Clonazepam is an anticonvulsant (or anti-epileptic) drug used to prevent and control seizures, as well as treat panic attacks. This benzodiazepine—a group of tranquilizing drugs—works by calming one’s brain and nerves.

Use and Dosage

This medication is typically taken 2 to 3 times daily, as instructed by your doctor. However, exact dosage can vary from person to person, based on one’s age, medical condition, and initial response to treatment. In children, weight is also an important factor that determines dosage. Furthermore, older adults oftentimes start off with a lower dosage, in order to decrease the chance of seeing unwanted side effects. Remember: you should not take it upon yourself to increase your dose, take it more often or for a longer period of time—take Clonazepam as directed.

To get the most out of this medication, you should take it regularly and at the same time every day. You also should not cease taking Clonazepam without first consulting your doctor, as some conditions can worsen if the drug is suddenly stopped. You may also experience withdrawal reactions (e.g., seizures, shaking, mental/mood changes, and stomach/muscle cramps), especially if you’ve been on the medication for a considerable amount of time—to prevent this from happening, again, talk to your doctor and follow their instructions to go off of Clonazepam gradually.

This medication effectively controls seizures and treats panic attacks, but in some cases, it also causes addiction. The risk of becoming addicted to Clonazepam increases if you have a substance use disorder, such as an addiction to alcohol or drugs. To counter this risk, take the medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. And if you find that your seizures have worsened upon starting Clonazepam, you should contact your doctor immediately, as a dose adjustment is likely needed.

Side Effects of Clonazepam

As with many prescription medications, Clonazepam may produce some unwanted side effects. Dizziness and drowsiness, for example, commonly occur when patients first start the medication or increase their dosage. These side effects, however, do not typically outweigh the benefits of the medication. And if they persist or worsen, a simple discussion with your doctor may lead to an easy solution. Still, it is important to be aware of possible mild, more serious, and severe effects that may result from the medication:

    Mild Side Effects

    • Drowsiness
    • Dizziness
    • Tiredness
    • Loss of coordination
    • Increased saliva production

    Serious Side Effects

    • Depression
    • Suicidal thoughts/attempts
    • Confusion
    • Memory problems

    Severe Side Effects

    • Easy bruising/bleeding
    • Fever
    • Persistent sore throat
    • Slow/shallow breathing

Patients very rarely experience serious or severe side effects. But if you do, you should tell your doctor right away and seek out medical treatment immediately if you experience the more severe effects. It is also possible (but rare) to have a very serious allergic reaction to the medication. If you notice any symptoms of an allergic reaction, like a rash, swelling, severe dizziness, or itching, you should also get medical assistance right away.

Before Taking Clonazepam…

It’s important you take precautionary measures anytime you’re considering a new medication. Before you start taking Ambien, you should first…

  • Talk to your doctor about existing allergies, especially to any benzodiazepines. This product may contain inactive ingredients that can cause allergic reactions or other issues.
  • Discuss your medical history, especially if you have narrow angle glaucoma, porphyria, liver disease, kidney disease, lung/breathing problems, mental/mood problems (e.g., depression or suicidal thoughts), or a personal or family history of a substance use disorder (e.g., addiction to drugs/alcohol).
  • Understand all of the drug’s effects, as resulting dizziness and drowsiness inhibit your ability to drive, use machinery, or perform any other activity that requires alertness. Wait until you are back to your fully alert self before doing so and also avoid alcoholic beverages.
  • Consider your age, as children may experience more long-term effects on physical and mental development, which may not appear until years later. And older adults may be more sensitive to immediate effects like drowsiness and confusion, which increase their risk of falling and injuring themselves.