Clonazepam (Klonopin)

klonopin tablets

What is Klonipin Used to Treat?

Klonopin® is the brand name for the drug Clonazepam. It is used to treat seizure disorders as well as panic disorders, anxiety disorders and mania. Klonopin is also used as short term treatment for depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

How Does Klonopin Work?

Klonopin contains anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant and anxiolytic properties and works by enhancing the neurotransmitter GABA and increasing the level of chloride ions into neurons. This inhibits transmission of synapses across the central nervous system producing relaxation. Klonopin is fast acting and long lasting, usually active in the patient’s system for 18-50 hours.

Possible Side Effects

Common side effects of Klonopin include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Feeling of Euphoria
  • Impaired cognitive function issues including short term memory loss, hallucinations, and anterograde amnesia
  • Impaired motor function issues including balance, dizziness and coordination
  • Low motivation
  • Decrease in sex drive
  • Irritability or aggression
  • Suppression of REM sleep resulting in poor quality sleep or “hangover” like symptoms due to Klonopin continuing to effect the person even after they wake up

Less common side effects of Klonopin include:

  • Confusion
  • Personality changes
  • Ataxia
  • Seizures or increased frequency of seizures
  • Behavioral changes
  • Dysphoria, sometimes serious
  • Serious psychological or psychiatric side effects

Side effects of Klonopin that are considered rare include:

  • Incontinence
  • Liver damage
  • Psychosis
  • Excitement
  • Rage
  • Worsening of seizures
  • Impulsivity

Patients taking Klonopin should be aware that long term use can result in sexual dysfunction, depression and disinhibition. Cognitive impairments associated with Klonipin use may last for six months or more after discontinuation.

Long term use may also result in building up a tolerance for Klonopin that requires a larger dose for the same effect or a dependence which results in withdrawal symptoms. Sudden discontinuation after long term use of Klonopin can have serious health effects and can even cause death.

Patients who use Klonopin for more than four weeks have a greater chance of experiencing withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuing the drug. Patients may experience panic attacks, tremors, anxiety insomnia, irritability and seizures after ceasing use of Klonopin.

Precautions/Interactions

Aside from tolerance, dependence and withdrawal, patients considering using Klonopin should be aware of the following precautions:

Because elderly persons metabolize benzodiazepines more slowly, Klonopin is not recommended for long term use as it may accumulate in the body. Klonopin can also increase the risk for the elderly to fall and be impaired.

Klonopin has been found to increase violent behavior in persons with schizophrenia.

Pregnant women, persons who are drug or alcohol dependent, and patients with psychiatric disorders should be given special attention when considering the use of Klonopin.

When used together with Phenobarbital, behavioral disturbances can occur more frequently.

Doses higher than .5m-1mg per day can result in significant sedation effects

Klonopin may be hazardous to patients under 18, especially young children

Some antifungal medications may reduce the effectiveness of Klonopin

Klonopin is not compatible with pregnancy or breastfeeding

As with any medication, discussion with a health care provider is essential before use. A health care provider can explain the side effects of Klonopin and help decide if the benefits of use outweigh the risks.

 
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