Klonopin vs Ativan

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For patients dealing with anxiety disorders or experiencing panic attacks, certain drugs that influence the concentration of neurotransmitters in the brain can help manage symptoms and instill a sense of calm. Klonopin and Ativan are two such medications often prescribed for these conditions. Both belong to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines which enhance the effect of GABA, a neurotransmitter known to have calming effects on brain activity. Klonopin (clonazepam) is typically used for its longer-lasting relief from panic disorder symptoms, while Ativan (lorazepam), with its relatively shorter half-life, is generally used for immediate relief during acute stages of anxiety and panic attack episodes.

What is Klonopin?

Clonazepam (the generic name for Klonopin) was a significant development in the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, which are primarily prescribed to treat anxiety disorders and seizures. Clonazepam was first approved by the FDA in 1975. Klonopin enhances GABA neurotransmission, which is inhibitory and helps calm overactive brain functions that can lead to anxiety or seizure activity. It's often prescribed for panic disorders or certain types of seizures.

On the other hand, Lorazepam (Ativan), also a member of the benzodiazepine family, has similar uses but acts faster than clonazepam; thus it is particularly helpful during acute episodes of severe anxiety or panic attacks. However, its effects do not last as long as those of clonazepam.

Both medications have potential side effects including drowsiness and dependency if used chronically or in high doses. While both influence GABA neurotransmitters significantly to achieve their therapeutic effect, differences in onset time and duration make them more suitable for different scenarios.

What conditions is Klonopin approved to treat?

Klonopin is approved for the treatment of various conditions, including:

  • Panic disorder (including agoraphobia)
  • Certain types of seizures, specifically petit mal seizures, akinetic seizures, and myoclonus
  • Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (a severe form of epilepsy) Ativan, on the other hand, is also utilized in managing conditions such as:
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Preoperative sedation
  • Insomnia due to anxiety or stress

How does Klonopin help with these illnesses?

Klonopin is a medication used for managing anxiety by enhancing the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which means it reduces neuron activity and has calming effects on the nervous system. Klonopin does this by binding to GABA receptors, thus increasing their efficiency and resulting in more effective transmission of signals that inhibit overactivity in the brain. Overactivity in the brain can lead to feelings of anxiety, so by enhancing GABA's effect, Klonopin helps manage anxiety symptoms and stabilize mood.

On the other hand, Ativan also enhances GABA’s actions but has a shorter duration of action compared to Klonopin making it less likely to build up in your body leading to fewer side effects. It's frequently chosen for its quick onset – providing relief from acute symptoms rapidly.

What is Ativan?

Ativan is a brand name for lorazepam, which belongs to the class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. Its primary function is to increase GABA activity in the brain, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that reduces neuronal excitability. It also has some effect on serotonin and norepinephrine but doesn't inhibit their reuptake like other classes of medication do. Lorazepam was first approved by the FDA in 1977.

As Ativan is not an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor), it does not primarily affect serotonin levels in the brain. This means its side-effect profile differs from SSRIs such as Prozac; specifically, Ativan generally causes sedation rather than preventing it and lacks common SSRI-associated side effects such as weight gain or sexual dysfunction.

The enhanced GABA activity produced by Ativan can be beneficial for treating anxiety disorders and insomnia, particularly among patients who have not responded well to typical SSRI medications.

What conditions is Ativan approved to treat?

Ativan is approved for the treatment of:

  • Anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Acute symptoms related to anxiety
  • Preoperative sedation and treatment of status epilepticus.

These medications help reduce excessive worry, feelings of fear, dread, and uneasiness that may occur as a result of stress or anticipation of future events.

How does Ativan help with these illnesses?

Ativan, known generically as lorazepam, is a potent benzodiazepine that influences the action of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. This chemical plays a role in many crucial functions including sleep regulation, muscle relaxation, and anxiety reduction. Ativan works by enhancing the effects of GABA in the brain to alleviate symptoms linked with conditions like anxiety disorders or insomnia. Klonopin also increases GABA activity but it has a longer duration of effect compared to Ativan which makes it more suitable for certain patients. That being said, Ativan's shorter half-life can be beneficial for those who require less prolonged sedative effects and wish to avoid potential next-day drowsiness associated with longer-acting benzodiazepines such as Klonopin. Moreover, due to its potency and quick onset of action, Ativan could also be used when immediate relief from acute symptom flare-ups is required.

How effective are both Klonopin and Ativan?

Both clonazepam (Klonopin) and lorazepam (Ativan) have established histories of success in treating patients with anxiety disorders, including panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. They were both initially approved by the FDA in the 1970s as benzodiazepine class medications. Since they act on GABA receptors to exert anxiolytic effects, they may be prescribed under similar circumstances.

The effectiveness of Klonopin and Ativan in alleviating symptoms of acute anxiety was directly studied in a double-blind clinical trial; both drugs exhibited similar efficacy in managing symptoms such as panic attacks, restlessness, and insomnia. In this study, none of the different metrics studied to measure efficacy differed between patients receiving Klonopin or those receiving Ativan.

A review indicated that clonazepam is effective at reducing symptoms of panic disorder within two hours after administration while also having a longer duration than most benzodiazepines due to its long half-life. Its side effect profile includes drowsiness, coordination problems, and behavioral changes which are consistent with other benzodiazepines.

A meta-analysis reported lorazepam seems to be more potent than placebo for short-term symptom relief but it's not intended for long-term use because physical dependence may develop after several weeks or months. It has been found effective for panic attacks due to its rapid onset action but should only be used during acute episodes rather than ongoing treatment management.

Despite their similarities, Klonopin might work better for some people while others might find Ativan more beneficial based on individual responses towards these treatments. Both medications are typically considered first-line treatments particularly when quick relief from severe or debilitating anxiety is required.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Klonopin typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Klonopin typically range from 0.25–2 mg/day, divided into three doses. For most adults, the initial dose is 0.5 mg, three times daily. This may be increased to a maximum of 1-4 mg per day, according to individual patient response and tolerance level. Children's dosage will depend on their age and weight; it should begin at a low dose and can be gradually increased under medical supervision if there is no adequate response. The maximum dosage that should not be exceeded in any case for adults is 20mg/day.

At what dose is Ativan typically prescribed?

Ativan treatment typically begins with a dosage of 1-2 mg/day, taken in two or three divided doses. This can be increased to a maximum of 6 mg/day if necessary, depending on the patient's response and tolerance. The daily dose may then be split into three separate doses of 2 mg each, separated by equal time intervals. If there is no significant improvement or reaction to the initial dosage after a few weeks, it might be worthwhile considering an increase under doctor supervision. As always with such medications, the smallest effective dose should be used for the shortest possible period due to risks associated with long-term use.

What are the most common side effects for Klonopin?

Common side effects of Klonopin and Ativan include:

  • Drowsiness, fatigue, or lethargy
  • Dizziness or unsteadiness
  • Problems with memory or concentration
  • Increased saliva production
  • Muscle weakness
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Changes in appetite
  • Dry mouth
    -Nausea and vomiting -Impaired coordination, balance issues -Decreased sexual drive (libido)

Please note that while both medications can help manage anxiety disorders effectively, they also carry the risk of physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms if discontinued abruptly. Always consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medication regimen.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Klonopin?

When comparing Klonopin and Ativan, it's important to be aware of potential side effects:

  • Experiencing suicidal thoughts or increased depression
  • Signs of severe allergic reaction: hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat. These could also extend to a skin reaction manifested by fever, sore throat, burning eyes and skin pain accompanied by a red or purple rash that blisters and peels.
  • Vision-related issues such as blurred vision or seeing halos around lights; there may also be eye pain or swelling.
  • Cardiovascular symptoms like sudden fast heartbeats, palpitations in the chest (fluttering), shortness of breath coupled with dizziness - these could indicate you're about to faint.
  • Symptoms indicative of low sodium levels include headaches, confusion, slurred speech alongside weakness so severe you vomit. This could lead to loss of coordination making you feel unsteady.
  • Any signs suggesting a nervous system response including rigid muscles which are very stiff. These are often accompanied by high fever sweating profusely along with uneven rapid heartbeats leading some people feeling they might pass out.

If any serotonin syndrome symptoms occur such as agitation hallucinations fever sweating shivering accelerated heartbeat muscle stiffness twitching loss of coordination nausea vomiting diarrhea medical attention is required immediately.

Remember even though both drugs belong to the same class benzodiazepines their effect can vary from person-to-person based on various factors like age health condition other medications etc It's always best consult with healthcare provider before starting new medication regimen.

What are the most common side effects for Ativan?

Ativan might result in some side effects such as:

  • Dry mouth or increased saliva production
  • Dizziness, drowsiness, and blurred vision
  • Changes in appetite leading to weight loss or gain
  • Nausea, vomiting, constipation or other digestive problems
  • Sleep disturbances including insomnia
  • Sweating and feeling unsteady
  • Muscle weakness or lack of coordination
  • Feeling anxious, restless, confused or depressed
    -A rash on the skin.

While these are some of the common side effects associated with Ativan use, it's crucial that patients consult their healthcare provider for a comprehensive understanding of potential risks and benefits before starting therapy. It is also important to remember that while this medication has been proven effective for many people dealing with anxiety disorders and short term relief from symptoms of anxiety; everyone responds differently to medications.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Ativan?

Ativan, like other benzodiazepines, can have potentially serious side effects. These include:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling in your face, lips, tongue or throat
  • Mood changes or mental shifts such as unusual risk-taking behavior, decreased inhibition, no fear of danger
  • Worsening sleep problems
  • Aggression and hostility
  • Hallucinations and confusion
  • Thoughts of suicide or hurting yourself
  • Unusual movements with the eyes

If you experience any of these symptoms while taking Ativan, contact your healthcare provider immediately. It's crucial to understand that everyone's body responds differently to medication - just because a symptom is possible does not mean it will certainly occur.

Contraindications for Klonopin and Ativan?

Both Klonopin and Ativan, as they are part of the benzodiazepine class of medications, may actually increase feelings of depression in some individuals. If you notice your depressive symptoms worsening or an escalation in thoughts about suicide or self-harm while taking either drug, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Klonopin nor Ativan should be taken if you have been consuming other substances that depress the central nervous system (CNS depressants), including alcohol, opioids, barbiturates etc., due to the risk of dangerous interactions which can lead to respiratory distress or even death. Always inform your healthcare provider about any other medications or substances you are using; CNS depressants will require a period for clearance from your system before starting Klonopin and Ativan safely.

How much do Klonopin and Ativan cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price for 60 tablets of Klonopin (0.5 mg) averages around $250, which works out to approximately $8-$16/day, depending on your dose.
  • The price for 30 tablets of Ativan (1 mg) is about $220, working out to approximately $14/day.

Thus, if you are in a higher dosage range for Klonopin (i.e., 2 mg/day or higher), then brand-name Ativan could be less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. However, cost should not be a primary consideration in determining which drug is right for you.

As it pertains to their generic versions:

  • Clonazepam (the generic version of Klonopin) comes in packs from 10 up to several hundreds with costs ranging from as low as $.07 per day at lower dosages and not exceeding about $2 per day at higher dosages.

  • Lorazepam (Ativan's generic equivalent), available also in various pack sizes, has an average cost starting from as low as$0.20/day and can go up to roughly $6/day based on daily dosage requirements.

Popularity of Klonopin and Ativan

Clonazepam, in its generic form as well as brand names such as Klonopin, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 15.7 million people in the US in 2020. Clonazepam accounted for just over 30% of benzodiazepine prescriptions in the US. It is a long-acting benzodiazepine and has been generally increasing in prevalence since 2013.

Lorazepam, including brand versions such as Ativan, was prescribed to approximately 14.6 million people in the USA during the same year. In terms of prescription volume within benzodiazepines class, lorazepam accounts for around 29%. The prevalence of lorazepam has remained roughly steady over the last decade with minor fluctuations yearly.


Both Klonopin (clonazepam) and Ativan (lorazepam) have long-standing records of usage in patients with anxiety, panic disorders, and seizure disorders. They are backed by numerous clinical studies showing their effectiveness over placebo treatments. Both belong to the benzodiazepine class of drugs and work primarily on the GABA neurotransmitter system to produce a calming effect. While both drugs can be used interchangeably in many cases, they do have differences that may influence a physician's choice between them.

Klonopin has a longer half-life than Ativan which means it stays active in your body for a longer period of time. This makes it more suitable for conditions requiring prolonged control such as chronic anxiety or seizure disorders. On the other hand, Ativan is faster-acting and gets cleared from your body quicker which makes it useful for acute episodes like panic attacks or induction of sleep.

Both medications are available in generic form representing significant cost savings especially if you pay out-of-pocket. It should be noted though that these medications require careful dose titration as effects may not be immediately noticeable and abrupt discontinuation can lead to withdrawal symptoms.

The side effect profile is similar between these two drugs; common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, memory problems among others. However due to its shorter duration of action, Ativan might cause less daytime sedation compared to Klonopin but this varies individually. While generally well-tolerated when used appropriately under medical supervision, misuse or overuse can lead to dependency issues due inherent addictive potential of benzodiazepines so close monitoring is essential during treatment course with either drug.