Anxiety has one of the highest prevalence numbers, affecting more than 40 million people in the USA alone. It is indeed the most common psychiatric disorder affecting a diverse demographic. Apart from psychotherapy, medication is the other recommended course for managing and treating anxiety.
Among the drugs commonly prescribed for anxiety is clonidine. This post explores how clonidine works for anxiety, the benefits and side effects of using clonidine for anxiety, as well as some clonidine for anxiety reviews. We will look at what experts and authorities such as the FDA have to say as well as what users who have used the medication have to say.
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About Clonidine: Label and Off-Label Uses
Clonidine is a prescription medication that was originally approved for use in the treatment of high blood pressure. Today, it is used to address anxiety and several other psychiatric disorders and entities, thanks to its calming effect. The extended-release version of clonidine is FDA-approved for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children aged 6 years and above. It can be used alone or in combination with other medications.
While not a legitimate indication, clonidine is used to manage general anxiety disorders. It is also prescribed for patients who get panic attacks. It treats tics in people with Tourette’s syndrome. Managing withdrawal symptoms is a common off-label use of clonidine. The drug induces a calming effect that helps to ease the withdrawal systems. Doctors commonly recommend clonidine for patients that are dealing with cigarette, alcohol, and opioid cessation.
Other uses include managing menopausal flushes and menstrual cramps in women. Clonidine is also used to manage chronic and acute pain for some patients such as cancer patients.
How Clonidine for Anxiety Works?
Clonidine works by affecting the activity of norepinephrine, which is a neurotransmitter. Norepinephrine affects, among other things, anxiety and related states such as attention. The medication affects certain parts of the brain, ensuring that they are calmer and feel less excited. This calming effect is especially important for someone with anxious thoughts.
Among some of the common side effects of clonidine include
- Dry mouth
- Diarrhea and constipation
- Stomach pain
- Cold symptoms including sneezing, coughing, sore throat as well as a stuffy or runny nose.
- Call a doctor if you experience severe side effects or if they persist.
Many of these common side effects usually go away after a few doses. Call a doctor if they persist or get worse. Less common, yet severe side effects, for which you should seek immediately seek medical attention present like an allergic reaction. These side effects include breaking into hives or rashes, swelling in the face and other body parts, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, and becoming hoarse. Immediately discontinue using the medication and go into the emergency room if you experience these side effects.
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Your doctor will tell you the right dosage of clonidine for the best results. The dosage usually ranges between 0.1 to 0.4 mg, taken one to two times a day. The most commonly prescribed strength is 0.1 mg taken twice daily, but as stated, your doctor will tell you exactly how much to take and how often to do so.
Always stick to your dosage as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use a smaller or larger amount than is prescribed, and don’t use it for any longer than prescribed. Your doctor may change your dosage severally to make sure you get the best fit for the best results.
You can take clonidine with or without food. Talk to your doctor about any other medications that you may be taking.
Never you should suddenly stop taking clonidine. If you need to stop using the medication, talk to your doctor about how to safely go about it.
How Long Does Clonidine for Anxiety Take to Work?
Patients report their anxiety easing up within as little as a week after they start taking clonidine for anxiety. For others, it takes a little longer.
Every patient is unique and responds to the medication differently. Easing sleeping difficulties is one of the earliest signs that the medication is working and this happens within a week of taking the medication. The 0.1 mg dosage is effective for dealing with sleep difficulties in adults.
Improvement of anxiety and anxiety-related symptoms may take a shorter time if clonidine is used in combination with other medications, as well as psychotherapy.
Clonidine vs Xanax for Anxiety
Is clonidine the same as Xanax? No. While both medications are used to treat anxiety, they belong to different classes. The former is a centrally acting alpha-blocker/antagonist while Xanax is a benzodiazepine. Again, Xanax poses the risk of addiction, unlike clonidine.
Benefits of Clonidine for Anxiety
Among the top advantages of using clonidine for anxiety include the following
- Clonidine has proven high efficacy. Some patients who have had no success with other medications reported that they saw great results with clonidine. Some of these patients have dealt with anxiety disorders for years and in that time have tried more than a few medications. For these patients, clonidine has been, to say, the least, a game-changer for their mental health.
- Clonidine, unlike some medications similar to it, is not addictive. There has been no evidence in support of the contrary and patients have used clonidine for anxiety for years without getting to the point of addiction.
- Clonidine has been proven to boost the effect of stimulants. This is especially helpful for patients who are on stimulants not just for anxiety but for other mental issues such as ADHD and depression.
- It is appetite-neutral. Some medications, mostly stimulants, have long been associated with suppressed appetite. This can be such a big problem for patients who are already dealing with being underweight. Similarly, it doesn’t increase the appetite and you can confidently take the medication without worrying about gaining any weight.
- The side effects associated with clonidine are fairly mild and not so bad that they would interfere with everyday life. Again, not everyone experiences these side effects. Similarly, and as already stated, these side effects usually go away after a few doses.
What Others are Saying?
Up to 65% of the users who reviewed clonidine for anxiety gave a positive review. Users reported that they felt “mellowed out” and calm within minutes of taking the medication. These users recommend talking to the doctor about reducing the dosage. Most of these users went ahead to cut the pill in half, quarter, and even an eighth, after feeling too drowsy when taking the full dosage. Many of the Reddit reviews also recommend splitting the pill. It, however, cannot be overstated, that only a qualified healthcare provider can determine which is the best dosage for you.
The not-so-positive reviews, have everything to do with the side effects and not the medication’s effectiveness in treating anxiety. Some users reported feeling too drowsy and fatigued after taking clonidine. For some, these side effects went away as they got used to the medication, while the same effects persisted for some, forcing them to the point of discontinuing using the medication.
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