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Trazodone (Desyrel) Medication Profile

Bipolar Medications Library

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Updated May 15, 2014

Trazodone is an antidepressant that is also sold under the brand name Desyrel. Trazodone is one of the most inexpensive antidepressants out there - it can cost as little as $4.35 for a 30-day supply, without insurance. It is often used as a sleep aid as well. Unlike the majority of antidepressants, trazodone is generally weight neutral, causing neither weight gain nor weight loss.

Trazodone is classed as a serotonin modulator. The other well-known drug in this class is Serzone (nefazodone). The exact way trazodone works is not known, but researchers think it does two things:
  • inhibits reuptake of serotonin, and
  • directly increases the action of serotonin.

Dosage

According to MedicineNet, the usual dosage for treating depression is 150 to 600 mg per day, and the starting dose is 150. Anecdotal evidence suggests some people may need to start with a lower dosage to avoid side effects. The dosage may be raised gradually by your doctor. As a sleep aid, the dose is generally 50 to 150 mg.

Precautions and Warnings

1. General
  • Trazodone carries the antidepressant black box warning regarding increased risk of suicidality in children and teens.
  • If you are having surgery (including dental surgery), tell the doctor or dentist that you take trazodone.
  • As with any drug used as a sedative, take the usual precautions regarding drowsiness.
  • Trazodone may cause dizziness if you are lying down and get up too quickly. Until you know how you react, sit up and make sure you are all right before standing.
  • Alcohol can worsen trazodone's side effects.
  • Rarely, trazodone may cause priapism, a sustained and painful erection. If this occurs, discontinue trazodone immediately and contact your doctor right away.
2. Pregnancy and Breast-Feeding
  • Trazodone should only be used during pregnancy if your doctor feels the benefits outweigh the risks. This drug does pass into breast milk. Discuss the use of trazodone in these situations with your doctor.
3. Drug Interactions
  • Make sure your doctor knows about all medications and supplements you are taking. To list all the interactions would be beyond the scope of this article, which only highlights some of the major situations. Read all the information that comes with your prescription and contact your doctor if you find any problems with your other drugs or existing medical conditions.
  • Do not take trazodone at the same time as any MAOI medication, and make sure your doctor tells you how long to wait after stopping one before starting the other. If you are not sure, also ask your pharmacist.
  • Tegretol (carbamazepine) may reduce the amount of trazodone in your system. Your doctor should check to see if you need more trazodone when taking Tegretol with it.
  • Trazodone may increase the levels of the heart medicine Lanoxin (digoxin) and the anti-seizure medication Dilantin (phenytoin).

Side Effects and Overdose

The most common side effects from Trazodone in clinical trials (as compared to placebo) were:
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Low blood pressure
Many other side effects may occur. See Desyrel/Trazodone Side Effects.

Symptoms of overdose may include:
  • Changes in heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Painful erection that does not go away
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
Finally, you should be aware that the website at www.trazodone.com is a promotional / advertising site not affiliated with the manufacturer of Desyrel or any medical group.

References:
Medline Plus. 01 Apr 2005. Trazodone. National Library of Medicine. 23 Jan 2007.
MedicineNet. 03 Apr 2002. Trazodone. 23 Jan 2007.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. 26 Jan 2005. Desyrel (Trazodone HCl) (PDF). 23 Jan 2007.

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