Lorazepam is a benzodiazepine, which is a drug used to treat conditions like anxiety, insomnia, seizures and muscle spasms. Though many medical professionals aren’t entirely sure how it works, it’s agreed that the drug reduces the activity of nerve cells in certain areas of the central nervous and peripheral nervous systems. These areas are believed to be responsible for anxiety and muscular tension. The drug is usually taken in the short term.

Lorazepam comes in a small, oddly shaped white pill of .5, 1 and 2 mg. If the patient is taking controlled release capsules, he or she should swallow them whole and not crush or chew them. The pills should be stored in a cool, dark place.

A patient who is taking lorazepam should consult with his or her doctor before taking any other drugs, including over the counter drugs. Lorazepam magnifies the effects of other drugs that might depress the central nervous system. These include drugs taken for allergies or colds as well as sleep medications, pain killers and muscle relaxants. The patient should also avoid overconsumption of coffee or other beverages and foods that contain caffeine, as they may worsen symptoms of anxiety and lessen the effectiveness of the drug. People who are taking the drug should also avoid driving or using heavy machinery until they know how the drug affects them.

People over 65 might be especially vulnerable to the side effects of the drug. Unpleasant side effects like confusion, clumsiness, drowsiness and agitation might afflict them at a lower dosage than it would younger patients.

Among other side effects that might accompany lorazepam usage are

  • headaches and light headedness,
  • euphoria,
  • very vivid dreams,
  • blurred or double vision,
  • stomach pain,
  • constipation and diarrhea,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • dry mouth and increased thirst,
  • urinary retention and other urinary difficulties,
  • increase or decrease in appetite,
  • weight gain or weight loss,
  • sensitivity to light,
  • increased or diminished sex drive
  • and a bitter or metallic taste in the mouth.

The patient should contact his or her physician if these symptoms don’t go away. Symptoms like difficulty in speaking, confusion, severe weakness or drowsiness and difficulty in breathing are considered medical emergencies. If the patient experiences these symptoms, he or she should be taken to the emergency room or to his or her physician right away.