What Does Ativan Treat?

Ativan® (lorazepam) is a drug that is available only by prescription. Some people may wonder, "What does it treat?" Ativan is used to treat anxiety and severe seizures (known medically as status epilepticus) in adults and children as young as 12 years old.
Specifically, Ativan is approved to treat anxiety disorders, rather than just the common anxiety most people get before a stressful event. 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).
There are also several "off-label" Ativan uses, such as:
  • Treating agitation
  • Treating alcohol withdrawal
  • Treating insomnia
  • Sedating people on a ventilator (as it can be disturbing to be awake with a breathing tube or a ventilator in place)
  • Preventing seizures
  • Treating restless legs syndrome
  • Treating myoclonus
  • Treating spastic disorders and other types of muscle spasms, such as those seen in people with cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis.
Ativan is part of a group of medications called benzodiazepines, which work in the brain by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a brain chemical that is naturally calming. As a result, Ativan has several effects on the body, such as relaxing the muscles, causing sleepiness, and reducing anxiety.
(Click Ativan Uses for more information on what this drug is used for. This article also describes how it works and discusses its safety in children.)
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