Call us today
At American Addiction Centers, we strive to provide the most up-to-date and accurate medical information on the web so our readers can make informed decisions about their healthcare.
Our reviewers are credentialed medical providers specializing in addiction treatment and behavioral healthcare. We follow strict guidelines when fact-checking information and only use credible sources when citing statistics and medical information. Look for the medically reviewed badge ( Medically Reviewed Badge ) on our articles for the most up-to-date and accurate information.
If you feel that any of our content is inaccurate or out-of-date, please let us know at ContactAAC@ContactAAC.com.
Sadness is a natural part of life. Grief over a breakup or the disappointment of a failure can cause one to be sad. Normally, a person’s mood will improve over time. When sadness or a low mood is persistent and unrelenting for weeks, months or years, the individual may be suffering from major depressive disorder.
Trazodone is an antidepressant primarily indicated for use in treating major depressive disorder but perhaps more commonly used off-label for managing insomnia. Previously available brand formulations include Desyrel and an extended-release tablet form, Oleptro.
As an atypical antidepressant, trazodone does not fit neatly into some of the more standard antidepressant classes (e.g., SSRIs, MAOIs, tricyclic antidepressants, etc.). Trazodone is sometimes categorized according to its mechanism of action, which is as a serotonin receptor (5HT2a) antagonist and reuptake inhibitor, or SARI.
While its precise mechanism of action is not fully understood, trazodone’s therapeutic benefit, like many modern antidepressant medications, is thought to start with an increase in serotonin activity throughout the brain. It is indicated for use (as mono-therapy or as an adjunct treatment) for major depressive disorder.
Trazodone is perhaps most widely used to manage insomnia (both depression-related and otherwise), but has additional off-label indications as an adjunctive pharmacotherapeutic for conditions like schizophrenia, anxiety, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.
In the US, there’s been an increase in all prescription drug abuse, including abuse of antidepressants. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 20% of all Americans over age 12 had used a prescription drug for non-medical purposes at some point in their lives. While most people don’t misuse trazodone, it does happen.
According to an article in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, trazodone is thought to have a lower abuse liability than benzodiazepine drugs like triazolam or other hypnotics prescribed for insomnia, which may be why its off-label use for the treatment of insomnia has surpassed its use for the management of major depression.
The side effects of trazodone may be a concern and include symptoms such as orthostatic hypotention, priapism (painful, lasting erections), and cardiac arrhythmias. These side effects may be enough of a warning that some users want to discontinue the medication. Abruptly stopping, however, may trigger a discontinuation syndrome, with some characteristic of withdrawal symptoms.
Because it is antidepressant, it is important to note the warnings and risks associated with trazodone before you take it:
These warnings apply to individuals taking trazodone as prescribed. Abuse of the drug may make an individual more likely to experience one or more of the above issues.
While trazodone is generally safe and effective when used as directed for its intended purpose, someone who misuses trazodone for extended periods of time may be at risk of experiencing more intense side effects, which may include:
An article in the Journal of Sleep Research states that prolonged use of trazodone can also cause the following:
Long-term prescription use carries its own set of risks that may be outweighed by the benefits; however, if you are abusing the drug, you may be placing yourself at greater risk and may overdose.
Taking too much trazodone at a time may be dangerous. An overdose may cause symptoms such as:
Learn More about Trazodone Overdose Dangers
Individuals may feel generally unwell when abruptly stopping trazodone. The symptoms of trazodone discontinuation syndrome may be worse for those who take more than the recommended dose.
Duration of use plays a role in how uncomfortable the withdrawal symptoms are as well, with those who use the drug for greater lengths of time potentially experiencing more intense symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms that may arise from suddenly stopping trazodone may include:
Because the drug is used to treat depression and insomnia, some symptoms of depression and sleep disturbances may return after stopping the drug.
In some instances, medical staff members may prescribe a taper to slowly wean the person off the medication. A tapered approach helps to reduce the symptoms of withdrawal. How long the taper will take will vary from person to person. Medical staff can discuss with you what you can expect.
In the case that someone is abusing several substances, medical detox may be recommended to manage troubling symptoms and prevent any medical complications. Once detox is complete, addiction treatment may be needed to address the underlying causes of compulsive substance use.
Greenhouse Treatment Center has the experienced and licensed medical staff to help patients undergo treatment specific to their needs. If you find that you’re struggling with the misuse of trazodone, options are available. Together we can help you reach long-term sobriety one step at a time.