Is Trazodone Addictive? + Uses, Drug Interactions, Side Effects

Trazodone is the generic name of a brand medication called Oleptro. It belongs to the class of drugs called antidepressants. The US Food and Drug Administration originally approved it in 1982.

This medication works by affecting the activity of specific neurotransmitters called histamine and serotonin. By boosting the action of serotonin and histamine, this medication increases your total sleep duration and helps you to fall asleep faster, as well as it reduces the symptoms of depression.


It is used to treat depression, a common and debilitating mood disorder. Depression is more than just sadness in response to life’s setbacks and struggles, this condition changes how you feel, think, and function in regular activities.

An estimated 9% of people reported current major or minor depression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms of a depressive episode may include:

  • feelings of worthlessness, guilt, helplessness;
  • irritability, restlessness;
  • persistent anxious, sad, or “empty” mood;
  • persistent physical symptoms which do not respond to treatment, like – digestive disorders, headaches, and pain for which no other cause can be identified;
  • feelings of pessimism, hopelessness;
  • suicide attempts;
  • thoughts of suicide or death;
  • overeating and weight gain or low appetite and weight loss;
  • early-morning awakening, insomnia (sleep problems), or oversleeping;
  • difficulty remembering, concentrating, making decisions;
  • feeling “slowed down;”
  • increased fatigue;
  • low energy levels;
  • loss of interest or pleasure in activities and hobbies.

Causes of Depression

Doctors are not entirely sure what causes depression, but one of the main theories states that depression is caused by an imbalance of some neurotransmitters – naturally occurring substances in the spinal cord and brain.

Alcohol and drug use can worsen depression, and treatment is more likely to succeed if alcohol and drugs are avoided. Also, vitamin D (also known as the sunshine vitamin) deficiency has been recognized as a cause of seasonal affective disorder. Additionally, long-term emotional stress (like – constant work stress, abusive relationships, and prolonged isolation) can cause depression over time.

This medication is also used to control abnormal, uncontrollable movements which may be experienced as side effects of other drugs. Also, it is used to treat schizophrenia (a mental illness that causes loss of interest in life, unusual or disturbed thinking, and inappropriate emotions), anxiety (excessive worry), and insomnia.


For treating depression, the usual initial recommended dose is 75mg per day. Your healthcare professional may increase the dose to 300mg per day depending on your condition.

For treating anxiety, the usual initial recommended dose is 75mg per day. Your healthcare professional may increase this dose to 300mg per day.

Notes – it may take up to a month before the full beneficial effects of this drug are seen. Children under 18 years should not take this medication since, in short-term studies in adolescents and children with depression and other psychiatric disorders, antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal behavior and thinking.

Side Effects And Precautions 

Common side effects may include:

  • muscle ache;
  • headaches;
  • blurred vision;
  • stomachache;
  • dry eyes;
  • loss of appetite;
  • dry mouth;
  • confusion;
  • vomiting;
  • ringing in the ears;
  • nausea;
  • rash;
  • diarrhea or constipation;
  • sweating;
  • erectile dysfunction in men;
  • loss of interest in sex;
  • fatigue;
  • nervousness;
  • tingling sensations;
  • loss of balance.

Rare side effects may include:

  • swelling of the lips, face, or tongue;
  • worsening depression;
  • panic attacks;
  • irregular heartbeats;
  • suicidal thoughts;
  • seizure;
  • hives;
  • a severe rash;
  • chest pain;
  • unusual bleeding or bruising;
  • fainting;
  • a painful erection which will not go away;
  • difficulty breathing.

To make sure that this medication is safe for you, tell your healthcare provider if you have:

  • heart disease;
  • kidney disease;
  • liver disease;
  • narrow-angle glaucoma;
  • seizures or epilepsy;
  • a bleeding or blood clotting disorder;
  • a history of Long QT syndrome;
  • had a heart attack;
  • a history of suicidal thoughts;
  • a history of drug abuse;
  • bipolar disorder (manic depression).


This drug falls into category C, which means that in animal studies, pregnant animals were given this drug and had some babies born with some health problems. Therefore, if you are pregnant or plan to get pregnant, avoid this medication. Moreover, this medication is secreted in breast milk and may hurt your baby. Hence, do not use this medication if you are breastfeeding a baby.


Avoid alcohol when taking this medication because it causes dizziness and drowsiness as well as it will increase the chance of side effects.


Overdose symptoms may include vomiting, extreme drowsiness, fast or pounding heartbeat, penis erection which is prolonged or painful, breathing which stops or slows, or seizure (black-out or convulsions).

Important note – an overdose of this medication can be fatal when it is combined with alcohol, sedatives (diazepam), or barbiturates (phenobarbital).

High & Abuse

Currently, there is no record of reported cases of euphoria after taking this medication.

Drug Interactions

This medication may negatively interact with many different drugs, including:

  • drugs used to treat HIV/AIDS, like – nelfinavir (Viracept), indinavir (Crixivan), and atazanavir (Reyataz);
  • diuretics;
  • blood thinners, like – aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and ibuprofen;
  • antibiotics, like –  erythromycin (Erythrocin) and clarithromycin (Biaxin);
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, including – fluvoxamine (Luvox) or fluoxetine (Sarafem, Prozac);
  • medications used to treat mental illness, like – thioridazine;
  • seizure medications, like – phenytoin (Dilantin), phenobarbital (Solfoton, Luminal), ethosuximide (Zarontin), carbamazepine (Tegretol);
  • heart medications, like – verapamil (Isoptin, Calan, Verelan) or sotalol (Betapace);
  • drugs used to treat heartburn, such as – cisapride (Propulsid) and cimetidine (Tagamet);
  • drugs used to treat fungal diseases, including – itraconazole (Sporanox) or ketoconazole (Nizoral);
  • cough, cold, and allergy medications, such as – dexamethasone (Decadron).

In addition, do not use this medication if you have taken an MAO inhibitor (including – isocarboxazid, phenelzine, linezolid, selegiline, rasagiline, and tranylcypromine) in the past 2 weeks since a life-threatening drug interaction could occur.

Grapefruit juice and grapefruit may also negatively interact with this medication and lead to potentially dangerous effects.

Is Trazodone Addictive?

This medication has a mild potential to be addictive. Also, if you were taking it, and abruptly stopped doing so, you may experience some withdrawal symptoms. Therefore, it is recommended to take this medicine exactly as your doctor prescribed and to get off of this drug, slowly taper down off of it.

Image credit – Shutterstock

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