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.”

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.
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  1. Kelli

    I think Clonazepam was instrumental in killing my mother. My older sisters fairly strong-armed my mother into taking it after her husband of 60 years (my father) died a month after their 60th wedding anniversary. The dosage was always a bit iffy in my mind and I questioned whether she really needed that (in lieu of family members actually coming to visit), but I was steam-rolled (because I’m spineless) and the medicating continued.

  2. Delilah

    I am going to say something here that is probably revolutionary I find now that I am in my middle-age years that the drugs I took when I was younger and I didn’t take a lot but I tried some but was always scared about the side effects and of course the Ilegality.
    But like the Rolling Stones alluded to I had the wonderful experience of being given Scripts all the time for either Percocet OxyContin MS Contin Clonopin Xanax many many drugs!
    You know what all the people that took the so-called illegal drugs including marijuana function much better than I do with all these so-called “legal” prescription drugs.

  3. melinda
    st catherines ontario

    I been on larzpame then put on Canazapame I been on it for a long time I take 2mg twice a day. Well today I ran out and the Dr wouldn’t give me anymore, instead he put me on cymbalta today. I am kinda scared and don’t know what to expect here.

    • lizanne

      How did it go? I was taken off clonazepam 5 weeks ago, and have been in absolute agony ever since. The withdrawal was 100 times worse than heroin, unbearable I have seen many others online who have been through agony in withdrawal. Now the doctor wants to put me back on it, and wean me off more slowly. Nasty stuff.

  4. Tiff

    Not every medication works for everyone. Every medication has a TON of side effects. You have to weigh all pros and cons of the risk or the need is greater. In my situation, I love it. It helps me calm my nerves before bed. Best thing in my bipolar treatment.

  5. Jean
    Orlando, Florida

    I have had serious problems with Doctors and Clonazepam since I turned 65. I have a Medicare Advantage Plan so I started seeing primary care physicians. I have always been a very health person except for the fact I was born with a couple of spinal birth defects which have caused serious pain and about a year and a half ago, finally surgery.

    It dawned on me when I started looking more into the side effects of this drug that body pains is one of them. All of a sudden, these Doctors just focused on the drug I was on instead of delving into my history to see I had been having back problems since I was 38 (really 10 years old… my mother said it was growing pains). One Dr. all but threw me out of her office when I took in the prescriptions I was on and asked for refills. She said she would not refill it and go to a psychiatrist for that. I could not get a referral to an orthopedic surgeon out of that office. I had to wait 2 months to get in to a psychiatrist office, so I went through cold turkey withdrawal. No one would do anything about my tremendous back pain. The doctor’s office put me on speaker phone and made fun of me and said they had taken care of it. Finally I made an appt. for myself at an orthopedic surgeons office who promptly gave me surgery. I blame that totally on the doctors believing my pain was only a side effect and the lack of knowledge in that office. I went through hell.

    That was the second time I went through withdrawal cold turkey. The time before that was when my prescribing Dr. was out of the country and it was the holidays. I could not get the pharmacy to give me two weeks worth to hold me over and I could not find another Dr. who was available at that time. Again, Hell.

    Now, I have a doctor who will see me no more because of the prescription drug. He has been lowering the amount each time. I caught an error in the presc. last time he filled it and it held it up for over 24 hours. That was their error and I pointed it out to them. I am sharp enough to catch their errors. Really, coming out of a Doctor’s office. I am just sick of it and will get off it because I am tired of this treatment. I am feeling not quite as anxious but I feel that is because of their mistakes I was stressing. I was also dealing with incorrect billing from my phone company which was stressing me because their customer service would do nothing about the high billing amount. I am on a fixed income. I cannot afford $85.00 more a month than I was quoted. So, I have a lot of stress with no anxiety medication. I guess I will have to take up drinking. I do not drink at all.

    So, Seniors. Your physicians will drive you crazy about this drug. It will make you insane along with the other stress factors in today’s world. Computer billing that most of the time is wrong. I just did a clinical study for Alzheimer’s and the study showed I had a great brain with NO signs of any illness. I have been on this prescription since 1999. Studies in foreign countries, etc. I must be beating the odds.

    I now know how drug addicts feel when they come off something cold turkey. This has happened to me twice because of physicians. I guess they don’t know this could kill a person. Or, they just don’t care

  6. Glenn

    I have been taking Klonopin for 19 years. My extreme anxiety attacks were first triggered by an extremely stressful job and coming home everyday to a mentally unstable and destructive life – wife. Extreme stress every minute while awake eventually did me in. You might think you are superman, and might go on that for quite some time, but when you start fighting two or three bad situations, it ups the ante quite a bit. Do you think you are tough? Well you might be………but everyone has a breaking point. I went into full panic attack with no letup. I tried to cope for a couple of days, but it was impossible. I am intelligent and have been through tough times in my life. I was able to give 120% day after day at work forever. Not until the marital problems started did I go into full panic. I finally went to mental health, who referred me to a doctor, who referred me to the right psychiatrist/psychologist. First of all, let me tell you. Do not settle for a family practitioner. They are fine people that help people overcome many physical conditions, but they are not trained for anxiety or depression and you being on the fast track to total breakdown. I volunteered to back off to a doctor twice, if it was put in my records they were to not touch my medication requirements. Fat chance. That was the first thing they wanted to do…….and I took offense. I requested referral back to the psych doctors and was obliged. I told them straight up that doctors do not have enough training to knowledgeably treat and make decisions in this area of concern. I was right. First of all, let me say I had already been diagnosed with extreme acid reflux due to stress……..and was being treated with Aciphex, then Prilosec and now Nexium. I have been completely free of heart burn and no bad esophagus erosion since the Nexium takes care of that. The psychiatrist immediately put me on a healthy dose of Klonopin and it took it a couple of days to defeat the anxiety. I knew when it started winning because I could chew and eat food again. To put it bluntly, Klonopin saved my life. I was not suicidal, but Klonopin saved the life I had and still wanted. I had goals. I had my much loved son. I had a crazy wife that needed serious help, I needed to finish my career and education. No bones about it. If it had not been for Klonopin I would have digressed to the floor in a puddled mass. I am still on Klonopin 19 years later. I have no side effects to it, my anti-depressant or my Nexium. I know there are some that will experience side effects. Are they serious enough to stop or manipulate your medication? I am not stupid and I am a realist. I am successful today. I still have stressful job (a different one…..just turned out that way) and my marriage was destroyed by my wife, but we are still together. That’s the depth of it, still together. Nothing else. I am a believer than God gave man the ability to create many things to make his life better, and time has proven this to be so. I put medication right in there with the wheel and Internet. I am not adverse to taking medication. To me, it is another gift to man from God to make our life better. Yes, I do believe this technology should not be abused. I am still on these medications and I might be for the rest of my life (I’m 56 now), or at least be on something similar. I feel healthy, I don’t have negative side effects and my life is better. I am happy, although I could not say that for quite some time. I am more accepting of the rocks life throws at me. I appreciate the blessings in life much more because I have already been to hell and back. Unless there is a compelling reason why you should not take a medication, such as side effects or whatever reason – if you can tolerate a drug that improves your life, by all means, take it. I’m not afraid of it. I don’t feel guilty. I accept it. I live a normal life. So, let me say it again. Klonopin saved my life. If there is no reason for you stop taking the drug……..then continue to do so. You can compare taking Klonopin to other similar activities in your life that bring you happiness. No need to stop? Then, don’t.

  7. GM

    I fell today on some rocks at the river. My hubby was shocked because he doesn’t get it. I started crying and got more tremors and could not speak for minutes. I feel like the rest of my retirement will be just like my mothers.

    Klonopin has robbed me of something I took for granted. I have in the past road bikes for miles and never wrecked because of balance issues. I also am a Report who is used to noise, constant change and heavy work at a constant pace for hours.

    I did this for 36 years and then one night at work I had a meltdown and never returned to work. Off to the doctor I went and he suggested a intensive outpatient treatment for my anxiety and depression. The Dr started me on klonopin 1mg in am and pm. I lost my memory of running the dryer, driving, and eating. It did fix my panic and anxiety but in exchange I had to retire from a job I loved.

    I then realized what now………! What now did not improve and now suicide became the only answer. I told my new dr. in therapy every week that I was severely impaired. She just raised the doses of everything.

    Have you ever been knocked off a horse? It was worse and the feelings of suicide were intense. I had never thought of suicide for so long that after graduating from the therapy was a big waste of time and money. You were so drugged up that you couldn’t answer most questions without saying repeat that please.

    Crying in therapy was an everyday event bc I could not think straight nor comprehend was being taught. Present time I fell today and really hurt myself. My husband did not know what I was going through. I am 3 weeks of cold turkey quitting. I have never experienced such pain. My hands have tremors still. It is embarrassing eating out. I never pick up anything that is glass. I knock crap over, spill stuff, and still have no confidence in myself. I hate it. I will never have the life I lived since October 5,2014. I was on klonopin not that long. .5 mg am and pm for just a couple of weeks and this is what happened to me.

    I still suffer from tremors, spatial orientation and my balance is that of a 90 year old. I am 59 and just the mention the drug makes me depressed. I now have Xanax. I know it is a benzo too. I never thought in a million years that I would end up like this. Self care is a necessity now that I have another new life. Migraines are a constant reminder that I am in withdrawal.

    My psych doc never explained benos pros and cons but would she would whip that prescription pad out in a heartbeat. I think they should make us sign a paper describing how our lives maybe impacted. Oh, I forgot to mention I also lost my libido ! I want it back. I ain’t dead yet!

    • Sherry

      Agree! No more seizures for me @ .5 mg for 6 years and doing fine in life… my GABA was altered by 6 irradiation treatments to my Thymus Gland in 1956; 6 months old! I suffer from Graves and Hashimotto’s Disease along with a complete Hysterectomy at age 27!
      I am now 59, and trying to get on with life being healthier now with the use of supplements, hormones, and this RX. Amazing what medical science has achieved over the years and what it has really screwed up!! Oh well…

  8. Kayla

    I am 23 and currently in medical school. I was prescribed Clonazepam for anytime I had anxiety related to school early on in college and I have taken it for years now and I had recently noticed a decline in my ability to remember material and recall it during test. It takes me about triple the time it used to take me to learn information and my grades are reflecting this. I had no idea what was causing my decline in memory and comprehending things I would usually have no problem with. I was also extremely irritable, tired, and I would get confused about simple things. I was doing a homework assignment today on seizure medications and side effects and Clonazepam was listed in my textbook to OFTEN cause COGNITIVE SLOWING and everything suddenly makes since. I have always trust my doctor and that is why I did not look into it before starting this medicine. I am tapering myself off of this drug immediately and I wanted to warn anyone of these side effects that I neglected to look into and may have now cost me a whole lot. Anyone’s mind is already going to start a slow decline on its own at about 30-40 years old naturally, and since we are only given one, be extra careful only taking this drug if necessary!

  9. James H.

    I have been taking 1 mg. per day/Klonopin for 5 or 6 years for anxiety and to sleep. Nothing seemed to help in the past. I am currently seeking a job and I am concerned about my drug test. My last job attempt was stalled after I submitted to a drug test but the employer never told me exactly why. I have experienced a lack of the ability to concentrate and learn things effectively. My wife and I both wonder about the prescribed drug as being more of a culprit than a help.

    I desperately need to get off this drug and get a job. Once before I tried, and the Dr. gave me no advice. I quit cold turkey for a few days and then went running back to it. I need a job that requires me to drive but I almost know they are testing for this particular drug. Please give me advice on my situation. My Dr. just does whatever I seem to think and doesn’t act as if he really knows what I should do.

  10. Meredith

    I was able to go off by stepping down from .5 mg over less than 2 months. I’d been on it for about 15 years and was disturbed by the strong depressant effect which got worse and worse. I took OTC antihistamine which helped with the insomnia. I also had headaches and vivid dreams. After I was off I had short panic attacks for a while. All in all it went pretty well but maybe I was lucky.

  11. Michael

    Hi I have been on klonopin for over 15 years and stopped cold turkey and I am living in HELL right now. I also stopped neurontin, trazodone and seroquel also had etc. I am a complete basket case
    no hope i need to check out

    • Liz

      I was on clonazepam 2 mg a day for 20 yrs, doctor cut me without any help for me in place then he dumped me as well when my sun , my caregiver came and had to rescue me off sidewalk, I could not move… right in front of docs office, he and his MOA did not call for help, they threatened my sun for questioning there behavior towards me , told doc I was suing as the doc is 100 % responsible for what happens to you once he cuts you off a dangerous drug like clonazepam .. 14 days totally off my clonazepam, I use indica bud now, it helps me relax, without it I would fall apart ,.

  12. Lynette Johnson

    We have noticed a major change in our mother and are just start to fiqure out that it is relate to this drug. She changed so dramatically that it is scary. Morals and values and combative behavior were just the start. She has now been off it for two weeks and is much clearer and more self reflective. This drug and the doctors that easily prescribe it are really horrible!

  13. S.S.

    I have been on .5 mg of clonazepam since 1988 taken at night only. It was prescribed to me due to anxiety/panic I was experiencing prior to being diagnosed with Mitral Valve Prolapse Syndrome. I was also prescribed an antidepressant at that time. When the recent study came out linking benzo use to Alzheimer’s I read about it in the People’s Pharmacy column in the newspaper. I was horrified as my mother died at 77 from complications of this horrible disease. I am now 62.

    Over the years I have asked my cardiologist (mitral valve prolapse dr) and my neuro (migraine headaches) about coming off the clonazepam and both appeared to be very unconcerned particularly my cardiologist. He explained that it is helping me with anxiety, headaches, sleep and there is no need to stop taking such a small dose. My neuro said if I wanted to come off of it to go ahead but he really didn’t see it as a problem, again because it was such a small dose.

    Having read the results of the recent study I am extremely concerned about the link of this drug to Alzheimer’s and also the difficulty coming off of the medication even when the dosage is small. I am very concerned that long term use of this medication may increase my risk of developing Alzheimer’s although I know that was not studied in this particular research. As you can tell, I am extremely upset. I did not read up on the medication – I just did what the doctor told me to do and now am worried that it will be impossible for me to stop taking the medication without terrible withdrawal that could last for months or even years. I simply do not know what to do. I do have an appt with my neuro this month and intend to discuss this with him in depth – I pray that he will take the time to listen and give me sound advice. Has anyone on this website been successful discontinuing long term use of a small amount of this medication?

  14. Torrence
    Boardman, Ohio

    I have been taking Clonazepam for decades and wish I had never started, but that was before all the warnings came out about it. It all started with panic attacks and being high strung. The doctor said I needed something to settle me down. That’s when Clonazepam came into the picture. I hate to say this, but at times it’s been a life-saver [not literally] but being able to function. I was told by an expert, that if some pill makes your life better, take it.

    She said there are many people, with serious sicknesses that have to take pills all their lives, even starting at early ages. Are there side effects… YES, but I guess I am one of the lucky ones. I seem to be able to handle them. Maybe my body adjusted to the pill, I don’t know. I want to get off the pill, but until I change my life stile, and get calmer I don’t know how I will ever be able to do that. We seem to be our own worst enemy by the way we live and the pressure we put ourselves under every single day. I never knew anyone, when I was young that took any kind of pill. Life was just as hard for them as it is today. The change is, I believe, the way we live by choice that has delivered us to pill heaven, that at many times is hell instead. I seriously don’t think that ANYONE has the answer, EXCEPT OURSELVES. I know I am, at times, my own worst enemy.

    May God help us all to “be content with what ye have”. Even the rats can’t win the “rat race”.

    • Meredith

      Yes I came off of it (.5 mg) by stepping down to .25 until the withdrawal symptoms (headache insomnia vivid dreams) lessened then down another half then off. I took an OTC sleep aid with antihistamine esp in the beginning. Mild panic attacks persisted then went away. So it took about 2 months. I’d taken Klonipin for many years.

  15. David

    I had afib attacks twice in February 2014 then nothing for 7 months. I was given Klonopin for anxiety which my doctor switched from Ayivan. Now I’m in afib again.

    After doing some research, and speaking to my cardiologist I have learned that in some patients, clonazepam can cause afib. Be careful of psychologists that recommend this drug for long term use.

  16. Bethany

    I’ve been on clonazapam for 12 years. It was a life saver at the time. We lost our 2 year old baby. Last year I stopped taking it. I didn’t really think about it. I hadn’t been taking it regularly for a long time anyway.

    2 months later I noticed my body jerking all over. My brain seemed to be in slow motion. I could hear my daughter speaking to me but I couldn’t answer her. It felt like nothing was real. My heart wouldn’t beat properly. I started having bladder pain without infections. I almost died.

    My doctor came back from vacation and found out what I was going through and asked if I’d stopped taking clonazapam she immediately had me take two and said it was really bad to stop suddenly. That was a year ago. It’s been a nightmare. I’m still taking very little. It’s as if my brain re-arranged it something.

    My brain either thinks fast with thoughts coming like photos slides. My brain feels “heavy” my heart races 120 bts a minute. Or skips around. My eyes move and won’t focus. I see double and triple. I have arthritis and fibromyalgia. Now interstitual cystitis. I don’t know if something else is wrong. They checked for thyroid problem. It was normal.

    I’ve been to cardiologist and opthomalogist. Urologist. They can’t explain what’s wrong. It seems to come back to the clonazapam. Does any one have any thoughts. I also cannot remember things. Past years fine. Current things. Not so much. Important things.

    Confusion is a big problem. I get scared it may be Alzheimer’s. My dad passed away last year from this. Balance is off as well. I can almost feel something like a chemical running through my brain and blood system. Through my bladder. Can anyone help?

  17. LLN

    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.

    • David

      I found out today that clonazepam has many bad side affects. Ask you doctor about Ativan in low dose, which doesn’t have these dangerous side affects.
      Good luck.

    • Cheryl
      Portland, Oregon

      Hi there,

      I always hate to guess at why someone might have symptoms, but your jumped out at me due to my own. If I were you, I’d look into parasitic illness like Lyme, bartonella, and babesia. Those are really commonly missed and at alarming levels in the U.S. Your rapid pulse and symptoms of urinary issues, fibromyalgia, and arthritis are what caught my eye. I am sorry for your severe trauma that necessitated the use of this drug.

      The thyroid is hard to test for, but again, tickborne or vectorborne illness often affects the thyroid. Thyroid ultrasound, autoantibody tests, fine needle aspirations, free t3, free t4, reverse t3, and possibly tsh would help. Nuclear testing can give a picture too, but don’t do what I did. I let them kill my thyroid. Find a good naturopath or better yet, Chinese doctor, to help you. Heiner Fruehauf’s Classical Pearls helped me and practitioners use that all over the place. Low dose naltrexone might help you and is much safer than clonazepam.

      I hope things improve for you. I know how hard this is. Good luck!

  18. Jean

    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.

  19. Jean

    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!

  20. Torrence

    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.

    • belair

      I’ve been on clonazepam .5mg for 15 years it helped me a lot. now well I’m dealing with daily migraines, vertigo, insomnia, buzzing in my ear, a lot of times I can’t think right. Forget
      hot sweats tired nausea. Been off work for 2 years, doc. don’t know what is causing my illness. Could this be side effects from using clonazepam for too many years?

  21. LLN

    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.

  22. Heather

    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

    • Mavis

      How do I stop clonazepam I have been on 0.5 for 6 months

  23. HL

    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.

  24. Penny H.

    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.

  25. HL

    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.

  26. JJ

    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.

  27. tutorjb1JB

    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.

  28. JJ

    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.

  29. M. A.

    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.

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