Drugs Q & A

Does Catapres (Clonidine) Work for People With Anxiety?

What does it mean to have anxiety?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA) anxiety is “an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. Knowing the difference between normal feelings of anxiety and an anxiety disorder requiring medical attention can help a person identify and treat the condition.

The duration or severity of an anxious feeling can sometimes be out of proportion to the original trigger, or stressor. Physical symptoms, such as increased blood pressure and nausea, may also develop. These responses move beyond anxiety into an anxiety disorder.

The APA describes a person with anxiety disorder as “having recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns.” Once anxiety reaches the stage of a disorder, it can interfere with daily function.

While a number of different diagnoses constitute anxiety disorders, the symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) will often include the following:

•          restlessness, and a feeling of being “on-edge”

•          uncontrollable feelings of worry

•          increased irritability

•          concentration difficulties

•          sleep difficulties, such as problems in falling or staying asleep

While these symptoms might be normal to experience in daily life, people with GAD will experience them to persistent or extreme levels. GAD may present as vague, unsettling worry or more severe anxiety that disrupts day-to-day living.

What is Catapres?

Clonidine was patented in 1961 and came into medical use in 1966. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved clonidine hydrochloride, 0.1-mg, and 0.2-mg, extended-release tablets (Kapvay; Shionogi Inc) alone or with stimulants for the treatment of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in pediatric patients aged 6 to 17 years.

Clonidine is available as a generic medication. In 2019, it was the 64th most commonly prescribed medication in the United States, with more than 11 million prescriptions.

How Catapres (Clonidine) works

Clonidine is in a class of medications called centrally acting alpha-agonist hypotensive agents. Clonidine treats high blood pressure by decreasing your heart rate and relaxing the blood vessels so that blood can flow more easily through the body. Clonidine extended-release tablets may treat ADHD by affecting the part of the brain that controls attention and impulsivity.

How many hours does Catapres (Clonidine) last?

When you take clonidine orally, it is rapidly absorbed, with 100% bioavailability. Its peak concentration in the blood occurs 2 to 4 hours post-ingestion, and its half-life is between 5 and 13 hours. The half-life of a drug is the time it takes for the amount of a drug’s active substance in your body to reduce by half. This depends on how the body processes and gets rid of the drug. It can vary from a few hours to a few days, or sometimes weeks.

Does Catapres (Clonidine) Work for Anxiety?

Yes, a double-blind crossover study that analyzed the effect of Catapres (Clonidine) on anxiety disorders reported that people who took Catapres (Clonidine) experienced decreased levels of anxiety attacks and “psychic” symptoms.  

However, the study also reported that the conditions of 17% of the patients in the study became worse with the medication.

How long does it take for Catapres (Clonidine) to work for anxiety?

The blood pressure and anxiety-lowering effects of Catapres (Clonidine) begin to occur about 30-60 minutes after the first dose and have their maximum effect after about 2-4 hours.

How much Catapres (Clonidine) should I take for anxiety?

Catapres (Clonidine) is a prescription medicine, as a result, your doctor will help you find out your proper dosage. The recommended dose of Catapres (Clonidine) for anxiety is 0.1 mg taken twice a day.

Can Catapres (Clonidine) make anxiety worse?

Yes, in a study analyzing the anti-anxiety effects of Catapres (Clonidine) 17% of the patients in the study became worse after taking Catapres (Clonidine). The central nervous system can be adversely affected by the use of clonidine. Clonidine can bring about anxiety, hallucinations, depression, and sleep disorders. These effects can be severe and dangerous, and they should be treated by medical professionals in short order.

What Are Side Effects of Catapres (Clonidine)?

Common side effects of Catapres (Clonidine) include:

  • Cold symptoms such as runny or stuffy nose,
  • Constipation,
  • Cough, or
  • Diarrhea,
  • Difficulty having an orgasm, or
  • Dizziness,
  • Drowsiness,
  • Dry mouth,
  • Ear pain,
  • Feeling hot,
  • Fever,
  • Headache,
  • Impotence,
  • Increased thirst,
  • Irritability,
  • Lightheadedness,
  • Loss of interest in sex,
  • Mood changes,
  • Sleep problems (insomnia or nightmares),
  • Sneezing,
  • Sore throat.
  • Stomach pain,
  • Tiredness,

Many side effects of Catapre (Clonidine) may go away after several doses. Serious side effects of Catapres (Clonidine) include hypotension, bradycardia, congestive heart failure, weakness, and edema.

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