• Join our People's Pharmacy Page on Facebook
  • Follow JoeGraedon on Twitter
  • Follow Us
  • Free email newsletter

Print This Page

Clonazepam (Klonopin) Side Effects & Complications

  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Not Helpful ..... Very Helpful
Was this information helpful? Average rating: 4.3/5 (94 votes)
What do you think? Click the stars to vote!
If you have more to say, post a comment below!

Q. I've been taking Clonazepam 0.5 mg for about 3 months, and I do not recommend it.

I was having dizzy feelings (work-related stress), insomnia, and was prescribed this medication by a neurologist. The medication worked initially, allowing me to get several hours of sleep. As time passed, I had to split the pill up as I was getting bad side effects.

I'm 26 years old, and now I'm trying to get myself back to normal as I'm consistently confused and tired. I have experienced feelings of hopelessness, suicidal thoughts and not wanting to do anything.

After talking with my doctor and psychotherapist it was decided to wean off this medication and try amitriptyline. I know this is an antidepressant but I am reading that it too can cause somewhat similar side effects.

The moral of the story: if you have anxiety, go to a therapist first before seeking drug treatment. Also, on a side note it's nice to have an outlet like this website, so you can interact with people who understand and share how you're feeling. Most others have no idea what you are going thru.

A. Clonazepam (Klonopin) belongs to a category of medications called benzodiazepines or benzos for short. Other popular benzos include:

• Alprazolam (Xanax)
• Chlorazepate (Tranxene)
• Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)
• Diazepam (Valium)
• Lorazepam (Ativan)
• Flurazepam (Dalmane)
• Oxazepam (Serax)
• Prazepam (Centrax)
• Temazepam (Restoril)
• Triazolam (Halcion)

During the 1960s and 1970s such drugs were incredibly popular. The Rolling Stones immortalized sedative-type drugs in its amazing song "Mothers Little Helper" from the 1966 album Aftermath. Some maintain that this song was about 5 mg yellow Valium pills. Others insist it was about the barbiturate Nembutal (pentobarbital). Still others suggest it was about Miltown (meprobamate). Regardless of the actual pill the Rolling Stones had in mind, the words apply to many of the sedatives and tranquilizers still prescribed today:

"Kids are different today, I hear ev'ry mother say
Mother needs something today to calm her down
And though she's not really ill, there's a little yellow pill
She goes running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
And it helps her on her way, gets her through her busy day...

"Men just aren't the same today
I hear evry mother say

They just don't appreciate that you get tired

Theyre so hard to satisfy, You can tranquilize your mind

So go running for the shelter of a mothers little helper

And four help you through the night, help to minimize your plight

Doctor please, some more of these

Outside the door, she took four more

What a drag it is getting old..."

Towards the end of the song the Stones warn:

"And if you take more of those
you will get an overdose
No more running for the shelter of a mother's little helper
They just helped you on your way
through your busy dying day"

Benzodiazepines remain among the most widely prescribed drugs in the world. They are used to calm jittery nerves, ease anxiety, relieve stress and help people fall asleep. According to an article in the BMJ, in France nearly one third of the people over 65 take a benzo. One fifth of those in Canada and Spain rely on such drugs. Here in the U.S. the numbers are also amazing. According to our calculations, over 100 million benzo prescriptions are dispensed from U.S. drugstores each year.

Clonazepam is approved by the Food and Drug Administration for seizure disorders. It has also been given the green light for panic disorders, although the FDA is very cautious to say that the drug's effectiveness for more than 9 weeks has not been studied in well-controlled clinical trials. The FDA warns that any doctor "who elects to use Klonopin [clonazepam] for extended periods should periodically reevaluate the long-term usefulness of the drug for the individual patient."

Many physicians do prescribe clonazepam for longer than 9 weeks. And they often prescribe it "off label" for things like anxiety and insomnia. We worry that many doctors fail to warn their patients that clonazepam can interfere with mental alertness and that no one should drive or operate machinery while taking this drug.

There is also an FDA warning that "Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), including Klonopin [clonazepam], increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior in patients taking these drugs for any indication. Patients treated with any AED for any indication should be monitored for the emergence or worsening of depression, suicidal thoughts or behavior, and/or any unusual changes in mood or behavior."

Other side effects of clonazepam and similar drugs include:

Benzo Side Effects:

• Drowsiness, dizziness, fatigue, lethargy

• Clumsiness, impaired coordination (not good for older people)

• Memory problems

, amnesia
• Cognitive impairment, difficulty concentrating, confusion, irritability

• Dry mouth

, constipation
• Sexual difficulties

• Low blood pressure

• Depression

, suicidality
• Difficulty stopping the drug

There is a darker side to benzos. French researchers have investigated a possible link between benzodiazepines and dementia. Between 1987 and 1989 they randomly selected 1063 older men and women from the southwest region of France who had no signs of dementia at the start of the study. These people (65 years of age and older) were interviewed face-to-face every two or three years for up to 20 years. Trained neuropsychologists tested them for cognitive function and asked about psychological well being, health habits and medication usage. None of the participants took a benzo until at least three years into the study.

Here is what they found: Roughly one third of the benzodiazepine users (32%) were diagnosed with dementia (memory loss, difficulty thinking clearly, etc) sometime during the trial. Only 23% of nonusers got such a diagnosis. The investigators wrote:

"In this large, prospective, population based study of elderly people who were free of dementia and did not use benzodiazepines until at least the third year of follow-up, new use of benzodiazepines was associated with a significant, approximately 50% increase in the risk of dementia."

The researchers controlled for things like depression, living alone, diabetes, hypertension and age, but the association with benzos persisted.

Association does not prove causation. This was an epidemiological study, meaning that it was not the most foolproof research. That would have required a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled protocol where half the older people were put on a benzo and the other half put on placebo. The trouble is that such a study would have cost hundreds of millions of dollars and would have taken at least two decades to complete. Such a study is unlikely to be conducted given the cost and the time.

So we are stuck with epidemiology for now. There are other studies that have come up with a similar conclusion. The authors of this report point out that:

"Our findings are consistent with three previous case-control studies that also showed an increased risk of dementia in benzodiazepine users."

In fairness, though, there have been some studies that have not uncovered such a relationship with benzos. This BMJ study is, however, one of the largest and longest. The authors conclude:

"Benzodiazepines remain useful for the treatment of acute anxiety states and transient insomnia. However, increasing evidence shows that their use may induce adverse outcomes, mainly in elderly people, such as serious falls and fall related fractures. Our data add to the accumulating evidence that use of benzodiazepines is associated with increased risk of dementia, which, given the high and often chronic consumption of these drugs in many countries, would constitute a substantial public health concern. Therefore, physicians should carefully assess the expected benefits of the use of benzodiazepines in the light of these adverse effects and, whenever possible, limit prescription to a few weeks as recommended by the good practice guidelines."

Stopping benzos is not always easy. One reason so many continue to take these drugs for so long is that it can be incredibly challenging to stop them. When discontinued suddenly, symptoms can be almost unbearable. Doctors used to say that it was just the underlying anxiety returning. We now know that these medications can rearrange neurochemicals in the brain. For some, it can take many weeks or months to return to "normal."

Symptoms of Benzodiazepine Withdrawal:

• Anxiety, restlessness, jitteriness, agitation

• Irritability, sensitivity to sound, light and touch

• Impaired concentration

• Panic

• Insomnia

• Faulty memory

• Depression

• Headache

• Fatigue

• Muscle cramps

• Muscle twitching

• Seizures

• Sweating

• Diarrhea

• Blurred vision

• Decreased appetite

Unanswered Questions:

• Is this association between benzos and dementia causative or just an association?

• Will younger people who rely on these drugs for years be at greater risk for dementia as they age?

• Are there alternatives to benzos that could be effective for dealing with anxiety or insomnia?

If you would like to learn more about benzodiazepines and strategies for weaning off such drugs we offer our FREE Guide to Psychological Side Effects. We hope it will facilitate a conversation with your physician.

You may also find our Guide to Getting A Good Night's Sleep of interest.

And we would like to hear your story. Please comment below if you have pros or cons to share about benzodiazepine-type drugs. Trouble getting off, share that story too.

If you find this kind of information worthwhile, you may want to share it with a friend. At the top of this page you will see a box next to the title with icons to email this to a friend or acquaintance or post to Facebook or Twitter. While you are at it, you may want to let those you care about know that they can sign up for our **FREE** People's Pharmacy electronic newsletters and health alerts by visiting our site and putting their email address in the upper right hand box that says "Free email newsletter." Staying informed on breaking health news stories is the best way to protect yourself and those you care about.

  • Currently 4.3/5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Not Helpful ..... Very Helpful
Was this information helpful? Average rating: 4.3/5 (94 votes)
What do you think? Click the stars to vote!
If you have more to say, post a comment below!


| Leave a comment

My husband was prescribed Clonazepam for his panic disorder. It definitely affected sexual function, which, I think, compounded his depression. When he tried to gradually give up the medication, he experienced most of the withdrawal symptoms you listed. Medications for his panic attacks, while stopping the panic, essentially ruined the last 12 years of his life. He had lived successfully with panic attacks all of his life and, in the end, wished he had never availed himself of psychiatric "help" to rid himself of them.

I am elderly. When I was in my mid thirties, losing weight and experiencing debilitating emotions as I suffered a tragedy over which I had no control, I took valium off and on for years. I took it only when my emotions were out of control. When the situation righted itself, I stopped taking it entirely and had no bad sad effects. Now that I am suffering the insults of old age, I feel the need for it again--now and then, not regularly. I have never fallen and am not prone to do so. Doctors will not give it to me. They freely offer antidepressants to take regularly. The side effects of these, and I tried several, were much, much worse than the condition they were designed to correct. Has occasional use of the benzo's been researched as to side long term effects?

I believe you just gave me the answer to my problem of not having insomnia, muscle aches, and many other problems. I read the article about the lady having all these symptoms by taking these drugs. One of them is one I've been prescribed for a number of years and since taking them, all these symptoms appeared. I am going to ask my physician to help me get off of this drug. My goodness, I also found my unbeknownst to me, my husband has been taking an antidepressant drug and by gosh, it's on that list to and he complains about all the symptoms posted in this article about these antidepressants. Thanks so much for having this newsletter online, as you are saving a lot of people a lot of grief and their lives. God bless you both Dr & Mr Graedon.

I have been taking 0.5 mg of clonazepam for more than a year now to improve my sleep. I was so restless and jittery during the night before taking this that I never felt rested, kept my husband awake, and saw an increase in my blood pressure. I am in good health generally, exercise daily, do yoga, and don't drink caffeine after the early afternoon hours. I also tried herbal teas before bed. But the clonazepam, taken before bed, has reduced my symptoms and I don't feel any side effects during the day. If I forget to take it, I can tell the next morning because I do not feel rested when I wake up. Given the long-term health problems associated with poor sleep, I have decided this is the way to go for me.

The discussion of clonazepam is frightening. I am a 75 year old male who has been seeing a sleep specialist for obstructive sleep apnea for years and use a CPAP. In recent years, I have been having a problem with "animated" dreams where I very actively begin flailing my arms around trying to fight with someone in my dreams. I have nearly hit my wife a couple of times during these events and have wiped items off the bed side table. I have even fallen out of bed a couple of times while trying to hit someone who was always just out of my reach.

After sharing these dreams with my sleep specialist, he put me on half of a .5 MG clonazepam nightly to prevent the animated dreams. He even said that if the half dosage didn't do the trick, I could double the dosage and take the whole pill. The only side effect in doubling the dosage, he said, could be possibly feeling hung over in the morning. I have to admit that, after a year on the clonazepam, I have had just one recent animated dream.

I do have some dizziness when I have to get up in the middle of the night and when I first get up in the morning, but I attributed that to possible out-of-place ear crystals from a blow to the head about a year and a half ago. After reading about the possible effects of clonazepam, I wonder if I should consider discontinuing this medication and move to a separate bed to protect my wife from my occasional animation.

I have been taking this drug for years for anxiety and at 76 have had very little side effects that are menitoned here. Maybe I have some of these and don't even know it. But I DO know it helps with anxiety to a large degree, but I will be taking myself off soon and have decided to wean myself off to a degree that I can control.

I have had a very stressful life for a very long time and that drug helped me get through it. Now I am ready to see if I can get rid of it. Thanks for you help to all in so many ways.

I only take Lorazepam on occasion for severe anxiety, but find that I'm needing it more and more. I might take two to three doses per week, although I could really use more.

Can anyone provide insight into more natural ways of handling anxiety? I'm trying Taurine, magnesium and calcium as well as melatonin at night for sleep (which works great, but I worry about melatonin dependence).

I'm a mom of three kids and have a VERY busy life (by choice) and love being super involved, but the anxiety is the pits.

I'm so sorry to hear your story. But thank you for sharing it so that others can take a different path. I wish you all the best with your recovery. Have you tried yoga or acupuncture? These natural healing methods are shown to reduce stress and help the body return to balance. Peace.

This is not about benzos, but about withdrawal from another psychotropic medication, namely Risperdal. I worked with my doctors over a period of five years in order to reduce it to 1/30th the original dose. I was much, much more cautious and conservative than the doctors recommended -- I am not the sorta person who chooses insanity because it's fun. I'd learned over those five years that I often had symptoms of withdrawal that would go away in a few weeks if I simply was mindful, took behavioral measures, and toughed it out. At 1/30th, the transition was quite smooth; I thought zero would be a piece of cake.

It was not, and it never got any easier, either. I toughed it out for 4 1/2 months before returning to 1/8th the original dose. I had no difficulty -- zero. zilch -- with the original psychosis. I'd done my behavioral change homework over the previous 30+ years of psychiatric drugs. No psychosis. None whatsoever. BUT... this is my interpretation, and my doctor does not disagree... the med had changed my body chemistry permanently, so that mood swings were just way, way outta sight.

I certainly had ups and downs -- who doesn't? -- as a young person pre-medication, but these post-medication mood swings were a constant emotional roller coaster. Emotional vertigo. My doctor says going from 100% to 12 1/2% is still "phenomenal." All I can tell you is this: I did MY part, and the imbalance of body chemistry (current medical understanding of mental illness) did not.

I have been taking Klonopin for 20 years, beginning at age 48 when I developed dystonia, a neurological disorder. I take .5 mg three to four times per day and have never felt dependent upon them except to control tremors caused by the dystonia. My prescription says that I can take them up to 6 times per day, but I never have. They have been a lifesaver for me as I have been able to lead a normal life with very few side effects. Occasionally they make me sleepy in the afternoon, but I have always felt sleepy then anyway and it's nothing that a cup of coffee won't cure. I think it's possible that side effects depend upon the reason for taking the drugs in the first place.

My sister was on Klonopin for years, as per her psychiatrist's Rx. He told her to never, ever switch to a generic, as the differences of the generics could cause a withdrawal.

My sister warned me that if she ever had to switch to generic klonopin, (in her case, for financial reasons), then she might have withdrawal symptoms (she had tried generics before), and she said the withdrawal from klonopin would be ugly.
I didn't take her seriously. Again, because of financial reasons (and we could not buy her meds for financial reasons), she switched to generic klonopin; she told the druggist about how her doctor had warned her; of course, the druggist assured her that all generics were just the same.

After a few short days, and I mean few, she walked into the kitchen where I was and collapsed onto the floor in what the 9-1-1 person thought was a seizure. Only it lasted way past the EMTs' arrival; she was twitching so hard that they could NOT get an IV started! Three men tried to hold her arm still and no one could stop the movements enough to insert the needle; That was a little after 5 pm; when I left her in the emergency room around 10:30 pm, she was still jerking and twitching.
I told the ER head nurse what my sister's doctor had warned her about withdrawal from klonopin, when using generics. (THIS EPISODE PROVED TO ME THAT GENERICS WERE NOT THE SAME). The nurse laughed in my face, and said what she was taught to say, "Generics contain the exact same ingredients"...blah, blah, blah.

It took till the early morning hours before the shaking/twitching/jerking stopped. I don't know what was given her to stop this condition.

By the way, She was totally oblivious to her surroundings and no amount of talking from the EMTs or nurses or medical people could make mental contact with her. She was like a shaking, jerking zombie.
Thank you for all your good work. I love you!
a faithful reader

Your depression symptoms might be a sign of hypothyoidism. Have you ever had your thyroid checked by getting a TSH blood test? Since tiredness and lack of energy are both symptoms of this condition it would be wise to check it out..Other symptoms are ..dry skin, feeling cold all the time, painful swallowing and gaining weight very quickly. I have had this condition since 1975 after the birth of my first child. It is considered an autoimmune disease.

I have general anxiety disorder diagnosed in 2005 and had my first spell of depression.. It lasted one year and I was on Paxil. It was triggered by the death of both my parents. My second spell of depression happened in 2009 and was triggered by fears associated with Medical appointments. I was on Cipralex until 2010. Both these experiences were related to stress and anxiety. Now I use clonazapam only when I suspect my anxiety level is coming to the surface again..When I am upset by people, events or appointments... I take clonazapam to calm me down only when I get very upset.

Hypothyroidism plays a large role in the onset of anxiety and depression and needs to be properly regulated to control the depression symptoms. My doctor has me on a low dose of medication right now and since I am struggling with swelling feet, lack of energy and easily prone to anxiety again... I need to get my TSH blood test done again. The one problem is finding a good doctor who knows how to treat this condition. It needs constant monitoring. I need to take medication for this condition all my life and have to continually go for blood tests to make sure I am able to function with some measure of normalcy. There is much mis- information about hypothyroidism and the lack of understanding by doctors makes it hard to treat it properly... It is discouraging to go through life not functioning well and not knowing exactly what medication level is necessary to feel better. The inability to lose weight and the loss of my hair indicates that my medication is not correct.

Hopefully one day, all doctors will learn the correct treatment for this very horrible and complicated condition. In the meantime, I keep clonazapam handy to prevent feeling anxious to the point of falling into depression again. My son uses Lorazapam to stop panic attacks..but only when he has an attack coming on. These medications have proven very helpful.

I was prescribed Klonopin for insomnia. After a few months I began experiencing dizziness. I did not make the connection between the medication and the dizziness. One afternoon, I got a massage. That evening, I was sooooo relaxed feeling, and I had a very serious fall in my garage, and ended up with 2 broken elbows and several other injuries. After the accident, two of my other doctors told me to get off the Klonopin. It was only then that I started to research and realize that the medication had been a major player in my accident. I was only in my 40s when all this happened. The doctor who had prescribed the Klonopin hadn't told me about any possible side effects.

Once I began reading up on this medication, it brought back a painful memory. Several years before, I was a student working on a masters degree in music performance. One evening, with a major performance scheduled the next day, I took a Tranxene in order to get a good night's sleep. The next day during the performance, my fingers absolutely refused to move on the fast difficult passages, causing me to fail the performance.

From these 2 experiences, I learned how extremely dangerous these medications can be.

y'all might want to check out
'The Magnesium Miracle' by Dr Carolyn Dean
'Magnesium deficiency triggers or causes the following 22 conditions; the introduction of magnesium, either by a high-magnesium diet, with green drinks, or magnesium supplements, can help alleviate these conditions: Anxiety and panic attacks, Asthma, Blood clots, Bowel disease, Cystitis, Depression, Detoxification, Diabetes, Syndrome X, and Metabolic Syndrome, Fatigue, Heart disease, Hypertension, Hypoglycemia, Insomnia, Kidney Disease, Liver Disease, Migraine, Musculoskeletal conditions, Nerve problems, Obstetrics and Gynecology--premenstrual syndrome, dysmenorrhea (cramping pain during menses), infertility, premature contractions, preeclampsia, and eclampsia in pregnancy, lessens the risk of cerebral palsy and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Osteoporosis, Raynaud's Syndrome, Tooth decay.

After reading this comment, I know for sure that all drugs DO NOT treat ALL PEOPLE the same. I was on KLONOPIN, and switched to CLONAZEPAM and had no different reaction. Some people can take a drug without any problems at all, and others can take the same drug and have all kinds of problems. Each of us are different in our physical make-up and that will determine how we react to ANY drug. SAD, but true. I have seen it with other drugs with other people. Taking any drugs and switching to any other drug is a shot in the dark.

As a licensed therapist, I heartily agree with the comment that seeing a therapist should be the first step towards controlling anxiety. Addressing ongoing issues that cause the anxiety in the first place can be helpful.

Also, I teach people a deep breathing technique I was taught by a medical professional. Sitting in a chair with both feet on the floor, place your hands behind you in the small of your back and take ten deep breaths. It has been shown to put people into "relaxation response," because the deep breaths stimulate the Vegas nerve and it tells the brain to relax. Blood pressure drops, and I know this for a fact because I used it when the dentist refused to work on me--ten minutes breathing took it right down. If a person will commit to doing this two or three times a day it goes a long way towards reducing anxiety. Some clients I teach this to only need one session and I never see them again! Note this is a physiological change, not just a psychological one, and can be measured by biofeedback instruments.

One man I worked with had the most severe panic attacks I ever heard about, and he used this in conjunction with medication prescribed by his doctor. In just a matter of months, along with resolving a major stressor in his life, he was panic and medication free.

Thanks for pointing out the dangers of all these drugs.


Hanna M. Jagow, MA, LPC

I think all medications have side effects and when a new medication comes on the market doctors over-prescribe it because the pharmaceutical sales reps are pushing it and rewarding the doctors for prescribing it. I think it's illegal for them to give the doctors money but the doctor get their perks whether by all expense paid cruises or big luncheons for the office staff. Whenever I see a sales rep hauling in a big meal from one of the local eateries I think "there goes another new pill prescription."

I have arthritis, fibromyalgia, restless leg syndrome, diabetes, sciatica, neuropathy and heartburn. I now take Neurontin, omeprozole, Clonazanepam, Diclofenac, Misoprostol and Amitriptylin among other pills. Last year I tried to get off the omeprozole and had such bad heartburn that I couldn't hack it and went back on. Last week I tried not taking Diclofenac and lay awake all night with my heels jerking from the neuropathy. Diclofenac + Misoprostol = Arthrotec which my insurance refused to pay for so two pills instead of one.

I also think that the drug companies downplay side effects, many of which are serious and they recommend off-label uses that are questionable at best. As I told my doctor last month, if there is an obscure side effect, I'm sure to get it but he gave me a new prescription anyway and it immediately raised my blood pressure.

I think doctors fall in two categories, pill doctors and natural remedies doctors. Unfortunately I seem to find all the pill doctors. I've had adverse reactions going back 40 years or more but my doctors just keep trying new and improved pills and I've frequently had to argue with them to convince them that I simply couldn't take the drug.

The only drug that hasn't caused me any apparent problems is hydrocodone and now they are trying to drastically restrict it's use. I take it when I'm in pain and have no problem quitting when the pain subsides.

I have been taking one of the Benzo's for ten years, 1 mg. sublingual Ativan nightly, or when needed. It was prescribed because I was having bouts of rapid atrial fibrillation related to over-medication of Synthroid. I really want to get off Ativan, but on the odd time I have forgotten to take it, I am in bad shape the next day, very shakey and anxious. Also it is ineffective after being on the same dose for so long.

So I would like to know HOW to get off this drug. It is so tiny it's hard to cut into small pieces. Can you please help me? Any advice is much appreciated.

to the 75 yr old man who has"action" dreams" and accidentally hits his wife in his sleep--do try separate beds-at your age you will sleep better and so will your wife. This is not to say you can't be affectionate-there are many ways to say"I love you all day long. By the way the soap under the top sheet is worth a try!! ---your friend the sandman--

Hello. I have been taking benzodiazepines for nearly 39 years to control spasms that resulted from a severe motor-cell brain injury I suffered as a passenger in an auto accident when I was 22. I was started on Valium, but after 10 to 15 years became tolerant to it (and to Ativan at the same time - though I had never taken Ativan). I am now taking Klonopin. I would never take it for something as minor as sleep or anxiety problems, but it is the only thing keeping me alive at present. For me, clonazepam interrupts errant brain signals that tell my muscles (particularly those on my left side, especially my left foot to go into exceedingly painful and disabling cramps and spasms.

I've been able to gradually reduce my dose by adding gabapentin and baclophen to half what it was when the Valium stopped working. My mentation is fine. I'm now 60 and able to think, converse, read and write better and more than before I had to start using benzodiazepines. My parents were told to prepare for my death following the accident in 1974 while I was in a coma. Benzos are not all bad. For me and others in bad enough shape to seriously need benzodiazepines, they are a lifeline. People who take them to go to sleep are likely the same as those who use speed to wake up and give all pharmaceuticals a bad name. I have never had an auto accident while I was driving or even a ticket before or since taking Klonopin and am currently typing with one hand as my left is mostly paralyzed from the same accident. I would never take Klonopin casually, but benzodiazepines do have a useful place in medicine.

I'm sick of hearing criticism from people who jump to the most powerful drug to treat conditions that can easily be handled without drugs at all!

I have been taking clonazapam 5 mg for restless leg syndrome for over 10 years. Sometimes if I don't take it, I don't get the symptoms, but then if I don't take it, I sometimes get the restless legs. I wonder if I can find something else to take for the syndrome and get off the clonazapam?

I became "addicted" to clonazepam after two weeks. I was able to gradually wean my self off over a period of two years. There is a right and wrong way to do this. For example, decreasing dosage every other day (as advised by many physicians), is wrong. The patient suffers acute withdrawal every other day. Most helpful to me was the "Ashton Manual", which can be found online via Google. My doctor, although supportive, had no idea how to deal with withdrawal syndromes. I suffered very few if any symptoms because the withdrawal was done so slowly.

This happened to me after I had been taking it for awhile. I was driving home from work one night around 10:30pm when I was pulled over by the police that my driving was impaired they thought I was driving under the influence of alcohol when in fact I had taken Xanx 2hrs before driving home no alcohol in my system. The worst thing of all is that I did not realize I was swerving over the yellow line enough to cause alarm and get pulled over I thought my driving was fine.

My only question was how many other times have I driven under the influence of this drug and not realized it or how many others have done the same thing?
Please DO NOT DRIVE while on XANAX even if you think you are fine.

I have the opposite opinion. When I was 25 I suffered through panic attacks and social anxiety as well as depression. At that point in my life my Doctor was constantly changing medication (antidepressants) to try and make me a little better. I went the gamut from MAOIs to Lithium and each change made it harder for me to interact at work to the point I was concerned about holding my job. I finally got settled on Prozac and 2 mg of Klonopin which I have been on for 26 years.

While I am not perfect I was able to interact better at work and go to night school and get my engineering degree. I am now in management making a six figure salary which would not have happened without Klonopin and Prozac. In summary, I would have ended up on disability instead of being a contributing member of society.

Now my Doctor moved out of state and I am trying to find a new one. Two Doctors have told me that the 2 mg of Klonopin is too high and I need to taper back. I have been to this rodeo before when I was 25 and I do not want to sacrifice my career gains because of Doctors who think that this is old school medicine.

To the PERSON TAKING KLONOPIN AND PROZAC and doing well, but being told they've got to cut back: I don't take Klonopin for anxiety and it could be that the Prozac is doing as much or more to help you as the Klonopin. I suffered a major motor cell brain injury in 1974 that put me in a coma for a month and in Rehab for three months as an inpatient followed by a year as an outpatient and have suffered severe foot cramps and spasms for 39 years. I wore a short leg brace then an AFO for years and was started on 5mg. of Valium 3X/day. That helped some, but I grew tolerant and the dose and frequency of Valium was increased until it didn't work at all so the internist I was with tried Ativan. It had no effect so he gave me 2mg. of cloaozepam (Klonopin) 3X/day.

I voluntarily started cutting the pills I took at night when I wouldn't be walking in half. Later I developed a stress fracture in my right hip from having it do the work of two for 25 years, called the Doc's Answering service after hours on a Thursday and was told I could be worked in on Monday (4 days hence) and to call back at 8AM then, When I called his Secy. told me I couldn't see him at all and to go to the hospital. I would've done that 4 days previously had I been told I wouldn't be able to see him. My next Doc continued the previous one's clonazepam prescription, but had me come in to have blood drawn every 2 weeks then abruptly accused me of talking harshly to his staff (though I hadn't).

I'm seeing a neurologist now and been cut back to 31/2 mg./day of clonozepam, but gradually 800 mg. at night of gabapentin and 30mg. of Baclophen (also at night) have been added and I'm doing about as well as I ever was. The neurologist told me the problem was that the FBI investigates Docs who prescribe Klonopin because it's addictive (I could tell it when the dose was first lowered). If I were you, I'd buy a pill chopper and start taking half of one of your 2mg. Klonopins when you need it least.

I don't suspect your Doc wants to be investigated by the FBI any more than those three of mine did and it IS addictive so the sooner you start cutting back, the less of a jolt it'll be when your Doc suddenly cuts your supply, ends it completely or fires you as a patient. Docs really aren't looking out for their patients as much as themselves. Start chopping them in half so you can augment your supply if the Doc cuts it too drastically, but be sure to USE THE OLDEST HALVES FIRST so you aren't taking expired Klonopins!

Best of luck,

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with Klonopin. I have been suffering from anxiety and panic attacks for several years now. I was prescribed .5 ml of Clonazepam up to three times a day, if needed. Some days I didn't need to take any medication and other days I needed three pills or even more. I have even gone off of them for long stretches and never had a problem. Recently, I am having panic attacks with tachycardia and awful fear and dread of the unknown. I was given two different anti-depressants because the doctor didn't want me to get addicted to Clonazepam. Neither one worked and I am now suffering because they are trying to wean me down to less Clonazepam, which they are giving me again, at a time when I need it more than ever. I will never take another anti-depressant because I got severe diarrhea from it and lost a lot of weight and the doctor said, "every medication has side effects," and expect me to continue to undermine my health. I can function and feel great when taking Clonazepam. I believe that this choice should be left up to me.

I have a question concerning my husband. He has been on cholonzapam for about a year now for anxiety. Never had any problems. His physician recently added paxil and naproxen due too creasing anxiety and pain. He is 40. He has no problem getting an erection, however after a few minutes of intercourse he begins to get numb. An hour later still no orgasm and has to stop from exhaustion.

This has been going on close to a month now! He gets frustrated but tries to hide that fact. I however am going nuts. I keep telling myself that it is the medication the doctor put him on but I think he is a little embarrassed to discuss this with his female physician. I would be too!

However in the past year I have had breast cancer and had a double bilateral Mastectomy and five repair surgeries to follow that up, chemo with hair loss! Going through the change at 39 due to the chemo! Hallelujah I am cancer free, Look like a freak with my shirt off, so my head tries to tell me it is me that after twenty years of a happy marriage with a great sex Life, Is it me that just can't please my man anymore or could it be the medications the doctor has him on?

Well here is an opinion from someone who has filled rx's for over 30 yrs.I think many physicians prescribe benzos for conditions that could be treated via "natural methods" I am not saying that some more serious neurological conditions would not warrant these very potent drugs. The tendency however, today is-"a pill for every ill."

I would exhaust the other avenues, therapeutic massage, acupuncture, even chiropractic before taking mind altering drugs that may do more harm than good.

If your main problem is sleep-related, zolpidem works very quickly, both to put you to sleep and getting out of one's system. You get the sleep you need and it's gone when you awake, so causes no noticeable drug hangover. It should allow you to cut back on the clonazepam and even switch to a Benzo with a shorter half-life on your way to eliminating all Benzos.

Just to be sure you don't hurt her, it makes sense to sleep in a different bed (or even room) than your wife until the dreams that cause your violence while asleep end. You can enjoy your "married fun" in the morning, maybe starting with a shower together.

I have an extremely serious, long-term neurological injury, so need clonazepam in order to walk, but it was only prescribed after I'd become tolerant to Valium and Ativan. I would drop any Doc who prescribed clonazepam just for sleeplessness or anxiety. That's not what Benzos are for and there are drugs (and non-drug therapies) designed to treat those conditions, such as the aforementioned zolpidem (generic Ambien).
Best of luck,

Most psychiatrists I've encountered are incompetent, while most neurologists are more capable than all other specialties of M.D.s, so your comment doesn't surprise me.

I'd suggest that people with the problems I;ve seen here seek the help of a neurologist rather than a psychiatrist and if they must see a psychiatrist, that they do so with great skepticism.

I was taking Clonazepam for over 10 years. It helped me tremendously, I didn't have anxiety anymore and was able to my artwork and to get out and exercise, etc. Last Spring, my mental health doctor abruptly took me off of it. It was horrible, I had insomnia, depression and panic attacks. I was physically and mentally healthy while taking the Clonazepam, but when taken off of it, my physical and mental health went down hill.

I don't understand, even today, why on earth she wanted to take me off of it. I am worse now than I was then, but try convincing these doctors!! I have PTSD and nothing I take now, including antidepressants is helping me like the Klonopin did. My mental health state is worse now and I don't feel mentally healthy anymore. I wish they would put me back on it. I can't even do my artwork anymore, I feel like I don't have a soul anymore.

About Klonapin/Clonazepam: There is a vast difference in generics, especially Klonapin. However, I cannot tell the difference in the Clonazepam from Teva Pharmaceuticals and the real Klonapin. My pharmacist orders Teva for me although his other patients might get another brand. I have read in an online forum that others agree with me that Teva produces the same quality drug as Klonapin.

I have had great success for many years taking first 1/2 a mg, then upping the dosage to 1mg when life got too stressful to handle. I took myself off it one time when life was pretty easy. I did it very gradually and had no problems. One thing I learned, however, you can forget that "long half-life" business when it comes to a urine test. If you take it at night, it does not show up the next day in a urine test. If you take a very small amount as I do, it doesn't even show up at the cutoff point of a blood test in that length of time.

According to the pharmacist at Teva, a GC/MS test will give correct results. I believe it is expensive, however. Teva clonazepam has been a lifesaver for me, along with some cognitive behavioral therapy. It is true that some doctors are afraid to prescribe it, and some pill police are eager to cut the dose in half. My daughter, who has many physical problems, along with a lot of anxiety, was suddenly taken off the clonazepam. She started having seizures soon afterwards, escalating into "small strokes." Her new primary care doctor would not give her anything for pain or for anxiety. She is suffering terribly. We just hope that a new pain doctor will help her recover.

Yours is one of the very few sensible comments about Klonopin I've seen on this site in all the many years I've been visiting it.

Thank you for the certificate, tutorjb1. I picked up that expression from some of my ESL students from Egypt. I decided it was a keeper.

I had to go on valium for major low back spasm last year that left me almost unable to walk for several months, I even was issued a handicap placard. I am a fit, energetic, well educated mid 40's woman. I eat well and have a very supportive husband, good kids, good home life. It took about 2 months of treatment for the spasm to release before I could start PT again. I never went up from the 10 daily mg, and began to titrate down slowly.

However, I found that my legs starting hurting so badly. An achy weakness, all the time, esp at night. During the day I felt like I was walking through mud.I used to bound up my stairs 2 at a time, now it was a great effort to get up them at all. It was horrible. Sometimes my arms would ache as well. Or weird zaps of pain in muscle. It didn't make any sense. My neuro had put me on the valium, but it was my (not very helpful) spine doctor that I took this concern to. (Note: I live in Boston and have access to supposedly great doctors, but it has been my experience that they do not always know everything!) He had a list on front of him of my med history, and could see I had been on valium for a couple of months. I implored why my legs would hurt so bad out of nowhere, he said you must have neuropathy. What?! Why? He just shrugged and said I don't know. Doctors either do not know side effects or do now want to acknowledge them.

He offered me more prescription pain meds to take "in between the valium doses". I never took them. I began to research the side effects of benzos, and found the term "protracted withdrawal syndrome". This is where your body goes into withdrawal if you stay at a steady dose, never increasing. And the pain I was experiencing is something many people on benzos experience that is NOT addressed by doctors. If I had listened to the spine doctor, he would have put me on lyrica, neurontin, pain meds, etc. I would have gotten sicker. It is a horrible cycle! And so many people just blindly trust their doctors. I have done so much research on this subject. I have even submitted an outline to "This American Life" on all of the horrors of benzos that doctors do not address. I hope they do a story on it; the world needs to know, these meds are not benign.

If you are on any medication, know the side effects, short and long term. At your dose level, at a higher level. Side effects of being on same dose for prolonged period - is your body going into maintenance level withdrawal symptoms? (maintenance level is being on same dosage for a prolonged period of time, not increasing)

You should NEVER quit these meds cold turkey, that can truly mess up your central nervous system. Sometimes permanently, depending on dose amount and how long you have been on it.

Benzos also decrease your body's ability to produce melatonin. As I have come off, I take, with my neuro's approval, 3 mg of melatonin each night. I also take a dose of calcium, magnesium, and potassium at the same time, it promotes healthful sleep.

ALSO - not noted anywhere obvious, but if you take an antacid while on a benzo, it can negate that dose. I took an antacid one night with my valium dose and was horribly ill the next day, my husband almost called 911. Uncontrollable vomiting, retching, vertigo. I put 2 and 2 together, stared looking online, and tucked deep inside a PDF of drug facts on Diazepam/Valium from LaRoche was this very warning. I brought that up to my neuro and she said she had never heard of that!!

I didn't experience depression as a result, or any gastric issues. I have always taken a high quality probiotic for years. I eat very healthy and make sure to keep hydrated, I think that helps manage what could have been worse symptoms.

I am off all meds and recovered from the most part from my back issues. I work on regaining my strength, that's my biggest hurdle these days. I sleep well.

I make it a point to educate people not only about the horrors of benzos but also anti-depressants. Too easily prescribed! And not enough education for the patient about long term management or expectations of these meds. If my doctor had said, look, after a certain amount of time, these meds will start to make your limbs ache, I wouldn't have panicked. I would have know that was my clue to get off right away!

I was chatting with a friend's mother during this time, a sharp, still practicing Neurologist from DC. 80 years young. She mentioned she knew I was having back pain, I gave her a quick rundown of what was going on, and that I was taking valium to manage it at that time. A look of urgency came across her face, she put her hand on my arm and said very deliberately - "You must get off that medicine as soon as possible! It is dangerous!" I took that to heart. She had nothing to lose telling me the truth.

There is no doubt the meds helped the back spasm when nothing else did. I had tried acupuncture, chiropractor, hot epsom salt baths (sometimes 5x/day!)alieve, advil, balms, creams etc. My husband even got me a dry sauna to manage my pain. What has helped my low back most these days would have to be trigger point therapy - a lacrosse ball, a wall, and a few minutes a day. No joke. Look it up, you might find the pain relief you have been searching for all these years. Best resource would be Clair Davies Trigger Point Workbook 3rd edition on Amazon.

I wish everybody good health and a daily life free of pain.

What do I try now? My previous internist had me taking Clonazapam and amitriptyline for several years. With my new internist approval I stopped the Clonazapam by gradually reducing it in September 2013. I was and still am having a terrible time sleeping. This February my rheumatologist told me to go back on the Clonazapam and stop the amitriptyline. I had no problem stopping the amitriptyline. I couldn't take the Clonazapam again because, this time around, it made me falling down sleepy during the day and didn't help my insomnia. I wake up around one to four in the morning with excruciating leg cramps and/or back pain that won't go away even with pain meds (hydrocodone and diclofenac). Sitting up for a while helps but getting back to sleep is an exercise in futility. I'm taking potassium and magnesium for the leg cramps.

It is my understanding that internists are supposed to be the experts on drug side effects and interactions. I have a whole laundry list of doctors and I can't see that any of them are watching for side effects and interactions. I take a comprehensive list of all my medications each and every time I see a doctor.

Penny, I wish I had a solution for you, but it is such a personal journey trying to figure it all out. I do know that for me, 3mg of melatonin and a low dose of GABA supplement, (from Whole Foods) solved my sleep issues. Yes, solved them. I sleep quite well on it, even falling back asleep with no problem after making a 2am bathroom trip.

You would want to ask you dr id melatonin and GABA are right for you before taking.

hi ya all i have been taking a 2mg dose of Clonazepam now for 6 months and ended up having to come off them i was experiencing hair loss had croaky throat and very bad reflux, and lack of appetite although it did help me sleep i feel that the side effects are too much to continue with this

best of luck to everyone who is taking this it may work for some but not for other

I have been a "poor sleeper" my whole life, beginning in infancy when my mother said I was a "wakeful baby". Having battled bouts of insomnia since childhood, I finally turned to my primary care dr for help about 8 years ago when I was having more bad than good nights. She prescribed Clonazapam, I am now taking 1.5 mg at bedtime. That dr has long since left and several new practitioners have since come and gone.

They question the original dr's prescription choice, they recommend coming off Clonazapam by weaning myself slowly, they provide no specific guidelines for how to do this, and they continue to prescribe the drug.

Now the latest dr is on maternity leave, don't know if she'll return and my prescriptions are being written by docs I have never even met, who are filling in. The only advice she had given me was try starting with a reduced dose such as 1.25 mg every few nights and take it from there. She was very sympathetic to the fact that this is a "nasty drug" to come off, but not full of ideas.

I have tried twice to wean myself from this drug, as it no longer helps with insomnia or night time wakefulness. In fact I think it may be playing a role in some worsening feelings of depression, anxiety, ruminating thoughts. The first two times my attempts failed because I experienced full blown rebound insomnia to the extent that I essentially stopped sleeping and found it exceedingly difficult to function at work.

I was so crazed from lack of sleep that I went back to my full dose. This time I am determined to take it very slow, and I should add that I really don't want to take another prescription drug during the process. I do take daily magnesium supplements. Two weeks ago I began taking 1.25 mg and 1.5 mg every other night. That's about a 10% overall reduction. There were no problems beyond my normal crappy sleep.

This week I am ready to continue the process. I am considering taking 1.25 mg for two nights and 1.5 mg on the third night for two weeks, then 1.5 every fourth night until I get down to just 1.25 mg per night. I have gotten to 1.25 mg before, but I did it faster and my problems started about three weeks into 1.25 mg nightly. I am hoping that getting down to 1.25 mg very slowly will help me to tolerate it well enough to continue a slow decrease down to 1 mg and so on.

Any advice on how others who are sleep sensitive have successfully reduced dosage - my goal is to get down to at least .5 mg - is appreciated. I understand that it is a long haul. I am committed to doing this, and right now I have no trusted and known physician to help me without potentially taking me down faster than my body can handle.

Some years ago my doctor gave me this pill because he thought I was to hyper. I wish I had known the facts about this pill then. Yes, you can get off Clonazepam if you are willing to take the time, AND change you life style. I have taken this drug for many years at the lowest dose [0.05mg], but it is still hard to quit. That is how powerful this drug is.

Anyone out there who reads this reply, if your doctor wants to get you on this drug make sure you know the facts about how addictive it is, and how hard it is to get off of it before you start. I'm still trying to quit, and so far without success, and until I change my life style I guess I will never get off it. As usual we are our own worst enemy.

Forget about getting off Clonazepam. If you have an anxiety disorder, as I have a mild one, you need to take a full dose of the medication. See a psychiatrist if you have to about your "anxiety disorder" and sleep problem. Some of us just have a more jittery nervous system than others. Everybody has a glitch in the brain. Everybody has anxiety. Some people don't need medication. Some do. I have a great deal of stress to deal with and cannot sleep.

My primary care doctor understands and prescribes the Clonazepam. (By the way, insist on the Teva brand because it is better than other brands I've used. If your pharmacy doesn't have it, ask them to order it.) It is the mildest of the benzos, and you need it. It will not harm you unless you keep upping the dose, which is what an addict would do. You don't sound like you have that problem. I'm still on the same dose I've been on for at least 15 years.

Some of the other doctors in my doctor's practice have given me a hard time, but my doctor told me not to see them anymore. They mean well, but they don't understand, he said. So you need an understanding doctor. A psychiatrist might be your best bet. Some general practitioners are afraid to prescribe such drugs. My daughter has fibromyalgia, which causes serious sleep problems, She has taken Clonazepam for a dozen years, prescribed now be a spinal specialist who is also trained to treat fibromyalgia. By the way, Clonazepam often does not show up in a urine sample. You might have to tell your doctor that if a urine sample is required. Doctors don't know that. There is an on-line forum about this problem. I ran off some comments on that forum and gave them to my doctor. I know what you are going through, and I really sympathize with you. Fight back! Best of luck!

Pharmacists and doctors usually say that generics are all the same. They are not. Generics just have to have a fraction of the main ingredients. Teva pharmaceuticals reverse-engineered Klonapin, and I can't tell the difference between the two. The pharmacist is likely to tell you that he doesn't have that brand. Just tell him to order it. He might not want to, but he will order it. I have tried other generics for Clonazepam, but I haven't found one as good as Teva. (Teva tried to do the same with Wellbutrin, but it was a disaster.) I know the pain of not being able to sleep. Take your medicine, and don't apologize to anybody for needing it. Best of luck.

If I had known 8 years ago what I know now about Clonazepam, it is unlikely I would have agreed to take it. At the time I did not have access to the internet, I obviously had no personal experience, and my doctor was my only source of information. She did have me try other medications for sleep such as Ambien and Trazadone; they all gave me a hangover or dangerously low blood pressure and near fainting.

Clonazepam seemed like a miracle at the time, it helped me sleep and had no next day side effects. I feel for Tutorjib, who takes this drug for serious injuries sustained in a car accident, but his/her comments about how one should not take this drug "casually" for something as "minor" as sleep are ignorant. Try functioning in front of a classroom full of teenagers on little or no sleep for several consecutive nights and then tell me insomnia is a MINOR problem. Do your research please.

Insomnia is not a minor health problem. Besides the immediate havoc it wreaks on your mind and body, its long term effects on one's health are very serious. You need to sleep to live, so please don't suggest this is a minor or casual issue. It's false and it's insulting.

I have a brother who suffers from extreme insomnia and he can't even work; he is on complete disability. I know all about sleep hygiene and breathing techniques and practice them daily. If they worked I wouldn't have been in the dr's office asking for meds, I didn't take that step lightly, but I had no idea what I was getting into when I started a regimen of clonazepam. Honestly, if I hadn't developed a tolerance for my dose, I would probably still want to take it in spite of other problems it can cause, such as coordination and cognitive impairment. (I am a runner and I have begun to randomly trip and fall, twice rather seriously injuring myself) Sleep deprivation causes those problems too.

I would do almost anything for a few hours of sleep. But it just doesn't work anymore at current dose Jean, and neither my dr nor I am willing to increase the dose. It's time. I have been taking 1.25 mg/night for nearly a week, down from my 1.5 regular dose. The only withdrawal I notice is sleep onset related. It is taking me longer to fall asleep, as it did before when I tapered. I am taking magnesium supplements but am interested in trying other OTC aids such as melatonin, GABA, etc. Would welcome advice on what and how much has helped others in similar circumstances.

Leave a comment

Share your comments or questions with the People's Pharmacy online community. Not all comments will be posted. Advice from other visitors to this web site should not be considered a substitute for appropriate medical attention. Concerns about medications should be discussed with a health professional. Do not stop any medication without first checking with your physician.

Check this box to be notified by email when follow-up comments are posted.