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I am currently taking Klonopin for panic attacks. I also have "social anxiety disorder," and my doc wants me to start Zoloft for both. While the benzo class of meds are effective for both panic and anxiety, he told me that "they are not the preferred course for long-term therapy." From what I have read, benzos (xanax, Klonopin, etc.) can become addictive if abused and a person can become dependant on them from long-term use. People can also become tolerant to their initial dosage, and thus have to start taking more and more to get the same theraputic effect. But that doesn't apply to everyone as Graciecat has pointed out.
I've haven't had any side effects from taking the Klonopin. At the onset it made me tired and I had some negative cognitive effects. But I was told to take 2.0 mgs/day. I have since gone down to 1.25mg/day and plan on reducing that to 1.0mg/day if I can get away with it (ie. without the panic attacks coming back).
Like yourself, I have a lot of reservations about starting an SSRI due to the many side effects. I have another month before I go back to my doc and am going to continue to research it.....ask people here who have been on them...and try to make an informed decision. The side effects from Zoloft, Paxil, Prosac, etc. don't sound like much fun but I've been suffering with this social anxiety crap for a very long time. I can't get up in front of people and make a speech either, and I'd like to get over that someday.

Whatever you of luck!

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