What is Trazodone and What is it Used For?

Trazodone is the generic form of a medication called Desyrel, but what is trazodone, and what is it used for? 

Share This Post

Depression is a major mental health issue in the United States, affecting a sizeable portion of both the adult and juvenile populations.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, it is estimated that 17.3 million American adults, or about 7.1 percent of the population, suffered from a major depressive episode in 2017.

While there are many different ways to treat depression, including lifestyle modifications and talk therapy, many people who suffer from major depressive disorder need the assistance of medications like trazodone to find adequate relief from their symptoms.

Trazodone is the generic form of a medication called Desyrel, but what is trazodone, and what is it used for? 

What is Trazodone?

Trazodone is the generic form of Desyrel and belongs to a class of medications called atypical antidepressants.

Atypical antidepressants like trazodone are used to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety.

Trazodone was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the brand name Desyrel in 1981, which means that its use and effects have been studied extensively since it has been in use for nearly 40 years.

What is Trazodone Used to Treat?

Trazodone is primarily used for the treatment of clinical depression, also known as major depressive disorder. It is also used for the treatment of anxiety and is sometimes prescribed for insomnia off-label. 

Clinical Depression/Major Depressive Disorder

There are numerous types of depression, but when depression is experienced for an extended period of time, it is called clinical depression, also known as major depressive disorder or major depression.

Major depressive disorder is characterized by feelings of intense and persistent sadness that last for a minimum of two weeks, but the symptoms often last for much longer. 

Mental symptoms of clinical depression include things like a loss of interest in hobbies that were previously enjoyed, feelings of worthlessness, sadness, and hopelessness, but there are also physical symptoms associated with depression.

Commonly, patients with clinical depression may experience changes to their eating and sleeping patterns. People with major depressive disorder can also experience suicidal thoughts or behaviors

Symptoms of major depressive disorder include:

  • Feelings of moving or thinking in slow motion
  • Sleeping and eating more or less than usual
  • Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, hopelessness, or helplessness
  • Feeling sad, empty, or tearful
  • Difficulty concentrating and low energy
  • Lost of interest in activities you used to enjoy
  • Nervous energy
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors


The most common type of anxiety is generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

While the vast majority of people will experience feelings of anxiety at some point in their lives in different situations, anxiety becomes a mental health problem when the feelings become extreme, interfere with a person’s quality of life, or last for more than six months.

Anxiety is the natural response to the body during times of stress, and it is characterized as apprehension or fear about the future.

People with GAD find that they have chronic anxiety that is generally not provoked by any specific situation or fear.

Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:

  • Panic attacks (which when recurring, might indicate a panic disorder)
  • Difficulty falling asleep 
  • Restlessness 
  • An increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Trouble concentrating

Is Trazodone Used for Sleep?

Although trazodone was initially designed to treat depression and anxiety, it is commonly prescribed today as a sleeping pill for people with trouble sleeping.

Trazodone is a popular choice as a sleep aid because it provides a sedative effect for many patients, creating feelings of sleepiness and relaxation. Unlike other prescription insomnia medications, including Ambien and Lunesta, trazodone is not a controlled substance, and the potential for misuse and abuse of the prescription drug is much lower.

Trazodone is a generic drug that is highly accessible and affordable, and unlike controlled substances, your doctor is not limited in the number of pills that can be prescribed.

People who take trazodone for sleep typically begin to feel the effects of the medication in about 30 minutes. 

YouTube player

How Does Trazodone Work?

Trazodone is an atypical antidepressant, which means it works differently than antidepressants belonging to other classes, including Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), and tricyclic antidepressants.

Trazodone works by increasing the number of natural neurotransmitters in the central nervous system, including serotonin.

This action helps to restore depleted chemicals in the brain. Serotonin plays a major role in regulating the body’s sleep cycle in addition to mood, digestion, appetite, memory, desire, and sexual function.

Although researchers have yet to pinpoint the exact cause of depression, trazodone is able to treat the condition by inhibiting the uptake of serotonin by certain nerves and stimulating other nerves.

How Do I Know What Dose of Trazodone to Take?

Your health care professional will help determine the right dose of trazodone for you based on your age and the medical condition being treated with trazodone.

It sometimes takes trying several different dosages before finding the right dose of trazodone for you. Trazodone is available in 50 mg, 100 mg, 150 mg, and 300 mg strengths.

Adults suffering from major depressive disorder typically receive an initial dose of 150 mg per day taken in divided doses, with an outpatient daily maximum dosage of 400 mg per day.

Other times, patients may be put on low doses to start. When used on an inpatient basis, patients may receive up to 600 mg per day. The effects of Trazodone are normally experienced in about four weeks.

If the dose of trazodone is changed or if there’s abrupt discontinuation, patients can experience withdrawal symptoms, particularly if they have been taking the medication for six weeks or more.

Patients should not change their dose of trazodone or stop using the medication without advice from their healthcare provider. Symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Dizziness
  • Agitation
  • Confusion
  • Tingling
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating
  • Numbness
  • Feelings of electric shock

What are the Side Effects of Trazodone?

The most common side effects associated with trazodone are generally mild, but some people may experience more serious side effects. Side effects associated with trazodone include:

  • Blurred vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Swelling
  • Disorientation
  • Nasal congestion
  • Fainting
  • Weight change
  • Decreased libido
  • Sedation
  • Anxiety
  • Anemia
  • Double vision
  • Urinary retention
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Constipation
  • Confusion
  • Lack of coordination
  • Feeling faint or dizzy when standing
  • Lightheadedness
  • Tremors
  • Ejaculation disorder
  • Painful erection
  • Hair loss
  • Acne
  • Increased appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Vertigo

Are Any Drug Interactions Associated with Trazodone?

There are numerous drug interactions associated with trazodone, most of which are moderate to mild. However, some medications can cause severe interactions when taken with trazodone. These medications include, but are not limited to:

  • Arsenic trioxide
  • Cisapride
  • Eliglustat
  • Indapamide
  • Pentamidine
  • Pimozide
  • Saquinavir
  • Terfenadine
  • Astemizole
  • Disopyramide
  • Ibutilide
  • Isocarboxazid
  • Phenelzine
  • Procainamide
  • Sotalol
  • Tranylcypromine
  • Phenytoin

What Risks are Associated with Trazodone?

Regardless of whether you take trazodone to treat depression, anxiety, insomnia, or another condition, there are risks of adverse effects associated with use of the medication.

The FDA lists the following risks associated with trazodone, and you should seek medical advice or medical attention if these symptoms become apparent:

  • Thoughts of suicide, especially in young adults and children
  • Serotonin syndrome, a dangerous condition in which too much serotonin builds up in the body, leading to potentially serious reactions. Taking antidepressant medications like fluoxetine while also taking trazodone can increase this risk. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:
    • Hallucinations
    • Dizziness
    • Agitation
    • Seizures
    • Increased heart rate
    • Headaches
    • Increased body temperature
    • Muscle tremor
    • Trouble with balance
    • Rigidity
    • Nausea
    • Diarrhea
    • Vomiting
  • Cardiac arrhythmia, particularly in people who already have heart problems
  • Priapism
  • Hypotension, or sudden low blood pressure when moving from sitting to standing
  • Increased risk of bleeding, particularly in patients taking blood thinners
  • Mania
  • Blurred vision
  • Hyponatremia, a dangerous sodium imbalance that can cause the following symptoms:
    • Headache
    • Weakness
    • Seizures
    • Confusion
    • Unsteadiness

Who Should Not Take Trazodone?

People who take certain types of drugs known to cause dangerous interactions with trazodone, including monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO inhibitors/MAOIs) such as isocarboxazid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, selegiline, linezolid, rasagiline, and tranylcypromine, and people taking blood thinners should not take trazodone.

People who are allergic to trazodone of nefazodone should not take the medication.

Some other groups of people should also use caution when taking trazodone.

Be sure to give your doctor a complete medical history, especially including any personal or family history examples of:

  • Allergic reactions to any drugs or supplements
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Bleeding or blood clotting disorder
  • Narrow-angle glaucoma
  • Drug addiction
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Heart disease or recent heart attack
  • Seizures or epilepsy
  • Long QT syndrome

Older adults are more likely to experience side effects when taking trazodone, particularly bleeding and loss of coordination.

Loss of coordination can lead to an increased risk of falling, which can be serious and even fatal for the elderly. Older adults are also at increased risk of developing low blood sodium. 

References, Studies and Sources:










We are committed to providing our readers with only trusted resources and science-based studies with regards to medication and health information. 

Disclaimer: This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. If you suspect medical problems or need medical help or advice, please talk with your healthcare professional.

Share This Post

Pharmacists.org Discount Club

Get Started for $1.

  • Cheapest cash pay option at your retail pharmacy
  • 1,000s of drugs below $10.00 that can beat your co-pay
  • Start for $1 for your first month. Cancel anytime. 
  • Tell us your meds, we tell you the cheapest options.

Popular Destinations

Recent Articles

trusted pharmacists giving patient information

Does Taking Effexor Cause Weight Gain?

Taking Effexor may cause weight gain in some patients. Weight gain is a common side effect of Effexor and other antidepressant medications, and more than half of patients on newer classes of antidepressants report experiencing weight gain.

Read More »

Cerebral Review: Online Depression & Anxiety Treatment

Today, we’re deep diving with a Cerebral review to give you some insider info to help you narrow down your choices.

We review and include products we think are useful for our community. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a commission. For more info, please read our ad policy, content principles and vetting policy.

Read More »

Share On:

More To Explore

Does Taking Effexor Cause Weight Gain?

Taking Effexor may cause weight gain in some patients. Weight gain is a common side effect of Effexor and other antidepressant medications, and more

How Long Does Lexapro Take To Work?

If you are considering taking Lexapro for your depression or anxiety, you might be wondering how long it takes to work.

Zoloft and Weight Loss: Everything You Need To Know

When it comes to Zoloft and weight loss, here’s everything you need to know.

Cerebral Review: Online Depression & Anxiety Treatment

Today, we’re deep diving with a Cerebral review to give you some insider info to help you narrow down your choices.

We review and include

What are the signs of Depression?

In this article, we will discuss the signs and symptoms of depression as well as some treatment options for this condition.

Can You Use Gabapentin For Anxiety?

While Neurontin is the most common brand name for gabapentin, other forms (such as Horizant and Gralise) may be prescribed depending on the specific

What is Zoloft?

If you have been recently diagnosed with depression and are given Zoloft, you may want to know how the medication works, what common side

What is Venlafaxine HCL ER?

The prescription drug belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (SNRIs), which are commonly used to treat mental

Using Prozac With Alcohol: What Are the Risks?

Prozac can be used to treat many different mental health conditions, is associated with a relatively low risk of side effects, and causes the

How Long Does Clonazepam Stay in Your System?

This fast-acting medication is known for being effective at panic attacks, but how long does clonazepam stay in your system?

What is Sertraline and What are the Side Effects?

Sertraline is the generic form of Zoloft, a medication that belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs like

Turn On, Tune In, and…. Heal Your Brain? Psychedelics Return as Potential Therapy for Mental Health Disorders

Before they fell out of favor over half a century ago, psychedelic drugs, like psilocybin and LSD, were studied for various psychiatric diseases such

How Long Does Alprazolam Stay in Your System?

Alprazolam is a fast-acting medication, but exactly how long alprazolam stays in your body varies tremendously based on the form of the medication taken,

Paxil vs Zoloft: Differences, Similarities and Which is Better

When it comes to Paxil vs. Zoloft, which is better?

A Supplement for Stress? The Science Behind Adaptogens

Stress is part of all our lives. Adaptogens are a group of herbal supplements studied throughout history as a way to improve the body’s

Does Buspirone Cause Weight Gain?

Many antidepressants can cause weight gain as a side effect. Buspirone may cause an altered appetite as a side effect, which can lead to

Duloxetine Withdrawal: Symptoms, Timeline, and Treatment

Duloxetine withdrawal is very common and well documented, affecting nearly half of all patients. Common withdrawal symptoms include dizziness, headaches, and nausea, and symptoms

Cymbalta vs. Prozac: Comparison Guide

Cymbalta and Prozac are commonly prescribed medications to treat mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder. The medications are similarly effective, although one

How Long Does Ativan Stay in Your System?

If you use Ativan to manage your health but are curious about how long Ativan lasts in your system, we have all the information

Why is Mental Health Important?

As the saying goes, “There is no health without mental health,” but why is mental health so important? The reality is that although we

What is BuSpar? Uses, Costs, Benefits, and Doses

If you’re one of 40 million American adults suffering from an anxiety disorder or experiencing symptoms of anxiety, you might think that your battle

What are Long-Acting Injectable Antipsychotics? 

Long-acting injectable (LAI) antipsychotics have been shown to prevent psychosis relapse in patients with schizophrenia. To combat poor medication adherence, LAIs are a great

Cymbalta vs Effexor: Differences and Side Effects

Effexor and Cymbalta are antidepressants used for the treatment of major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Although both medications are FDA-approved, Effexor and

Celexa vs Lexapro: Which is Better For Depression?

Both are regarded as equally effective drugs for treating depression. Find out the core difference between Celexa vs. Lexpro now!

What is Ativan? Uses, Costs, Benefits, Doses

More than 40 million adults in the United States are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, making it the most common mental illness in the

Lexapro Overdose: Signs, Symptoms, and Precautions

We’ve put together a list of the signs and symptoms to look out for when it comes to Lexapro overdose and some of the

Panic Attacks: The Story of an Overpowering Fear

Panic attacks are when you experience a sudden feeling of intense fear with no apparent threat or danger.  This triggers a "fight or flight"

Using Lorazepam with Alcohol: What Are the Risks?

Using lorazepam with alcohol is incredibly dangerous but can be a common occurrence, and is associated with potentially life-threatening side effects, which are outlined

Using Citalopram with Alcohol: What Are the Risks?

Mixing antidepressants with alcohol is always potentially dangerous, but using citalopram with alcohol is particularly unsafe due to the high potential for life-threatening side

Brightside Health Review: Is This Depression & Anxiety Care Useful?

Brightside is an online mental healthcare company that provides treatment services for a range of issues related to anxiety and depression. These conditions include