Drugs taken for reducing depression levels are known as antidepressants. They may be used for mental conditions like anxieties. They can also work to bring relief from pains. In most cases, your treating doctor may recommend co-administration of similar drugs or may recommend intake of antipsychotic drugs along with antidepressants. There are many types of antidepressant meds; the type of drug prescribed is based on your age, other clinical conditions, nature of side effects, etc. Trazodone is an antidepressant drug prescribed for the treatment of depression and other mental conditions. Before starting to take this drug, it is essential to know more about the likely adverse side effects.

The key function of an antidepressant is to ensure proper balance of neuro-transmitting agents in your brain. These transmitters are widely believed to influence your mental conditions and moods. Hence, striking the right balance of transmitters can improve your mental health as well as overall wellbeing. Trazodone is a commonly used drug for treating depressive conditions. This drug helps to restore the needful levels of chemicals such as serotonin and enables better mental wellbeing.

Intake of trazodone

Trazodone is taken orally. The typical medication plan can involve taking it once every day. However, based on your mental condition, your treating doctor may prescribe it twice per day. You may be advised to take it soon after a snack or a meal. Those who report drowsiness or dizziness after taking a dose may be advised to take it before bedtime. In case of two doses per day, ensure to take at least one of them before going to sleep.

It may be required to take this drug continuously even after seeing a few initial benefits. In other words, never discontinue taking it without informing your treating physician. In some cases, untimely discontinuation or stopping to take trazodone all of a sudden has led to recurrence of mental conditions. Untimely stoppage of the drug has led to discomforts like insomnia or sleep-based disorders, nervousness, being in an agitated state of mind, anxieties, etc. Also, it may take some days for the results to show up. In some cases, it has even taken nearly 40 days for initial relief to come by. However, you are advised to consult your treating physician if you are not able to notice any positive outcomes even after taking it for more than 1 month.

Side effects of trazodone

This drug is likely to cause a few side effects. The most common discomforts experienced soon after starting your medication plan include feeling dizzy, indigestion, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal discomforts like nausea, blurring of eyesight, etc. In some people, adverse reactions such as difficulties to pass stools, dryness of mouth, an inexplicable change in bodyweight, acute headaches, etc. have also been noticed. Other common adverse reactions are stuffed nasal airways; drop in libido or sexual drive and drowsiness. Many of these common discomforts and side effects may disappear once your system gets used to the active ingredients of trazodone.

Your physician may offer some simple techniques to manage the likely incidence of a few of these adverse side effects. In case of drowsiness or feeling dizzy, you are advised to change positions in a slow manner. So, when you are trying to wake up from a sleeping posture, you may need to change positions gradually. Dryness of lips can be best managed through intake of needful amounts of water, sucking on to chips of ice or hard-boiled candy. In case of non-availability of any of these items, it is recommended to use your saliva as an alternative.

A few acute side effects of  trazodone

Some of the acute side effects of trazodone may include having scary thoughts or dreams, involuntary shakes / tremors, traces of blood in the urine, problems faced while trying to discharge urine, increase in body temperature as well as a few respiratory problems. Difficulties while breathing may show up in the form of gasping, wheezing or shortness of breath, etc. In some stray instances, some people have witnessed adverse reactions like pain in lower abdomen, ringing inside ears and few symptoms of infections such as soreness of throat, nasal allergies, etc. In case of extremely serious reactions like an acute pain on the left side of your body, pain in the eyes, blurring of eyesight, convulsions, erratic heartbeats or faster pulse rates, you are advised to take medical help as quickly as possible.

This drug is unlikely to trigger any major side effects in most people who consumed it. Always remember that your physician has prescribed this drug because of your medical condition. Above all, the benefits of this drug are known to far exceed the risks of adverse reactions or serious side effects. If you need additional inputs on the risks of side effects, it is a good practice to talk to your physician or a pharmacist.

Allergic reactions triggered by the intake of trazodone

Allergies caused by this drug are very uncommon. In remote cases, a small number of people have however experienced a few allergies. Allergies may include inflammation of body parts, acute episodes of dizziness, hives, rashes on skin, itchiness as well as respiratory conditions. In all such cases, it is highly recommended to seek medical help without any delay. In some males, this drug is known have causes priapism – or stretched periods of penile erection; some men have noticed painful erection for more than three to four hours. This is a dangerous sign and can lead to severe damages to the functioning of critical organs such as kidneys, heart, urinary tract, lungs, etc.

As trazodone can enhance the level of neuro-transmitting chemicals such as serotonin, an increased dosage of this drug can lead to toxicity.  This syndrome is referred as serotonin toxicity or syndrome. This can show up when you are taking other drugs which may also enhance the level of neurotransmitters. Such high dosage levels or toxicity may show up as abdominal discomforts including diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, involuntary twitching of muscles, feeling restless or agitated. In some very acute stages of serotonin toxicity, you may also witness an impairment of coordination, faster heartbeats, an acute spell of dizziness and an increase in body temperature.

Safety measures to be taken prior to consuming trazodone

Foremost of all measures, you are advised to share all needful information about prior allergies, your medical history as well as your family’s clinical history. Take special precautions if your medical history includes mental conditions like depression, bipolar mental condition, a history of suicides in your family, etc. Similar level of caution is needed if your (and your family’s) clinical history includes ailments such as renal dysfunction, hepatic disorders, cardiac arrests, hypertension (or an increase in blood pressure level), etc.

You need to remember that older people or the elderly are more vulnerable to the side effects. They are more likely to witness dizziness, restlessness, drowsiness as well as prolonged QT cycles. Also, women who are pregnant or those who are planning to get pregnant may need to exert more caution. As a mood-based disorder or a depressive condition can turn into a serious problem, you need to talk to your physician about safer alternatives or substitutes. The active ingredients may pass through mother’s milk. So, those who are nursing a baby need to consult their treating doctor before starting to use this drug. If you are planning to undergo a surgery or a dental intervention, the surgical / dental team needs to be aware of your medication plan. As your dizziness levels may reach a very high level when used with anesthetic drugs, the anesthetic team needs to be told about intake of trazodone. It is quite likely that your surgical team may advise discontinuation of this drug for a few weeks prior to the date of surgical intervention.

Prolongation of QT cycle

This drug is capable of making the rhythm of your heartbeat to turn erratic – especially, through a prolonged incidence of QT cycle. Though prolonged QT is barely a fatal condition, it may lead to serious side effects like acute headaches, severe spells of dizziness or drowsiness and passing out. Take all needful safety measures if you are having a few other drugs which can stretch the QT cycle. Co-administration of trazodone with such drugs can lead to slowdown of heartbeats, myocardial problems, etc. Those who have a family history of cardiac arrests may be at an added risk. Also, those who sweat profusely and are witnessing chronic episodes of vomiting may also need to be more careful. This is because – loss of essential salts such as magnesium, potassium, etc. may also result in elongation of QT. Intake of diuretics or water pills also may reduce the level of these salts. Hence, intake of water pills while taking trazodone is considered to cause serious side effects.

Intake of other drugs and likely side effects

Before commencing the medication plan, you need to share details about other treatment plans you are currently pursuing. For instance, if you are taking drugs like digoxin, your doctor needs to stay aware of the dosage levels. Drugs such as ketoconazole, itraconazole and other such antifungal drugs may delay the elimination of trazodone from your body. A few types of antibiotics (especially of the macrolide genre), a few antiepileptic meds such as phenytoin, carbamazepine, etc. may alter the efficacy of this medication.

Also, meds such as fluoxetine (belonging to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors category) and venlafaxine (a serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibiting drug) may lead to toxicity of neuro-transmitters like serotonin in your system. Talk to your treating doctor about changes needed in the dosages of SSRIs and SNRIs in order to avoid a build-up of serotonin or development of toxic reactions.

Intake of alcohol or other intoxicating substances

One of the common side effects of trazodone is feeling dizzy or an acute spell of drowsiness. When this side effect occurs, you may also witness blurring of eyesight. Owing to these side effects, it is not a safe practice to take alcohol or other intoxicating substances – such as, say –cannabis or marijuana. Intake of such intoxicants can only aggravate the dizziness levels. It is for this reason, your physician may advise against driving, working on heavy machines, etc. In general, it is not safe to perform activities that require a high level of mental agility. Your doctor may tell you to reduce the intake of alcohol or discontinue drinking habits till you complete the medication plan.

Last but not the least, an overdose of trazodone can lead to convulsions, longer periods of penile erection, erratic pulse rates or faster heartbeats. In general, upon experiencing any of these side effects and / or allergic reactions, you are advised to take medical assistance immediately. Those who live in the US can contact 911 without any further delay or establish contact with a poison control unit closer to your home. People who are in Canada can reach out to Health Canada or seek medical care from a nearest poison control unit on an emergency basis.

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