Anxiety can be a normal reaction to stress, whether dealing with the purchase of a new home, preparing for a major presentation, or paying the bills. It helps people cope with stressful situations. However, there are times when anxiety becomes very prevalent in people's lives, causing an irrational dread of typical, everyday situations. In such instances, anxiety can be debilitating, creating a serious impact on the way that people live their lives.

There are five major types of anxiety disorder, including generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders may be treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both. A doctor will diagnose an anxiety disorder and determine what course of action is best suited to treat the patient.

Ativan, which is the brand name of the generic drug, lorazepam, is a drug that is used to treat anxiety disorders; it is particularly helpful for panic disorders and generalized anxiety disorder. Ativan is a member of a group of drugs called benzodiazepines. Its function is to affect the chemicals in the brain that may become unbalanced, causing anxiety. Ativan may also be prescribed to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), epilepsy, insomnia, nausea and vomiting from cancer treatment, and to control agitation caused by alcohol withdrawal.

As with any medication, there are risks and side effects, some of which may be serious, associated with the use of Ativan. A primary side effect of benzodiazepines is that they cause drowsiness. However, people can get used to them in their system and may need increased dosages over time to get the same effect from the medication. Because of this, drugs like Ativan are usually prescribed for short durations of time, especially for individuals who may have abused drugs or alcohol or who are susceptible to becoming dependent on medications. For people who have been prescribed Ativan to treat panic disorder, they may be prescribed the medication for up to one year.

When people stop taking Ativan abruptly, they may experience symptoms of withdrawal, which may include tremors, sweating, muscle cramps, stomach pain, vomiting, usual thoughts or behavior, or seizures. If you are currently on Ativan and are worried about becoming dependent upon the drug, you need to speak with doctor about getting off of the medication. Because of the withdrawal symptoms that may be associated with abrupt cessation of the medication you need to slowly decrease the use of the medication with the aid of your doctor.

People who have glaucoma; breathing disorders such as asthma, emphysema, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder; kidney or liver disease; a history of depression or suicidal thoughts or behavior; or a history of drug or alcohol addition should inform their doctor. The doctor will assess your medical history and determine if you should take Ativan.

Ativan has been associated with birth defects in unborn babies. If you are pregnant, it is important to speak with your doctor before taking Ativan. In addition, the medication may lead to accidental falls in elderly patients taking it.

The United States Food and Drug Administration requires pharmaceutical manufacturers to perform a series of thorough tests on medications before they are approved for use. The FDA weighs the risks against the benefits of the medication; if the benefits outweigh the risks, approval is typically made. Unfortunately, often many serious risks of medications are not discovered until the medicine has already been approved and many people have started using the medicine and developed health complications as a result.

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious side effect as the result of taking prescribed Ativan, you may be entitled to compensation. Speak with a lawyer who specializes in pharmaceutical law or personal injury. He or she will guide you through the legal process and help determine if you have a viable case. If you do, he or she will help you pursue compensation to cover medical expenses and pain or suffering associated with the complications of Ativan.