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
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
panic disorder and preventing certain
types of seizures.
- The FDA
approved clonazepam in June 1975.
What brand names are available for clonazepam?
Is clonazepam available as a generic drug?
GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes
Do I need a prescription for clonazepam?
What are the uses for clonazepam?
Clonazepam is used for:
- The treatment of panic disorder
- Certain types of seizures, specifically petit mal seizures, akinetic seizures, and myoclonus, as well as Lennox-Gastaut syndrome. Clonazepam may be used alone or together with other medications for these seizure disorders.
- The short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety.
Panic attacks are repeated attacks of fear that can last for several minutes.
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
- Loss of orientation,
- Unsteadiness, and
- 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
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What is the dosage for clonazepam?
The dose of clonazepam is tailored to the patient's needs.
seizures in adults the initial dose is 1.5 mg daily in 3 divided doses.
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
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
first trimester. Clonazepam is best avoided in the first trimester and
- Benzodiazepines are secreted in
breast milk. Mothers who are
breastfeeding should not take clonazepam.
What else should I know about clonazepam?
What preparations of clonazepam are available?
- Tablets: 0.5, 1, and 2 mg;
- Disintegrating tablets: 0.125, 0.25,
0.5, 1, and 2 mg.
How should I keep clonazepam stored?
Tablets should be kept at room temperature, between 15 C and 30 C
(59 F and 86 F).