What is Trazodone Used For and How Does It Work?


If you are one of the millions of people who suffer from depression, you may have been prescribed trazodone. This medication is commonly used to treat major depressive disorder and other mental health conditions.

Trazodone can be very effective in relieving symptoms. However, many people do not understand how trazodone works or why doctors prescribe it. Read on to learn everything you need to know about this medication.

What is Trazodone? 

Chances are, if your doctor suggests you start taking trazodone, you have a lot of questions. What is it? What is it used for? Can it be addictive?

Trazodone hydrochloride is a medication used to treat major depressive disorder and other mental health conditions. It works by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain.

Trazodone is an antidepressant that belongs to a class of drugs called serotonin modulators. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and these types of drugs work by affecting the amount of serotonin available in the brain. By increasing serotonin levels, trazodone can help improve mood and relieve symptoms of depression.

Trazodone hydrochloride is a generic drug. It’s also sold under the brand names Desyrel and Oleptro. Generic drugs usually cost less than brand-name versions. In some cases, the generic may not be available in the same strengths or forms as brand-name drugs.

Trazodone is also available as an extended-release oral tablet. This form of trazodone is not for use on an as-needed basis.

What is Trazodone Used For?

Trazodone is most commonly used to treat major depressive disorder, but it is also used to treat anxiety disorders and insomnia. It’s often used off-label for other conditions.

Depression

Depression is a serious mental illness that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. Depression can make it difficult to function in everyday life. If you have depression, trazodone may help improve your mood and give you back some of your energy and interest in life.

Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental illnesses that cause intense fear, worry, and stress. These feelings can interfere with daily activities such as work, school, and relationships. Trazodone may help reduce anxiety and make it easier to manage your day-to-day life.

Insomnia

Insomnia is a sleep disorder that makes it difficult to fall or stay asleep. Many people with insomnia ask their doctor for a prescription for sleeping pills. Trazodone is a common treatment for insomnia.

Off-Label Uses for Trazodone

While trazodone is most commonly used to treat depression, anxiety, and insomnia, it’s also used for other conditions. Trazodone is sometimes used off-label to treat ADHD and chronic pain.

ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, is a mental disorder that makes it difficult to concentrate, stay on task, and control impulsive behaviour. If you have ADHD, trazodone may help improve these symptoms.

Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is long-term pain caused by many different conditions, such as arthritis, injuries, and chronic illness. Trazodone may help relieve pain and improve sleep in people with chronic pain.

Can Trazodone Be Addictive?

Trazodone is not considered to be addictive. However, like all medications, there is a potential for abuse. If you’re concerned about addiction or abuse, talk to your doctor.

How Long Does It Take for Trazodone to Work?

Trazodone typically starts working within 2-3 weeks. However, some people may experience relief from their symptoms sooner than that.

If you don’t notice any improvement after a few weeks, talk to your doctor. They may adjust your dose or try a different medication.

Is Trazodone a Controlled Substance?

No, trazodone is not a controlled substance. However, it is a prescription medication. This means a doctor will need to prescribe it to you. This also means it’s illegal to sell or give trazodone to someone without a prescription.

What Are Normal Doses of Trazodone?

Trazodone comes as a regular tablet and an extended-release (ER) tablet and is taken by mouth. The regular tablet can be taken either with or without food, depending on your needs. It is generally prescribed to take once or twice daily. Your doctor will usually direct you to take the ER tablet once daily at bedtime. You should take the ER tablet with food.

Try to take trazodone at the same time(s) every day so that you don’t forget. Ask your doctor or another healthcare provider to explain anything you don’t understand from the directions on your prescription label. Pay close attention to these instructions.

Make sure to take trazodone exactly as directed to avoid any negative side effects. Only take this medicine as prescribed by your doctor. 

If you suddenly stop taking this medicine after weeks or even months of use, you may experience withdrawal symptoms like agitation, anxiety, confusion, and dizziness. To minimise withdrawal symptoms when discontinuing trazodone, your doctor will lower your dosage gradually.

Dosage for Depression

The starting dose for treating depression with trazodone is 150 mg per day as divided doses. After one week at this dose, your doctor will likely increase it by 50 mg increments until you reach a dose of 300 mg per day, given in divided doses. The maximum recommended dose is 400 mg per day, given in divided doses. 

Dosage for Anxiety

The usual dose to treat anxiety with trazodone is 75 mg daily. Your doctor may advise you to take it in smaller doses throughout the day. Your doctor will likely increase your dosage up to 300 mg per day, given in divided doses. You should not exceed 300 mg per day.

Dosage for Insomnia

If you have been advised to take trazodone as a sleeping pill, your doctor may prescribe between 25 mg and 100 mg at bedtime. After you take trazodone, don’t attempt to drive or handle heavy machinery. You should also avoid alcohol.

If you have a prescription for trazodone or are considering taking this medication, it is important to know what normal doses are so that you can take it safely and effectively manage any potential side effects. As always, be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions regarding dosage and how often you should take the medication.

What if I Miss a Dose?

If you miss a dose or suddenly stop taking trazodone, you may experience agitation anxiety and other symptoms. Be sure to take your next dose at your next scheduled dosage. You should always contact your doctor if you continue to experience these symptoms or if you want to stop taking your medication.

Can I Take Trazodone While Pregnant?

If you are prescribed trazodone, and you are pregnant, your doctor has decided that the benefit of taking this medication outweighs the risk. If you are pregnant, talk to your doctor about the potential risks and benefits of taking trazodone.

What Does Trazodone Do to a Person?

Trazadone works on the nervous system by interacting with neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers, found in the brain. This medication blocks receptors for serotonin. These receptors communicate between nerve cells and thus help to reduce anxiety. Trazadone also makes it easier to fall asleep. The drug takes effect within two hours after taking it.

The effects of trazodone on the brain are largely dependent on the dose. Higher doses of trazodone may have more negative side effects, so it is important to communicate with your healthcare provider in order to find a dosage that is right for you. This medicine boosts the levels of serotonin in the brain, thereby alleviating symptoms of the disorder.

How to Take Trazodone

Take trazodone by mouth. Also, you should take the medication with a light meal, at about the same time every day.

If you start to feel dizzy after taking trazodone, talk with your healthcare provider. Also, don’t drink alcohol or take any other sleep medication while taking trazodone.

Trazodone Isn’t for Everyone

If you have bipolar disorder or undiagnosed depression, trazodone may increase your risk of experiencing a manic episode. Manic episodes can include overactivity, excitement, and delusions.

Trazadone may also impair your ability to think, focus, and react. You should avoid driving, operating machinery, or other activities that require alertness.

If you have kidney disease or kidney damage, talk to your doctor to make sure taking trazodone is okay. There may be better options available to you.

Trazodone is generally considered safe, but there are some risks to be aware of. These include: 

  • Autonomic instability 
  • Cardiac arrhythmias 
  • Hypotension 
  • Seizures 
  • Serotonin syndrome.

Trazodone can also interact with other medications, so it is important to talk to your doctor about all the medications you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs and supplements.

Is Trazodone an SSRI or SNRI?

There are many types of antidepressants. Two common types of antidepressants are SSRIs  (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and SNRIs (serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors). Trazodone is neither an SSRI nor an SNRI.

Though it performs similarly to an SSRI, trazodone is classified as a serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARI). It works by blocking the serotonin receptors in the brain, which helps to reduce anxiety. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that helps regulate mood.

SNRIs, or serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, work similarly to SSRIs by helping to keep more serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain. Norepinephrine is another chemical in the brain that helps regulate mood.

How Does Trazodone Make You Feel?

Trazodone may make you feel sleepy or dizzy when you first start taking it. These side effects usually go away after a few days as your body adjusts to the medication. If you experience these side effects and they are bothersome, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce them.

How Does It Feel When Trazodone Is Working?

Some people may feel an immediate change when they start taking trazodone, but for most people, it takes a few weeks to notice a difference. Below are some signs that trazodone is working.

1. You Are Sleeping Better

One of the most common reasons people are prescribed trazodone is because they are having trouble sleeping. If you notice that you can fall asleep more easily and stay asleep for longer, trazodone is likely working for you.

2. You Have More Energy During the Day

Feeling exhausted all the time is a common symptom of depression. If you find that you have more energy and can do more activities since starting trazodone, the medication is likely working.

3. Your Appetite Has Changed

Changes in appetite are another common symptom of depression. If you find that your appetite has increased or decreased since starting trazodone, it could be a sign that the medication is working.

4. You Can Concentrate Better

Depression can make it hard to focus on anything, so if you find that you can concentrate better since starting trazodone, it could indicate that the medication is effective for you.

5. You Feel Less Anxious

Anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand, so if you find that your anxiety levels have decreased since starting trazodone, it could be a sign that the medication is helping your overall mood as well.

Of course, everyone experiences different side effects from medications, so these are just some general signs that trazodone may work for you. If you have any concerns about whether or not the medication is working, be sure to talk to your doctor or mental health professional.

What Happens to Your Body When You Take Trazodone?

If your doctor has prescribed trazodone to treat your depression, it’s important to understand what can potentially happen to your body while taking it.

Abnormal Heartbeat

This medicine affects the way your heart works, which can cause an abnormal heartbeat. If you notice these symptoms, go to the emergency room. If you have a history of heart conditions, speak to your healthcare provider before you start taking trazodone.

Drops in Blood Pressure

Trazodone can cause drops in blood pressure and dizziness. This is called orthostatic hypotension. To prevent this, change your position slowly and avoid sudden movements.

Autonomic Instability 

Trazodone can also cause autonomic instability, which means it affects how your body controls its temperature, sweating, and blood pressure. If you experience these symptoms, be sure to seek medical attention right away.

Serotonin Syndrome

In rare cases, trazodone can cause serotonin syndrome. This is when there is too much serotonin in your body, and it can cause symptoms like confusion, hallucination, seizures, and even death. If you experience these symptoms, call 999 or go to the emergency room immediately.

The dosage for trazodone is determined by your doctor, and they can increase or decrease it if necessary. However, it is important to follow the instructions on the label. For instance, you shouldn’t double the dosage or take it more often than prescribed. Instead, take your medication as directed and at the same time every day.

What Other Drugs Affect Trazodone?

The drug trazodone can interact with a variety of other medications. Some interactions may interfere with the drug’s ability to work, while others may increase the drug’s side effects.

Some drug interactions are mild to moderate. These interactions are minor or insignificant but still need to be monitored closely. Some interactions require adjustment in dose or increased monitoring. 

Antidepressants

These include certain types of antidepressants, such as tricyclic antidepressants and serotonin reuptake inhibitors. This reaction may lead to serotonin syndrome, a rare but serious condition. It can result in difficulty moving and sleeping and can even cause a person to fall into a coma.

MAO Inhibitor

Trazodone should not be taken with a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI). This is because the combination can cause a potentially fatal reaction called serotonin syndrome. Symptoms include high blood pressure, increased body temperature, muscle rigidity, and altered mental status.

Barbiturates

Trazodone may interact with barbiturates, such as phenobarbital. This can cause trazodone’s effects to be decreased. As a result, the dosage of trazodone may need to be increased.

Cimetidine

Trazodone may interact with cimetidine, which is used to treat heartburn and ulcers. This interaction can cause trazodone’s effects to be increased. As a result, the dosage of trazodone may need to be decreased.

Warfarin

If you are taking warfarin, trazodone may increase your risk of bleeding. So, it’s important to have your blood clotting time monitored closely.

Trazodone may also interact with other drugs not listed here. Be sure to tell your healthcare provider about all the medications you are taking, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

What Are the Most Common Side Effects of Trazodone? 

Most people will experience some side effects when taking trazodone, especially when they first start taking the medication. These side effects typically go away with time as your body adjusts to the medication and are not usually a reason to stop taking the medication.

The most common side effects of trazodone include the following:

  • Drowsiness 
  • Dizziness 
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headache 
  • Nausea or vomiting 
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Upset Stomach 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Changes to sex drive.

There are also some less common side effects to be aware of. These include:

  • Muscle aches and pain
  • Migraine Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating more than usual.

If you start noticing any of these symptoms, contact your doctor.

Can Trazodone Cause Weight Gain?

Yes, but it can also cause weight loss. The reason is that trazodone affects appetite. Some people experience an increase in appetite, while others experience a decrease in appetite.

Can Trazodone Cause Insomnia?

It may seem counterintuitive, but trazodone can actually cause insomnia for some people. This is because the medication can have a stimulating effect on the brain, which can make it harder to fall asleep.

If you are prescribed trazodone for insomnia, it is important to take it at bedtime so that the stimulating effect has time to wear off before you need to sleep.

If you are taking trazodone for another reason and find that it is making it harder to sleep, you may want to see if your doctor can prescribe something else.

Can Trazodone Cause Low Blood Pressure?

Yes. Trazodone can cause a drop in blood pressure, which can lead to lightheadedness or dizziness. If you experience these side effects, be sure to stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids.

If you find that your blood pressure is consistently low while taking trazodone, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

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Can Trazodone Cause Anxiety?

Trazodone can cause anxiety for some people. As stated earlier, this is because the medication can have a stimulating effect on the brain. This can make anxiety symptoms worse.

If you find that trazodone is causing weight gain, insomnia, low blood pressure, or increased anxiety, talk to your doctor. They may be able to adjust your dose or prescribe a different medication.

Can You Get Withdrawal Symptoms from Trazodone? 

Trazodone withdrawal symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sweating or hot flashes
  • Irritability or mood swings
  • Decreased appetite or weight loss
  • Fatigue or weakness.

These symptoms can occur within a few days to a week after stopping trazodone. In some cases, they may last for several weeks or longer.

If you experience any of these symptoms after stopping trazodone, it’s important to contact your doctor right away. They can help you manage your symptoms and may recommend tapering off the medication gradually to minimise withdrawal symptoms. 

How Long Does Trazodone Stay in Your System? 

The half-life of a medication is the time it takes for the concentration of the drug in your body to be reduced by half. The half-life of trazodone is 5-15 hours. This means that it takes about 5-13 hours for the concentration of trazodone in your body to be reduced by half.

Trazodone is metabolised by the liver and excreted by the kidneys. It’s also broken down into metabolites that are also eliminated through urine.

The elimination half-life of trazodone is about 40 hours. This means that it can take up to 40 hours for the concentration of trazodone in your body to be reduced by half. 

Can You Mix Alcohol with Trazodone?

No, you should not drink alcohol if you are taking trazodone. Alcohol can intensify the side effects of trazodone. The combination of trazodone and alcohol can be dangerous and may result in serious side effects.

Some of the side effects that can occur when trazodone and alcohol are mixed include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion
  • Impaired coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Memory problems
  • Blackouts or loss of consciousness.

It’s best to avoid drinking alcohol while taking trazodone. If you have been drinking and are experiencing any of these side effects, stop drinking and contact your doctor right away.

Can You Drive on Trazodone?

No, trazodone can cause drowsiness and impair your ability to drive. If you are taking trazodone, it’s best to avoid driving or operating heavy machinery.

How to Come Off Trazodone Safely

Coming off trazodone can be challenging for some, but there are ways to safely taper your dose and avoid withdrawal symptoms. The tapering method involves gradual decreases in dosage over several weeks.

You should always discuss this method with your doctor and follow his or her guidelines. Trazodone withdrawal symptoms can be severe.

During withdrawal, it is crucial to stay active and take care of yourself. It is important to stay healthy while withdrawing from trazodone.

Avoid combining drugs with trazodone, as this can increase the risk of discontinuation syndrome. You can also reduce your risk by choosing a medicine with no harmful interactions, eating healthy foods and exercising regularly.

If you’ve been on trazodone for a long time, you should taper off gradually under the supervision of your doctor. Abruptly stopping trazodone can result in a condition called discontinuation syndrome. If you’re able to follow your doctor’s recommendations, you can taper your dose and avoid a dangerous condition called “drug dependence.”

Trazodone vs Mirtazapine

If you’ve been prescribed either trazodone or mirtazapine, you might be wondering if it is the right choice for you. Both medications are used to treat depression, but they work in different ways.

How They Work

As stated earlier, trazodone is a SARI, which means it works by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain. This helps to improve mood and alleviate depression symptoms.

Mirtazapine is an antidepressant that works by increasing the levels of norepinephrine and serotonin in the brain. This helps to improve mood and alleviate depression symptoms.

Side Effects

Trazodone is available as a generic drug, so it’s usually cheaper than mirtazapine. However, it can cause some side effects, including drowsiness, headache, and dry mouth.

Mirtazapine can cause a variety of side effects, as well. The most common side effects include drowsiness, weight gain, and dry mouth.

The decision about which medication to take is one that you should make with your doctor. They will consider your individual situation and health history to determine which medication is right for you.

Trazodone vs Sertraline

Trazodone and sertraline are two popular antidepressant medications. They both work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain. Although they are similar, there are some key differences between the two drugs. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of trazodone and sertraline to help you better understand how they differ.

How They Work

Both trazodone and sertraline increase levels of serotonin in the brain. However, they do so in different ways. Trazodone works by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, which means it prevents serotonin from being broken down and recycled. This leads to an increase in serotonin levels. Sertraline, on the other hand, works by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme that breaks down serotonin. This also leads to an increase in serotonin levels.

Side Effects

The most common side effects of trazodone include drowsiness, dry mouth, headache, and nausea. 

The most common side effects of sertraline include diarrhoea, headache, insomnia, and nausea. 

Both medications can also cause sexual side effects such as decreased libido and erectile dysfunction.

Dosage

Trazodone is available in tablet form and is typically taken one to three times per day. The starting dose is usually 50 mg, but it can be increased to 100 mg if needed. Sertraline is available in tablet or liquid form and is typically taken once daily. The starting dose is usually 25 mg, but it can be increased to 50 mg after one week if needed.

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Most Common Questions About Trazodone

For those who have been prescribed trazodone, a lot of questions come to mind. Below are a few of the most common questions people ask about trazodone.

  • Can Dogs Take Trazodone?

    Yes, trazodone can be given to dogs. However, it is important to note that trazodone should only be given to dogs under the supervision of a veterinarian and the dosage is not the same as it is for humans.

  • Can Trazodone Help You Sleep?

    Yes, trazodone can be used to help people sleep. It is often prescribed for insomnia because it has sedative properties.

  • Does Trazodone Cause Nightmares?

    There is no definitive answer to this question, as everyone reacts differently to medication. Some people report that trazodone causes nightmares or strange dreams, while others find it helpful in reducing nightmares.

  • Does Trazodone Cause Hair Loss?

    Though it’s not a common side effect, some people report that trazodone causes hair loss, while others find it does not have this side effect.

  • Does Trazodone Lower Sex Drive?

    Yes, trazodone can lower your sex drive. This is because it is a SARI, which means it prevents serotonin from being broken down and recycled. This can lead to a decrease in sexual desire.

  • Trazodone: A Personal Decision

    Trazodone is a commonly prescribed antidepressant medication that helps to increase levels of serotonin in the brain. This, in turn, elevates your mood. Deciding to start taking trazodone is a very personal decision that you should make with your doctor after considering your individual situation and health history.

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