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What Is Trazodone?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Trazodone is a generic medication commonly marketed under the brand names Desyrel® and Oleptro™. It is an antidepressant, specifically a serotonin modulator, that is prescribed to treat depression. By acting on the serotonin levels in the brain, trazodone may help restore mental balance and alleviate depression symptoms.

Most patients may be prescribed a lower dose of trazodone initially, and the doctor may gradually increase the dose every three to four days until symptoms abate. The prescribed dose may then gradually decrease once the patient's depression is managed. Trazodone treatment is not a cure, but rather it may help manage symptoms. This medication is taken as a tablet by mouth, sometimes two or more times daily with a meal or snack.

Some side effects may occur with the use of trazodone, which should be reported to the doctor if they are persistent or become bothersome. Patients may notice nausea, vomiting, and bad taste in the mouth. Dizziness, drowsiness, and diarrhea may also occur. Some have reported headaches or a “heavy” feeling in the head, changes in weight or appetite, and blurred vision. Changes in sexual desire or ability, constipation, and stuffy nose may also occur, along with muscle pains.

More serious side effects may also occur rarely, which require a doctor's immediate care. Men who experience priapism, which is an erection lasting four or more hours, should go to the emergency room. Other potentially serious problems can include pain in the jaw, chest, or left arm. Signs of a possible allergic reaction may include facial swelling, severe dizziness, and problems breathing.

Trazodone may also rarely cause ringing in the ears, nightmares, and uncontrollable shaking. Some patients have reported fainting and unusual nightmares. Bloody urine or difficult urination, decreased coordination, and signs of an infection, such as fever, sore throat, or chills have been reported.

Before using trazodone, patients must disclose their other medical conditions. It is not intended for use by women who are breastfeeding and it is strongly recommended that women who are pregnant avoid the use of this drug. Trazodone may be contraindicated for use by those with a history of suicide attempts or bipolar disorder, as well as kidney or liver disease, blood pressure problems, and heart disease.

Patients must also disclose their other medications and supplements, as well as other types of treatments they are undergoing, including surgery and electroshock therapy. This drug may not be used for patients who take gingko, St. John's wort, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). It can also interact with erythromycin, other antidepressants, and seizure medicines. In addition, patients must avoid the use of alcohol to prevent worsened side effects and only consume grapefruit or grapefruit products as recommended by their doctors.

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Discussion Comments
By rajibdas056 — On Apr 15, 2014

Trazodone is good drug for insomnia as well as depression. I am continuing with the initial dosage of 50 mg and it is still working after about two weeks of continuous medication, although it creates daytime drowsiness and dizziness and orthostatic hypotesion for about 10 days.

By SarahGen — On Feb 15, 2014

I'm getting fairly good results with trazodone as well. I'm taking trazodone 100 mg for anxiety and sleep problems. It seems to be helping with both. I used to have trouble falling asleep because of thinking too much and worrying. Trazodone seems to have gotten rid of those unending thoughts that keep me up at night. So I get more sleep and feel less anxious.

There are some side effects though, it makes me a little drowsy because of the sedating effects. I'm usually fine if I take the drug before going to bed. But sometimes I have trouble concentrating until about noon the next day.

By literally45 — On Feb 15, 2014

@ZipLine-- That's too bad. Trazodone is working great for me but I'm actually taking it for insomnia, not depression. So perhaps, trazodone is good for sleep problems rather than depression.

I was barely getting three hours of sleep before my doctor put me on trazodone. Now I get seven hours of sleep and I fall asleep quickly after taking the medication. I'm so happy that I finally found a solution to my sleep problems. I highly recommend it to those with insomnia.

By ZipLine — On Feb 14, 2014

I took trazodone for a while and it did not work for me. I started out with trazodone 50 mg and worked my way up to 200 mg/day. But I did not experience any changes in my depression symptoms so I stopped using it. It's not a very good drug in my opinion.

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