Trazodone Side Effects: Everything You Need to Know

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Feeling anxious, worried, on edge, or generally low? Trazodone is a commonly prescribed medication for the treatment of depression and anxiety, and while it can be effective for many people, it can also cause a range of side effects. 

It is important for individuals to understand these potential side effects before starting this medication. In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about the most common trazodone side effects, as well as how to manage them and when to seek medical attention.

What is Trazodone?

Trazodone is an antidepressant medication that is primarily used to treat symptoms of depression and anxiety. It works by increasing the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, in the brain. This increase in serotonin helps to relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. Trazodone is classified as a serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARI), which means that it blocks the reuptake of serotonin into nerve cells, making more serotonin available in the brain.

What makes Trazodone different from other anti anxiety and antidepressants is its unique mechanism of action. Unlike other antidepressants, Trazodone is not an SSRI or SNRI, but instead works by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. This is thought to be more effective than SSRIs or SNRIs as it takes a more direct approach to treating depression, if you have been treatment resistant to other medications. Additionally, Trazodone has a mild sedative effect which can be beneficial in calming anxiety and helping individuals sleep.

Trazodone Side Effects

Trazodone is an antidepressant medication that can cause a range of side effects. The most common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, dry mouth, blurred vision, and headache. Other common side effects may include nausea, constipation, diarrhea, sweating, and changes in appetite or weight. In most cases, these side effects are mild and go away on their own after a few days of taking the medication.

Here is a list of the most common side effects of Trazodone:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Sweating
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Nightmares
  • Tremors
  • Decreased libido
  • Impotence

However, some people may experience serious side effects while taking Trazodone. These may include a fast or irregular heartbeat, seizures, and a condition called priapism, which is a painful and prolonged erection that can last for several hours.

Serious side effects of Trazodone can include:

  • Fast or irregular heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Priapism (a painful and prolonged erection)
  • Severe allergic reactions, such as difficulty breathing, hives, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Hallucinations
  • Mania
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Severe skin reactions
  • Low blood pressure

In rare cases, Trazodone can also cause severe allergic reactions, such as difficulty breathing, hives, and swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat. If you experience any of these serious side effects, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

It is important to remember that not everyone who takes Trazodone will experience side effects, and some people may only experience a few of the listed side effects. If you have any concerns about the side effects of Trazodone, you should talk to your doctor.

What Drugs Interact With Trazodone?

Trazodone can interact with several other medications, increasing the risk of serious side effects or reducing the effectiveness of one or both of the drugs. Some drugs that can interact with Trazodone include:

CNS depressants: Trazodone can increase the sedative effects of other central nervous system (CNS) depressants, such as alcohol, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and opioid pain medications.

Serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): Taking Trazodone with an SSRI antidepressant can increase the risk of serotonin syndrome, a potentially life-threatening condition characterized by high levels of serotonin in the brain.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs): Taking Trazodone with an MAOI can cause a dangerous increase in blood pressure.

Antipsychotics: Taking Trazodone with an antipsychotic medication can increase the risk of drowsiness, low blood pressure, and other side effects.

Heart medications: Trazodone can interact with heart medications, such as beta-blockers and calcium channel blockers, potentially affecting heart rate and blood pressure.

Antihistamines: Trazodone can increase the sedative effects of antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine.

It is important to let your doctor know about all medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements you are taking before starting Trazodone. Your doctor may need to adjust your dosage or switch you to a different medication to prevent drug interactions.

Trazodone Warnings

Trazodone is a prescription medication and should be used with caution. Some important warnings to keep in mind include:

Suicidal thoughts or behavior: Trazodone can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior, especially in children, teenagers, and young adults. If you experience suicidal thoughts or behavior while taking Trazodone, seek medical attention immediately.

Serotonin syndrome: Taking Trazodone with other medications that increase serotonin levels can cause a condition called serotonin syndrome, which can be life-threatening. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include agitation, confusion, sweating, high fever, rapid heartbeat, muscle rigidity, and seizures.

Priapism: Trazodone can cause a painful and prolonged erection (priapism) that can last for several hours. If you experience priapism, seek medical attention immediately.

Cardiac events: Trazodone can cause heart-related side effects, such as a fast or irregular heartbeat, and may increase the risk of sudden death in people with heart disease.

Liver problems: Trazodone can cause liver problems, especially in people with pre-existing liver disease. Your doctor may need to monitor your liver function while you are taking Trazodone.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Trazodone is classified as a pregnancy category C medication, which means it may not be safe for use during pregnancy. Trazodone can also pass into breast milk, so women who are breastfeeding should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of taking Trazodone.

Alcohol: Drinking alcohol while taking Trazodone can increase the risk of drowsiness and other side effects.

It is important to follow the instructions of your doctor and the medication label when taking Trazodone, and to report any new or concerning symptoms to your doctor right away.

How Can I Increase The Efficacy of Trazodone?

If you want to make sure you’re getting the most out of your medication, check out some of the tips below. 

  • Take the medication as prescribed. It is important to take Trazodone as directed by your doctor in order to get the most benefit from the medication.
  • Avoid alcohol and other substances. Alcohol and other substances can interact with Trazodone and decrease its efficacy.
  • Get plenty of rest. Make sure to get enough sleep each night to help the medication work more effectively.
  • Exercise regularly. Regular exercise may not change the way that Trazodone works, but it can help to improve your overall mental and physical health, which can indirectly help the efficacy of the medication.
  • Try to reduce stress. Yoga, meditation, and other relaxation techniques may help to reduce stress and increase the efficacy of Trazodone.
  • Talk to your doctor. If you are experiencing any side effects or if the medication is not working as well as you would like, talk to your doctor to see if they can adjust your dosage or recommend a different medication.

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This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical or other professional advice. Your specific circumstances should be discussed with a healthcare provider. All statements of opinion represent the writers' judgement at the time of publication and are subject to change. Phoenix and its affiliates provide no express or implied endorsements of third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products, or services.

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