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- What is clonazepam, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for clonazepam?
- Is clonazepam available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for clonazepam?
- What are the uses for clonazepam?
- What are the side effects of clonazepam?
- What is the dosage for clonazepam?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with clonazepam?
- Is clonazepam safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about clonazepam?
What is clonazepam, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- Clonazepam is an anti-anxiety medication in the benzodiazepine family, the same family that includes diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), flurazepam (Dalmane), and others. Clonazepam 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 are the uses for clonazepam?
Clonazepam is used for:
What are the side effects of clonazepam?
The most common side effects associated with clonazepam are sedation, which is reported in approximately half of patients. Dizziness is reported in one-third of patients.
Other common side effects include:
- A feeling of depression,
- Loss of orientation,
- Unsteadiness, and
- Sleep disturbance
- Lack of inhibition
- Changes in sexual desire
Other serious side effects of clonazepam include:
- Respiratory depression
- Enlarged liver
- Withdrawal symptoms (if stopped suddenly)
- Increased heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Blood disorders
Other serious adverse reactions:
- Antiepileptic medications have been associated with an increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior. Anyone considering the use of antiepileptic drugs must balance this risk of suicide with the clinical need for the antiepileptic drug. Patients who begin antiepileptic therapy should be closely observed for clinical worsening, suicidal thoughts or unusual changes in behavior.
What is the dosage for clonazepam?
The dose of clonazepam is tailored to the patient's needs.
- For seizures in adults the initial dose is 1.5 mg daily in 3 divided doses.
- Dosage may be increased by 0.5 to 1 mg daily every 3 days until seizures are controlled or side effects preclude further increases in dose.
- The maximum dose is 20 mg daily. The initial dose for panic disorders is 0.25 mg twice daily.
- The dose may be increased to the target dose of 1 mg daily after 3 days.
Which drugs or supplements interact with clonazepam?
- Clonazepam, like all other benzodiazepines, accentuates the effects of other drugs that slow the brain's processes, such as alcohol, barbiturates, and narcotics and leads to increased sedation.
Is clonazepam safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- Clonazepam and other benzodiazepines have been associated with fetal damage, including congenital malformations, when taken by pregnant women in their first trimester. Clonazepam is best avoided in the first trimester and probably throughout pregnancy.
- Benzodiazepines are secreted in breast milk. Mothers who are breastfeeding should not take clonazepam.
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Medications & Supplements
- lorazepam (Ativan)
- diazepam (Valium, Diastat, Acudial, Diastat Pediatric, Diazepam Intensol)
- alprazolam (Xanax, Xanax XR, Niravam) Anti-Anxiety Drug
- temazepam, Restoril
- triazolam, Halcion
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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.