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Can You Take Clonidine for Anxiety?

Can You Take Clonidine for Anxiety? | Just Believe Recovery PA

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If you or a loved one needs help with substance abuse and/or treatment, please contact Just Believe Recovery PA at (888) 380-0342. Our specialists can assess your needs and help you get the treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

Yes, clonidine is sometimes prescribed and can be taken for anxiety. Clonidine hydrochloride (Catapres) is a prescription medication in the adrenergic α2 agonist class originally designed to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). It can be administered in pill form, injection, or as a transdermal patch.

Effects of clonidine persist for around 8 hours for an average, healthy adult, but this time can be slowed by kidney dysfunction. Besides hypertension, it is used to treat a multitude of conditions, including the following:

  • ADHD
  • Certain anxiety disorders
  • Certain pain conditions
  • Diabetic neuropathy
  • Diarrhea
  • Menopausal flushing
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Benzodiazepine withdrawal
  • Nicotine withdrawal
  • Opioid withdrawal
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Spasticity
  • Tourette’s syndrome

What Are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health conditions in the world. Anxiety is frequently associated with another comorbid disorder, such as depression or addiction.

Anxiety affects everyone at one time or another. But for those with an anxiety disorder, their anxious feelings occur much more often, are more debilitating, and at times seem to happen for no obvious reason. Anxiety disorders tend to lower an individual’s life satisfaction and cause them to experience depression, irrational fears, intrusive thoughts, avoidance, and paranoia.

Some anxiety disorders as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-V) include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Phobias
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder

Taking Clonidine for Anxiety

Clonidine essentially works by altering the activity of a neurotransmitter in the brain called norepinephrine or noradrenaline. This neurotransmitter is responsible for adjusting blood pressure and is associated with certain mood states, namely anxiety. Clonidine inhibits the secretion of norepinephrine, leading to lowered blood pressure and feelings of calm and relaxation.

The calm brought on by clonidine is what allows it to treat conditions caused by overexcitation of the central nervous system, including anxiety disorders. Individuals who begin taking clonidine for anxiety report a reduction in symptoms after around 7-10 days, though this length of time varies from person to person.

Clonidine also offers other ancillary benefits as part of a plan to manage anxiety. Although clonidine can be a substance of abuse, it is much less habit-forming than many other medications for anxiety, such as benzodiazepines, though psychological dependence can still occur.

Clonidine also doesn’t appear to affect appetite, thus won’t likely lead to weight loss or gain. Moreover, stimulant effects, such as those produced by Ritalin or Adderall, are amplified by clonidine, making them more effective for treating certain conditions.

Clonidine Side Effects

Can You Take Clonidine for Anxiety? | Just Believe Recovery PA

As with any medication, clonidine can cause side effects, especially when taken in combination with other substances. Possible side effects of clonidine may include the following:

  • Changes in skin color
  • Constipation
  • Decreased libido
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Erectile dysfunction
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Itching
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nervousness
  • Weakness

Although clonidine is associated with a number of side effects, most of them are very mild and tolerable and go away after a time. Still, some side effects can be severe if left unaddressed.

Treating Anxiety and Substance Abuse

Although clonidine can help, anxiety treatment almost always requires more than just medications. The best outcomes happen for individuals who are prescribed a medication to alleviate symptoms and undergo therapy with a psychiatrist.

Psychotherapeutic modalities help individuals learn the root cause of their anxiety and work through factors that contribute to it. Likewise, these therapies can teach individuals how to more healthily cope with anxiety triggers and avoid self-medication through substance abuse.

Dual diagnosis treatment simultaneously treats underlying mental health conditions and substance use disorders that contribute to one another. If your doctor feels it is a good idea, he or she may prescribe clonidine to aid in your recovery.

Non-medication therapies for anxiety disorders and substance abuse include the following:

  • Acceptance-commitment therapy
  • Art therapy
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Dialectical behavioral therapy
  • Exposure therapy
  • Traditional psychotherapy

Clonidine Overdose

Clonidine overdose can occur if more clonidine is taken than prescribed or if taken in combination with other medications or illicit drugs, such as opioids.

Symptoms of clonidine overdose may include:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Fainting
  • Pale and cold skin
  • Pinpoint pupils
  • Shivering
  • Slow heart rate
  • Slurred speech
  • Weakness

If you suspect your loved one of having taken too much clonidine or another substance, call 911 immediately and follow their instructions.

Get Help Today

Anxiety and substance abuse are potentially devastating, sometimes lifelong conditions that can tear a person’s life apart. If you are suffering from anxiety, a substance use disorder, or both, we urge you to seek professional treatment as soon as possible.

Just Believe Recovery offers individually customized programs in residential and partial hospitalization formats that feature beneficial services, such as:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Medical detox
  • Individual counseling
  • Family counseling
  • 12-step group support
  • Substance abuse education
  • Health and wellness education
  • Dual diagnosis treatment
  • Art and music therapy
  • Relapse prevention
  • Aftercare planning
  • Alumni events

We Believe Recovery Is Possible For Everyone.
If you or a loved one needs help with substance abuse and/or treatment, please contact Just Believe Recovery PA at (888) 380-0342. Our specialists can assess your needs and help you get the treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

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