Clonidine for anxiety: Benefits, side effects & uses

Clonidine for Anxiety
Medically reviewed by Dr. Amna Khan


Clonidine is an alpha-2 adrenergic agonist. Its off-label use has expanded to include anxiety-related disorders despite its original approval for hypertension. Several anxiety disorders, such as panic attacks, social anxiety, and performance anxiety, have shown improvement with this medicine. Patients suffering from chronic insomnia may also be recommended to take this medication. It moderates the release of norepinephrine to calm the nervous system. This blog attempts to cover the use of Clonidine, dosage, administration, and all the information you may need if you are taking this medicine for anxiety.

Is Clonidine effective for anxiety?

Yes, Clonidine exhibits efficacy in treating anxiety and is often prescribed by physicians to not only reduce blood pressure and dilate blood vessels but also enhance blood circulation. This multifaceted action extends to alleviating stress by affecting specific stress-inducing brain areas. This makes clonidine a valuable medication for anxiety. Reviews and studies affirm its effectiveness in alleviating anxiety symptoms, managing depression, and addressing social anxiety.

While clonidine is typically prescribed for conditions like high blood pressure and ADHD, its therapeutic benefits extend to anxiety, particularly in cases marked by heightened nervous system activity, such as PTSD. 

Research indicates that clonidine’s impact on anxiety disorders is noteworthy, demonstrating comparability in both generalized anxiety and panic disorders. Importantly, it outperforms a placebo in patients who tolerate the medication well.

You can get a Clonidine refill for anxiety through one of our qualified professionals online

How does Clonidine help anxiety?

Alpha-2 adrenergic agonist Clonidine primarily stimulates alpha-2 adrenergic receptors in the brain. Doing so inhibits the release of norepinephrine, which is a stress-related neurotransmitter. This also reduces peripheral vascular resistance and heart rate, lowering blood pressure.

In simpler terms, Clonidine dampens the body’s “fight or flight” response. This modulation creates a calming effect, helping to alleviate anxiety symptoms. The usual dose for Clonidine for anxiety is 0.1 to 0.4 mg, taken one or two times daily as directed by the physician.

It is important to consult with a doctor before using Clonidine because it is a prescription drug. Several anxiety disorders can be effectively managed with clonidine, such as:

Clonidine for performance anxiety

When it comes to public speaking and other forms of performance anxiety, clonidine can be a lifesaver. Reducing the physiological symptoms of anxiety, like a racing heart and sweaty palms, promotes improved performance.

Clonidine for panic attacks

Clonidine can effectively regulate norepinephrine release during panic attacks. It can prevent or reduce the severity of panic attacks. This provides people with a valuable tool to manage and alleviate the distress associated with sudden and overwhelming anxiety.

Clonidine for social anxiety disorder

Anxiety disorders like Social Anxiety Disorder, marked by crippling dread of public speaking, can be alleviated with the help of clonidine. It can be effectively treated with Clonidine. Its calming effects help reduce the heightened anxiety often felt in social situations, allowing for more comfortable social interactions.

Clonidine for insomnia

Clonidine helps manage anxiety and improves sleep quality. Its sedative properties can help treat anxiety and insomnia. However, determining the appropriate dosage is important. You should collaborate closely with a healthcare professional to develop a personalized and effective treatment strategy.

How do I get a prescription for Clonidine for anxiety?

To obtain a prescription for Clonidine for anxiety, you have a couple of options:

  • Visit a local doctor: Schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional near you. Discuss your anxiety symptoms and concerns. If the doctor deems it appropriate, they may prescribe Clonidine or recommend an alternative treatment.
  • Book an online consultation: Look into websites that let you have virtual consultations with doctors and other medical experts. During the virtual visit, discuss your anxiety symptoms. If the online doctor finds Clonidine suitable, they may issue an electronic prescription.
You can get an online consultation from one of our qualified professionals.

How long does clonidine for anxiety take to work?

Clonidine for anxiety typically starts working within 30 to 60 minutes after taking a dose. However, the full therapeutic benefits may take 2 to 4 weeks to become evident. You should follow your doctor’s directions diligently for optimal results. Consistency is key; take Clonidine at the same time daily and adhere to the prescribed dosage.

Although Clonidine is safe and effective in treating anxiety, some people can develop side effects. Here is a potential list of side effects:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Drowsiness or sedation
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

When should I see a doctor?

You should consult a medical professional if you are suffering from anxiety or any other health issue. Here are some situations when seeking medical advice is necessary:

  • Anxiety symptoms persist over an extended period, causing distress or affecting your daily life.
  • If you are taking clonidine but there is no improvement, or you are facing side effects of clonidine.
  • If you are experiencing physical symptoms like dizziness, chest pain, or shortness of breath along with your anxiety.
  • If anxiety interferes with your work, relationships, or daily activities.
  • If your anxiety symptoms are severe, leading to panic attacks.
  • If you are considering medication like Clonidine for anxiety.
  • If you notice new or worsening anxiety symptoms.
What should not be taken with Clonidine for anxiety? 

Certain drugs, including beta-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and other blood pressure medications, may interact with Clonidine, potentially increasing the risk of side effects. You should disclose all medications or supplements to your doctor before starting clonidine for anxiety.

Is Clonidine safe for long-term use in managing anxiety?

Yes, although the long-term safety of Clonidine for anxiety has not been extensively studied, its off-label use for anxiety, under medical guidance, has been generally safe and effective for many years.

Are there specific considerations for older adults using clonidine for anxiety?

Yes, older adults may exhibit heightened sensitivity to Clonidine and require lower dosages. Additionally, they may be more vulnerable to adverse effects like lightheadedness, lethargy, and hypotension.

What is the recommended approach for discontinuing Clonidine in anxiety treatment?

Taking guidance from a healthcare professional is essential for a gradual tapering of Clonidine to prevent withdrawal symptoms like tremors, headaches, and increased agitation. Abrupt cessation may elevate the risk of rebound hypertension and other adverse effects.

Your Doctors Online uses high-quality and trustworthy sources to ensure content accuracy and reliability. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions and medical associations to provide up-to-date and evidence-based information to the users.

  • Hoehn-Saric, Rudolf, Altaf F. Merchant, and Mary L. Keyser. “Effects of clonidine on anxiety disorders.” Archives of General Psychiatry 38, no. 11 (1981): 1278-1282.
  • Ye, Lu, and Steven Lippmann. “Reduction of anxiety after treatment with transdermal clonidine.” The Bulletin of the American Society of Hospital Pharmacists 75, no. 11 (2018): 742-744.
  • Uhde, Thomas W., Murray B. Stein, Bernard J. Vittone, Larry J. Siever, Jean-Philippe Boulenger, Ehud Klein, and Thomas A. Mellman. “Behavioral and physiologic effects of short-term and long-term administration of clonidine in panic disorder.” Archives of general psychiatry 46, no. 2 (1989): 170-177

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