Common Side Effects and Overdose Symptoms of Trazodone

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Trazodone is an antidepressant sometimes used in treating depressive symptoms in bipolar disorder. It is also often prescribed to treat insomnia across a broad variety of psychiatric illnesses.

It is also used off-label to treat aggressive behavior in dementia. Trazodone was originally solid under the brand name is Desyrel; there is also 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 body gets used to the medication. Check with your doctor if any of the following side effects don't go away or are bothersome:

  • Back pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nausea

Trazodone's sedating effect is so common that the drug is prescribed for sleep problems. Consequently, do not 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
  • Abnormal gait
  • Agitation
  • Amnesia
  • Bladder pain or incontinence
  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Fainting (syncope)
  • Fast or slow heartbeat
  • Flushing (skin becoming red and warm)
  • Hearing problems
  • Migraine
  • Muscle aches
  • Muscle tremors
  • Muscle twitching
  • Night sweats
  • Problems with coordination or memory
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Shortness of breath
  • Skin rash
  • Speech problems
  • Tingling
  • Tinnitus
  • Unusual excitement
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Visual disturbance
  • Vomiting

When to Seek Medical Attention

In addition to the above unusual side effects requiring a medical evaluation, painful, prolonged erection of the penis can occur after taking trazodone. Stop taking this medicine and seek emergency medical attention if this happens. This condition, called priapism, can result in permanent damage to erectile tissues if not treated promptly.

Other Rare But Serious Side Effects

Seek medical help immediately if you or a loved one experiences symptoms of these conditions:

  • 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

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

Call your doctor or a poison control center immediately if you or a loved one have potentially overdosed on trazodone. Symptoms of overdose can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • 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

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. U.S. National Library of Medicine. 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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