- The only FDA approved use of trazodone is for depression. However, this medication is rarely prescribed for this purpose. The higher dose requirements and lower affinity for the serotonin transporter allows the side effect profile to make the medication intolerable for most patients.
- The most common way it’s used is as an adjunctive therapy for sleep disturbances secondary to depression.
- The mechanism of action is blockade of serotonin 2A receptors and blockade of the serotonin reuptake pump.
- Dosing: To take advantage of the sedating properties you want to use a lower dose. A dose of 25-150 mg/night is appropriate. For depression the dose must be much higher anywhere from 150-600 mg/day
- For depression start with 150 mg/day in divided doses (short half-life) and increase every 3-4 days by 50 mg/day as needed to a target dose of 400 mg/day. For insomnia start with 25-50 mg/night and increase as tolerated to a target dose of 50-150 mg/night. That same target range of 50-150 mg/day can be used if trazodone is being added as an adjunct therapy for depression.
- It’s very important to start low and go slow when increasing the dose. Patients can have carryover sedation, ataxia, and intoxicated like feeling if titrated too rapidly.
- Do not stop the medication prematurely. In difficult to treat patients’ higher doses may be required 150-300 mg or up to 600 mg in some cases.
- It’s ideal to try and limit dosing to once nightly at bedtime to avoid daytime sedation
- Notable Side effects: Nausea, vomiting, constipation, dry mouth, dizziness, sedation, fatigue, headaches, life threatening side effects include priapism (1 in 8,000 men), seizures, activation of suicidal ideation in patients under 24 years of age.
- The onset of therapeutic actions for insomnia should be immediate once an adequate dose is reached. There is no evidence of tolerance, abuse potential, or withdrawal.
- Therapeutic action for depression is delayed by 2-4 weeks if it’s not working by 6-8 weeks consider a dosage increase or switch depending on dosage reached
- Trazodone offers a nonaddictive option for insomnia treatment and can be used as an adjunct for depression treatment. It’s less likely than other antidepressants to cause sexual dysfunction. It may be less likely to precipitate hypomania or mania and may have some benefit for treating agitation and aggression associated with dementia.