Trazodone Overdose

Trazodone is commonly used as a prescription antidepressant. It is more recognizable to some by its brand names, Oleptro and Desyrel. In addition to combating depression, Trazodone can be implemented to treat anxiety disorders and even insomnia. The drug is sometimes used as an alternative to traditional sedatives, namely, the benzodiazepines, or benzos for short.

Trazodone belongs to a class of drugs called serotonin antagonist and uptake inhibitors (SARI). It revitalizes neurological pathways and restores chemical balance. Essentially, Trazodone helps the body self-correct its levels of serotonin. Patients are then more likely to see a marked improvement of the symptoms associated with their depression: sleep comes easier, appetite is restored, anxiety decreases, and so much more.

So, what exactly differentiates a SARI drug like Trazodone from a benzodiazepine such as Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, or Valium? Quite a bit as it turns out. At a biological level, the drugs simply act upon different portions and receptors in the brain. Trazodone is considered to have little to no addiction-causing mechanisms. Benzos can be highly addictive and lead to tolerance, dependence and substance use disorders. Plus, antidepressants also do not produce a euphoric high when misused. The same cannot be said for benzodiazepines. As a matter of fact, Trazodone is often used in place of benzos when the patient has had a history of benzodiazepine misuse.

Both drug groups do, however, have overlapping proficiencies as far as treatment is concerned. For example, Trazodone works well at treating anxiety, but only when it is concurrent with insomnia. Similarly, though benzodiazepines aren’t usually used to treat depression, they can be effective in this way if the depression is rooted in anxiety.

When taken in excess and in ways not as directed by a licensed physician, Trazodone and other antidepressants can lead to painful side effects and, in serious instances, overdoses.

Trazodone Overdose | Trazodone Overdose Treatment, Signs, & Symptoms
Trazodone overdoses are uncommon, but still possible. But an overdose of this drug is different than what many would expect. Almost every single overdose that originates from Trazodone use is by a patient prescribed the drug. This is because Trazodone has no perceived recreational value for a person looking to achieve a high. Using excess amounts of Trazodone simply hastens and boosts the medication’s drowsiness effect. This fact alone separates it from the vast majority of other drugs— such as opioids or hallucinogens, where overdoses are frequently or solely of the recreational variety.

The danger of a Trazodone overdose lies in taking more than one’s prescribed dose. As is the case with many antidepressants, a patient may take more of the drug than they should to rid themselves of depressive symptoms and thoughts. In this way, many such overdoses are unintentional in nature. However, some are more premeditated, as a patient may attempt to overuse the prescription for self-harm purposes.

Doctors often recommend a daily dose of 150 mg of Trazodone for treatment of depression. This amount can be increased to upwards of 600 mg if necessary. Much lower doses — 75 mg maximum — are used to treat insomnia. As such, any amount exceeding 600 mg in 24 hours is unequivocally an overdose.

The actual dosage quantity needed to fatally overdose on Trazodone is not readily available. A large proportion of deaths linked to the antidepressant were due to mixing other substances with the drug. Alcohol seems to be a particularly dangerous combination and should be avoided entirely.

An overdose on Trazodone is characterized by any number of life-threatening symptoms. Each indicator is linked to a specific region of the body:

Respiratory System: Respiratory depression, the state of which the lungs do not properly expand and contract, is a common side effect exhibited during Trazodone overdoses. Breathing may cease momentarily or stop completely during such an episode.

Central Nervous System: Trazodone acts upon the central nervous system directly for its medical benefits. Therefore, a majority of symptoms tie directly to the brain. These symptoms include drowsiness, chronic headache, uncoordinated behavior, dizziness, seizures and coma.

Cardiovascular System: Irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, faint pulse, and chest pain are irregularities caused by antidepressant overdoses, too.

Like overdoses for most drugs, treatment related to Trazodone begins at the site of the incident. If you, a loved one or a stranger is showing onset symptoms of an overdose, the best course of action is to contact poison control and 911.

Be prepared to give an accurate account of the scenario. This includes information about the victim’s age, weight and height. Additionally, it is helpful to know how much of the Trazodone was ingested and in what specific time period.

At the hospital, victims can expect mostly preventative and symptom-specific care. There is no antidote for a Trazodone overdose — time is the greatest cure for such an overdose. Physicians may choose to administer intubation to promote proper breathing or a dose of activated charcoal to decontaminate the patient’s stomach contents. Nearly all Trazodone overdoses are manageable with immediate treatment efforts.

Trazodone and other substances can create serious and deadly combinations. If you or someone you know is dealing with an addiction to drugs or alcohol, call The Recovery Village to learn more about healing resources that could save a life. 

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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