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Trazodone Alternatives

This entry was posted in Antidepressant on by .
Medically Reviewed Fact Checked

Last Updated on June 14, 2022 by Diane Ridaeus

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

A person may become interested in natural trazodone alternatives after the medication becomes ineffective or causes too many unwanted side effects.

We are familiar with far better and safer alternative solutions than a lifetime spent taking antidepressant prescription drugs.

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Trazodone Alternatives Treatment

The Alternative to Meds Center specializes in providing the types of treatment that are designed to help a person transition to a drug-free and symptom-free daily life. Trazodone is frequently prescribed off-label to treat insomnia, OCD, anxiety disorders, pain, bulimia, and even to mitigate the side effects of other medications. That is a partial list of off-label uses for trazodone. Trazodone is only FDA-approved for the treatment of depression.7

According to a 2017 study on the effects of antidepressants for treating insomnia, the results showed that while trazodone was more effective than some other antidepressants at improving sleep, it may lead to other problems such as oversedation, REM sleep behavior disorder, and others. 6

Trazodone can bring on a condition called priapism, (persistent, painful penile erection) requiring urgent surgery to save the organ.26 

At lower doses, Trazodone acts as a hypnotic, and at higher doses, as an antidepressant by blocking the serotonin pathway. As noted on the FDA label, Trazodone has been given a black box suicide warning and can also induce the potentially lethal condition called serotonin syndrome, so these risks can be quite dangerous.26,27 As far as other drugs that may be recommended as “alternative choices,” they have just as high a risk of being ineffective and causing adverse or unwanted side effects. Some doctors who are not aware of better alternatives may even suggest electroconvulsive therapy. There are safer trazodone alternatives that do not carry such risks, and some of these will be discussed in more detail as you continue reading.2,3,4

At Alternative to Meds Center, we aim to address each person’s unique profile and the symptoms they wish to be rid of with a customized holistic trazodone tapering and alternatives program to achieve maximum relief of symptoms, without side effects from the treatment.

Natural Trazodone Alternatives Include:
  • natural trazodone alternativesTalk therapy such as CBT, DBT, and Exposure therapy 8,9,10,11
  • Test for and remove toxic accumulations 13
  • Check for and correct nutrient deficiencies 1,14-16,22,23
  • Blood sugar management 24
  • Exercise improves mood naturally 17,18
  • Bright light therapy (includes sunshine!) 19,20,25
  • Acupuncture 21
  • Low-glycemic diet, free of chemicals or additives, preferably organic 16
  • Herbal supplements (explained below in more detail) are effective Trazodone alternatives 1,2
Talk Therapy as Alternative Trazodone Treatment

Thankfully, there are many different forms of counseling and genres of psychotherapy. These include exposure therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, life coaching, talk therapy, spiritual counseling, and many others. Many forms of psychotherapy can help individuals with depression. For example, talk therapy is a common trazodone alternative that can help depressed patients better understand their depression. Coping methods as well as learning how to resolve problems can involve meaningfully expressing feelings and emotions with their talk therapist. Many persons have found that talking out their feelings and participating in similar therapies are very helpful trazodone alternatives. The following information may help better understand some of the various types of talk therapy.

CBT:  Cognitive-behavioral therapy is described as a practical and effective therapy for treating depression, according to Embling’s 2002 study that reported significant improvements in depression scores. With guidance, a person can become more aware of negative thought patterns or behavior patterns, which can then be evaluated and re-fashioned towards more positive experiences. 8

DBT ( Dialectic Behavior Therapy ):  A form of CBT that focuses on becoming more aware of one’s emotions, and troubling emotional responses to situations or others in one’s life. Dialectic refers to a discussion, especially one that can inspect or illuminate contradictions or illogic, and discover new ways to view old problems. By discovering new strategies one can avoid repeating negative patterns of the past. A study on older adults receiving DBT found a significant difference in sustained remission compared to those on medication alone. 9

Exposure therapy:  Sometimes called ERP or exposure with response prevention, the technique is based on a theory that one can learn to disengage or “unlearn” previous patterns by desensitizing or softening the usual anxiety spikes one has associated with certain triggers. According to a 2015 research study out of the Netherlands, the majority of this work is done outside of a formal session in the form of homework assignments. Another study suggests that willingness on the part of the client is the best predictor of success using this form of treatment. 10,11

Other Natural Trazodone Alternatives:

Removal of Neurotoxins:

Clapp et al’s study on the “Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis.” reports that toxin-induced inflammation causes mood disturbance to occur. We also note the findings of Stephen Genuis’ research that toxicant exposure is the largely overlooked elephant in the room when it comes to causes of mental illness and disorders in our modern-day epidemic of mental health concerns. In our clinical experience at Alternative to Meds Center, we have seen much success after toxin removal using chelation, sauna detox, nebulized glutathione, and other methods of toxin removal. 12,13

Dietary Factors:

A wealth of research findings have laid out a clearly-lit pathway to improving mental health by correcting the diet so that neglected nutritional deficiencies and imbalances are not able to induce or intensify and prolong symptoms such as depression. The simple act of taking daily supplements of vital nutrients and amino acids can result in a profound reduction in psychiatric symptoms. 14-16,22,23

Supplements as Holistic Trazodone Alternatives:

holistic trazodone alternativesAccording to an exhaustive study to measure which foods provide the most nutrient-dense source of those elements which relate to the prevention and treatment of depressive disorders, the following supplements are recommended:  folate, iron, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, (EPA & DHA), magnesium, potassium, selenium, vitamin B1, B6, B12, vitamin C, and zinc. 22

These nutrients are found most concentrated in foods such as animal organ meats, shellfish and seafood, green leafy and cruciferous vegetables, and peppers. The diet can also be boosted for these nutrients with food-based supplements. According to Sarris et al’s research paper published in the Lancet, Nutritional Psychiatry has begun to focus directly on these principles for improvements in holistic mental health treatment. 23

Exercise:

One of the best-known but possibly most under-used therapies for depression and anxiety is physical exercise. Clinical trials show that cognitive function also improves when the body is exercised regularly. Benefits have also been reported for improving self-esteem and social withdrawal. 17,18

Bright Light therapy:

Another perhaps under-appreciated therapy for depression and other unwanted symptoms comes in the form of light therapies. Researchers Kent et al in their Journal of Environmental Health study published in 2009, concluded that shortened exposure to sunlight directly correlated to SAD-related symptoms of depression, and also reduced cognitive function in depressed persons.  Michael Termin’s clinical research on treating non-seasonal major depressive disorders, and bipolar depression with light therapy is also quite fascinating. A research study by Golden et al found that light therapy significantly improved symptoms of mood disorders, most observably where drugs were not part of the treatment.  Research is active and continues to document promising results from this exciting alternative treatment for depression and other symptoms.19,20,25

Acupuncture:

Acupuncture has been shown as effective as medication in 3 out of 10 studies, and more effective than medication in 7 of 10 studies, in treating depression according to Dong et al in their exceptionally thorough 2017 systematic review.21

Trazodone Discontinuation Guidance

If you are taking this drug and wish to stop taking it and decide to learn more about how to implement alternatives to trazodone, it is advised to consult with a doctor first as discontinuation may cause trazodone withdrawal symptoms. While they likely can help you reduce medication safely, they may not know very much about non-drug-based alternatives to trazodone.

If you are seeking trazodone alternatives because of the side effects and other problems related to antidepressant drugs, consider a consultation with a holistic rehab center such as Alternative to Meds Center in Sedona. Also consider a holistic, alternative, natural, or integrative doctor. Look for healthcare providers who carry the same medical licenses as traditional doctors. Though they can prescribe antidepressant drugs, they prefer to use their medical knowledge in different ways.1

Holistic Trazodone Alternatives

Some of the alternative therapies an alternative doctor may recommend as alternative treatments for depression include acupuncture, vitamins and supplements, physical therapy, herbal nutritional therapy, dietary changes, and other healing complementary therapies. Many therapies can be learned and practiced in your own home, such as meditation and yoga. When using trazodone alternatives for insomnia or alternatives for depression, several therapies may work better if combined into a daily or regular regimen. Individuals seeking depression alternatives are advised to consult with a doctor and/or talk therapist of their choice who can help them to create a successful alternative treatment plan. Look for acupuncturists, massage therapists, and other professionals in your area. 

Resolving Root Causes for Depression

When people have been prescribed antidepressant medications, it is usually before there has been any investigation to identify what is actually causing and contributing to their depression.2

A serotonin deficiency is typically what is blamed for the cause of depression.  A much more lengthy conversation may show other factors could be involved. What if the person has impaired adrenals or low thyroid function? Perhaps they have an accumulation of neurotoxins from the environment such as toxic heavy metals that greatly impair and slow down energy metabolism. Testing can reveal much to help track down more complete answers that do lead to true recovery.  If the person has a diet that is poor in essential minerals and other nutrients, then their CNS and brain may not be able to create what’s needed for healthy functioning. We are incredibly unique as individuals. There can never be a one-size-fits-all answer for such problems.

We may forget that the very same assaults of a poor diet that our body suffers from, can also negatively impact how we feel, and how much energy is available. Another factor to carefully consider is someone enduring a lifestyle that is simply unfulfilling, and they need a more supportive surrounding to make a change. These are only a sampling of the various factors that can contribute to a depressed state. The important thing is to investigate until the root causes can be identified and thus resolved safely.  They will be uniquely yours, and the solutions will likewise need to be tailored to your uniqueness. 

Natural Trazodone Alternatives To Regain Your Life

natural treatment methodsWe at Alternative to Meds Center are committed to discovering the medical, psychological, and biophysical reasons why a person is struggling with depression, anxiety, or an inability to sleep. Our program includes lab tests, which inform how best to help normalize neurochemistry through natural substances, as well as shedding the lifetime accumulation of toxins to enable neurochemistry rehabilitation. Trazodone treatment programs at Alternative to Meds Center focus on safe medication withdrawal methods, targeted nutrition therapy, IV treatments, massage therapy, yoga, peer support, neurotoxin removal, personal training, exercise, neurotransmitter rehabilitation, Equine therapy, art therapy, and many more holistic protocols.  All of these therapies are provided as stepping stones to overcome depression, reducing or eliminating the need for medication. We invite your call, so you can talk to us and receive a more comprehensive understanding of how a variety of natural trazodone alternatives can help you or a loved one to overcome lingering and troubling symptoms, and achieve natural mental health.


1. Lakhan, S E and Vieira, K F “Nutritional and herbal supplements for anxiety and anxiety-related disorders: systematic review.” British Nutritional Journal, US National Library of Medicine [INTERNET]  [cited 2022 June 14]

2. Yeung KS, Hernandez M, Mao JJ, Haviland I, Gubili J. Herbal medicine for depression and anxiety: A systematic review with assessment of potential psycho-oncologic relevancePhytother Res. 2018;32(5):865-891. doi:10.1002/ptr.6033 [cited 2022 June 14]

3.  Shin JJ, Saadabadi A. Trazodone. [Updated 2022 May 2]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470560/  [cited 2022 June 14]

4. Aronson M D, Hafez H, “A case of trazodone-induced ventricular tachycardia.” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry & Pubmed [Internet} 1986 Jul [cited 2022 June 14]

5. Everitt H, Baldwin DS, Stuart B, Lipinska G, Mayers A, Malizia AL, Manson CC, Wilson S. “Antidepressants for insomnia in adults.” Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 May 14;5(5):CD010753. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD010753.pub2. PMID: 29761479; PMCID: PMC6494576. [cited 2022 June 14]

6. Wichniak A, Wierzbicka A, Walęcka M, Jernajczyk W. “Effects of Antidepressants on Sleep.” Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2017 Aug 9;19(9):63. doi: 10.1007/s11920-017-0816-4. PMID: 28791566; PMCID: PMC5548844. [cited 2022 June 14]

7. Bossini L, Coluccia A, Casolaro I, Benbow J, Amodeo G, De Giorgi R, Fagiolini A. “Off-Label Trazodone Prescription: Evidence, Benefits and Risks.” Curr Pharm Des. 2015;21(23):3343-51. doi: 10.2174/1381612821666150619092236. PMID: 26088119. [cited 2022 June 14]

8. Embling S. The effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy in depression. Nurs Stand. 2002 Dec 18-31;17(14-15):33-41. doi: 10.7748/ns2002.12.17.14.33.c3318. PMID: 12567797. [cited 2022 June 14]

9. Lynch TR, Morse JQ, Mendelson T, Robins CJ. Dialectical behavior therapy for depressed older adults: a randomized pilot study. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2003 Jan-Feb;11(1):33-45. PMID: 12527538. [cited 2022 June 14]

10. Sars D, van Minnen A. On the use of exposure therapy in the treatment of anxiety disorders: a survey among cognitive behavioural therapists in the Netherlands. BMC Psychol. 2015;3(1):26. Published 2015 Aug 5. doi:10.1186/s40359-015-0083-2 [cited 2022 June 14]

11. Reid AM, Garner LE, Van Kirk N, Gironda C, Krompinger JW, Brennan BP, Mathes BM, Monaghan SC, Tifft ED, André MC, Cattie J, Crosby JM, Elias JA. How willing are you? Willingness as a predictor of change during treatment of adults with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Depress Anxiety. 2017 Nov;34(11):1057-1064. doi: 10.1002/da.22672. Epub 2017 Jul 17. PMID: 28715850. [cited 2022 June 14]

12. Clapp M, Aurora N, Herrera L, Bhatia M, Wilen E, Wakefield S. Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axisClin Pract. 2017;7(4):987. Published 2017 Sep 15. doi:10.4081/cp.2017.987 [cited 2022 June 14]

13. Genuis SJ. Toxic causes of mental illness are overlooked. Neurotoxicology. 2008 Nov;29(6):1147-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neuro.2008.06.005. Epub 2008 Jun 24. PMID: 18621076. [cited 2022 June 14]

14. Rao TS, Asha MR, Ramesh BN, Rao KS. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses. Indian J Psychiatry. 2008;50(2):77-82. doi:10.4103/0019-5545.42391 [cited 2022 June 14]

15. Lakhan SE, Vieira KF. Nutritional therapies for mental disorders. Nutr J. 2008 Jan 21;7:2. doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-7-2. PMID: 18208598; PMCID: PMC2248201. [cited 2022 June 14]

16. Himmerich H, Erbguth F. Ernährung und Nahrungsergänzungsmittel bei psychiatrischen Erkrankungen [Nutrition and dietary supplements in psychiatric diseases]. Nervenarzt. 2014 Dec;85(12):1512-20. German. doi: 10.1007/s00115-014-4163-y. PMID: 25421417. [cited 2022 June 14]

17. Guszkowska M. Wpływ ćwiczeń fizycznych na poziom leku i depresji oraz stany nastroju [Effects of exercise on anxiety, depression and mood]. Psychiatr Pol. 2004 Jul-Aug;38(4):611-20. Polish. PMID: 15518309. [cited 2022 June 14]

18. Sharma A, Madaan V, Petty FD. Exercise for mental health. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2006;8(2):106. doi:10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a [cited 2022 June 14]

19.  Golden RN, Gaynes BN, Ekstrom RD, Hamer RM, Jacobsen FM, Suppes T, Wisner KL, Nemeroff CB. The efficacy of light therapy in the treatment of mood disorders: a review and meta-analysis of the evidence. Am J Psychiatry. 2005 Apr;162(4):656-62. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.162.4.656. PMID: 15800134. [cited 2022 June 14]

20. Terman M. Evolving applications of light therapy. Sleep Med Rev. 2007 Dec;11(6):497-507. doi: 10.1016/j.smrv.2007.06.003. Epub 2007 Oct 25. PMID:17964200  [cited 2022 June 14] 

21. Bo Dong, Zeqin Chen, Xuan Yin, Danting Li, Jie Ma, Ping Yin, Yan Cao, Lixing Lao, Shifen Xu, “The Efficacy of Acupuncture for Treating Depression-Related Insomnia Compared with a Control Group: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis“, BioMed Research International, vol. 2017, Article ID 9614810, 11 pages, 2017. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/9614810 [cited 2022 June 14]

22. LaChance LR, Ramsey D. Antidepressant foods: An evidence-based nutrient profiling system for depression. World J Psychiatry. 2018;8(3):97-104. Published 2018 Sep 20. doi:10.5498/wjp.v8.i3.97  [cited 2022 June 14]

23. Sarris J, Logan AC, Akbaraly TN, Amminger GP, Balanzá-Martínez V, Freeman MP, Hibbeln J, Matsuoka Y, Mischoulon D, Mizoue T, Nanri A, Nishi D, Ramsey D, Rucklidge JJ, Sanchez-Villegas A, Scholey A, Su KP, Jacka FN; International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research. Nutritional medicine as mainstream in psychiatry. Lancet Psychiatry. 2015 Mar;2(3):271-4. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(14)00051-0. Epub 2015 Feb 25. PMID: 26359904. [cited 2022 June 14]

24. Penckofer S, Quinn L, Byrn M, Ferrans C, Miller M, Strange P. Does glycemic variability impact mood and quality of life? Diabetes Technol Ther. 2012 Apr;14(4):303-10. doi: 10.1089/dia.2011.0191. Epub 2012 Feb 10. PMID: 22324383; PMCID: PMC3317401. [cited 2022 June 14]

25.  Kent ST, McClure LA, Crosson WL, Arnett DK, Wadley VG, Sathiakumar N. Effect of sunlight exposure on cognitive function among depressed and non-depressed participants: a REGARDS cross-sectional study. Environ Health. 2009;8:34. Published 2009 Jul 28. doi:10.1186/1476-069X-8-34 [cited 2022 June 14]

26.  Fluyau D, Revadigar N, Manobianco BE, Challenges of the pharmacological management of benzodiazepine withdrawal, dependence, and discontinuation. Ther Adv Psychopharmacol 2018,8(5).147-168.doi.101177/2045125317753340 [cited 2022 June 14]

27.  FDA label Trazodone hydrochloride [Approval 1981] [cited 2022 June 14]


Originally Published Nov 5, 2019 by Lyle Murphy Published Nov 5, 2019


This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Trazodone Alternatives
Medical Disclaimer:
Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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