Taking Klonopin for Panic Disorder

Klonopin for panic disorder. Getty Images Credit: alvarez
In This Article

Anti-anxiety medications are often prescribed to help manage panic attacks and other symptoms of panic disorder. Klonopin (clonazepam) is a type of anti-anxiety medication that is often used to treat panic disorder and other conditions.

Klonopin is the trade brand name for the drug clonazepam, an anti-anxiety benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines are often referred to as sedatives or tranquilizers due to their calming, sedating, and tranquilizing effects. Other common benzodiazepines include Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (diazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam). Benzodiazepines can decrease the intensity of panic attacks and anxiety.

Klonopin is commonly prescribed to treat panic disorder (with or without agoraphobia). Klonopin has anticonvulsant properties, making it an effective drug in the treatment of certain types of seizures. It has also been approved for the treatment of panic disorder.

How Klonopin Treats Panic Disorder

Klonopin influences the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors, a neurotransmitter in the brain involved in regulating several functions, including sleep, feelings of excitement, relaxation, and anxiety. By affecting the GABA receptors, Klonopin slows down the central nervous system (CNS), which decreases nervousness and agitation while eliciting a sense of calm and relaxation.

Klonopin's anti-anxiety effects come on relatively quickly after taking the medication. You may need to take it a few times a day, based on your doctor's recommendation.

Side Effects

Some of the most common side effects of Klonopin include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Lack of coordination and unsteadiness
  • Fatigue

These side effects may go away or lessen over time. Consult with your prescribing doctor if side effects worsen or become unmanageable.

Is Klonopin Addictive?

All benzodiazepines, including Klonopin, are classified as controlled substances. These medications have the potential for you to become both physically and emotionally dependent and to be abused. If a person develops dependence on Klonopin, discontinuing the drug can become difficult. Common withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, seizures, tremors, vomiting, and irritability.

To reduce the risk of abuse and dependence, your doctor will discuss the safest way to administer and monitor your medication over time. Never attempt to reduce your dosage on your own. To prevent possible withdrawal symptoms, your doctor can assist you in discontinuing Klonopin by gradually decreasing your dosage over time.

Precautions

There are several precautions to consider when taking Klonopin. It is important to discuss these with your doctor.

Medical History

Use caution if you have a history of certain medical conditions. Talk to your doctor before taking Klonopin if you have been diagnosed with these or any other medical condition:

  • Narrow-angle glaucoma
  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Drug or alcohol use disorder
  • Depression or other psychiatric conditions

Allergic Reactions

As with any medication, there is a possibility of allergic reaction to Klonopin. Seek immediate medical care if you experience symptoms of an allergic reaction, including rash; difficulty breathing or swallowing; itching; or swelling of the face, tongue, mouth, or throat.

Drug Interactions

All benzodiazepines, including Klonopin, slow down the central nervous system. Other substances that perform a similar action, such as alcohol and certain drugs, should be avoided while taking this medication. Before you begin taking Klonopin, let your doctor know what prescription and over-the-counter medications you are taking.

Drowsiness

Fatigue and drowsiness are common side effects of Klonopin. Until you are used to the effects of your medication, use caution when driving or performing other tasks that require your concentration.

Pregnancy and Nursing

It is possible for Klonopin to be passed to a child during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor about the risk of taking Klonopin while pregnant or nursing.

Older Age

Older adults are often more susceptible to the effects of Klonopin. Your prescribing doctor may need to adjust your dosage to assist in limiting these effects.

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