Ativan and Depression

Ativan is typically prescribed for people with anxiety disorders. The medication seems to soothe chemical imbalances inside the brain, leading to a profound feeling of relief for people who might not be able to experience this sensation in any other way. Unfortunately, this drug and others like it are common targets for abuse.

How to Treat Ativan Addiction and Depression

In a study of the issue, published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence, researchers found that 7.8 percent of college students abused a benzodiazepine medication like Ativan at least once in their lives, indicating just how prevalent this kind of abuse might be. Depression seems to be a hallmark of addiction to drugs like Ativan, and the feeling can deepen and worsen in recovery without proper care. Thankfully, those who do get help can emerge from their addictions with a new understanding and determination to stay well, no matter what might come their way.

A Slow Withdrawal

A brain altered by Ativan is relaxed and slow, firing at a very reduced rate. When the drug is removed, either through a cold-turkey withdrawal or through a user-prompted reduction in doses, depression can set in. In fact, depression is so common in people recovering from an Ativan addiction that authors writing in the journal Psychological Medicine suggest that depression is an “integral part” of the withdrawal process.

A slow taper from the drug may be helpful, as minute adjustments in the amount of Ativan available can give the cells of the brain time to adjust and amend without panicking and producing symptoms of pain and distress. In some cases, replacement medications might also be helpful, as they can help to soothe and soften the taper and allow the person to stay comfortable while the mind heals.

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New Habits

Even when the drugs are gone, the habits that reinforced the addiction are still in place. Those who had depression before the addiction began might have even more trauma and distress to deal with. Therapy can help, as each session provides the person with the opportunity to:

  • Share
  • Learn
  • Listen
  • Practice

People can learn how to counter the negative thoughts that lock their depression in place, and they can learn how to repair their lives so depression will be less likely, and drugs won’t be needed to amend their despair. The solutions provided might vary, but people might be encouraged to develop exercise routines, talk to supportive friends, find life-enriching hobbies and focus on the positive in life.


People with depression and addictions can and do get better. For example, in a study of people with these issues in the journal Psychiatric Services, researchers found that 73 percent were abstinent from drugs six months later. But maintaining that sobriety in the face of relentless temptation to use and abuse Ativan can be difficult. Ongoing therapy may be helpful, as it allows people to keep learning and growing, but some people may also need to participate in addiction support groups. Here, they can share stories with other people who have addictions and the support they gain could make all the difference in terms of their long-term recovery.

At Alta Mira, we’re devoted to long-term care for our clients, and we ensure that everyone who gets care with us stays in touch with us and the help we can provide. If you’d like to know more about these programs and how they can help you, please call us.