Trazodone is an antidepressant, taken orally, that affects neurotransmitters, which are like chemical messengers within the brain used by various nerves to communicate with or stimulate each other. Acetylcholine, dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin are among major neurotransmitters in our brain. It is widely believed in psychiatric circles that depression is caused by an imbalance among these neurotransmitters.
Although the precise mechanism of trazodone's action is not known, it is thought that it inhibits excessive serotonin uptake by some nerves of the brain which leaves more serotonin for the stimulation of other nerves. Besides, trazodone is also thought to directly increase serotonin's action.
Trazodone is chemically not related to the SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, the TCAs or tricyclic antidepressants, or the MAO, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Instead, it is chemically closely related to nefazodone (Serzone) and shares many of its actions.
Trazodone received the FDA's approval in 1982.
Trazodone is used to treat major depression with all attendant symptoms. It can be taken with SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like fluoxetine, paroxetine and sertraline, when these medicines may be causing insomnia, that is trouble sleeping.
Trazodone may also be given as a stand-alone drug for insomnia or trouble in falling asleep. It may sometimes be given as a sedative to people suffering from panic and anxiety. In combination with some other drugs, it may also be used in the treatment of agoraphobia, aggressive behaviour and cocaine withdrawal symptoms.
Trazodone is taken orally, once or twice every day after meals or some snacks, unless directed otherwise by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription very carefully. In addition, get the Medication Guide from your pharmacist when you start treatment and every time you get refills. Read it carefully and follow the instructions. If you find anything ambiguous, clarify it with your doctor or the pharmacist.
If the medicine causes drowsiness and you are taking only one dose daily, you can take it before going to bed. If you are taking two doses daily, you can take at least one of them before going to bed. You can also consult your doctor to schedule the doses properly.
The doctor would prescribe dosage on the basis of severity of your condition and your response to treatment. In order to minimize the possibilities of side effects, the treatment may be started with low doses which would increase gradually. Therefore, take the medication exactly in the way prescribed; don't take in larger doses, or more frequently than prescribed. It won't improve your condition any faster, but will certainly increase the risk of serious side effects.
Take the medicine regularly, at about the same time every day, for the full duration prescribed, even if you start feeling well. Never stop the medication unless advised so by the doctor. If you do that you may again fall into depression or whatever condition you were suffering from, apart from experiencing withdrawal symptoms like headache, nausea and tiredness.
The medicine may take two to four weeks to show its full effects. So, be patient. However, if the condition persists even after four weeks, or worsens any time, talk about it to your doctor.
Trazodone helps in maintaining serotonin balance in the brain, possibly by inhibiting excessive serotonin uptake by some nerves and thus making it available to other nerves. Serotonin, a chemical found in brain, is profoundly linked to mental states like moods and emotions.
Trazodone should not be abruptly stopped. Discontinuation should follow gradual reduction of dose as advised by the doctor.
Keep the medicine in its original container, tightly closed, and away from children and pets. Store at room temperature, away from light, heat and moisture (not near fireplace or in the bathroom). Dispose the unused medicines in the proper manner as advised by the pharmacist or the local waste disposal company personnel. Don't flush it down the toilet, nor pour it into a drain.