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Trazodone is a medication that has been used for decades to treat various mental health conditions. It is a type of antidepressant that is effective in treating depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. However, along with its benefits, there are also risks and side effects that come along with taking this medication. In this article, we will explore the history of trazodone, how it works, its benefits, risks, dosage, and administration.

What is Trazodone?

Trazodone is a medication that belongs to the class of drugs known as serotonin receptor antagonists and reuptake inhibitors (SARIs). It was first introduced in the 1960s as an antidepressant. Although it has been mainly used to treat depression, it is also used to treat other mental health conditions such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and sleep disorders. Trazodone is sold under the brand name Desyrel.

The History of Trazodone

The history of trazodone can be traced back to the 1960s when it was introduced as a new type of antidepressant. It was initially considered to be a potent antidepressant, but later it was discovered to have sedative properties that helped people with sleep disorders. It was then approved as a medication for both depression and insomnia in the late 1970s. Since then, it has become one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the world.

Trazodone was initially developed as a treatment for depression, but it soon became clear that it had other benefits as well. In the 1980s, researchers began to study the effects of trazodone on sleep. They found that it helped people fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. This led to its approval as a treatment for insomnia in the United States.

How Trazodone Works

Like other antidepressants that work on the brain's neurotransmitters, trazodone works by blocking the reuptake of serotonin in the brain. This increases the amount of serotonin available in the brain, which helps to relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety. Trazodone is also known to have an impact on other neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine and dopamine.

Unlike other antidepressants, trazodone does not have a significant impact on the release of neurotransmitters. Instead, it enhances the effect of these neurotransmitters by increasing their availability in the brain.

One of the benefits of trazodone is that it has a relatively low risk of causing addiction or dependence. This makes it a popular choice for people who are looking for a medication to help them manage their depression or anxiety without the risk of becoming addicted.

Trazodone is also known for its sedative properties, which make it an effective treatment for insomnia. It is often prescribed to people who have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep throughout the night. In addition to its sedative properties, trazodone is also known to have anxiolytic effects, which means that it can help to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.

Overall, trazodone is a versatile medication that can be used to treat a range of mental health conditions. Its ability to relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and insomnia makes it a popular choice for people who are looking for a medication to help them manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Benefits of Trazodone

Treating Depression

Trazodone is primarily used to treat depression. It has been shown to be effective for both mild and severe depression. It works best when taken regularly, and it may take several weeks to feel the full effects of the medication. It has been found to be especially effective in people who have not responded well to other types of antidepressants.

Improving Sleep Quality

Trazodone is widely prescribed as a sleep aid. It is especially useful for people who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Trazodone helps to reduce the time it takes to fall asleep and to increase the duration of sleep. It has also been found to improve the quality of sleep.

Reducing Anxiety

Trazodone has been shown to be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety. It is often used in combination with other medications to treat anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder or post-traumatic stress disorder. It has been found to be particularly helpful in reducing anxiety symptoms that are associated with depression.

Off-Label Uses

Trazodone has been found to have several off-label uses, meaning uses that are not approved by the FDA. For instance, it has been found to be helpful in managing pain, particularly chronic pain. It has also been found to be effective in treating hot flashes associated with menopause.

Risks and Side Effects of Trazodone

Trazodone is a medication commonly prescribed to treat depression and anxiety disorders. While it can be an effective treatment option, it's important to be aware of the potential risks and side effects associated with this medication.

Common Side Effects

Some common side effects of trazodone include dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, blurred vision, and constipation. These side effects are generally mild and go away on their own. However, if they persist or worsen, it's important to contact your healthcare provider.

In addition to these common side effects, trazodone can also cause weight gain, headaches, and nausea. While these side effects are less common, they can still be problematic for some individuals.

Serious Side Effects

In rare cases, trazodone can cause serious side effects, such as suicidal thoughts, irregular heartbeat, seizures, and low blood pressure. It's important to seek medical attention if you experience any of these symptoms.

While the risk of these serious side effects is low, it's important to be aware of them and to seek medical attention if you experience any unusual symptoms while taking trazodone.

Interactions with Other Medications

Trazodone can interact with other medications, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and anticonvulsants. It's important to tell your healthcare provider about all the medications you're taking, including over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements, to avoid potential interactions.

Some medications can increase the risk of side effects associated with trazodone, while others can decrease its effectiveness. Your healthcare provider can help you determine if trazodone is the right medication for you, and can help you manage any potential interactions with other medications.


Trazodone should not be taken by individuals who are allergic to it or have a history of priapism, a painful and prolonged erection. It should also be used with caution in individuals with a history of heart disease, liver disease, or seizures.

If you have any of these conditions, it's important to discuss them with your healthcare provider before taking trazodone. Your healthcare provider can help you determine if trazodone is the right medication for you, and can help you manage any potential risks associated with its use.

In conclusion, while trazodone can be an effective treatment option for depression and anxiety disorders, it's important to be aware of the potential risks and side effects associated with this medication. By working closely with your healthcare provider, you can ensure that trazodone is the right medication for you, and that you're using it safely and effectively.

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Dosage and Administration

Starting Dose

The starting dose of trazodone varies depending on the individual's age, weight, and medical condition. The usual starting dose for adults is 150mg per day, divided into two or three doses. The starting dose for older adults may be lower.

Adjusting the Dose

To achieve the desired effect, the dose of trazodone may need to be adjusted. It's important to follow your healthcare provider's instructions and not to adjust the dose on your own.

How to Take Trazodone Safely

Trazodone should be taken exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. It's important to take it at the same time each day to maintain a consistent level of the medication in your blood. Do not stop taking trazodone suddenly as this may cause withdrawal symptoms. Talk to your healthcare provider if you wish to stop taking trazodone.


Trazodone is an effective medication for treating depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. While it has several benefits, it also comes with risks and side effects that need to be carefully considered. It's important to use trazodone as prescribed, keep your healthcare provider informed of any changes in your symptoms or side effects, and seek medical attention if necessary. With proper use, trazodone can offer relief from symptoms and improve a person's quality of life.