Klonopin vs. Xanax
When you or a loved one is facing a diagnosis of clinical anxiety, you are bound to have questions. Some of those questions are likely to be about medication.
Is a prescription the right way to go? If so, which one is best? While your doctor is a good source of information, it helps to do some research so you know what to talk to your doctor about.
That’s why we’ve put together this guide that compares two common anxiety meds so you can make informed decisions about your care.
Klonopin and Xanax are both benzodiazepines that are used to treat anxiety. They work by enhancing the actions of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter in your brain.
This neurotransmitter can reduce the activity of your body’s nerve cells, so when it’s enhanced, it creates a calming effect. Even though Klonopin and Xanax are similar in a lot of ways, it’s important that you understand the differences before deciding which medication is right for you.
Differences Between Klonopin and Xanax
Klonopin is the brand name for clonazepam and Xanax is the brand name for alprazolam. Both are benzodiazepines that are used to treat anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and insomnia.
However, unlike Xanax, Klonopin contains an anticonvulsant, so it’s also commonly used to prevent seizures.
Both drugs work in the same way, but people can react differently to them. For example, Xanax activity lasts longer for people of Asian decent, obese people, and those with kidney disease, liver disease, or alcoholism.
Because of this, they may require a lower dosage than others.
Overall though, the effects of Klonopin last longer than those of Xanax. It’s normally absorbed slower than Xanax so the effects typically last between one and four hours, while the effects of Xanax typically only last between one to two hours.
Of course, this can vary from person to person, depending on how fast the individual’s body metabolizes the drug. Because Klonopin lasts longer, it can be a good option for people with chronic anxiety disorders or seizure disorders because it doesn’t need to be taken as often each day.
Klonopin, the brand name version of clonazepam, is an antiepileptic and anti-anxiety medication that’s part of the benzodiazepines drug class.
It works by reducing activity in the brain’s GABA receptors, which creates a calming effect for the whole body.
The medication is most commonly used to treat people with anxiety and panic disorders, including adults living with agoraphobia. However, because it contains an anticonvulsant, it’s also prescribed to people living with epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and people who regularly get absent seizures.
In certain cases, Klonopin may also be prescribed to treat people with sleep disorders or involuntary muscle spasms.
Like Klonopin, Xanax is an anxiolytic that’s commonly used to treat people living with anxiety and panic disorders.
It’s also in the benzodiazepines drug class and works by reducing nerve activity by altering the GABA receptors in your brain. Because of this, the uses for Klonopin and Xanax are often very similar.
Mainly, Xanax is prescribed to treat anxiety and/or panic disorders. However, the effects of benzodiazepines, including Klonopin and Xanax, help to calm and relax your body.
Because of this, Xanax may also be prescribed to treat insomnia and involuntary muscle spasms.
Xanax doesn’t have an anticonvulsant like Klonopin does, so it’s not used to treat people with seizure disorders. However, it is often used during in-patient addiction treatment programs to offset the patient’s withdrawal symptoms or as a light sedative.
Because benzodiazepines can’t be taken with certain types of drugs though, this treatment is only used in controlled medical environments, not during outpatient care. It’s also not used to treat people addicted to opioids because the mixture of opioids and benzodiazepines can be deadly.
Possible Side Effects of Klonopin
Like other medications, Klonopin has possible side effects. There’s no way to tell what side effects, if any, you’ll experience before taking the medication.
The most common side effect seen in people using Klonopin is referred to as CNS depression. This happens with your body’s normal neurological functions slow down.
Drowsiness is the most common way CNS depression appears, with approximately 50 percent of patients experiencing it. Also, about 30 percent of patients experience ataxia, which causes poor coordination and unsteadiness.
People using Klonopin may also experience:
- Heart palpitations
- Increased saliva production
- Increased or lowered libido
- Abnormal dreams
- Weight loss or gain
- Irregular menstrual cycles
- Breast pain
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Muscle cramps and/or leg pain
- Excessive thirst
- Increased flatulence
- Abdominal discomfort
- Frequent bowel movements
- Upset stomach
- Feeling of enuresis
If you have thoughts of suicide or bouts of depression after you start taking Klonopin, you should contact your doctor immediately. He or she may want to move you to a different treatment plan that’s safer for you.
Possible Side Effects of Xanax
Xanax side effects are very similar to those of Klonopin, which makes sense because they are both part of the benzodiazepines drug class.
Some of the side effects people taking Xanax may experience include:
- Memory problems
- Poor balance and coordination
- Trouble concentrating
- Increased sweating
- Upset stomach
- Change in appetite
- Weight loss or gain
- Increased or decreased libido
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
With Xanax there is also a slight risk of depression. If you experience a depressive state or have thoughts of suicide while taking Xanax, it’s important to notify your doctor immediately.
There are other medications that are successful used to treat anxiety and panic disorder so there’s a good chance there’s a better option for you available.
Klonopin Drug Interactions
A total of 941 drugs are known to interact with Klonopin, so it’s important to thoroughly research before starting this medication.
Some of the drugs with major reactions to Klonopin include:
Some of the drugs that interact moderately with Klonopin include:
Xanax Drug Interactions
There are a whopping 956 drugs that interact with Xanax, so it’s important to review your current medications before agreeing to a treatment option that involved Xanax.
Some of the drugs with major interactions with Xanax include:
Some of the drugs that react moderately to Xanax include:
Zoloft and prednisone are some of the medications that have minor interactions with Xanax.
Klonopin is available in tablet and dissolvable tablet form and can be taken up to three times per day — as prescribed by your doctor.
The exact dosage amount depends on your age and weight, as well as the disorder or condition you’re treating.
Klonopin is available in 0.5 mgs, 1 mg, or 2 mg doses. In most cases, doctors start patients with the lowest dosage amount to see how their body reacts to the medication.
Both children and adults can take Klonopin to treat seizure disorders. However, the medication isn’t prescribed to children under the age of 18 to treat anxiety or panic disorder.
This is because the medication can cause psychological dependence when so doctors try not to expose patients to it, especially young patients, if at all possible.
Adults being treated for seizures can take up to three doses of Klonopin per day, but should not exceed 1.5 mg per day initially. The dosage amount can be increased every three days in 0.5 mg or 1 mg increments until the seizures are under control.
Adults shouldn’t exceed 20 mg of Klonopin per day for maintenance purposes.
Infants and children up to 10 years of age who need Klonopin to control seizures are initially start on a dose between 0.01 mg and 0.03 mg per day with a maximum limit of 0.05 mg per day. Their daily dose needs to be divided into two or three intervals.
This can be increased every third day until the seizures are under control. However, the maximum dosage amount shouldn’t exceed 0.2 mg of the child’s body weight. Ideally, children’s doses should be divided equally, but if the doctor doesn’t divide them equally, the child should take the largest dose at night, before bed.
When treating adults with anxiety or panic disorders using Klonopin, doctors typically begin with an initial dose of 0.25 mg twice per day. Then, after three days, the patient is increased to the target dose of 1 mg per day.
This has been determined the ideal maximum daily dosage amount for adults because testing concluded that higher doses of 2 mg, 3 mg, and 4 mg per day were less effective and were associated with more side effects. However, if necessary, your doctor may increase your daily dosage amount above the recommended 1 mg per day, up to a maximum of 4 mg per day.
Xanax is available in 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg tablet form, as well as a 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg, and 3 mg extended release capsules. Both are used to treat anxiety and panic disorders in adults.
Treatment with Xanax tablets typically begins with an initial dosage amount of 0.25 to 0.5 mgs taken three times per day. Doses are increased as needed in intervals of three or four days, but treatment shouldn’t exceed 4 mgs of Xanax per day.
People with severe panic disorders may benefit from doses greater than 4 mgs of Xanax daily. Typically, between 5 mg and 6 mg per day is used to treat severe panic disorder, but in really extreme cases, patients have been treated with up to 10 mgs of Xanax per day.
Xanax extended release capsules should be taken orally, intact. They shouldn’t be crushed, chewed, or broken.
Treatment typically begins with either 0.5 mgs or 1 mg once daily, taken in the morning. The dose can be increased in three to four day increments of no more than 1 mg per day.
Clinical trials have been conducted on patients with panic disorder with doses between 1 mg and 10 mg of Xanax extended release per day. In most cases, patients responded well to doses between 3 mg and 6 mg per day.
Costs: Klonopin vs. Xanax
The cost of prescription medication varies depending on the drug type, whether its name brand or generic, the insurance you have, and where you live.
Because Klonopin and Xanax are very similar there’s a good chance they’ll be similar in price too, but it’s best to contact your pharmacy to compare the prices before making a final decision. You may also be able to save some money by choosing a generic version of the drug — clonazepam for Klonopin and alprazolam for Xanax.
Risks: Klonopin vs. Xanax
The risks of Klonopin and Xanax are also very similar. Both are considered a schedule four drug with some potential for abuse.
This means that the DEA considers Xanax and Klonopin to have a low potential of abuse and a low risk of dependence.
Controlled substances are classified by the DEA in five groups — Schedules one through five. Schedule one drugs have the highest potential for abuse and aren’t used for medical purposes, while schedule five drugs are used for medical purposes and have a very low potential for abuse.
While the risk of addiction with Klonopin and Xanax isn’t as high as some drugs, the potential is still there. Because of this, it’s extremely important that you follow your doctor’s orders when taking either of these medications.
Also, you shouldn’t stop taking Klonopin or Xanax abruptly. Instead, when you’re ready to stop taking the medication, talk to your doctor about it so he or she can safely wean you off the medication to minimize any withdrawal symptoms that might occur.
Making a Choice
Choosing between Xanax and Klonopin isn’t simple. While they are very similar in the way they work, as well as the possible side effects, the way the medication affects your body is important.
That’s why it’s important to discuss your options thoroughly with your doctor before assuming one medication will work better for you than the other.
In addition to the disorder, problem, or symptoms you’re treating and how the medication may affect you, it’s also important to look at the cost of the medication. Both Klonopin and Xanax have generic version available, which could lower your out-of-pocket expense drastically.
However, it’s possible for generic versions of medications to work slightly differently than name brand versions, so you should discuss whether a generic version of Klonopin or Xanax is a good choice for you too. Also, it’s important to see what type of medication your health insurance covers before making a final decision.