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Klonopin (Clonazepam) Medication Profile

Bipolar Medications Library


Updated June 15, 2014

Klonopin - generic clonazepam, sold as Rivotril outside the United States - is a benzodiazepine medication approved for use in treating certain seizure disorders and panic disorder. It is also often prescribed for the anxiety that may accompany bipolar disorder. In clinical studies on patients with panic disorder, Klonopin was shown to be significantly more effective than placebo in reducing the frequency of panic attacks.

Who should not take Klonopin - Warnings

  • People with liver disease
  • Pregnant women or those who are breast-feeding
  • People with acute narrow angle glaucoma
Tell your doctor if you have kidney problems, as caution is advised in this situation. If you have previously had problems with other benzodiazepines, make sure your doctor knows this so he can monitor you closely.

According to the manufacturer, the initial dosage for treatment of anxiety/panic disorder is 0.25 mg, twice a day, with an increase to 1 mg per day after three days. Studies found that in most cases, higher doses were less effective than the 1 mg dose and had more negative side effects. The maximum recommended dose is 4 mg per day.

One should not stop taking Klonopin cold turkey - the dosage needs to be decreased gradually over a period of anywhere from three days to several weeks. Work closely with your doctor to minimize withdrawal effects.

Most common side effects
The single side effect most often reported by patients taking Klonopin was drowsiness -- up to 50 percent of patients, depending on the dosage. Sometimes this effect is desired if the patient has had trouble sleeping.

Other common side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Fatigue
  • Depression
  • Ataxia
For more, see Klonopin / Rivotril Side Effects.

Note: These side effects are those experienced by people taking Klonopin for anxiety. In clinical trials, people taking this medication for seizures had a slightly different side effect profile.

When taking Klonopin - Precautions

  • Be aware that alcohol may increase Klonopin's side effects on the central nervous system. It is recommended that a person taking Klonopin should not drink alcoholic beverages.

  • Your doctor should know all the medications you are taking. Combining Klonopin with other medications that have sedating or other depressive effects could be dangerous.

  • Because of the high risk of drowsiness for patients taking Klonopin, wait till you see how it affects you before driving or operating heavy machinery.

  • Tell your doctor if you plan to become pregnant. Klonopin may cause birth defects.
Disclaimer: This profile is not intended to be all-inclusive or to replace information provided by your doctor or with the prescription from the manufacturer.
Source: Roche Pharmaceuticals: Klonopin (PDF)
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