Trazodone: Uses, Dosage and Side Effects

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Trazodone is psychoactive drug used majorly as an antidepressant to treat severe cases of depression. As a prescription drug, it can also be used to treat different types of sleeping disorder caused by certain medical conditions like hypertension and depression. It affects chemicals in the brain that may be out of balance. Generic trazodone is available in limited strengths but is more affordable than the brand ones. Different brand names include Oleptro, Desyrel and Desyrel Dividose. It comes as immediate-release and extended-release tablets.

 

How to Use Trazodone

 

The FDA approves trazodone specifically for the treatment of major depressive disorder. They may also be used to treat other conditions like sleeping disorder. Make sure your doctor approves this drug before using it. Tell your doctor if you have any medical condition before using trazodone. If you are undergoing treatment with methylene blue injection, do not use this drug. Do not take trazodone if you have taken an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. MAO inhibitors interact with this drug leading to dangerous effects. Examples of this inhibitor include: isocarboxazid, linezolid, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline and tranylcypromine. Make sure to wait 14 days starting MAO medication after taking trazodone.

Read the instructions on the package label carefully before using this drug. Check if you are allergic to any ingredient contained in the drug. Discuss any concern you may have regarding the information on the package label. Your doctor will tell you if you are to take this drug with or without meal. Different brands and drug types are taken differently e.g. Oleptal should be taken on an empty stomach before bedtime or late evening while the immediate release tablet should be taken after meal or snack. Do not break, chew or crush an extended-release tablet. Make sure to take them whole with a glass of water. You may break a trazodone tablet when necessary if it has a score line.

Use trazodone exactly as specified by your doctor. Symptoms may improve in two weeks but continue using your drug. Do not stop taking this drug until your doctor says so. Stopping this medication suddenly can cause withdrawal symptoms which will make your condition worse. Your doctor will guide you on how to stop this drug when the time comes. Tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve or get worse after two weeks.

 

Dosage

 

Adhere strictly to the dosage recommended by your doctor. Your prescribed dosage will be determined by your age, the extent of your condition, the state of your health and how you respond to treatment. Any alteration to your dosage should be determined by your doctor.

Usual adult dose of trazodone for depression (immediate-release tablet):

An initial dose of 150 mg daily (divided dose) is often recommended. This may be increased to 50 mg taken 3-4 times daily. For patients who are not monitored round the clock by the doctor, the maximum dose should not exceed 400 mg (divided dose) daily. Inpatients under constant supervision can take up to 600 mg (divided doses) daily but must not exceed it. Take the immediate-release tablet shortly  after meal daily.

For extended-release tablets:

An initial dose of 150 mg should be taken once daily. Dosage can be increased by 75 mg per day every three days. Recommended maximum daily dose is 375 mg and must not be exceeded. Take the extended-release tablet on an empty stomach at the same time everyday, preferably before bedtime. Your doctor may reduce your dosage as you get better, depending on how you respond to treatment. You will be closely monitored for withdrawal symptoms as you are gradually weaned off trazodone.

When using extended-release trazodone to manage major depressive disorder, medication should continue for several months. Its efficacy for the maintenance of major depressive disorder has not been properly evaluated. Patients should be placed on the lowest effective dose for the maintenance of this health condition. Their condition and response to treatment will be reassessed periodically to know if treatment should continue. Trazodone is not approved for paediatric use by the FDA.

In any case of a missed dose, take the dose immediately you remember. If it is almost time for the next dose skip the missed dose, wait till the next dose time and take only a single dose. Do not double your dose to make up for a missed dose. If you accidentally overdose contact the emergency room or call your doctor immediately.

 

Major Side Effects of Trazodone

 

The most severe side effect of trazodone reported regarding male patients is the prolonged and painful erection of the penis. This can lead to a very serious medical condition and must be corrected with a surgery. Get to the emergency room immediately you notice this symptom. Other side effects include:

  • Blurred vision associated with eye pain and swelling
  • Headache accompanied by chest pain and severe dizziness
  • Fast heartbeat that may lead to fainting
  • Tight and tensed neck or jaw that eventually spreads to the shoulder
  • Profuse sweating
  • Hallucination, anxiety and overactive reflexes
  • Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Loss of coordination, confusion and slurred speech
  • Severe weakness and unsteady feeling
  • Tremors and severe nervous system reaction
  • Constipation, dry mouth and altered sense of taste
  • Drowsiness and dizziness

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects. Your doctor will monitor your progress while on this medication. The effects of trazodone on your health will determine if you will continue taking the drug.

Tell your doctor if your symptoms worsen or you start experiencing new symptoms like mood changes, anxiety, panic attacks, agitation, hostility, restlessness, irritable or aggressive feelings, more depression and suicidal thoughts. If you are allergic to this medication or any other medical substance, let your doctor know.

 

Trazodone Precautions

It is important to let your doctor know your medical history especially if you have the following conditions;

  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Heart disease
  • Blood clotting disorder
  • Seizure or epilepsy
  • Narrow-angle glaucoma
  • Bipolar disorder
  • History of Long QT syndrome
  • History of blood abuse or suicidal thoughts
  • Any recent incident of heart attack

 

Do not start trazodone medication if you are pregnant. If you get pregnant while on this medication tell your doctor. If you suddenly stop taking this drug because of pregnancy you may experience withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor will guide you on what to do if you get pregnant while using trazodone. This medication can pass through breast milk into a baby’s system and may be harmful to babies that take breast milk. Let your doctor know if you plan to breastfeed while on this medication. People under the age of 18 should not take this drug without doctor’s permission.

Trazodone may make you dizzy; do not drive, use machinery or involve in activities that require alertness while on it. Limit your intake of alcohol while taking this medication as it may worsen the side effects. Store trazodone away from children and pets, in a cool dry place. Dispose unused drugs properly through a drug take-back program.

Click here to learn more about trazodone.

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