FRENY MENEZES
By Freny Menezes

Pharm. D

18 October 2022
Medically reviewed by
Kajal Jain
M. Pharm
zopiclone-for-anxiety
Table of Contents

Have you ever had trouble sleeping? Maybe you were under a lot of stress or had difficulty sleeping and don't know the exact reason for such a condition. Perhaps you sought an agent that would help you get some much-needed rest, such as Zopiclone. Though the medicine is not available in the pharmaceuticals in the United States, Zopiclone is a new sleep agent adopted in other countries. On average, 30% to 50% of adults suffer from sleep disorders. 

Excess fear & stress makes it difficult for an individual to fall and stay asleep all night. So, we can say that anxiety and sleeplessness are connected. Millions of people from the USA suffer from anxiety situations. At the same time, most people go through the treatment as well. 

If Zopiclone is effective in treating insomnia, is this drug also effective in anxiety? This blog is regarding the detailed study of Zopiclone-  what it is, what side effects are associated with it, its interaction, dosage, and withdrawal symptoms—to prevent or treat abuse.

Zopiclone is a non-benzodiazepine sedative/hypnotic drug. Its long-term use is not recommended, as dependence, tolerance, and addiction may occur. It helps you fall asleep quickly and prevents waking up in the middle of the night or early morning awakenings. It can improve sleep onset by 15 minutes and induces a euphoric dream-like state. This drug should not take more than a week or ten consecutive days. 

This medicine is available under multiple brand names and in several different forms. Any specific brand name of Zopiclone might not be available in all forms or approved for all the conditions. Brand names include Zileze, Zimoclone, Zimovane, Zopitan, Zorclone, and more. 

Zopiclone is a sedative-hypnotic that has been promoted as a sleep aid in other countries but has not been FDA-approved.

Mechanism of Action

Zopiclone is a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic drug that functions similarly to benzodiazepines, despite differences in their chemical structures. It potentiates the inhibitory action of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmitter in the central nervous system via modulating GABAA receptors similarly to the way benzodiazepine drugs do. This brings about feelings of relaxation to reduce anxiety and induce sleep.

Being a non-benzodiazepine medicine, Zopiclone is also considered safer and more productive than regular benzodiazepine medications. The drug should be taken only by adults 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 best suited for you.

Is Zopiclone Beneficial For Anxiety?

Anxiety is the feeling of intense, excess, and persistent fear about everyday situations. You can feel the symptoms when a person experiences rapid breathing, sweating, tiredness, or increased heart rate. This may even lead to panic attacks in certain situations. 

This medication is usually recommended for the short-term relief of insomnia associated with falling and staying asleep and produces a sense of calmness and relaxation. 

Zopiclone has not been established in treating or relieving anxiety disorder. However, a randomized crossover study was conducted by analyzing Zopiclone and nitrazepam tablets. The latter medicine is a benzodiazepine drug. The evaluation was carried out by employing a psychometric rating system. This study concluded that zopiclone function was similar to nitrazepam in treating insomnia but outperformed in relieving anxiety.

Zopiclone acts on the GABA neurotransmitter and potentiates its inhibitory action in the brain. This produces calmness and relaxation and helps in effectively reducing anxiety and inducing sleep.
Do not discontinue taking Zopiclone abruptly without consulting your doctor, as this may cause withdrawal symptoms. However, if you take it for less than a month, you are unlikely to have withdrawal symptoms.
The withdrawal symptoms may range from mild to severe and may be physical or psychological, depending on your drug use pattern. While it is different for everyone, withdrawal may begin about 12 hours after the last intake.

How Much Should You Take?

Adequate dosage, strength, and frequency of medication are equally crucial to the drug's effect. Carefully read and follow the instructions on the label of your medicine. Check with your general practitioner or pharmacist if you are unsure. 

The treatment with Zopiclone should be as short as possible because of the increased risk of dependence during the treatment. Always take the medication in the manner exactly prescribed by your doctor. Zopiclone can be taken with or without food. It should be administered as a whole without crushing or chewing. 

Zopiclone tablets are available in 2 strengths; 3.75mg and 7.5mg. Zopiclone is sold in the market as a tablet but is also available in liquid form for those who struggle to swallow the pills. Taking this lower dose reduces the risk of falls and other side effects. Your doctor might recommend only two to three nights every week.

The usual recommended dose is 7.5mg tablet at bedtime
Lower dose 3.75mg is recommended for older adults (> 65 years).

How Long Does Zopiclone Take To Kick In?

Zopiclone is usually prescribed for a short-term period of 2 to 4 weeks, usually preferred because of the risk of developing tolerance and dependence on this drug. Your body quickly gets used to this medicine, which is unlikely to have the same effect. Zopiclone usually takes an hour to show its effect. Check with your doctor if this medicine does not work or if any side effects are observed.

Side Effects Of Zopiclone

Along with the beneficial effects, the medicine may cause some undesirable effects, especially for older people. Some side effects may occur that might not require any medical attention. Also, not all of these side effects may occur, but if they do, they may need medical attention.

Your healthcare professional may guide you about preventing or reducing some of these side effects. Check with your concerned doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur.

Common side effects Severe side effects
Feeling sleepy or tired the next day, Joint pain, muscle aches,
Bitter or metallic taste, illusions,
Dry mouth, Loss of appetite,
Painful urination, Confusion,
Cough, chill, fever, Difficulty concentrating,
Nausea, vomiting Irritability

This might not be the complete list of side effects. Other side effects that are not listed may also be observed in some patients. Check with your healthcare professional if you notice any other adverse effects.

Risk Factors of Zopiclone

Zopiclone, like many prescription drugs, is prescribed to help a person reduce undesired symptoms; however, it can also foster substance Abuse and addiction. This can be a much larger problem in a person's life, as these things can severely affect a person's emotional, physical, and mental health.

The person might suffer from depression, abnormal thoughts, suicidality, schizophrenia, and psychosis with this medication. Psychiatric and paradoxical adverse effects such as aggression, restlessness, and irritability are more likely to be seen in the elderly.

The risk of dependence is the reason for prescribing Zopiclone for a shorter duration. When a person finally feels relief with a prescription after a long period of symptoms, they may fall victim to abuse to continue seeking relief. Therefore, if the Abuse of Zopiclone is suspected, it may be best to seek treatment.

Before Taking Zopiclone

Before taking Zopiclone following things should be remembered:

  • Please should not drink alcohol while taking this medication, as it can cause excessive drowsiness.
  • Inform your doctor if you take other medications, such as supplements, OTC drugs, or herbal remedies.
  • Speak to your doctor if you have or have ever suffered from lactose intolerance, drug allergies, depression, or medical condition (such as Myasthenia gravis, renal or hepatic disease, or sleep apnea)
  • Zopiclone is not recommended during pregnancy. Speak to your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant while taking Zopiclone, as it may cause drowsiness or withdrawal symptoms. You should talk to a pharmacist or general practitioner if you are trying to get pregnant. They may want to review your treatment.
  • This medicine should be avoided during breastfeeding as it may pass into breast milk and cause side effects in newborns.
  • Consumption of alcohol while taking Zopiclone or other sleeping medication is not encouraged. 

Also, there is no evidence to state that taking Zopiclone affects fertility in either men or women. For further queries, seek a recommendation from the medical specialist.

Zopiclone Interactions

Drug interaction is the reaction between two (or more) drugs or between a medicine and a food. Taking medication while having certain medical conditions can also cause drug interaction. 
Tell your healthcare provider about all your medicines, including prescription and OTC drugs, vitamins, or herbal remedies. Combining these two can put you into a deep sleep, and waking up may not be easy. 

Zopiclone may enhance the effect of the following medicines:

  • Antipsychotics drugs
  • Antidepressant drugs
  • Antiepileptic drugs (such as carbamazepine, phenobarbital, or phenytoin)
  • Anesthetics
  • Hypnotic drugs
  • Sedative antihistamines (such as chlorpheniramine or promethazine)
  • Narcotic analgesics (such as codeine, morphine, tramadol, methadone, pethidine, and oxycodone)
  • Antibiotics (such as Rifampicin, erythromycin, and clarithromycin)
  • St John's Wort (a herbal medicine)
  • Antifungal drugs (such as ketoconazole and itraconazole)
  • Protease Inhibitor for HIV infections (such as Ritonavir)

Concomitant use of opioids and Zopiclone may increase the risk of drowsiness, difficulty breathing, coma, and even death. Zopiclone can also change the level of liver enzymes in blood tests. If you have a blood test, you must tell your doctor that you are on this drug.

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions

Zopiclone is a non-benzodiazepine drug, classified as schedule IV of the controlled substance act. It is highly productive in treating insomnia. It helps in falling and staying asleep. However, several studies concluded that Zopiclone outperformed in relieving anxiety and is considered safer and more productive than regular benzodiazepine medications.

This medicine shall be used for the short term because of the risk of abuse and addiction. Zopiclone drug may also cause other side effects, but it shows its more significant impact if prescribed.

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