Lorazepam: Definition, Uses & Classification

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson is going to teach you a bit about a medication known as lorazepam. You'll learn how it can be classified and, by extension, what it's used to treat.


Chillax bro! That's what a drug called lorazepam is good at telling your brain to do. If you haven't heard of lorazepam before then maybe you've heard of Ativan? Well, they're the same exact drug. It's just that lorazepam is the generic term for the brand/trade name of Ativan.

Why don't we go over this drug's classification and uses?


Lorazepam can be classified as a benzodiazepine. Maybe you've heard of other benzodiazepines, like diazepam? Anyway, benzodiazepines are central nervous system (CNS) depressants. The central nervous system is a part of your body that's comprised of the brain and spinal cord.

Now, don't start thinking that because they are CNS depressants they give you a foul mood. CNS depressants aren't designed to make you feel sad; they help slow down an over-excited brain instead. In other words, they tell the nervous system to relax.


When is the brain in an excited state? Well, there's obviously more than one condition that leads to this, but two good examples are anxiety and seizures. As a result, lorazepam is used to treat anxiety disorders as well as seizures. Seizures are situations where the brain's nerve cells are in a biochemical frenzy, and so we'd obviously want to help minimize this level of activity with a CNS depressant. Because of this, lorazepam can also be classified in a different way, as an anticonvulsant. Anticonvulsants are medications that help stop or prevent seizures.

Who else do you think would need to relax a bit? How about people who suffer from insomnia, the inability to fall and/or stay asleep? Lorazepam can be used for this as well.

Lorazepam can also be used in a hospital setting to sedate a person prior to surgery, helping them feel more relaxed in general.

Like many other medications, lorazepam can be used off-label for various other conditions. For example, it can be used to help manage nausea or vomiting caused by chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is a procedure that uses chemicals to try and destroy cancer cells. Lorazepam can also be used, off-label, to help manage chronic insomnia. Chronic insomnia is insomnia that persists continuously or recurs over a relatively short space of time over and over again.

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