When to take Lorazepam for anxiety

You might want to explore the pharmacological options if your anxiety affects your life. Lorazepam is an anti-anxiety drug that demonstrates an impressive ability to improve mood and help get anxiety in check, but it may have some risks.

Taking any new medicine is serious, so we've researched to help you know what Lorazepam is, how to use it, and how it might affect you to help you make the best decision for your mental health.

Lorazepam belongs to a class of medicines called benzodiazepines. It treats anxiety and sleeping problems that are related to anxiety. Doctors may recommend Lorazepam to help you relax before surgery or other medical or dental treatment. This is called a pre-med.

Lorazepam is available on prescription only. It is available as a tablet and as a liquid. In hospitals, Lorazepam injections are common if you're having a seizure or fit.

What is Lorazepam?

Lorazepam is the generic name for a sedative-anxiolytic drug (meaning that it reduces anxiety) belonging to a medicine family called benzodiazepines. It is also known by other brand names such as Ativan, Tavor, and Temesta.

Lorazepam is prevalent as the sedative and anxiolytic of choice in the inpatient setting owing to its quick (1 to 3 minutes) onset of action when administered intravenously. Lorazepam is one of the few sedative-hypnotics with a relatively clean side effect profile.

FDA-approved indications 

  • Short-term (4 months) relief of anxiety symptoms related to anxiety disorders
  • Anxiety-associated insomnia
  • Anaesthesia premedication in adults to relieve anxiety or to produce sedation/amnesia
  • Treatment of status epilepticus

Off-label (non-FDA-approved) indications 

  • Rapid tranquillisation of the agitated patient
  • Alcohol withdrawal delirium
  • Alcohol withdrawal syndrome
  • Insomnia
  • Panic disorder
  • Delirium
  • Chemotherapy-associated anticipatory nausea and vomiting (adjunct or breakthrough)
  • Psychogenic catatonia
  • Vertigo

You may take Lorazepam orally as a tablet or liquid, and it treats anxiety and sleeping problems. It can also be effective as an injection to treat seizures in emergencies. 

As with all benzodiazepines, Lorazepam is a short-term treatment to help manage anxiety levels due to its risk of abuse.

Instead of taking it daily like other antidepressants or anxiolytics, Lorazepam is recommended when anxiety arises and only for a short period (4 weeks maximum) until more long-term treatment options begin to work.

Lorazepam for anxiety 

Benzodiazepines lessen anxiety by enhancing the activity of GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain that produces feelings of calm. The reason why benzodiazepines like Lorazepam treat anxiety is that GABA also induces drowsiness, which can help you get a better night's rest.

When is Lorazepam prescribed for anxiety?

Lorazepam is an intermediate-acting benzodiazepine medication. It is pretty effective for treating anxiety if used for the right reasons. But there's a time and place for benzodiazepines to be used. They're often prescribed only after first-choice anxiety medications, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), haven't worked well in controlling anxiety symptoms. You may also use it to lower anxiety symptoms in certain stressful situations, such as before a flight, dental procedure, or chemotherapy session.

Benzodiazepines are often prescribed because they're effective at controlling anxiety symptoms. But benzodiazepines like Xanax and Ativan are usually only used temporarily because of possible risks and side effects that can be severe. 

How fast does Lorazepam work for anxiety?

Other anxiety medications may take up to 8 weeks for their full effect. On the other hand, Lorazepam can effectively reduce anxiety within 30 minutes. However, while you may quickly feel its effects, they are not for an extended period. The anxiolytic effects of Lorazepam last for around 6 to 8 hours. 

Lorazepam tablets and liquid start working in around 20-30 minutes. It reaches full sedating effect after 1-1.5 hours and lasts for approximately 6 to 8 hours. A Lorazepam injection works much faster and lasts around 6 to 8 hours.

The immediate and short-term effects of Lorazepam mean that it is only to manage anxiety symptoms for a short period until more long-term treatment options like SSRI medications start to work.

What does using Lorazepam feel like?

Because of its ability to reduce anxiety and act as a sedative, Lorazepam is likely to leave you feeling:

  • Relaxed and calm 
  • Serene and happy
  • Tired or drowsy

Lorazepam dosing for anxiety

Your doctor will advise you on the most appropriate and safest Lorazepam dose. Typically for anxiety, you can expect a dosage of 1 to 4 milligrams per day. However, this dose will fluctuate based on your needs and individual characteristics (size, comorbid risk, etc.). Children's dosing of Lorazepam will also depend on the child's age and need. 

At the end of your treatment period (from a few days to 4 weeks), your doctor will likely taper you off Lorazepam to avoid potential withdrawal symptoms and help you stop treatment comfortably.

Who can and cannot take Lorazepam?

Adults and children aged 13 years and above may take Lorazepam for anxiety. Adults and children aged 5 years or above may also consider it a "pre-med". Lorazepam is not suitable for everyone.

To make sure it's safe for you, consult your doctor before taking Lorazepam if you:

  • have had an allergic response to Lorazepam or any other medication in the recent past
  • have kidney or liver problems
  • have breathing issues or chest problems
  • have myasthenia gravis, a medical condition that causes muscle weakness
  • have sleep apnoea, a medical condition that causes breathing issues when you're asleep
  • have depression or thoughts of harming yourself
  • have been diagnosed with a personality disorder
  • have problems with alcohol or recreational drugs
  • have arteriosclerosis, a medical condition that affects blood flow
  • are trying to get pregnant, are already pregnant or breastfeeding
  • have glaucoma, a condition that causes high blood pressure in the eye
  • are going to have general anaesthesia for an operation or dental treatment


Lorazepam may significantly impact anxiety levels; in the short term, it can be an effective and safe treatment option. Lorazepam starts working quickly. As mentioned, this can be helpful if you're right about doing something that triggers anxiety. Lorazepam tablet tends to take 1 to 2 hours to take full effect.

However, you should be aware of the addiction risk of Lorazepam when used long-term. Therefore, it's best to discuss any concerns that you might have about Lorazepam with your doctor.