Home > Health Library > Benzodiazepines for Epilepsy
Clonazepam is the most commonly used benzodiazepine for
long-term treatment of
epilepsy. It is
available in tablet form.
Diazepam and lorazepam are given in a
vein (intravenous, or IV) for the treatment of prolonged
status epilepticus. Diazepam is also available in a
gel form that can be injected into the rectum by a caregiver during
clusters of seizures (acute repetitive seizures).
are used in infants and children but with careful dosage adjustments based on
weight and age.
Benzodiazepines are minor tranquilizers
(sedatives) that prevent or stop seizures by slowing down the central nervous
system. This makes abnormal electrical activity less likely.
Clonazepam may be used to
IV diazepam and lorazepam are often used to treat prolonged
seizures or status epilepticus. Diazepam may
be used during short periods of increased, repeated, or prolonged seizures
(acute repetitive seizures) in people who are taking other antiseizure drugs
for long-term treatment.
In general, benzodiazepines are not
usually the first choice for long-term treatment of epilepsy. Although
clonazepam or clorazepate may be quite helpful for a few people, most people do
not respond very well to them over the long term.
use of diazepam to treat seizures can be very effective. Treatment with rectal
diazepam within 15 minutes of the beginning of a prolonged
seizure or a series of seizures usually ends the seizure activity.
The most common side effects of
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a
warning on clonazepam (Klonopin) and the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts.
The FDA does not recommend that people stop using this medicine. Instead,
people who take clonazepam should be watched closely for
warning signs of suicide. People who take clonazepam
and who are worried about this side effect should talk to a doctor.
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is
not available in all systems.)
It may take time and careful,
controlled adjustments by you and your doctor to find the combination,
schedule, and dosing of medicine to best manage your epilepsy. The goal is to
prevent seizures while causing as few side effects as possible. After
you and your doctor figure out the medicine program that works best for you, make sure to follow your program exactly as prescribed.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
August 26, 2011
Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics & Steven C. Schachter, MD - Neurology
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