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What is clonazepam?

Clonazepam is a medication prescribed by doctors to treat and prevent the symptoms of seizures and panic disorder. The medication can be useful as a single-prescription or in combination with other medicines and therapies.

The medication is available in the market in both generic and trade forms. Clonazepam belongs to the drug class of anxiolytics, antianxiety agents, anticonvulsants, and benzodiazepines.

Clonazepam, the active ingredient of Klonopin, got patented in 1960, and its sale started in the markets in 1975 in the United States.

It is a short-term use of oral medication, also available in other forms of administration. The therapeutic effects of clonazepam start within an hour of administration and last for about six to twelve hours.

Clonazepam uses

Clonazepam is useful in the treatment of several health conditions. However, the FDA only approves its use for the following:

Seizure disorder

Clonazepam is helpful as a single-medication or adjunct for the treatment of the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (petit mal variant), myoclonic, and akinetic seizures. The patients with petiti mal or absence seizures who fail to respond to succinimides, clonazepam can be useful.

There can be some loss of therapeutic effect during the course of clonazepam treatment.

Panic disorder

Clonazepam is indicated for the treatment of a panic disorder, both with and without agoraphobia. The medication treats panic disorder characterized by the unexpected occurrence of panic attacks and related concern about having more attacks worry about the consequences and implications of the attacks, or some change in behavior related to the panic attacks.

Dosage

Clonazepam is available as a conventional tablet for oral administration. You should take it with water by swallowing the pill as a whole at once.

The standard daily dosages of clonazepam are indicated below. However, consulting a doctor before starting the medication dosing regimen is advisable as the doctor may individualize your daily dosage according to your medical condition and several other factors.

For seizure disorder

Using multiple anticonvulsants may result in increased adverse effects of central nervous system depression. Doctors should consider this before adding clonazepam to an existing dosing schedule of anticonvulsants.

  • Adults: the starting dose for adults is 1.5 mg per day given in divided doses. Increase this dose with an increment of 0.5 mg to 1 mg every three days until you attain adequate control over seizures. The maximum daily clonazepam dosage is 20 mg per day.
  • Pediatric patients: the starting dose is between 0.01 mg/kg to 0.03 mg/kg per day given in divided doses. Increase this dose with an increment of 0.25 mg to 0.50 mg every three days.
  • Geriatric patients: No clinical trials show the safety and effectiveness of clonazepam in patients over 65 years of age. Generally, doctors should start elderly patients on a low dose of clonazepam and closely observe any severe side effects.

For panic disorder

The dosing schedule of panic disorder patients differs from the ones talking clonazepam for any other medical condition.

  • Adults: the starting dose for panic disorder is 0.25 mg of clonazepam given two times a day. This dose can get increased to 1 mg per after three days. Higher doses of the medication, 2 mg, 3 mg, or 4 mg, are less effective than the 1 mg/day dose. The maximum clonazepam dosage for panic disorder patients is 4 mg per day.
  • Pediatric patients: no clinical trials show the effectiveness and safety of clonazepam for pediatric patients.
  • Geriatric patients: no clinical trials show the effectiveness and safety of clonazepam for geriatric patients. Generally, a doctor should start giving a low dose of the medication to elderly patients while closely monitoring them for severe side effects.

Side effects

The adverse effects of clonazepam are given separately for people with a seizure disorder and panic disorder.

Seizure disorder

Frequent side effects of clonazepam experienced by the patients of seizure disorder include:

  • Palpitation
  • Anorexia
  • Nausea
  • Increased appetite
  • Dry mouth
  • Urinary retention
  • Anemia
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Respiratory depression
  • Central nervous system depression

Panic disorder

Frequent side effects of clonazepam experienced by the patients of panic disorder include:

  • Depression
  • Somnolence
  • Nervousness
  • Dizziness
  • Ataxia
  • Reduced intellectual ability

Given above are some of the common side effects of the medication. For complete information about all the potential effects it can cause, please consult your doctor or a medical specialist.