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 bipolar disorder, is often prescribed to treat insomnia because its most frequent side effect is sedation. Trazodone's original brand name is Desyrel, and there is an extended-release form sold under the brand name Oleptro.

Uses in Bipolar Disorder

Trazodone may be used to treat the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder, or it may be used to help with insomnia.

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
  • Drowsiness/sleepiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Back pain
  • Sexual dysfunction (decreased desire or performance ability)

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
  • Drop in blood pressure when standing up (orthostatic hypotension)
  • 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:

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.
  • Abnormal bleeding, especially when combined with drugs that can irritate the stomach, including aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen.
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Article Sources

  • "Trazodone." MedLine Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine (2014).
  • "Trazodone (Oral Route)." Mayo Clinic (2016).
  • Drugs@FDA. Oleptro Approved Label. 5 May 2011.