While both Klonopin and Xanax fall under the same drug category known as benzodiazepines which are primarily used as anxiety medications, it is beneficial to understand the differences between the two drugs before prescribing or using either of them. Both are often prescribed to help treat symptoms of panic, anxiety, and depression disorders. However, Klonopin has more varied uses. What each drug is used for, how they both work, their potential side effects, and the differences in duration and strength are all very important factors when comparing and contrasting these two drugs.
Xanax is prescribed by doctors for the treatment of panic disorders, anxiety disorders, and anxiety associated with depression. Klonopin is widely used for treating panic disorders, seizures, epilepsy, and even insomnia. Xanax works by slowing the chemicals in the brain that can become unbalanced in moments of panic or anxiety. Klonopin works similarly by targeting those same chemicals, but does so in a slower, subtler way. Klonopin originally became available in 1975 as an effective medication for epilepsy. Xanax was released in 1981, specifically for the treatment of panic disorder.
Comparing Side Effects
Because both drugs are in the same family of benzodiazepines, it is not surprising that both have similar side effects. Some side effects that may occur while taking either Klonopin or Xanax include: drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, muscle weakness, difficulty with coordination or balance, slurred speech, upset stomach, nausea, vomiting, sweatiness, dry mouth, headache, memory problems, trouble concentrating, sleep problems, increased urge to urinate, a decreased sex drive, or muscle/joint pain. Both drugs come with the potential for addiction. Dependency tends to occur when patients take drugs like Xanax or Klonopin for longer than four weeks at a time. The best way to avoid dependency or addiction is to take as low a dose as possible and for the shortest amount of time. If long-term usage of either drug is necessary, intermittent therapy and tapering is best.
The Primary Difference
The primary difference between Klonopin and Xanax is the way the body processes these drugs. A drug’s “half-life” refers to how long it takes for half of it to be eliminated from the bloodstream. Klonopin has a much longer half-life, resulting in a slower onset and longer duration. Depending on the patient’s symptoms, this can either be beneficial or detrimental. Because Xanax has a faster onset, it tends to be more ideal in addressing a panic attack immediately. However, Xanax’s effectiveness lasts for only 2-3 hours. Xanax is used more often on an as-needed basis, while Klonopin is most effective taken daily to treat long-standing anxiety.
Depending on the patient’s specific needs, one drug may be more appropriate than the other. Understanding the effectiveness of either drug, observing potential side effects and understanding how benzodiazepines affect the body is imperative. For more information about these and other anxiety drugs, visit our Anxiety Conditions Page. Additionally, you’ll find free discounts available for Xanax, Klonopin, their generics and other anxiety medications on our site.