Has your physician prescribed you or your child clonazepam for seizures? This medication, which you might also know by brand names like Klonopin or Rivotril, is used to treat certain kinds of epilepsy.
When you begin taking this medication, your doctor or the pharmacist will give you instructions on clonazepam dosage for seizures (how much to take). The leaflet in the packaging will provide more information and you should read that too.
If you have any doubts about taking clonazepam for seizures, contact your doctor. The following information is only intended to give you a general introduction.
What is clonazepam?
Clonazepam is a kind of medication that is part of the benzodiazepine ‘family’. It is a tranquilizer, which means it is designed to relax people.
According to Patient.info, an online health directory, clonazepam works by stabilizing electrical activity in people’s brains. This can stop seizures from happening. Patient.ino also explains that clonazepam can make seizures less severe. When people have seizures, their muscles may go stiff, but clonazepam helps to relax their muscles.
Clonazepam has been available in the United States since 1975 for the treatment of epilepsy. This means it is well-understood by medical professionals.
As well as using clonazepam for seizures, it may also be used to treat some other conditions, including:
- Panic attacks
- Restless leg syndrome
- Bipolar disorder
What kind of epilepsy is clonazepam used for?
As a long-term treatment, clonazepam is mainly used to treat specific kinds of epilepsy:
- Absence seizures
- Myoclonic seizures - especially juvenile myoclonic epilepsy
- Lennox-Gastaut syndrome
- Photosensitive seizures
Clonazepam is rarely used as a ‘first line’ epilepsy treatment. It is usually given to people when other medication hasn’t worked. It is also often used in combination with other epilepsy medication, particularly valproate.
Clonazepam dosage for seizures
Your doctor will give you instructions on how much clonazepam to take (or the amount to give to your child). Generally, when people begin taking clonazepam, they start on a low dose and gradually increase the amount until their seizures come under control.
For adults, it’s common to start on 1mg per day which is taken at night. It is gradually increased over 2-4 weeks up to 4mg or 8mg. For children, the dosage increases gradually too, and the size of the dose depends on age.
Issues around clonazepam for seizures
Clonazepam is safe for most people and is well-known. But it does have some side effects, and there are some other issues to be aware of.
Clonazepam side effects
All known clonazepam side effects will be listed in the leaflet that comes with your prescription.
- Most common clonazepam side effects include tiredness, depression, dizziness, movement and balance problems.
- Rare side effects include suicidal thoughts, and serious problems with mental and physical abilities.
Clonazepam and alcohol
If you are prescribed clonazepam, you should not drink alcohol. When taken together, they can cause people to sleep extremely deeply, and they might struggle to wake up.
Tolerance to clonazepam
People can become ‘tolerant’ to clonazepam, which means that it stops working as effectively. If you notice you start having more seizures again, then speak to your doctor about what to do. They may recommend increasing your dose - but you should not do this without their advice.
It is possible to become dependent on clonazepam. This means that if you stop taking it, you may experience an increase in seizures or withdrawal symptoms (sleep problems, feeling nervous, or easily irritated). If you stop taking clonazepam for any reason, your doctor will advise on how to slowly reduce your dosage to reduce the risk of breakthrough seizures.
Driving and clonazepam
Because clonazepam can make you drowsy, your doctor will likely tell you to not drive (or use machinery/tools) for the first few weeks, until they can see how you adapt.
Pregnancy and clonazepam
You shouldn’t take clonazepam while you are pregnant or breastfeeding, as it can be harmful for your baby.
Clonazepam and other conditions
You should also avoid using clonazepam if you currently (or in the past) have experienced the following sorts of conditions:
- Breathing problems
- Liver or kidney problems
- Mental health issues, particularly depression
Your seizure management plan
Taking clonazepam for seizures can be a good option for people with several kinds of epilepsy. If your doctor has advised taking clonazepam, they should provide information about dosage, side effects and other issues to be aware of. If you have any questions, contact them directly for advice.
For help with remembering to take your epilepsy medication, and to record any seizures you have while taking clonazepam, try Epsy. Our free app lets you record information about your seizures and experiences, and gives you reminders too. You can even share this with your treatment team so they can see how you’re doing.