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:
- 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
- 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
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
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,
- 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.
What generic names are available for Klonopin and Xanax?
- Clonazepam is the brand name for Klonopin available for in the US.
- Alprazolam is the brand name for Xanax available in the US.
What are the uses for Klonopin (clonazepam) vs. Xanax (alprazolam)?
Klonopin (clonazepam) uses
Klonopin (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.
Klonopin maybe used alone or together with other medications for these
- The short-term relief of symptoms of anxiety.
Xanax (alprazolam) uses
Xanax (alprazolam) is used for the treatment of
anxiety disorders and panic attacks. Anxiety disorders are characterized by:
- Unrealistic worry and apprehension
- Symptoms of restlessness
- Smothering sensation
Cold clammy hands
- Exaggerated startle responses
- Problems concentrating
Panic attacks occur either unexpectedly or in certain situations (for example, driving), and can require higher dosages of
Panic attacks are repeated attacks of fear that can last for several minutes.
What are the side effects of Klonopin (clonazepam) vs. Xanax (alprazolam)?
Klonopin (clonazepam) side effects
The most common side effects associated with Klonopin (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
- Lack of inhibition
- Changes in sexual desire
Other serious side effects of Klonopin 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
Xanax (alprazolam) side effects
The most common side effects of Xanax taken at lower doses are:
Other side effects include:
What are the withdrawal symptoms of Klonopin (clonazepam) vs. Xanax (alprazolam)?
Klonopin (clonazepam) withdrawal symptoms
- Like all benzodiazepines,
Klonopin can cause physical dependence.
stopping therapy after a few months of daily therapy may be associated with a
feeling of loss of self-worth, agitation, and
- If Klonopin is taken
continuously for longer than a few months, stopping therapy suddenly may produce:
- Muscle cramping
discontinuation usually is accomplished by reducing the dose gradually.
Xanax (alprazolam) withdrawal symptoms
Addiction is more likely to occur at high doses given over prolonged periods of time. Abrupt discontinuation of
Xanax after prolonged use can lead to symptoms of withdrawal such as:
Seizures can occur in more severe cases of withdrawal. Consequently, patients on
Xanax for extended periods of time should slowly taper the medication under a doctor’s supervision rather than abruptly stopping the medication.
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How should Klonopin (clonazepam) vs. Xanax (alprazolam) be taken (dosage)?
Klonopin (clonazepam) dosage
The dose of Klonopin (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.
Xanax (alprazolam) dosage
Xanax may be taken with or without food.
Which drugs interact with Klonopin (clonazepam) vs. Xanax (alprazolam)?
Klonopin (clonazepam) drug interactions
- Klonopin (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.
Xanax (alprazolam) drug interactions
Xanax (alprazolam) interacts with
- Ketoconazole (Nizoral)
- itraconazole (Sporanox)
- nefazodone (Serzone)
- cimetidine (Tagamet)
- fluvoxamine (Luvox)
These increase concentrations in the blood of Xanax and therefore may increase the side effects of
Xanax interacts with alcohol and medications (for example, barbiturates, and narcotics) that suppress activity in the brain by suppressing activity more and causing sedation.
Are Klonopin and Xanax safe to take during pregnancy or while
Klonopin (clonazepam) pregnancy and breastfeeding safety
- Klonopin (clonazepam) and other benzodiazepines have been associated with
fetal damage, including
congenital malformations, when taken by
Klonopin is best avoided in the first trimester and
- Benzodiazepines are secreted in
breast milk. Mothers who are
breastfeeding should not take
Xanax (alprazolam) pregnancy and breastfeeding safety
- Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, can cause fetal abnormalities and should not be used in
- Xanax is excreted in
breast milk and can affect nursing infants. Therefore, it should not be used by women who are nursing.