Klonopin (clonazepam) vs. Xanax (alprazolam)

  • Medical Reviewer: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Klonopin (clonazepam) vs. Xanax (alprazolam) review

  • Klonopin (clonazepam) and Xanax (alprazolam) belong to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines.
  • Benzodiazepines are medications that cause drowsiness (sedation) and inhibition of nerve signals within the brain (central nervous system or CNS). They also are used for sedation during surgery.
  • Both Klonopin and Xanax are prescribed to treat anxiety. Symptoms of anxiety include:
    • Headaches
    • Sleep problems
    • Becoming tired easily
    • Irritability
    • Muscle tension
    • Restlessness or feeling edgy
    • Trouble concentrating
  • Klonopin also is prescribed to treat certain types of seizures and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
  • Since both Klonopin and Xanax are benzodiazepines, they can cause physical dependence (addiction). Withdrawal symptoms from suddenly stopping taking these medications can include insomnia, headaches, nausea, vomiting, sweating, tremors, and seizures.
  • Examples of common side effects of benzodiazepines like Klonopin and Xanax include
  • Klonopin and Xanax interact with alcohol, barbiturates, narcotics, and other drugs or substances that slow the brain's processes. Xanax also interacts with several other drugs.
  • Both Klonopin and Xanax are not recommended during pregnancy due to the risk of fetal abnormalities. Both drugs also are secreted in breast milk and can affect nursing infants. Therefore they should not be used by women who are nursing.

What are Klonopin and Xanax?

What is Klonopin (clonazepam)?

  • Klonopin (clonazepam) is an anti-anxiety medication in the benzodiazepine family, the same family that includes, for example:
  • Klonopin and other benzodiazepines act by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter (a chemical that nerve cells use to communicate with each other) that inhibits brain activity. It is believed that excessive activity in the brain may lead to anxiety or other psychiatric disorders. Clonazepam is primarily used for treating panic disorder and preventing certain types of seizures.
  • The FDA approved clonazepam in June 1975.

What is Xanax (alprazolam)?

  • Xanax (alprazolam) is an anti-anxiety medication in the benzodiazepine family, the same family that includes, for example:
    • diazepam (Valium)
    • clonazepam (Klonopin)
    • lorazepam (Ativan)
    • flurazepam (Dalmane)
  • Xanax and other benzodiazepines act by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter (a chemical that nerve cells use to communicate with each other) that inhibits activity in the brain. It is believed that excessive activity in the brain may cause anxiety or other psychiatric disorders.
  • The FDA approved Xanax in October 1981.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/12/2016
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