Tranquilizers are a family of drugs widely used for the case management of restlessness and being in a nervous state of mind. Of such drugs, those belonging to a class called benzo (short form of benzodiazepine) are known as minor forms of tranquilizers. These drugs work on a few neurotransmitters in your brain. Also, there are different types of benzos; the long-acting variants help treat excessive levels of stress while benzos with shorter or medium-term effects are used for treating sleeping problems such as insomnia. Clonazepam is a drug belonging to the benzodiazepine genre. It is used in the treatment of anxiety, panic, convulsions as well as a few muscular problems. It is widely regarded as an antiepileptic medication or an anticonvulsant drug. It serves well to know the type of side effects clonazepam can trigger.
Clonazepam is used for the short-term case management of mental conditions such as panic as well as convulsions. As the drug runs the risk of developing tolerance to anti-seizure effects, it is not used for a longer term. However, it remains a first-line option to treat acute or severe levels of convulsions. The drug is found to work well to manage convulsions, muscular spasms as well as epileptic seizures in children. However, the drug’s efficacy has been found to increase if used along with other anticonvulsants or anti-seizure medications such as, phenytoin, carbamazepine, etc.
In the treatment of anxiety-related mental conditions, clonazepam is known to offer benefits in treating panic experienced along with agoraphobia. Agoraphobia is best described as fear of public spaces such as malls, transit facilities, etc. Here again, clonazepam is used as a short-term option in treatment such episodes of panic. In some cases, this drug has achieved fairly good results in managing spells of mania. Apart from these conditions, clonazepam is used in treating muscular conditions such as restless legs (a strong desire to keep one’s legs moving), grinding of one’s teeth (especially during sleep), other sleep disorders triggered by rapid eye movements, etc.
Dosage of clonazepam
This medication is taken orally. Dosage depends on your age, the clinical condition as well as how your body responds to this drug. Elderly patients are often given low dosage forms, at least to start with. Such low dosages also help prevent possible risks of adverse side effects. While treating children, dosage levels are based on their body weight. Your treating doctor may advise you to take clonazepam regularly for better results. In order to make the most of this drug’s capabilities, you are advised to take it at the same times every day.
It is not recommended to discontinue the intake of clonazepam all of a sudden. Such practices may trigger symptoms of withdrawal. Most common signs include cramping of muscles, mood swings, convulsions, etc. In order to prevent such signs, your treating doctor may lower the dosages in a slow manner. You also need to remember that a long term use of clonazepam can make your body tolerant to its effects. Also, consuming it for a longer timespan can make you addictive to this drug. Hence, you are advised to follow dosage instructions of your treating doctor.
Side effects of clonazepam
Common side effects
Most common side effects of clonazepam include loss of muscular coordination, excessive weariness, feeling drowsy or dizzy, etc. Another common reaction is an increased production of saliva. These side effects are usually experienced over a shorter span of time. But, if these side effects do not go away and are persisting for long, you are advised to consult your treating doctor for needful support.
A few rare side effects
In some stray instances, clonazepam is reported to have caused mental conditions such as bipolar disorders, mood swings, thoughts about suicides, suicidal attempts and a few other mental conditions such as depression. These side effects may be characterised by memory lapses, being in a confused state of mind, self-injuring behavior (i.e., wanting to harm or hurt oneself), etc.
Serious allergies and reactions
Clonazepam does not commonly trigger any major allergies. But, if it triggers severe allergic signs such as itchiness, inflammation of facial or oral parts (such as throat or tongue), respiratory problems, severe spells of dizziness, etc., it is highly recommended to consult your treating doctor without any delay.
Upon experiencing severe or acute signs of allergies, you may need to seek medical attention in an emergency basis. If you are living in the US, call 911 or the helpline of the food and drug administration (FDA). If you are a resident of Canada, you can either get in touch with a local poison control center or contact the helpline numbers of Health Canada.
Precautionary measures to be taken while consuming clonazepam
This drug can interact with medications that you are currently consuming. It is known to interact with a few drugs administered for weight management programs (such as orlistat, etc.) as well as medications (sodium oxybate and similar drugs) prescribed to treat narcolepsy – a condition that triggers acute spells of sleepiness during daytime.
In general, you are advised to tell your treating doctor if you have hypersensitivities or allergies to benzos such as lorazepam, diazepam, etc. If you have medical conditions such as renal disorders, hepatic dysfunction, eye problems such as glaucoma, respiratory or lung-related problems, your treating doctor needs to be informed about such conditions. Also, if you are already taking drugs such as cough-relief or pain relieving drugs and sleep-inducers such as zolpidem, alprazolam, etc., you need to keep your doctor informed of it. Your doctor will also need to be told about drugs taken to relax your muscles (such as cyclobenzaprine, etc.) or if you are taking cannabis, alcohol, marijuana, etc.
If you are planning to become pregnant or already pregnant, this drug is taken only if it is essential to your medication plan. The substances present in this drug can be harmful to your fetus. But, as convulsions – if left untreated – can be dangerous to you as well as your fetus, this drug is taken strictly under the supervision of a qualified medical professional. If you are breastfeeding an infant, the risks of the drug passing onto the feeding infant are not ruled out. Hence, you may need to talk to your doctor about taking this drug while nursing a baby.