Trazodone is not a new drug by any means, as it’s been in use for decades, but in recent years doctors and researchers have seen the expanded uses it can have to treat a variety of conditions and symptoms.
The following provides an overview of trazodone medication and uses, and answers “what is trazodone prescribed for.”
Trazodone medication is a prescription, generic drug that’s classified as an antidepressant. More specifically, it impacts certain serotonin receptor sites in the brain and balances levels of serotonin. This helps symptoms of depression including mood, appetite, outlook and sleep patterns.
Trazodone is specifically classified as a serotonin modulator, and the FDA first approved it in 1981. It’s primarily available as a generic drug, although there is the brand name Oleptro version of the drug.
This oral drug is available as both a regular and extended-release tablet, and a physician will usually start a patient on the lowest possible dosage of trazodone medication and then they may increase the dosage every few days until the desired response is reached. The typical daily dose of trazodone is anywhere from 150 to 375 mg in most patients.
While trazodone is considered to have a relatively low risk profile compared to a lot of other antidepressants and drugs that have similar effects, there are black box warnings that come with it.
Drugs that are used for the treatment of depression, which includes trazodone, may cause or increase suicidal thoughts or actions in some people when they first start taking these drugs. This is particularly true for children, teens, and young adults. When someone is prescribed trazodone it’s important they keep a close eye on any changes in mood or behavior.
It can also cause serotonin syndrome if someone is taking another drug that influences serotonin levels, and this can be potentially deadly.
Other possible severe side effects of trazodone can include fast or irregular heartbeat, low blood pressure, an erection lasting longer than six hours, and something called hyponatremia, which means you have low levels of sodium in your blood.
Some of the common side effects of trazodone can include blurry vision, sleepiness, dizziness, and constipation. For the most part, these tend to subside after a few days or weeks of taking the medication.
The following gives more information on what trazodone medication is prescribed for.
The FDA-approved use for trazodone is as an antidepressant, but it has many other off-label uses as well. One of the most common is as a sleep aid. Trazodone is often given to patients who suffer from insomnia, and it is less expensive, has fewer side effects and is generally less addictive than most other sleep aids available, such as Ambien.
Trazodone uses can also include the treatment of anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, symptoms of schizophrenia and uncontrolled movements that are the result of side effects from other medications.
Trazodone for pain is also a frequent off-label use of the drug, and in particular, it can be useful for chronic pain.
In many cases, people who have chronic pain are given antidepressants along with medications that control the pain itself, and this is because of the effects chronic pain can have on mood and the likelihood of developing depression.
In general, as compared to other sleep aids and anti-anxiety medicines, trazodone is viewed as being relatively non-addictive and have a low potential for abuse. According to the FDA, there aren’t any reported cases of a trazodone high, although at very high doses some effects such as hallucinations may be possible. Trazodone can also cause some effects on the central nervous system, as a depressant.
While a trazodone high isn’t a reported effect with this drug, if you mix it with certain other substances, it can amplify the effects of those. For example, if you combine trazodone and alcohol it can increase your responsiveness to the alcohol. This can occur with any type of central nervous system depressants, which is why it’s important to let your doctor know of any other substances you use before taking trazodone.
What is trazodone prescribed for? It’s primarily prescribed for depression as well as anxiety. This atypical antidepressant is believed to affect serotonin levels in the brain, but along with treating depression and anxiety, it can be helpful for a variety of other conditions.
For example, trazodone uses can include treating symptoms of anxiety and pain, including chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia.
There are a few advantages of trazodone over other medicines used to treat these conditions including the fact that it tends to be less expensive, and it also has a lower risk of abuse and addiction as compared to classes of drugs like benzodiazepines and pain medications.
The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with 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 providers.