Trazodone is a generic medication commonly marketed under the brand names Desyrel® and Oleptro™. It is an antidepressant, specifically a serotonin modulator, that is prescribed to treat depression. By acting on the serotonin levels in the brain, trazodone may help restore mental balance and alleviate depression symptoms.
Most patients may be prescribed a lower dose of trazodone initially, and the doctor may gradually increase the dose every three to four days until symptoms abate. The prescribed dose may then gradually decrease once the patient's depression is managed. Trazodone treatment is not a cure, but rather it may help manage symptoms. This medication is taken as a tablet by mouth, sometimes two or more times daily with a meal or snack.
Some side effects may occur with the use of trazodone, which should be reported to the doctor if they are persistent or become bothersome. Patients may notice nausea, vomiting, and bad taste in the mouth. Dizziness, drowsiness, and diarrhea may also occur. Some have reported headaches or a “heavy” feeling in the head, changes in weight or appetite, and blurred vision. Changes in sexual desire or ability, constipation, and stuffy nose may also occur, along with muscle pains.
More serious side effects may also occur rarely, which require a doctor's immediate care. Men who experience priapism, which is an erection lasting four or more hours, should go to the emergency room. Other potentially serious problems can include pain in the jaw, chest, or left arm. Signs of a possible allergic reaction may include facial swelling, severe dizziness, and problems breathing.
Trazodone may also rarely cause ringing in the ears, nightmares, and uncontrollable shaking. Some patients have reported fainting and unusual nightmares. Bloody urine or difficult urination, decreased coordination, and signs of an infection, such as fever, sore throat, or chills have been reported.
Before using trazodone, patients must disclose their other medical conditions. It is not intended for use by women who are breastfeeding and it is strongly recommended that women who are pregnant avoid the use of this drug. Trazodone may be contraindicated for use by those with a history of suicide attempts or bipolar disorder, as well as kidney or liver disease, blood pressure problems, and heart disease.
Patients must also disclose their other medications and supplements, as well as other types of treatments they are undergoing, including surgery and electroshock therapy. This drug may not be used for patients who take gingko, St. John's wort, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). It can also interact with erythromycin, other antidepressants, and seizure medicines. In addition, patients must avoid the use of alcohol to prevent worsened side effects and only consume grapefruit or grapefruit products as recommended by their doctors.