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Can you take Zopiclone for anxiety?

13th May 2019

Zopiclone is a nonbenzodiazepine drug that is used to treat insomnia. It is usually prescribed for the short-term relief of difficulties in falling asleep, waking up at night and early awakening, occasional or chronic insomnia, and insomnia associated with psychiatric disturbances, or where the insomnia is causing severe anxiety and distress to the patient. Some people wonder whether Zopiclone can be taken for treatment of anxiety, which we will address in this article.

Doctors do not recommend the long-term continuous use of zopiclone. A normal course of treatment requires the lowest effective dose of this medicine.

Zopiclone for anxiety

The effects of zopiclone, a new non-benzodiazepine drug on sleep induction and on relieving anxiety levels are not quite clearly established. However, a random double-blind cross-over study was conducted between zopiclone and nitrazepam, a benzodiazepine drug on several patients for evaluation using psychometric ratings. The study confirmed that zopiclone acts similar to nitrazepam in sleep induction but fared better in other areas including anxiety relief.

What is Zopiclone?

Zopiclone is a hypnotic agent that is nonbenzodiazepine, the common drug used to treat insomnia. The drug allows you to fall asleep quickly and helps in preventing waking up in the middle of the night or waking up early.

A lot of people, especially the elderly population, have sleeping problems. To remedy the problem, they usually take sedative-hypnotics or tranquillizers, which affect the brain and the spinal cord.  This type of drug is commonly prescribed by doctors for sleep problems and other conditions such as alcohol withdrawal and anxiety.

Advertisements for sleeping pills claim that people will get a full and restful night’s sleep. However, studies conducted on people who are taking hypnotic benzodiazepine showed that people taking it sleep only a little better and longer than people who don’t take the drug.

In addition to the very little effect, sedative-hypnotic have a lot of risks for older adults as they are more sensitive to the drug’s effects than younger adults. The accumulation of the drug in the system can cause memory problems and confusions, as well changes in the sense of balance resulting in more falls and hip fractures, the common causes of hospitalization and death in older people. The use of the drug also increased the incidence of vehicular accidents.

Zopiclone and Zolpidem are nonbenzodiazepine hypnotic agents that although have fewer side effects than benzodiazepine drugs still pose some risks to the users, especially the elderly. Zopiclone is sold in the market as a tablet but it is also available in liquid form for those who find it difficult to swallow tablets.

The drug is to be taken by mouth before bedtime or as directed by your doctor. Zopiclone is usually taken for not more than 4 weeks. It cannot be taken long-term because the body easily gets used to the medicine, which means that it will be losing its effectiveness after a period of taking it. Zopiclone is likely to be less effective after the fourth week. Taking the drug beyond the fourth week poses a high risk of dependence.

Consumption of alcohol while taking zopiclone or any other sleeping medication is not encouraged. The combination of the two drugs can put you into a deep sleep and it may be difficult to wake up. The drug should be taken only by adults who are 18 years and older. Zopiclone is not for everyone. You have to consult first with your doctor for him to decide if the drug is the right medication for you.

The usual recommended dose of Zopiclone is to take the 7.5 mg tablet once a day before bedtime. A lower dose, 3.75 mg, is available for the use of the elderly.

How to take Zopiclone

Zopiclone must be taken just before bedtime. It should not be taken when you wake up in the middle of your sleep at night. The zopiclone tablet must be swallowed whole with a glass of water. Do not crush or chew the tablet.

Zopiclone may be taken with or without a meal. Zopiclone should not be taken daily. It should be taken only when there is a great need for it.

Warnings about the use of Zopiclone

Zopiclone should not be used by people with respiratory failure, severe liver problems, severe sleep apnea syndrome, and those who are hypersensitive to the drug. As with other hypnotic drugs, zopiclone should not be used in children.

The dosage for people with liver and kidney problems should be reduced.

Clinical studies have suggested that zopiclone has a minimal risk of dependence when the duration of the treatment does not go beyond four weeks.  The risk of dependence or abuse increases with the dosage and duration of use or using the drug in combination with alcohol.

If physical dependence to zopiclone has developed, abrupt stopping of its use will be accompanied by withdrawal symptoms that include headaches, extreme anxiety, muscle pain, confusion, restlessness, and irritability.

Stopping the use of zopiclone within the four-week treatment period will not have withdrawal effects.