


  • Nausea

For Healthcare Professionals

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


Oral: The most commonly reported side effects included sedation, dizziness, weakness, and unsteadiness.

Parenteral: The most commonly reported side effects included somnolence, respiratory failure, hypotension, and injection site reactions (pain and burning).[Ref]



Very common (10% or more): Burning (up to 17%), pain (up to 17%)

Common (1% to 10%): Painful response, redness

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Injection site reaction

Frequency not reported: Arteriospasm, gangrene, injection site tolerance[Ref]

Nervous system


Very common (10% or more): Sedation (up to 15.9%)

Common (1% to 10%): Anterograde amnesia, ataxia, daytime drowsiness, dizziness, drowsiness, unsteadiness

Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Dysarthria, headache, memory impairment, reduced alertness, slurred speech, transient anterograde amnesia

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Coma, extrapyramidal reactions/extrapyramidal symptoms, tremor

Frequency not reported: Amnesia, autonomic manifestations, balance disorders, convulsions/seizures, extremity numbness/tingling, hyperreflexia, hypersensitivity to light/noise/sound, impaired perception, involuntary movements, prolonged response times, short-term memory loss, vertigo


Common (1% to 10%): Ataxia, coma, dizziness, drowsiness, excessive drowsiness/sleepiness, headache, sedation, somnolence, stupor

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Brain edema, convulsion, myoclonus, tremor

Frequency not reported: Amnesia, balance disorder, central nervous system effects, decreased ability to perform complex mental functions, dysarthria, extrapyramidal symptoms, memory impairment, seizures, slurred speech, transient anterograde amnesia, unsteady gait, vertigo

Postmarketing reports: Neuroleptic malignant syndrome, paralysis[Ref]

Dose-dependent central nervous system depression, increased sedation, and unsteadiness were associated with increased age.[Ref]



Common (1% to 10%): Confusion, depression, unmasking of depression

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Change in libido, impotence, less intense orgasm/decreased orgasm

Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Change in libido, confusion, decreased orgasm, depression, disinhibition, euphoria, numbed emotions, sleep disturbances, unmasking of depression

Frequency not reported: Aggression, aggressive behavior, aggressiveness, agitation/states of agitation, anxiety, behavioral disorder, catatonia, delirium, delusion, dependence, depersonalization, derealization, disorientation, drug withdrawal symptoms, dysphoria, excitement/excitation, hallucinations, hostility, impaired attention/concentration, impotence, inappropriate behavior, increased dreaming, inner restlessness, insomnia, irritability, loss of reality, nightmares, panic attacks, psychoses, rage, restlessness, sexual arousal, sleep disorders, stimulation, suicidal attempt/ideation, tension/states of tension,, withdrawal phenomena


Common (1% to 10%): Confusion, delirium, depression, restlessness, unmasking of depression, visual hallucinations

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Abnormal thinking, agitation, ataxia, change in libido, decreased orgasm, hallucinations

Frequency not reported: Aggression, agitation, anxiety, disinhibition, excitation, euphoria, hostility, impaired attention/concentration, inappropriate behavior, insomnia, irritability, mania, psychosis, rage, sexual arousal, sleep disturbances, stimulation, suicidal attempt/ideation

Postmarketing reports: Acute brain syndrome, nervousness[Ref]



Common (1% to 10%): Asthenia, fatigue, lassitude, weakness

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Chills

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Hypothermia

Frequency not reported: Hyperacusis, hyperthermia, paradoxical reactions, rebound phenomena


Common (1% to 10%): Asthenia, crying, fatigue, sobbing

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Chills

Frequency not reported: Depressed hearing, enhanced sensitivity to alcoholic beverages, falls, hypothermia, paradoxical reactions, tinnitus

Postmarketing reports: Fatalities[Ref]



Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Apnea, respiratory depression, worsening of obstructive pulmonary disease, worsening of sleep apnea


Common (1% to 10%): Apnea, hypoventilation, respiratory disorder, respiratory failure

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Hyperventilation

Frequency not reported: Airway obstruction, worsening of obstructive pulmonary disease, worsening of sleep apnea

Postmarketing reports: Lung edema, lung hemorrhage, pneumothorax, pulmonary hypertension, respiratory arrest[Ref]



Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Hypotension

Frequency not reported: Palpitations, small decreases in blood pressure, tachycardia


Common (1% to 10%): Hypotension

Frequency not reported: Decreased blood pressure

Postmarketing reports: Arrhythmia, bradycardia, heart arrest/failure, heart block, pericardial effusion, tachycardia, ventricular arrhythmia[Ref]



Frequency not reported: Muscle pain, myalgia


Common (1% to 10%): Muscle weakness[Ref]



Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Nausea

Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Constipation, salivation changes

Frequency not reported: Abdominal cramps, abdominal spasms, diarrhea, dry mouth, gastrointestinal symptoms, hypersalivation, vomiting


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Increased salivation, nausea, vomiting

Frequency not reported: Constipation

Postmarketing reports: Gastrointestinal hemorrhage[Ref]



Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Change in appetite, increase in alkaline phosphatase

Very rare (less than 0.01%): Hyponatremia

Frequency not reported: Loss of appetite


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Acidosis, increased alkaline phosphatase

Frequency not reported: Hyponatremia[Ref]



Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Allergic dermatitis, rash

Frequency not reported: Allergic skin reactions, alopecia, dermatological symptoms, sweating


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Hypertension, hypotension

Frequency not reported: Allergic skin reactions, alopecia, skin rash[Ref]



Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Abnormal liver function test values, increase in bilirubin, increase in liver transaminases, jaundice


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Abnormal liver function tests

Frequency not reported: Increased bilirubin, increased liver transaminases, jaundice

Postmarketing reports: Liver damage[Ref]



Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Impotence


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Impotence

Postmarketing reports: Urinary incontinence[Ref]



Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Infection[Ref]



Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Cystitis[Ref]



Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Blurred vision, diplopia, eye function/visual disturbance


Frequency not reported: Blurred vision, diplopia, visual disturbances[Ref]



Very rare (less than 0.01%): Agranulocytosis, leukopenia, pancytopenia, thrombocytopenia


Frequency not reported: Agranulocytosis, hypochromic anemia, leukocytosis, pancytopenia, thrombocythemia, thrombocytopenia

Postmarketing reports: Coagulation disorder[Ref]



Very rare (less than 0.01%): Anaphylactoid reactions, anaphylaxis, hypersensitivity

Frequency not reported: Angioedema, hypersensitivity reactions


Frequency not reported: Anaphylactic reactions, anaphylactoid reactions, angioedema, hypersensitivity reactions[Ref]



Very rare (less than 0.01%): Syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion (SIADH)


Frequency not reported: SIADH

Postmarketing reports: Aggravation of pheochromocytoma[Ref]

Frequently asked questions


1. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics." O 0

2. Cerner Multum, Inc. "Australian Product Information." O 0

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

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.