Trazodone Side Effects

Bipolar Medications Library

Woman lying in bed
Robin Lynne Gibson/Getty Images

Trazodone, an antidepressant sometimes used in treating bipolar disorder, is often prescribed to treat insomnia because its most frequent side effect is sedation. Trazodone's original brand name is Desyrel, and there is an extended-release form sold under the brand name Oleptro.

Uses of Trazodone in Bipolar Disorder

Trazodone may be used to treat the depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder, or it may be used to help with insomnia.

Common Side Effects of Trazodone 

These common side effects of trazodone may lessen or stop altogether once your system gets used to the medication. Check with your doctor if any of the following side effects don't go away or are bothersome:

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness/sleepiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Back pain
  • Sexual dysfunction (decreased desire or performance ability)

Note: Because trazodone's sedating effect is so common that the drug is prescribed for sleep problems, it is important not to engage in potentially hazardous activities, including driving, until you know how this drug affects you.

Less Common Side Effects of Trazodone

Always notify your doctor as soon as possible if you experience any of these less common side effects:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Problems with coordination or memory
  • Migraine
  • Tingling
  • Agitation
  • Disorientation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Night sweats
  • Urgent need to urinate
  • Vomiting
  • Visual disturbance
  • Confusion
  • Drop in blood pressure when standing up (orthostatic hypotension)
  • Muscle tremors
  • Hearing problems
  • Tinnitus
  • Abnormal gait
  • Muscle twitching
  • Amnesia
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Speech problems
  • Bladder pain or incontinence
  • Flushing (skin becoming red and warm)
  • Fainting (syncope);
  • Fast or slow heartbeat
  • Skin rash
  • Unusual excitement

Seek Emergency Medical Attention for This Side Effect of Trazodone

Stop taking this medicine and seek emergency medical attention if the following side effect occurs:

  • Painful, prolonged erection of the penis. This condition, called priapism, can result in permanent damage to erectile tissues if not treated promptly.

Signs of Trazodone Overdose Effects

Notify your doctor or poison control center immediately if you or a loved one have potentially overdosed on trazodone and show any of these symptoms:

  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A painful erection that does not go away
  • Respiratory arrest
  • Seizures
  • Slower or faster heartbeat

Trazodone Withdrawal Symptoms:

As with other antidepressants, it's important to not discontinue trazodone without your doctor's approval and guidance. You will likely be put on a tapering schedule so that the medication has a chance to gradually work its way out of your system, decreasing your risk for unpleasant effects.

Withdrawal symptoms that may occur, especially if you stop using trazodone suddenly, include:

Trazodone Black Box Warning

Like all antidepressants, the prescribing information for trazodone is required to carry a warning regarding the increased possibility of suicidal thinking or behavior in young adults (24 and under), adolescents and children.

Other Possible Rare but Serious Side Effects of Trazodone

  • Serotonin syndrome, a serious, potentially life-threatening illness caused by too much serotonin in the body. 
  • Hyponatremia, a low concentration of sodium in the blood.
  • Abnormal bleeding, especially when combined with drugs that can irritate the stomach, including aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen.

Sources:

Drugs@FDA. Oleptro Approved Label. 5 May 2011.

"Trazodone." MedLine Plus, U.S. National Library of Medicine (2014).

"Trazodone (Oral Route)." Mayo Clinic (2016).

Continue Reading