What is Trazodone?
Trazodone is an antidepressant drug that belongs to the serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARI) class of medications. It is chemically unrelated to other known antidepressant agents such as tricylcic antidepressants (TCAs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
This serotonin modulator works by increasing the amount of serotonin, a chemical messenger or neurotransmitter found in the brain, which is responsible for ensuring proper mental function. Imbalance in serotonin levels is also associated with depression. It is not entirely clear how trazodone works but it probably inhibits the uptake of serotonin by the brain cells resulting in increased serotonin levels. Some medical experts believe that trazodone directly enhances the action of serotonin.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved trazodone in 1982. It was originally manufactured by Bristol-Myers. Today it is sold in under different brand names such as Desyrel, Oleptro, Deprax, Beneficat, Thombran and others. Generic trazodone is also available and is manufactured by several pharmaceutical firms.
Trazodone is a prescription medication that is dispensed as oral tablets with the following strengths: 50 mg, 100 mg, 150 mg, and 300 mg.
Trazodone is primarily used to treat patients with symptoms of depression. It may also be used for other “off-label” purposes (drug uses not approved by the FDA but in practice results in positive effects).
Trazodone is sometimes prescribed as an adjunctive medication for the management and treatment of aggressive behavior, agoraphobia, and cocaine withdrawal. It may also be prescribed “off-label” for treatment of schizophrenia,panic disorders and anxiety since it has anxiolytic (antianxiety) effects. Because trazodone is a sedative antidepressant (often resulting in drowsiness), it is also often prescribed off-label for the treatment for insomnia and sleep disorders.
Aside from the medical conditions discussed here, your healthcare provider may recommend this drug for other uses.
Important Things To Remember When Taking Trazodone
- Inform your healthcare provider if you have known allergy to trazodone or other medications.
- Inform your healthcare provider about all medications that you take including prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as natural health products or herbs, especially St. John’s Wort.
- Discuss with your healthcare provider other past or existing medical conditions particularly cardiovascular problems, high blood pressure, cancer, heart attack, and HIV or AIDS.
- Inform your healthcare provider if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Discuss with your doctor any plans of becoming pregnant. If you become pregnant while on this medication, contact your healthcare provider right away.
- Before undergoing any surgical procedure, including dental surgery, inform your surgeon or dentist that you are on trazodone treatment.
- Trazodone can cause drowsiness and affect your concentration and judgement. Patients are advised to avoid driving a car or operating heavy equipment, and other tasks that require concentration. If drowsiness becomes a major problem, discuss with your healthcare provider a possible dose adjustment.
- Talk with your doctor about your alcohol consumption while taking trazodon. Alcohol can increase the risk of side effects.
- Trazodone can cause lightheadedness, fainting and dizziness when you suddenly arise from a lying position. Avoid getting up too quickly. Slowly rise up from bed to a sitting position, and then wait for several minutes before finally standing up.