Trazodone is administered orally to treat depression and certain symptoms of anxiety. The drug influences the concentration of neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, norepinephrine, and serotonin in the brain cells. Acetylcholine is a known depressant, on the other hand neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and serotonin act as brain cell stimulants. It acts by increasing norepinephrine and serotonin concentration and tries to inhibit the action of acetylecholine.
Trazodone is an atypical antidepressant, which shares the properties of tricyclic antidepressants such as doxepin. It has properties of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants like sertraline. The following is a list of its side effects:
- Reduced appetite
- Dizziness in 10-30% patients
- Drowsiness in as many as 50% patients
- Body discomforts and dry mouth.
- Headache, lightheadedness, and sleeplessness
- Problems in coordinating movements
- Muscle aches
- One may feel tremors, nauseous, tired, and nervous.
- Stomach or chest pain
- Blood in urine
- Irregular heartbeat
- Lightheadedness after getting up from a lying position
- Sustained, untimely, or painful erections
- Allergic reactions: The allergy can be in the form of:
- One may experience tightness in the chest leading to shortness of breath and labored breathing.
- Swelling of skin.
- Swelling in mouth, face, lips, or tongue
- Psychiatric side effects:
- Self-destructive behavior
Trazodone is well-known for its most pronounced sedating effect and one may feel that alertness is less than usual. It is advisable that, whilst you are taking it, you should not drive or perform any activity that demands mental alertness and physical coordination. The side effects are more pronounced in the early stages of the treatment, which however lessens or disappears with the continuation of the medication. It increases the heart rate, hence it is important to consult your physician before taking it if you have a history of heart disease or have recently had a heart attack.
Elderly patients suffering from benign prostatic hypertrophy, glaucoma, especially severe glaucoma, and urinary retention should be careful and seek medical guidance before starting this medication. Also, since it promotes urine retention, medical guidance is important. Trazodone and other antidepressants (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) when taken together may increase serotonin levels in the brain cells. This could lead to a condition known as serotonin syndrome.
The drugs like trazodone are depression medications used to treat different types of mood disorders. For these reasons, a psychiatrist or physician must supervise the administration of this drug. As he or she may be in a better position to prescribe the correct dosage. Studies show that the use of antidepressants is increasing in the United States by the year. 13 million people in 1996 and 27 million people in 2005, were prescribed an antidepressant. In the United States, a 2005 study report says that 11% of non-institutionalized women and 5% of men take antidepressants. Every drug has its side effects and trazodone is not an exception. However, the problems can be avoided if it is taken under medical supervision.