What is Trazodone?

Trazodone is a prescription antidepressant medication that helps patients with depression by restoring the balance of serotonin, a neurotransmitter (chemical in the brain) that regulates your mood, appetite, sleep cycle, and inhibits pain. Although available under the brand name, Desyrel, many doctors prescribe the generic form of trazodone  for their patients.

Trazodone Dosage

Trazodone is available in oral pill form in 50 mg, 100 mg, 150 mg, and 300 mg tablets. The tablets are generally scored so that they may be split, allowing patients to begin a trazodone regimen at the 25 mg level and gradually increasing the dosage as needed. Trazodone overdose is rarely lethal, but it has been reported; patients who take trazodone, however, are less likely to die from intentional or accidental overdose than those who take tricyclic antidepressants like Elavil and Anafranil.

Uses for Trazodone

Though originally intended to treat patients with depression, trazodone has lost its popularity as an antidepressant due to the advent of newer classes of depression medications that have proven to be more effective, such as SSRIs like Prozac and Celexa. Aside from clinical depression, trazodone can be used to treat fibromyalgia, nightmares and other sleep disturbances, and several off-label uses that include treatment  of chronic insomnia, panic disorder, schizophrenia, bulimia, diabetic neuropathy, obsessive-compusive disorder (OCD), and alcohol withdrawal.

We know of at least one anecdotal report from a woman who was prescribed trazodone to treat her chronic insomnia. After spending 10 years being unaffected by both over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription sleep remedies – ranging from Unisom to Benadryl to Ambien to Rozerem – she reported that she is finally able to fall asleep and stay asleep when she takes trazodone at bedtime, though increased tolerance over time has required her to increase her dosage.

Side Effects of Trazodone

The most common side effects of trazodone include drowsiness, headache, nausea or vomiting, and dry mouth. Less common side effects include fatigue, lethargy, dizziness, increase in sex drive, a “hangover effect” during the first days of usage, headache, muscle stiffness, tinnitus, weakness, blurred vision, sweating, constipation, hypotension, palpitations, shortness of breath, and in rare cases, cardiac arrest.

Trazodone Warnings

Patients who take trazodone should not drive or operate heavy machinery until they know how the drug will affect them. Trazodone should not be consumed with alcohol, and patients are advised against drinking grapefruit juice. Taking trazodone with the street drug ecstasy (MDMA) can be fatal. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult with their physicians about whether or not they should discontinue trazodone usage.

The products and the claims made about specific products on or through this site have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for a doctor’s advice or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Diane June 16, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Interesting. I am now on this drug, for sleeping. It’s great to see a concise break down of the drug.

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