Patient Resources

Is Trazodone a controlled substance?

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Neil Chatterjee, MD headshot

Medically reviewed by Neil Chatterjee, MD

Trazodone is not a controlled substance, which are a group of substances that are regulated due to the risk of abuse and risk potential. Rather, trazodone is an antidepressant and also commonly used to treat insomnia due to its hypnotic properties.  

Trazodone For Depression

Trazodone works on certain neurotransmitters in the brain to alter the chemical balance. The imbalance of some neurotransmitters, including norepinephrine and serotonin, can occur in some patients leading to depression. In particular, trazodone promotes serotonin uptake, which is low in specific psychiatric disorders such as depression. Trazodone enhances one’s mood in certain situations and treats depression.

Trazodone For Insomnia

Although insomnia is not a diagnosis that trazodone is FDA approved for, many patients are given this medication for sleep disturbance. Trazodone may be a better choice for some patients with insomnia, as it does not come with the risk of abuse and addiction like Xanax and Ambien do--both of which are controlled substances.

Side Effects of Trazodone

Like all drugs, trazodone has side effects which patients should be aware of. 

These are the most common possible side effects:

  • Blurry vision
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness, which may be worse when getting up from a lying position
  • Sweating 
  • Tiredness

Trazodone is also associated with less common side effects, which include:

  • Muscle tremors and the general feeling of discomfort
  • Can cause the feelings of itching, crawling on the skin, prickly sensation
  • General confusion, and in rare cases, fainting 
  • Problems with concentration 
  • Skin rash 
  • Severe headache 
  • Pounding sensation in the ears 
  • Shortness of breath and changes in the heart rate 
  • Problems with coordination 
  • Swelling in the extremities
  • Priapism or prolonged erection 
  • Dry mouth 

Prolonged QT Syndrome

This is a rare condition in the heart which can be very serious and even lead to death if not identified early. Combining other drugs that can cause this condition can significantly increase the risk of developing prolonged QT syndrome. An EKG can be done to identify prolonged QT, and should be done regularly if the patient is on this drug chronically. 

Trazodone is a potential non-benzodiazepine treatment for patients with insomnia and , as it does not come with the risk of abuse and addiction. The physician must know the other drugs the patient is receiving, as trazodone can interact with many medications can significantly enhance side effects.

This post is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address any individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. When in doubt, speak to your doctor.

If you think you may be experiencing overdose or have any other medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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