Benzodiazepines are a class of medications used to treat symptoms of anxiety disorders, including
- feelings of apprehension or dread,
- pounding heart,
- muscle tension,
- and shortness of breath.
These medications work by depressing the central nervous system by strengthening the effect of the neurotransmitter GABA. These drugs are addictive, and carry the risk of being abused.
Two commonly prescribed anti-anxiety drugs are Klonopin (Clonazepam) and Xanax (Alprazolam). There are important differences to keep in mind when considering Klonopin vs Xanax.
The main distinction is that Klonopin is longer lasting, though more moderately calming, while Xanax has a more immediate and powerful effect but has a shorter half-life. When making the decision of Klonopin vs Xanax, it is important to consider the symptoms that require treatment.
Klonopin’s longevity makes it more effective in managing general anxiety, but many find it is not strong enough to control panic attacks. Because Xanax provides immediate relief, it tends to better alleviate the symptoms of panic and anxiety attacks but is too short-lived to deal with generalized anxiety.
It is important to work with a psychiatrist to fully consider Klonopin vs Xanax, and to work to achieve an optimal balance of medication to effectively relieve the present symptoms.
With both drugs it is important to first inform your doctor about medications and nutritional supplements you take. Supplements like St. John’s Wort can cause negative reactions.
Antibiotics, certain antidepressants, and other psychiatric medications can also react negatively. When first starting you on anti-anxiety medications, doctors will often start with a low dose before increasing to a more effective dose.
You should not stop using either medication without first talking with your doctor; sudden discontinuation can induce seizures or other severe withdrawal symptoms. Doctors will usually steadily decrease your dosage before eventually discontinuing.
When comparing Klonopin vs Xanax, the withdrawal symptoms tend to be more severe with Xanax.
When looking at Klonopin vs Xanax, both have similar side effects. Side effects tend to be more intense with Xanax because of the quicker activation time and more intense effects. There is a risk of dizziness, nausea, loss of coordination, drowsiness, and changes in sex drive.
It is possible to have an allergic reaction, with symptoms including rash, hives, and difficulty breathing and swallowing.
Other severe side effects include
- memory problems,
- and new or worsening mood changes,
- including feelings of depression,
- exaggerated feelings of well-being,
- and an increase in suicidal ideations.
If you exhibit these symptoms, immediately seek medical care. Benzodiazepine overdose can be fatal, and requires immediate medical attention.
Benzodiazepines are habit-forming, and there is a risk of abusing these drugs. They cannot be taken for more than two months at a time. Comparing Klonopin vs Xanax, there tends to be a higher risk of addiction with Xanax, as the shorter half-life induces faster cycles of withdrawal.
However, both drugs are highly addictive and should be taken only under a doctor’s supervision. Do not take more frequent dosages, higher dosages than recommended, or medication for longer than approved by a doctor.