Side Effects and Overdose Symptoms of Trazodone

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Trazodone is an antidepressant approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat major depressive disorder. It also has a variety of off-label uses. For instance, this drug is sometimes used to help treat mental health conditions such as generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder, while others are prescribed trazodone to sleep better.

If you are on this medication or are considering taking it, it's helpful to know both common and less common trazodone side effects. We also share signs of overdose, as well as withdrawal symptoms that may be experienced when discontinuing trazodone use.

Trazodone Brand Names

Trazodone hydrochloride is the generic name of this drug. Brand names for trazodone include Desyrel, Desyrel Dividose, and Oleptro.

Common Side Effects of Trazodone

Trazodone is generally well tolerated. However, some people do experience side effects when taking it. The most common trazodone side effects are:

  • Drowsiness or sedation
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Blurred vision

These side effects may lessen or stop altogether once your body gets used to the medication. Talk with your healthcare provider if you experience trazodone side effects that don't go away or become bothersome.

Trazodone's sedating effect is so common, affecting up to 41% of users, that the drug is often prescribed for sleep issues such as insomnia. Consequently, do not engage in potentially hazardous activities, including driving, until you know how this drug affects you.

Less Common Side Effects of Trazodone

In addition to trazodone's most common side effects, some people experience other effects when taking this medication, although at a lesser rate. Less common trazodone side effects include:

  • Appetite changes
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Nervousness
  • Nightmares
  • Rash
  • Sexual issues
  • Stuffy nose
  • Tired, itchy, or red eyes
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Weakness

Notify your healthcare provider if you experience any of these less common trazodone side effects, especially if they don't go away or become severe.

When to Seek Medical Attention

Certain trazodone side effects require immediate medical attention. Taking higher doses of this medication or using it in combination with other drugs that affect serotonin levels can lead to serotonin syndrome, for instance.

Serotonin syndrome is a serious and potentially life-threatening illness caused by too much serotonin in the body. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include agitation, restlessness, confusion, hallucinations, accelerated heart rate, seizures, and loss of consciousness.

Other potentially dangerous trazodone side effects that require immediate medical attention include:

  • Unusual bleeding or bleeding that won't stop (an increased risk when taking other blood-thinning drugs such as anticoagulants, aspirin, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs)
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low blood sodium (symptoms include headache, trouble concentrating, memory issues, weakness, and, in severe cases, hallucination, fainting, seizures, and coma)
  • Mania or hypomania (abnormally elevated mood or irritability)
  • Painful and prolonged erection of the penis for six hours or more, a condition called priapism

Like all antidepressants, trazodone carries a black box warning. This warning cites an increased possibility of suicidal thinking or behavior in children, teens, and young adults (those under 24 years of age) when taking this drug. Talk to a healthcare provider right away if you or a family member is experiencing suicidal thoughts.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 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.

Signs of a Trazodone Overdose

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

  • Drowsiness
  • Vomiting
  • Painful erection that won't go away
  • Seizures
  • Slower or faster heartbeat
  • Trouble breathing

Withdrawal Symptoms for Trazadone

As with other antidepressants, it's important to not discontinue trazodone without your healthcare provider's approval and guidance. You will likely be put on a tapering schedule so the medication has a chance to gradually work its way out of your system, decreasing your risk of unpleasant effects.

Withdrawal symptoms that may occur, especially if you stop using trazodone suddenly, include:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Sleep disturbances

Talk with your healthcare provider if you experience any of these symptoms when discontinuing trazodone use.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long does trazodone last in your system?

    The half-life of trazodone ranges from four to seven hours. This suggests that the medication should be eliminated from the body somewhere between 16 to 28 hours after the last dose (after four half-lives). The exact elimination rate depends on many factors, such as trazodone dosage, how long you used it, your body weight, and more.

  • How long does trazodone take to start working?

    You may not feel the full benefit of trazodone for two weeks or more. So, if you've just started taking this drug, you might need to give it some more time before it starts to work. If you don't notice results within a certain amount of time, your healthcare provider may increase the dosage or switch you to another medication.

  • What are some common brand names for trazodone?

    Trazodone brand names include Desyrel, Desyrel Dividose, and Oleptro.

  • Can trazodone be used to help you sleep?

    Some people do take trazodone to sleep. Research has found that this drug may help you stay asleep longer and improve the quality of your rest—especially when taken short-term.

6 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Marcia Purse
Marcia Purse is a mental health writer and bipolar disorder advocate who brings strong research skills and personal experiences to her writing.