Common Side Effects and Overdose Symptoms of Trazodone

Close-Up Of Young Woman Sleeping On Bed At Home
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Trazodone, an antidepressant sometimes used in treating depressive symptoms in bipolar disorder, is often prescribed to treat insomnia across a broad variety of psychiatric illnesses because its most frequent side effect is sedation. It is also used off label to treat aggressive behavior in dementia. Trazodone's original brand name is Desyrel, and there is an extended-release form sold under the brand name Oleptro.

Common Side Effects

These common side effects of trazodone may lessen or stop altogether once your system gets used to the medication. Check with your doctor if any of the following side effects don't go away or are bothersome:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness (caused by orthostatic hypotension, which is a drop in blood pressure when sitting or standing up)
  • Drowsiness/sleepiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Back pain

Trazodone's sedating effect is so common that the drug is prescribed for sleep problems. Consequently, do not to engage in potentially hazardous activities, including driving, until you know how this drug affects you.

Less Common Side Effects

Always notify your doctor as soon as possible if you experience any of these less common side effects:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Problems with coordination or memory
  • Migraine
  • Tingling
  • Agitation
  • Disorientation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Night sweats
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Vomiting
  • Visual disturbance
  • Confusion
  • Muscle tremors
  • Hearing problems
  • Tinnitus
  • Abnormal gait
  • Muscle twitching
  • Amnesia
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Speech problems
  • Bladder pain or incontinence
  • Flushing (skin becoming red and warm)
  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Fast or slow heartbeat
  • Skin rash
  • Unusual excitement

When to Seek Medical Attention

Stop taking this medicine and seek emergency medical attention if the following side effect occurs:

  • Painful, prolonged erection of the penis. This condition, called priapism, can result in permanent damage to erectile tissues if not treated promptly.

Black Box Warning

Like all antidepressants, trazodone is required to carry a warning regarding the increased possibility of suicidal thinking or behavior in young adults (24 and under), adolescents, and children. Talk to your doctor right away if you or a family member is experiencing suicidal thoughts.

Signs of Overdose

Notify your doctor or poison control center immediately if you or a loved one have potentially overdosed on trazodone and show any of these symptoms:

  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A painful erection that does not go away
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Seizures
  • Slower or faster heartbeat

Withdrawal Symptoms

As with other antidepressants, it's important to not discontinue trazodone without your doctor's approval and guidance. You will likely be put on a tapering schedule so that the medication has a chance to gradually work its way out of your system, decreasing your risk for unpleasant effects. Withdrawal symptoms that may occur, especially if you stop using trazodone suddenly, include:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Sleep disturbances

Other Rare but Serious Side Effects

  • Serotonin syndrome, a serious, potentially life-threatening illness caused by too much serotonin in the body.
  • Hyponatremia, a low concentration of sodium in the blood.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

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Article Sources
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  1. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. Oleptro (trazodone hydrochloride) extended-release tablets Prescribing Information. 2014.

  2. MedlinePlus. Trazodone. Updated April 15, 2017.

  3. U.S. Food & Drug Administration. DESYREL (trazodone hydrochloride) tablets, for oral use Prescribing Information. 2018.

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