Can You Take Klonopin While Pregnant?

Klonopin Is Best Avoided When You Are Pregnant

We all experience anxiety at certain stressful times in our lives, but for a woman with an anxiety disorder, there is no real calm after the storm. General anxiety, social anxiety and panic attacks can be so intense as to interfere with schoolwork, relationships and the day-to-day activities of a healthy life. One way to help ease the symptoms of an anxiety disorder is to use benzodiazepines such as Klonopin. While this class of drugs has been proven effective in treating anxiety disorders, they have not been proven safe for use during pregnancy.

Anxiety Disorders

Pregnant woman holding pills and glass of water

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The three main types of anxiety disorders are general anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder and panic disorder. General anxiety is like the worry that we feel about things we have no control over, but magnified to the degree that the anxious feelings are unbearable. If you have a social anxiety disorder, your interactions with other people can be so severe they paralyze you socially and therefore isolate you. Panic disorder is when you experience physical symptoms caused by a flood of adrenaline triggered by your fight-or-flight response, even when no clear danger is present.

Pharmaceutical Treatment

Doctors treat anxiety disorders with antidepressants, beta-blockers and anti-anxiety medications. Anti-depressants are generally prescribed first for social anxiety and panic disorder. Beta-blockers help ease the physical symptoms of anxiety such as blushing, racing heart and noticeable trembling. Medications such as Ativan, Klonopin, Xanax and Valium, the benzodiazepines, depress your central nervous system and are used mostly for general anxiety disorder.

Klonopin Risks

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Initial studies seemed to indicate that taking benzodiazepines during pregnancy led to an increased risk of cleft lip and palate, but further evidence suggests that this risk is no greater than it is in the general population. There is, however some troubling evidence that babies born to mothers who took benzodiazepines such as Klonopin throughout their pregnancy were born with so-called “floppy baby syndrome.” This presents as decreased muscle tone, apparent sedation and breathing problems. A small percentage of babies have also shown signs of withdrawal, including extreme irritability, inability to sleep and, in very rare cases, seizures.

Alternative Treatments

Antidepressants have proven effective in treating anxiety disorders, and Prozac is considered safe for women to take while they are pregnant, as are tricyclic antidepressants and the serotonin reuptake inhibitor Celexa. Other suggested treatments to help ease the symptoms of anxiety disorders during pregnancy include cognitive behavioral therapy, regular attendance at a support group, taking a course in stress management techniques, exercise and massage.

Tips

Most ill effects associated with Klonopin seem to be caused when it is taken at high doses during the first trimester. If you took Klonopin before knowing you were pregnant, speak to your doctor. Monitoring your baby's growth and development is the best way to keep your pregnancy as stress-free as possible.

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