Clonazepam (also marketed under the brand name Klonopin amongst others ) is commonly prescribed to treat certain seizure disorders in adults and children and panic disorders in adults. It can be used on its own or in combination with other medications, as recommended by your doctor.
If you or someone you know struggles with seizures or a panic disorder, the prescription medication Clonazepam may be able to help. Use the below information as a guide to help you determine if it could be the proper medication for you.
Different Types of Seizures & Which Ones Clonazepam is Prescribed For
Seizures are usually caused by a form of epilepsy, although other contributing factors can play a role in bringing them on such as a high fever, brain tumors, and alcohol abuse. Seizures can be broken up into two main categories, focal and generalized. A focal episode starts in the focal part of the brain and causes physical and emotional symptoms as well as has a hallucinogenic effect, causing you to see or hear things that aren't there. Due to this, it can often be misdiagnosed as a mental disorder or another kind of condition involving dysfunction of the nerves. A generalized seizure causes muscle spasms, falls, and blacking out due to miscommunications of nerve cells on both sides of the brain.
Sometimes people can have seizures that start as focal, but then turn into a generalized type of seizure, or vice versa. Health professionals label these types as unknown-onset seizures. Clonazepam is often prescribed for the following:
Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS)
LGS is a progressive type of epilepsy. People diagnosed with LGS often experience many different types of seizures, including tonic, atonic, and atypical absence seizures. Tonic seizures involve the body becoming suddenly stiff, as well as cause tension in various extremities, including the arms, legs or trunk. Atonic attacks aka akinetic seizures or drop attacks/ seizures cause temporary loss of muscle strength or tone, and therefore can result in falls. Atypical absence causes staring episodes.
Myoclonic seizures often occur in children with a form of epilepsy and cause abrupt muscle jerks in different parts of the body. Though memory and consciousness aren't usually affected, these types of seizures can cause children to fall and drop things.
Absence seizures result in the loss of consciousness followed by a blank stare, almost like the person affected is lost in a daydream. It usually only lasts a few seconds, and the person usually has no recollection of it.
Symptoms and Complications of Seizures
Seizures can result in various symptoms and complications. These include, but are not limited to:
Accidents (car, drowning, etc.)
Uncontrollable jerking movements of the arms and legs
Loss of consciousness
Cognitive or emotional symptoms (anxiety, fear, paranoia)
Panic Disorder and Its Symptoms and Complications
A panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder in which someone experiences recurring panic attacks.
Panic disorders often cause more than excessive fear and worry, also resulting in physical as well as other emotional symptoms. Complications may include, but are not limited to:
Increased heart rate
Chest pain or discomfort
Trembling or shaking
Dizziness and weakness
Chills or overheating
Nausea and bowel problems
Loss of appetite
What is Clonazepam, and How Does it Work?
Clonazepam is in a drug class of medications called benzodiazepines and helps balance and stabilize chemical activity in the brain. This medication elevates levels of a calming chemical in the brain referred to as gamma-amino-butyric-acid (GABA) which helps alleviate anxiety, stop seizures, as well as relax tense muscles. It is available in tablet or wafer form.
How Do You Use Clonazepam to Treat
Seizures and Panic Disorders?
It is essential that you first consult with your healthcare provider before starting any new prescription medication. Also, always be sure to carefully follow the recommendations of your healthcare provider, use the medication as instructed and as per the directions on the prescription label.
Use your prescription Clonazepam in accordance with the directions of your healthcare provider. Because this medication can create dependencies, you should be careful not to use it more often than instructed or for an extended period of time longer than recommended by your healthcare provider to prevent long-term dependence. Do not stop taking Clonazepam until your healthcare provider directs to avoid withdrawal symptoms as this drug needs titrating down of the dosage you take (gradual tapering off of dosage of medication).
How Long Does it Take for Clonazepam to Work?
Most people notice that Clonazepam begins to take effect within 1 hour. It reaches maximum peak concentration within 4 hours following ingestion. Clonazepam's effects last approximately 8 to 12 hours, so the dosage for a typical, healthy adult is around 2 to 3 times a day. Your doctor will decide how many dosages you should take in a day.
What are the Possible Side Effects of Clonazepam?
It is possible to experience side effects when using Clonazepam. Again, it is important to follow dosage requirements as abnormal side effects may occur if you take too much medication.
Common side effects include:
problems with coordination
difficulty thinking or remembering
Serious side effects can also occur. If you experience any allergic reactions, hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat, seek medical attention immediately.
If you have any new or worsening symptoms, please contact your physician as soon as possible, including;
Feelings of impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive
Thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself
New or worsening seizures
Unusual changes in mood or behavior
Confusion, aggression, hallucinations
Pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest
Unusual or involuntary eye movements
Be careful when combining Clonazepam and alcohol, as this may increase its side effects. Also, be sure to discuss other medications you are prescribed with your doctor to avoid negative interactions or increased sleepiness with Clonazepam.
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