Klonopin (Clonazepam) Side Effects

Klonopin (clonazepam) is a medication that falls into the drug category of benzodiazepines, which slow down the central nervous system and decrease abnormal electrical activity in the brain.

Klonopin has been used to treat people with epilepsy since 1975 and helps treat partial seizures, generalized tonic-clonic seizures, absence seizures, myoclonic seizures, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, and seizures brought on by flashing lights. It may also be used to treat some anxiety disorders, particularly panic disorder.

Klonopin may be used on its own or in conjunction with other medications, such as Depakote (valproate).

Klonopin can have physical side effects, such as dizziness and drowsiness. It can also have emotional side effects, such as irritability and depression.

Read on to learn more about the side effects of Klonopin and how to manage them.

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The Emotional Side Effects of Klonopin

Most people who take Klonopin experience no side effects or mild side effects that get better, but moderate-to-severe side effects can occur.

Common emotional and cognitive side effects of Klonopin include:

  • Irritability
  • Impaired attention and memory
  • Depression (usually in adults)
  • Problems with memory

Psychiatric side effects are possible, including:

  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia
  • Psychosis (more likely to occur in people with a history of psychiatric disturbances)

Paradoxical reactions (ones that are the opposite of expected) that have been noted include:

Paradoxical reactions are more like to occur in children and in senior adults.

Changes in mental health may occur with taking Klonopin, but there is also a risk of mental health changes by not treating the condition. Work with your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for you.

Klonopin and Suicide

Antiepileptic medications such as Klonopin may cause suicidal thoughts or actions in about one in 500 people.

Don't stop or change your medication plan without first talking to a healthcare professional because this can cause serious effects, including worsening of mood.

Changes in mood, behavior, or actions can happen very quickly. Pay close attention to any day-to-day changes and be mindful of sudden differences. Call your healthcare provider if you experience symptoms such as:

  • Thoughts about suicide or dying
  • Acting on dangerous impulses 
  • New or worsening anxiety and/or depression
  • Suicidal behavior or attempts
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Mania (an extreme increase in activity and talking; frenzied, abnormally excited mood)        
  • Feeling agitated or restless                     
  • New or worsening irritability  
  • Panic attacks
  • Acting aggressive or violent
  • Being angry
  • Other unusual changes in behavior or mood

Be aware (and make those close to you aware) of common warning signs of risk of suicide, including:

  • Talking or thinking about wanting to hurt yourself or end your life
  • Becoming depressed or having existing depression that's getting worse
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Becoming preoccupied with death and dying
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Other changes in mood or behavior

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one is in immediate danger, call 911. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

The Physical Side Effects of Klonopin

Side effects of Klonopin are usually dosage related. Common physical side effects may include:

  • Drowsiness/tiredness (most common)
  • Dizziness
  • Unsteadiness/problems with walking and coordination
  • Hyperactivity (in children)
  • Drooling (in children)
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite

According to research, about 50% of people who take Klonopin for seizures experience drowsiness, and about 30% experience problems with coordination. These may get better over time.

Klonopin may also cause:

  • Increased saliva
  • Frequent urination
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Changes in sex drive or ability

If side effects persist or are bothersome, talk to your healthcare provider.

When To Seek Medical Attention

Contact a healthcare provider (or seek emergency medical treatment if warranted) if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Unusual movements
  • Muscle twitching
  • Shaking
  • Burning or prickling feeling in arms, legs, or feet
  • Seizures
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep problems
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Changes in mental health
  • Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that others do not)
  • Mania/overexcitement
  • Losing touch with reality
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or ending your life
  • Side effects that do not improve

Seek immediate medical attention if you notice:

  • Sores in the mouth or throat (could indicate a blood problem)
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • Hallucinations, severe confusion, or changes in vision

Get emergency medical treatment if you notice signs of an allergic reaction, including:

  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Hoarseness

If your child is taking Klonopin, see a healthcare provider immediately if they have any of the following side effects:

  • Worsening or new types of seizures
  • Trouble breathing
  • Severe weakness
  • Changes in heartbeat
  • Severe drowsiness

Dealing With the Side Effects of Klonopin

The side effects of Klonopin are largely managed by changing dosage and/or dosing schedules.

Klonopin is usually started with a lower dose that is gradually increased as needed and as your body adjusts to the medication.

Drowsiness is the most common side effect of Klonopin. To manage this side effect (and potentially others), your healthcare provider may suggest:

  • Taking your medication at bedtime
  • Splitting the dose, with a larger amount at bedtime
  • Looking at other medications you are taking (some medications, such as narcotics, can increase the risk of sedative effects with Klonopin)
  • Reducing your overall dosage
  • Prescribing smaller doses, taken more often

Never stop Klonopin or make changes to your treatment plan without the guidance of your healthcare provider. Missing or changing doses can cause withdrawal symptoms that can be serious, and may trigger seizures. Make sure you always have enough Klonopin to last through weekends, holidays, and vacations so doses aren't missed.

Precautions that should be taken while taking Klonopin include:

  • Do not drink alcohol.
  • Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice (it interferes with the absorption and may cause high blood levels of the medication, which can be dangerous).
  • Don't take any medications (including over-the-counter, herbal, natural, and supplements) or recreational drugs without first checking with your healthcare provider.
  • Go to all your appointments to make sure your side effects and symptoms are monitored and managed.
  • Avoid activities that may be dangerous if done while drowsy until you see how Klonopin affects you
  • If your child is on Klonopin, let their school know they may be drowsy and need to be watched during times they need to be alert (such as walking up or down stairs)

How to Get Help for Klonopin Misuse or Dependency

Benzodiazepines, including Klonopin, have the potential for misuse and/or dependency.

Using benzodiazepines for as little as three to six weeks is associated with the development of physical dependence, with about 15–44% experiencing withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and depression when stopping the medication. About 40% of those who take benzodiazepines for longer than six months experience moderate to severe withdrawal symptoms, with the other 60% experiencing relatively mild withdrawal symptoms.

These withdrawal symptoms may last for several weeks to more than a year. Don't stop taking Klonopin without discussing with your healthcare provider how to taper off gradually.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance use or addiction, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.


Klonopin is a type of benzodiazepine primarily used to treat seizures and sometimes anxiety disorders such as panic disorder.

Klonopin can have emotional and cognitive side effects, such as mental health changes, and physical side effects, such as drowsiness and problems with coordination.

Most people who take Klonopin experience few or no side effects, but some side effects can be serious. It's important to keep track of side effects and talk to your healthcare provider if any persist or are troublesome.

Stopping Klonopin or changing dosage without the guidance of a healthcare provider can cause withdrawal symptoms that can be serious.

A Word From Verywell 

If you are taking Klonopin and experiencing unpleasant side effects, talk to your healthcare provider. There are ways to address your side effects and make taking your medication more tolerable.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does Klonopin change your personality?

    For some people, Klonopin can cause mood and/or behavior changes. This isn't true for everyone, and these side effects can often be managed if they occur.

  • Can Klonopin worsen depression?

    Klonopin may affect mental health, including causing or worsening depression symptoms. If this occurs, talk to your healthcare provider.

  • Who should not take Klonopin?

    People who are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding should not take Klonopin without talking to their healthcare provider.

    Klonopin is contraindicated in people who have:

    • A history of sensitivity to benzodiazepines
    • Clinical or biochemical evidence of significant liver disease
    • Acute narrow-angle glaucoma

    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued Boxed Warnings (the strongest warnings) to the drug labeling of prescription opioid pain and prescription opioid cough medicines and benzodiazepines, including Klonopin. When used together, these medications can increase the risk of serious or life-threatening breathing problems, sedation, or coma.

    Don't take opioids and benzodiazepines (or other drugs that depress the central nervous system) together without first consulting your healthcare provider.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. DailyMed. Clonazepam tablets, USP CIV.

  3. Epilepsy Foundation. Clonazepam.

  4. University of Michigan. Klonopin (Clonazepam).

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  6. Harvard Health. Grapefruit and medication: A cautionary note.

  7. Hood SD, Norman A, Hince DA, Melichar JK, Hulse GK. Benzodiazepine dependence and its treatment with low dose flumazenil: Benzodiazepine dependence and its treatment. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2014;77(2):285-294. doi:10.1111/bcp.12023

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By Heather Jones
Heather M. Jones is a freelance writer with a strong focus on health, parenting, disability, and feminism.