What is Trazodone?

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Trazodone is a drug used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD). It is sold under many brand names, including Desyrel and Oleptro. 

The drug is in a class of medications called serotonin modulators. Trazodone works by increasing the serotonin levels in the body, a natural substance in that brain that maintains mental balance.

Trazodone is sometimes used for insomnia, schizophrenia, and anxiety. It may also be prescribed to control abnormal, uncontrollable movement that may result as side effects of other prescription or non-prescription medications. 

Trazodone

How Does Trazodone Make You Feel?

Antidepressants such as Trazodone boost your mood, so you feel better. Trazodone will not change your personality or make you feel euphorically happy. However, it is likely to help you feel like yourself again.

The first few days of taking Trazodone may make you feel tired. You may notice that your sleeping improves and that you get along with people better because you are less anxious. 

Does Trazodone Feel Like Xanax?

Xanax is a different type of drug than Trazodone. Xanax is a benzodiazepine anti-anxiety drug. Other benzodiazepine drugs include Valium and Klonopin.

Benzodiazepine drugs increase activity at receptors in your brain, known as GABA receptors. This process slows down your central nervous system (CNS), helping you feel more calm and relaxed.

Xanax is similar to Trazodone, as taking it may lead to side effects, including tiredness and drowsiness. However, the two drugs are different. Xanax and other benzodiazepine drugs can be addictive, even when used as directed. Because of this, benzodiazepine drugs should only be used for short periods. Trazodone, on the other hand, is not addictive. 

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Side Effects of Trazodone

Trazodone can cause common side effects. If any of these common side effects are severe or persist, speak with your doctor:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Bad taste in the mouth
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Nervousness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Feeling unsteady when walking
  • Reduced ability to concentrate or remember things
  • Confusion
  • Nightmares
  • Muscle pain and soreness
  • Dry mouth
  • Rash
  • Sweating
  • Shifts in sexual desire or ability
  • Uncontrollable shaking or moving of a part of the body
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms, legs, hands, or feet
  • Reduced coordination
  • Tired, red, or itchy eyes
  • Ringing in ears

Some side effects can be severe. If you experience any of the following possible side effects or symptoms, seek emergency treatment, or call your doctor immediately for medical advice:

  • Chest pain
  • Fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
  • Loss of consciousness (coma)
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding

Risks of Trazodone Use

As well as these possible side effects, there are some potential health risks linked with taking Trazodone. The severe, dangerous risks of taking Trazodone include:

  • An increase in suicidal thoughts and behaviors. This occurs particularly in children and young adults
  • Priapism. This is a painful, long-lasting erection. In some situations, emergency or surgical treatment is necessary. In some of these cases, permanent damage has occurred
  • Cardiac arrhythmias. These are heartbeats that can be faster than usual or slower than normal
  • Irregular anaphylaxis, a severe allergic reaction
  • Serotonin syndrome, which results from too much serotonin. The symptoms can range from mild to severe

Signs of Trazodone Addiction 

There is no evidence that Trazodone is particularly addictive. However, you may experience additional side effects if you stop taking it suddenly. These side effects may lead to trouble sleeping and irritability. You may also sweat more than usual.

To prevent any additional side effects, speak with your doctor about coming off Trazodone. They will explain how to reduce your dose gradually and safely.

Treatment for Trazodone Abuse & Addiction

People who abuse Trazodone are highly likely to be using other substances. Because of this, it is essential to identify other drugs that may link with their Trazodone abuse. This requires an exhaustive assessment of the individual and the development of an addiction treatment program.

An addiction treatment program for Trazodone abuse may include the following:

Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders

This includes treatment and support for any other addictions, drug interactions, substance abuse issues, and mental health problems. 

Inpatient or Outpatient Treatment

Depending on the patient’s patterns of abuse, lifestyle, and personal preferences, they may undergo inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment. Inpatient treatment involves the patient staying at a treatment center. During outpatient treatment, the patient lives at home and attends sessions.

Comprehensive Therapy

Therapy targets the factors that contribute to the patient's drug abuse. It focuses on the development of coping skills and addresses other potential psychological disorders or issues. Therapy can either be taken as individual therapy, group therapy, or both.

A Psychoeducation Program

A psychoeducation program helps patients learn more about addiction and how to avoid relapse.

12-Step Meetings 

These meetings typically serve as part of the patient’s long-term aftercare plan. The meetings are community-based programs that help patients connect and discuss their experiences of addiction.

Trazodone Withdrawal Symptoms and Detox

One of the essential addiction treatment options for Trazodone is medical detox. People who abuse Trazodone can develop a physical dependence on the substance. Medical detox is necessary to help these patients manage withdrawal symptoms.

Medical detox can occur in either an inpatient or outpatient setting, depending on the circumstances surrounding each case. The process typically requires physician-assisted tapering of Trazodone to control and monitor the withdrawal process.

Trazodone withdrawal is a type of SSRI Discontinuation Syndrome (SSRIDS.) Withdrawal symptoms are similar to those of major depressive disorder and anxiety. They develop when medication is stopped abruptly.

Withdrawal symptoms occur from changes in the brain that cause adjustments to serotonin receptors. When an individual takes Trazodone, the brain ‘down-regulates’ the amount of receptors in response to the increased serotonin levels. When someone stops taking the drug abruptly, the reduced volume of receptors produces a short-term serotonin activity deficiency.

While the body can correct this alone, it often comes with uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Experiencing withdrawal symptoms from Trazodone does not always mean someone is addicted to the drug, but it does suggest physical dependency to the medicine. 

Symptoms of Trazodone withdrawal include:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Shock-like sensations
  • Suicidal Thoughts
  • Vertigo or issues walking
  • Difficulties concentrating 
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Chills
  • Depersonalization

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Resources +

Trazodone, MedlinePlus, October 2020, https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a681038.html

Trazodone, United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS), December 2018, https://www.nhs.uk/medicines/trazodone/ 

Anxiety Disorders, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), July 2018, https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml 

Benzodiazepines (and the alternatives), Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, September 2020, https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/benzodiazepines_and_the_alternatives 

Fagiolini, A., Comandini, A., Dell’Osso, M.C. et al. Rediscovering Trazodone for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder. CNS Drugs 26, 1033–1049, 2020, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40263-012-0010-5 

Understanding Unapproved Use of Approved Drugs "Off Label", United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA), May 2018, https://www.fda.gov/patients/learn-about-expanded-access-and-other-treatment-options/understanding-unapproved-use-approved-drugs-label 

DESYREL®, United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA), June 2017, https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/018207s032lbl.pdf

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