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What Is Clonazepam?

Clonazepam is a used to treat anxiety disorders.
A patient should not stop taking clonazepam without consulting a doctor.
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  • Written By: Meghan Perry
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 22 November 2014
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Clonazepam is a prescription drug that is most often used to treat seizures or panic and anxiety disorders. It also may be used to treat conditions such as restlessness. Clonazepam works by calming the brain and nerves, and it helps balance chemicals in the brain that might produce seizures or anxiety. It is in the benzodiazepine class of drugs.

This drug is an oral medication. It can be prescribed in one of two ways: either on a set schedule and dosage or on an as-needed basis. For anxiety disorders, it is sometimes prescribed as an as-needed medication. When one feels that a panic or anxiety attack might be approaching, taking a pill can help avoid the attack. For regularly scheduled dosages, a doctor will often prescribe one to three tablets a day, and they should be taken at the same time every day.

Some of the side effects of clonazepam can include feeling tired or dizzy. Doctors recommend that alcohol be avoided while one is taking clonazepam, because it can intensify side effects. Another warning for users of clonazepam is to see what the drug's effects are before driving, to avoid accidents. Some of the more serious side effects can include suicidal thoughts, rashes or hives. If any of these effects occur, it is recommended that a doctor be contacted immediately.

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It is also important for patient not to stop taking clonazepam without consulting a doctor. The reason for this is that stopping the medication might cause withdrawal symptoms. For example, if someone is taking it for a seizure disorder, stopping it might suddenly cause more seizures. If someone is taking it for a panic disorder, it might cause an anxiety attack. This is more important for those who take the medication on a scheduled basis and not as needed.

Clonazepam is a way to control disorders, but it is not a cure. One thing to be aware of is that clonazepam can be addictive. That's why doctors emphasize that patients should follow the exact dosage schedule and not take more than has been prescribed. It is also why, for scheduled users of the drug, its use should not exceed nine weeks. This is to help avoid forming a dependence on the drug.

In addition, clonazepam can harm unborn children and infants, so pregnant women should not take the drug. It can be transferred through breast milk, so breastfeeding women should not take the drug, either. Certain medications that might increase the effect of sleepiness in the patient include depression medication, sleeping pills, muscle relaxers, narcotics and allergy or cold medicines. It is recommended that a doctor be consulted before one takes any of these medications while taking clonazepam.

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