Benzodiazepines are sedative medicines.
They affect chemicals in the nervous system and brain to reduce communication
between nerve cells. This process improves sleep, relieves anxiety, and relaxes
muscles for some people.
These drugs generally are used to
treat anxiety, nervousness, muscular spasms, and seizures. Benzodiazepines may
be used alone, usually for people who only have sleep problems or only have
periodic limb movements. Low doses of benzodiazepines may also be used alone
for the first attempts to relieve mild symptoms of
restless legs syndrome. Benzodiazepines may be used
with other drugs, such as dopamine, opioid, or anticonvulsant medicine, that
have failed to improve symptoms when used alone. They are especially helpful in
improving sleeplessness that has not been helped by other drugs.
These medicines often help improve
sleep quality and may reduce leg movements.
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor right away if you have:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a
warning about clonazepam (Klonopin) and the risk of suicide and suicidal
thoughts. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using this medicine.
Instead, people who take clonazepam should be watched closely for
warning signs of suicide. People who take clonazepam
and who are worried about this side effect should talk to a doctor.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is
not available in all systems.)
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant. If you need to use this medicine, talk to your doctor about how you can prevent pregnancy.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
May 14, 2012
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
& Colin Chalk, MD, CM, FRCPC - Neurology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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