Medication for Anxiety: Klonopin

Klonopin is the brand name of the generic drug clonazepam, a type of benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines, which include drugs like Valium, Xanax, and Ativan, are anti-anxiety medications prescribed for conditions like panic disorder and social anxiety disorder. Klonopin is a long-acting benzodiazepine, with a half-life of 18 to 50 hours.

Often used in combination

Medications like Klonopin are beneficial to anxiety sufferers because they work quickly, are very effective at reducing anxiety, and carry a low risk of overdose toxicity. Klonopin is often prescribed in combination with SSRIs or SNRIs, in order to help reduce side effects and alleviate anxiety symptoms in the few weeks it takes before SSRIs/SNRIs reach full effectiveness.

Although the risk of overdose is low, Klonopin is not without drawbacks. Side effects include drowsiness, dizziness and cognitive impairment, and it accentuates the effects of other sedating drugs like alcohol. Benzodiazepines like Klonopin are also associated with physical dependence; about a third of patients who have taken the drug more than 4 weeks experience withdrawal symptoms if their dosage is lowered. Dependence and withdrawal symptoms are more likely with high doses and long-term use.

Because of the drawbacks, particularly development of tolerance and dependence, Klonopin is most effectively used as a short-term treatment for anxiety disorders. It has been proven effective as a treatment for panic disorder and shows promise for treating social anxiety disorder.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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