What is Trazodone?


According to Drugs.com, an online website that reveals information about some medicinal drugs, trazodone is prescribed by doctors for patients who are experiencing bouts of depression, anxiety attacks or chronic pain. The site states that trazodone users should be very cautious while driving or doing things that require heightened alertness. The generic brand is known as Desyrel.


Drugs.com states that trazodone, which is prescribed in various doses, seems to increase the amount of serotonin in the body. Serotonin is a chemical in every human’s brain that is critical to establishing a balanced set of emotions. Patients who take the drug sleep better and are less prone to depression and unstable emotions. Because it causes drowsiness, it is best taken right before going to bed. The site also cautions that the drug works best when taken after eating. It is typical for the dosage to be adjusted after the first few weeks of use to reach its desired effect. According to the pharmaceutical company Merck, the effects of the drug may not be noticeable for at least two to four weeks.

Side Effects

According to Drugs.com, a person on trazodone must be monitored closely by a doctor, caretakers, friends and family during the first 12 weeks. The drug can cause suicidal thoughts, impaired judgment, slower reaction time, lightheadedness, flu symptoms, chest pain, urinating problems, sweating, nausea, pain in the arms and shoulders, headache, difficulty sleeping, loss of appetite, diarrhea or constipation, blurred vision, dry mouth or coordination problems. According to Merck, extreme dizziness when moving to a standing position (known as orthostatic hypotension) and unusual drowsiness are more common with trazodone than other antidepressants. Drugs.com stresses that men who experience a painful erection or one that lasts longer than three hours should cease taking the drug immediately and consult a physician, as this can be a serious medical complication.

Good to Know

According to Drugs.com, a doctor should be informed of any allergies, instances of heart attacks or presence of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, drug addiction, suicidal tendencies or other mental illnesses before taking trazodone. Signs of an allergic reaction include hives, breathing problems or facial swelling. Also inform your doctor about any use of over-the-counter or prescription medicines, vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements. If alarming conditions such as behavioral changes, anxiety or panic attacks, sleeplessness, irritability, aggressiveness or severe depression occur, contact your doctor immediately. A surgeon should be notified of the drug’s presence before beginning an operation. Women must inform their doctor of pregnancy or a desire to become pregnant before considering trazodone.

Things to Avoid

According to Drugs.com, consuming alcoholic drinks, barbiturates and sedatives while taking too much trazodone can possibly lead to death. Merck states that a high intake of caffeine should also be avoided. The drug must be taken exactly as prescribed, according to Drugs.com. Do not take more than prescribed or for a longer period of time than prescribed. Do not take two doses at once to make up for skipping a dose. Signs of an overdose include excessive drowsiness, vomiting, heart palpitations, seizures, breathing problems or painful or prolonged erection. Because the drug is passed on in breast milk, Merck discourages breastfeeding while taking trazodone. The site also states that trazodone is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for children or for treatment of bipolar disorder.

Safety Issues

Trazodone should be stored at room temperature. According to Merck, the drug should be started at a lower dosage, gradually increasing it as needed. The site strongly urges against abruptly stopping use of the drug. Instead, the dosage should be lowered in small increments over the course of three or four weeks. A patient’s blood should also be tested regularly during use to make sure the drug is not harmful to the body.

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