Managing Acute Anxiety and Panic Attacks: Lorazepam Dosage for Effective Symptom Relie

Imagine a 45-year-old woman experiencing acute anxiety and panic attacks. She rushes to the emergency department in search of relief from the overwhelming surge of fear and distress. In such a critical moment, healthcare professionals need to act swiftly and accurately to alleviate her symptoms. One common medication prescribed for this purpose is lorazepam (Ativan). However, what if the pharmacy provides 0.5 mg tablets instead of the 1 mg dosage ordered by the physician? This article will guide nurses and healthcare providers on the correct administration of lorazepam to effectively manage the patient’s symptoms.

Understanding Acute Anxiety and Panic Attacks

Acute anxiety and panic attacks can be debilitating, leaving the patient in a state of extreme distress and fear. These episodes can manifest with symptoms such as rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, trembling, sweating, and a sense of impending doom. Patients often seek immediate relief, and lorazepam is a commonly prescribed medication to manage these symptoms. It belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines and works by enhancing the effects of a neurotransmitter called GABA in the brain, resulting in a calming and soothing effect.

Lorazepam – An Effective Solution

Lorazepam, available under the brand name Ativan, is widely used in emergency departments to provide quick relief from acute anxiety and panic attacks. It’s available in different dosages, including 0.5 mg and 1 mg tablets. The decision on which dosage to use depends on the physician’s prescription, and in our case, the physician has ordered 1 mg of lorazepam for our patient.

Lorazepam Dosage Mismatch

Here’s where the scenario gets tricky. The pharmacy has supplied lorazepam in 0.5 mg tablets instead of 1 mg tablets as prescribed. To ensure that the patient receives the intended dosage, nurses and healthcare providers must perform a simple yet crucial calculation.

Calculating the Correct Dosage

In this situation, the goal is to provide 1 mg of lorazepam to the patient. Since the tablets available are 0.5 mg each, it’s a matter of basic mathematics. You will need to administer two 0.5 mg tablets to reach the intended 1 mg dosage.

Administering Lorazepam Safely

Apart from understanding the correct dosage, it is crucial for nurses and healthcare providers to be well-versed in safely administering lorazepam. Some key considerations include:

  1. Patient Assessment: Assess the patient’s medical history, allergies, and current medications to ensure lorazepam is safe and appropriate for them.
  2. Informed Consent: Obtain the patient’s informed consent for medication administration, explaining its purpose, potential side effects, and expected outcomes.
  3. Monitoring: After administration, closely monitor the patient’s vital signs, respiratory rate, and level of consciousness to ensure they respond positively to the medication.
  4. Documentation: Record the medication administration, dosage, and patient’s response in the medical chart, maintaining a comprehensive medical record.
  5. Education: Provide the patient with information about lorazepam, potential side effects, and any follow-up instructions.


Managing acute anxiety and panic attacks is a challenging but essential part of emergency healthcare. Lorazepam, when administered correctly, can be a lifeline for patients in distress. In scenarios where there’s a mismatch between the prescribed dosage and the available tablets, as in our case with the 0.5 mg lorazepam tablets, healthcare providers must exercise precise calculations to ensure the patient receives the intended relief.

In summary, when faced with a situation like this, remember that two 0.5 mg lorazepam tablets should be administered to achieve the 1 mg dosage prescribed by the physician. Additionally, always prioritize patient safety, informed consent, monitoring, and thorough documentation to provide the best possible care during moments of acute anxiety and panic attacks. By following these guidelines, healthcare providers can effectively manage symptoms and support patients on their path to recovery.


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