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Trazodone (Oleptro) Withdrawal Symptoms, Side Effects, Treatment Help

This entry was posted in Antidepressant on by .

Last Updated on March 9, 2021 by Carol Gillette

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Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Written by Diane Ridaeus Published Sep 13, 2018
Medically Reviewed by Dr John Motl MD

Medical professionals often do not consider the ramifications of, or understand potential complications of trazodone withdrawal.

While trazodone is considered much safer than narcotic sedatives, still there are potential trazodone side effects and withdrawal complications3 that tend to get disregarded by prescribers.

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Trazodone Withdrawal is a Specialty at Alternative to Meds Center

Trazodone is a generic antidepressant (serotonin antagonist reuptake inhibitor, SARI) that is prescribed for depression and for numerous other off-label uses. SARI drugs are thought to block serotonin from adhering to 5-HT2 receptors. After neurochemical expression, serotonin would be broken down and removed. As with all antidepressant agents that are serotonergic, a deficit in vital levels of serotonin will often occur, leading to worsening depression. SARI drugs such as trazodone are also thought to alter how dopamine, norepinephrine, and other neurochemicals are distributed in the brain and along the CNS.

Before starting or stopping a drug such as trazodone it is recommended to adequately research and understand as much as possible in order to make an informed decision. Below is a body of information that may help to provide the most searched for answers about trazodone side effects, trazodone withdrawal symptoms, and other relevant data.

Trazodone Withdrawal

At ATMC I was always supported. The staff was great at providing opportunities for me to work towards stability. What helped me here was always keeping a positive outlook and the constant encouragement and reminders to keep faith in myself.



What Is Trazodone Used For?

Trazodone is a generic drug prescribed for a number of conditions. Brand names are Desyrel and Oleptro (now discontinued). A time-release version is also manufactured called Desyrel Dividose.  First approved by the FDA in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD), it is more often prescribed in the treatment of insomnia. Other uses include anxiety, Fibromyalgia, headache, and is also used as a sedative for cocaine or alcohol withdrawal. Additionally, trazodone is prescribed off-label for pain syndromes, panic disorder, diabetic neuropathy, eating disorders, and OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder).

Note: There may be effective non-drug-based trazodone alternatives to be considered that your physician has not told you about. Please ask us about these.

Trazodone Side Effects

Trazodone side effects are similar to other antidepressants. These trazodone side effects may be mild to moderate or severe, in which case, medical attention may be required. Trazodone side effects can include mild to moderate to severe reactions.

Trazodone side effects include:

  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Increased depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Irritability
  • Panic attacks
  • Anxiety
  • Aggressiveness
  • Mania
  • Impulsive actions or behaviors
  • Muscle aches or pains
  • Changes in weight
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Fainting, especially after rising from a seated or lying position
  • Drowsiness
  • Tiredness
  • Headache
  • Impaired vigilance (inability to remained focused, becoming inattentive)
  • Agitation
  • Nervousness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased libido
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nasal congestion
  • Constipation
  • Priapism (a persistent painful erection)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rash
  • Swelling (most notably of the lips, tongue, throat, face)
  • Hives

Some of these side effects may require immediate medical attention as in severe allergic rash, seizures, cardiovascular events, or any severe reaction.

Trazodone Withdrawal Symptoms

Some persons may experience very little in the way of trazodone withdrawal symptoms during gradual cessation. Others may have more noticeable reactions.1

WARNING: Abruptly stopping an antidepressant drug can often induce intense withdrawals that can last for a very long time, and may significantly increase the time required for complete recovery.

Commonly reported adverse trazodone withdrawal symptoms and effects can range from mild to moderate to severe.

Trazodone withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Sweating
  • Muscle weakness
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Depersonalization
  • Anxiety
  • Mood swings, i.e., crying spells
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Tightness across the chest
  • Disorientation
  • Itching
  • Agitation
  • Headaches

Stopping Trazodone: Important Info Regarding Discontinuing/Quitting Trazodone

Trazodone has a half-life of approximately 6 to 9 hours and trazodone withdrawal symptoms may begin quite soon, within a day or a day and a half of the last dose. These figures would be different if a time-release version of the drug was prescribed.

It is thought that abrupt trazodone withdrawal, as in stopping all at once can cause a rebound effect in certain neurotransmitters, especially if the natural precursors for these neurotransmitters are not being supported during trazodone withdrawal, for example, with targeted nutrition. In any case, slow and gradual trazodone withdrawal is indicated as the best overall method.1

Certain factors may influence how intense withdrawal can be for an individual, such as how long the drug was taken, the general health of the individual, and how high the dosage was. Taking trazodone for long periods of time may result in trazodone addiction or dependence and requires medical oversight for a safe and more comfortable experience.

Always consult your prescribing physician or other competent medical practitioners before stopping trazodone or any antidepressant drug.

Trazodone FAQs

The following section addresses some of the most commonly asked questions and searches for information about trazodone.

Is Trazodone a Sleeping Pill?

Trazodone is classed as a SARI type of antidepressant. The letters stand for Serotonin Antagonist Reuptake Inhibitor. SARI drugs also block adrenergic receptors. Trazodone could also be classed as a hypnotic/anxiolytic (similar to a benzodiazepine) and is sometimes prescribed off-label for insomnia or other sleep issues, such as nightmares. Trazodone was not specifically designed (or licensed) as a sleeping pill but it has become one of the most frequently (off-label) prescribed drugs for insomnia, because of the drug’s “knock-out” effect. Alternatives to trazodone are becoming more widely available for sleep disturbances, which could be considered where prescription drugs are not the best of all options.2, 4, 5

Is Trazodone a Narcotic?

Technically, a narcotic is any drug that affects mood, induces sleep, or numbs pain or other unwanted sensations. The word narcotic comes from the Greek “narko,” which means to numb pain. In a legal sense, the word narcotic most often refers to an illegal psychoactive substance. In medical usage, the word has come to generally refer to opioids such as heroin or morphine. While there are similarities in effect between trazodone and narcotics, legally there is a distinct difference because trazodone is an uncontrolled substance in the US, and is not illegal to possess when it is a prescribed medication.

How Does Trazodone Work in the Body/Brain?

The mechanism of action of trazodone is thought to involve preventing serotonin and likely other neurotransmitters from binding to the receptors that these would normally bind to, connect with, or be attracted to. No drug can create neurotransmitters such as serotonin, or norepinephrine, or dopamine. Drugs can only interfere with how they travel or are prevented from traveling along the neuron pathways of the brain and central nervous system.

As an example, when serotonin becomes trapped in the synaptic regions, this is linked to a euphoric lift in mood. Any such trazodone side effects are artificial, and temporary until the serotonin breaks down, metabolizes, (becomes inert), and is cleared.

Does Trazodone Show up on Drug Tests?

Yes, trazodone can show up on drug tests, however, it is unlikely to be screened for in the multipanel drug tests that are commonly used, for example, in the workplace.

Is Trazodone a Benzo (Benzodiazepine)?

No. Benzodiazepine drugs are thought to influence the transmitters called GABA. Trazodone is thought to affect other natural brain chemicals (serotonin and others). However, both drugs share similar properties in how they affect a person, for instance, drowsiness. Benzodiazepine drugs are recommended for only very short term use, according to FDA and other regulatory guidelines. Trazodone is often prescribed for much longer periods of time. Trazodone is often used as a benzodiazepine alternative and can be used as a bridge medication to help people get off of benzodiazepines.

Can Trazodone Cause Serotonin Syndrome?

Yes, any agent which causes too much of a build-up of active serotonin in the central nervous system can induce “serotonin syndrome.” 3 This reaction is considered potentially life-threatening and medical intervention is required, without delay. Usually one of the first treatments is to withdraw the drug. This is the one exception where stopping trazodone abruptly, is recommended as to do so can be life-saving in this case. Some symptoms of serotonin syndrome to watch for include:

  • Sudden fever
  • Coma
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Rash
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Significant drop in blood pressure
  • Fainting
  • Agitation
  • Diarrhea
  • Mental confusion
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Sweating
  • Twitching muscles

Treatment for Trazodone Addiction and Abuse?

The treatment for long term trazodone addiction or dependence may be beneficial where the withdrawal symptoms are intense and difficult to endure. Although the drug is promoted as not habit-forming, the actuality is that once the body becomes accustomed to the presence of the drug over time, there is the potential for a reaction when the drug is withdrawn. Whether this is called dependence or addiction, trazodone withdrawal help must be gradual.

There are many trazodone withdrawal treatment protocols that can lessen the severity of symptoms and accelerate the normalization process after trazodone addiction or dependence may have developed.

Alternative to Meds Center has refined the trazodone withdrawal treatment process using slow and safe tapering methods in the inpatient program. Each client is helped by preparing an individualized program consisting of many steps. For instance, purging accumulated neurotoxic load, corrective nutritional therapy, therapeutic massage, Reiki, and many other adjunctive therapies.

An important overall step in recovery from antidepressants is rebalancing neurochemistry naturally, to alleviate or eliminate the original symptoms that led to prescribing antidepressant medication in the first place. Exacting series of steps are completed during our programs to provide the best in trazodone withdrawal help.

The process of stopping trazodone can be surprisingly mild and easy to tolerate using such safe and gradual tapering protocols. Please feel free to ask us for more information on the processes that are used in the Alternative to Meds Center trazodone withdrawal program.

1. Otani K, Tanaka O, Kaneko S, Ishida M, Yasui N, Fukushima Y, “Mechanisms of the development of trazodone withdrawal symptoms.”  International Clinical Pharmacology Journal [Internet] 1994 Summer [cited 2020 Jul 20]

2. Jarema M, Dudek D, Landowski J, Heitzman J, Rabe-Jablonska J, Rybakowski J, “Trazodon — the antidepressant: mechanism of action and its position in the treatment of depression.” Polish Journal of Psychiatry [Internet] 2011 Jul-Aug [cited 2020 Jul 20]

3. FDA trazodone label, “Highlights of Prescribing Information“, [Internet] Revised 2017 Jun [cited 2020 Aug 14]

4. Jaffer KY, Chang T, Vanle B, Dang J, Steiner A, Loera N, et al., “Trazodone for Insomnia: A Systematic Review.” Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience [Internet] 2017 Jul-Aug [cited 2020 Aug 14]

5. Mendelson W, “A review of the evidence for the safety of trazodone in insomnia.” Journal of Clinical Psychiatry [Internet] 2005 Apr [cited 2020 Aug 14]

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

Dr. John Motl, M.D.

Dr. Motl is currently certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Psychiatry, and Board eligible in Neurology and licensed in the state of Arizona.  He holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in biology and minors in chemistry and philosophy. He graduated from Creighton University School of Medicine with a Doctor of Medicine.  Dr. Motl has studied Medical Acupuncture at the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine and at U.C.L.A.

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Trazodone (Oleptro) Withdrawal Symptoms, Side Effects, Treatment Help
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