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 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.
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.
Like all drugs, trazodone has side effects which patients should be aware of.
These are the most common possible side effects:
Trazodone is also associated with less common side effects, which include:
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.
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