A healthcare provider may prescribe Ativan® (lorazepam) to treat several conditions, such as anxiety, tension, and severe seizures. Specifically, this prescription medication is approved to treat anxiety disorders, not just feelings of anxiety that most people might get before a big event (such as an exam, a business presentation, or a first date). It is also approved for short-term relief of anxiety symptoms associated with depression. Ativan is not for "everyday anxiety" and is recommended only for short-term use (two to four weeks or less).
As a type of benzodiazepine medicine, Ativan works by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain chemical that is naturally calming. GABA can slow down or stop certain nerve signals in the brain. This is why Ativan and other benzodiazepines are known as mild tranquilizers, sedatives, or central nervous system depressants (CNS depressants).
"Off-label" Ativan uses include the following:
- Alcohol withdrawal treatment
- Insomnia treatment
- Sedation for people on a ventilator (since it can be disturbing to be awake with a breathing tube or a ventilator in place)
- Preventing seizures
- Restless legs syndrome treatment.
(Click Ativan Uses for more information on Ativan. This article also provides an in-depth look at how the medicine works, discusses its safety in children, and outlines possible off-label uses.)