Trazodone

Medical Advice Diagnosis | AToN Center

Trazodone

Trazodone was originally developed as an antidepressant medication used to help treat symptoms of depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders. Because of the adverse side effects that people experienced with the medication, including dizziness, irregular heartbeat, and fainting, the drug was not favored in the community of medical professionals for treatment of these disorders.

After more research, they discovered that when the medicine was used in low doses, it could be used to treat patients who have a major depressive disorder. Today, a doctor may prescribe the drug under the brand name Oleptro to treat sleep disorders such as insomnia as well as anxiety disorder and unipolar depression.

Although trazodone was originally used to treat anxiety, panic attacks and depression disorders, a doctor may prescribe it as a nighttime sleep aid and for sleep problems. It is not considered one of the other true serotonin reuptake inhibitors, but trazodone may be used in treatment of these disorders. Before taking it, it is important to know the potential risk of taking this drug.

Why do People Take Trazodone?

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People take trazodone as a sleep aid for insomnia or to treat a certain mental health condition. For some people trazodone may be used as an antidepressant medication and it works to increase your energy level, mood, appetite, or overall view of life.

Taking sleep medications can help people get an overall better night’s rest as well as avoid the struggles that may occur when falling asleep. Taking it as an antidepressant helps people’s mood increase. Both drugs work by making changes in the neurotransmitter serotonin, a chemical in the central nervous system of the brain.

Side Effects of Trazodone

Taking trazodone can cause mild to severe side effects to occur. This is not a complete list of side effects. Discuss concerns with your doctor or pharmacist if you feel you are experiencing side effects or have other worries about your medicine.

Some common side effects and symptoms of trazodone medication include:

  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Sleepiness
  • Weight changes (in about 5 percent of adults who take it)
  • Nervousness
  • Drowsiness
  • Increase in blood pressure
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Increased body temperature
  • Headaches
  • Feeling sick
  • Constipation
  • A dry mouth

If you are experiencing any of the above side effects, it may be time to check the dose of the medication and tell your doctor about the side affects you are experiencing.

How is Trazodone Different from Ambien?

Trazodone and Ambien are two drugs that are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Both medicines are used to help in the treatment of insomnia. So, how are trazodone and Ambien medications different than each other? People take trazodone as antidepressants to treat major depressive disorder (depression) in adults. It is also used off-label for insomnia treatment. 

Ambien is typically used to treat insomnia for a short-term. Although, some people take Ambien for a the long-term, under the close supervision of their doctor. The main difference between trazodone and Ambien is that trazodone is classified as an antidepressant and Ambien is a sedative hypnotic medication. Ambien is a controlled substance and there is a high potential for abuse of these drugs.

Sedative hypnotics are a group of drugs that work in the central nervous system to reduce tension and anxiety and induce calm (sedative effect) or to induce sleep (hypnotic effect) and treat insomnia. Most of these medications exert a calming or quieting effect at a low dose and a sleep-inducing, drowsiness effect in a large dose. They can include both substances such as benzodiazepines as well as a prescription sleep aid from a doctor.

Other Drugs Used to Treat Insomnia

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Xanax

Another common drug that was used to treat sleep problems is Xanax. Xanax is a type of off-label drug that is used to treat certain conditions such as insomnia or sleep disturbances. It used to be prescribed in the early 1970’s but was later found to not be as effective as other medications for insomnia.

Benzodiazepines

These sleeping pills have been around for a while – examples are triazolam (Halcion), emazepam (Restoril), and others — may help people who are looking for a drug that stays in the system for a longer period of time. For instance, they have been effectively used to treat sleep problems such as night terrors or sleepwalking

Before Taking this Drug

To make sure this medicine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • A bleeding or blood clotting disorder
  • Liver or kidney disease or other liver problems
  • Heart disease, or a recent heart attack
  • Bipolar disorder (manic depression)
  • Epilepsy or seizures 
  • Narrow-angle glaucoma
  • Long QT syndrome
  • Suicidal thoughts or drug addiction 

Be sure to call your doctor before taking this medication to ensure the safety of the medicine and to review your specific health information. Trazodone can also cause changes in heart rhythm which could be serious so ask your doctor before taking this drug if you have had previous heart problems.

Trazodone is not meant for children and is only prescribed to adults over the age of 18 years old. If you are looking for advice on what medications are safe for your children, it is best to contact your doctor.

What Serotonin Syndrome?

Serotonin syndrome occurs when people take a medication that causes high levels of the chemical serotonin that accumulate in the body.

Serotonin syndrome symptoms usually occur within several hours of taking a new drug or increasing the dose of a drug you are already taking.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Loss of muscle coordination or twitching muscles
  • Confusion
  • Shivering
  • High blood pressure and rapid heart rate
  • Headache
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Goose bumps
  • Heavy sweating
  • Diarrhea

Serious drug interactions such as taking trazodone with MAO inhibitors can result in serotonin syndrome. If you are taking MAO inhibitors ask your doctor or healthcare provider before taking trazodone.

Is Trazodone Approved by the Food and Drug Administration?

Trazodone is approved by the FDA as prescription medications used for the medical treatment of depression. In addition to depression, this drug may also be prescribed by a doctor or mental health professional as a treatment for insomnia and may also be used to treat anxiety and panic attacks.

Are Sleeping Pills Addictive?

Sleeping pills such as trazodone may become addictive if the person begins to “need” the medication to get to sleep. Although technically a non-addictive substance, regular use of the medication can result in mild physical dependence.

People who take trazodone medicine and have a history of substance abuse or addiction have a higher risk of developing a dependence to the drug. Signs and symptoms of trazodone drug misuse include using the drug at higher doses than prescribed, crushing, or snorting the tablets to speed up the intended side effect, and using the sleep aid/antidepressant without a prescription.

Can you Overdose on Trazodone?

Yes, there is a risk for possible overdose from taking trazodone. The risk for overdose is more likely when people take the medications with some other drugs such as alcohol or benzodiazepines. Going through an overdose to trazodone medicine can be extremely dangerous and even fatal. Be sure to take the dose that is prescribed to you to avoid risk of overdosing from this medicine.

Symptoms of Overdose

Symptoms of trazodone overdose include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Heart rhythm changes
  • Respiratory arrest (stop breathing)

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