Treatment for major depressive disorders includes the use of medications that belong to the category of serotonin uptake inhibitor. Trazodone classified as a reuptake inhibitor and serotonin receptor antagonist, is one among the many medications used in treating the disorder. It is also used in the treatment of anxiety disorders, and is known to be comparable in terms of effectiveness with drugs known as tricyclic antidepressants. A common question of patients is about the onset of action and the half-life of the drug. Following sub sections offer answers to the question – how long does trazodone stay in your system? This will help patients and caregivers to manage dosages more effectively, and ensure that patients receive the best desired outcome.

Overview and mechanism of action of trazodone

As outlined above, the medication is known to be effective in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders. Specific properties of the drug make it different from other medications for the conditions; trazodone does not cause insomnia and does not impact sexual abilities, like other drugs that belong to SSRI and SNRI category.

How does trazodone work?

Trazodone works by the effects it brings about in specific receptors – for instance, histamine and serotonin receptors. While the actual mechanism of action is yet to be fully documented or proved, certain properties and actions are linked to the outcomes. It inhibits the absorption of serotonin, and also blocks histamine. Additionally, the drug is known to have an impact on serotonin transporters, and the combined effects of the mechanism of action deliver the desired outcomes. Various properties of trazodone make it different from the properties and mechanism of action of other antidepressants.

How long does trazodone stay in your system?

With basic information about the drug in place, it is time to answer the above question. It is first necessary to know more about the half life of the drug, which determines the length of time that the drug will remain in the body. Half life refers to the time taken for the amount of active substance of any drug to reduce in the body. This time is always assessed as the time taken for the volume or quantity to reduce by half. Certain drugs make take as much as weeks for a reduction in amount, while some may reduce in just a few hours.

A shorter half-life of a drug will result in relatively more withdrawal symptoms, while a longer half-life will result in relatively lesser withdrawal symptoms. Individuals experiencing withdrawal symptoms from a drug are typically recommended replacement drugs with longer half-life. The half life of trazodone is estimated to be anywhere between 5 and 13 hours after intake. In other words, the amount of trazodone in the body will reduce by half during this period.

Other aspects that impact half-life of a drug in the body

There are various other factors that impact the half-life of a drug in the body, apart from the properties of the medication. For instance, the dosage of the drug, and the age of the patient can have an impact on the time the drug stays in the body. With advancing age, the speed with which drugs are processed slow down and the drugs may remain in elderly patients for a longer time than younger patients. The body mass, weight and amount of fat in the body can have an impact on the speed with which the drug is metabolized and stored. Other factors that impact the half life of a drug include the period of intake of treatment with the drug. Finally, genetic traits have an impact on the rate of metabolism, as liver function and enzymes are directly linked to genetics.

Presence of Trazodone in hair, blood and saliva

Trazodone breaks down into metabolites and this in turn is stored in hair; and can remain in hair for as long as three months. Presence of the antidepressant can be detected in blood up to 72 hours after intake of the drug. As mentioned, the drug breaks down into metabolites, and the presence of metabolites can be detected in saliva for as long as four days after intake.

Possible side effects of Trazodone

All drugs come with the possibility of undesirable effects, and Trazodone is no exception. While trazodone does not have any known addictive properties, there are other undesirable effects, and this includes withdrawal symptoms. For instance, patients may experience negative impact on sleep, apart from an agitated behavior and possible anxiety. Other known side effects include possible serotonin syndrome due to increased levels of serotonin. While this is rare in occurrence, the possibility cannot be ruled out. Individuals are known to experience headaches when on the drug, while some are known to have feelings of nausea. Bouts of constipation and dry mouth are other possible adverse effects of the medication.

Serious side effects

Adverse effects of the drug, though rare, include possible change in the color of the whites of the eyes, or change in color of skin to yellow. This indicates impact on liver and is less noticeable in individuals with dark complexion. Individuals may also experience difficulty in passing urine or stools. Other possible effects include frequent or abnormal bruising, while some are known to end up with infections more frequently.

Heart beat rates are also known to reduce to abnormal or low levels. The medication is also known to have contrasting effects on sexual function at times. For instance, some are known to have painful erections that could last longer and this could sometimes last for as long as two hours. In such instances, it is necessary to seek medical assistance. Allergic reactions are also a possibility and this includes anaphylaxis, which is a life threatening condition. Patients and caretakers are to look out for possible tell tale symptoms of this condition and take suitable remedial action immediately.

A note of caution about overdosing – The daily dosage should never exceed 600 mg to avoid drug overdose and adverse outcomes.

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