trazodone hydrochloride

(traz' oh done)

Alti-Trazodone (CAN), Apo-Trazodone (CAN), Desyrel, Desyrel Dividose, Nu-Trazodone (CAN)


Pregnancy Category C


Drug classes



Therapeutic actions

Mechanism of action unknown; differs from other antidepressants in that it is a triazo compound, not a TCA, an amphetamine-like CNS stimulant, or an MAOI; inhibits the presynaptic reuptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin and potentiates the behavioral effects of the serotonin precursor; the relation of these effects to clinical efficacy is unknown.



        Treatment of depression in inpatient and outpatient settings and for depressed patients with and without anxiety

        Unlabeled uses: Treatment of aggressive behavior, cocaine withdrawal, insomnia, alcoholism, panic disorders, schizophrenic disorders, drug-induced dyskinesias


Contraindications and cautions

        Contraindicated with hypersensitivity to trazodone, recent MI.

        Use cautiously with preexisting cardiac disease (arrhythmias, including ventricular tachycardia, may be more likely), lactation, pregnancy.


Available forms

Tablets—50, 100, 150, 300 mg




Initially, 150 mg/day PO. May be increased by 50 mg/day every 3–4 days. Maximum dose for outpatients should not exceed 400 mg/day in divided doses. Maximum dose for inpatients or those severely depressed should not exceed 600 mg/day in divided doses. Use lowest effective dosage for maintenance.


Safety and efficacy not established.


Initially, 75 mg/day PO in divided doses. Monitor patient closely.








1–2 hr


Metabolism: Hepatic; T1/2: 3–6 hr and then 5–9 hr

Distribution: Crosses placenta; may enter breast milk

Excretion: Urine and feces


Adverse effects

        CNS: Anger, hostility, agitation, nightmares or vivid dreams, hallucinations, delusions, hypomania, confusion, disorientation, decreased concentration, impaired memory, impaired speech, dizziness, incoordination, drowsiness, fatigue, excitement, insomnia, nervousness, paresthesia, tremors, akathisia, headache, grand mal seizures, tinnitus, blurred vision, red eyes, nasal or sinus congestion, malaise

        CV: Hypertension, hypotension, shortness of breath, syncope, tachycardia, palpitations, chest pain, MI, ventricular ectopic activity, occasional sinus bradycardia with long-term use

        GI: Abdominal or gastric disorder, decreased or increased appetite, bad taste in mouth, dry mouth, hypersalivation, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, flatulence, constipation

        GU: Decreased libido, impotence, priapism, retrograde ejaculation, early menses, missed periods, hematuria, delayed urine flow, increased urinary frequency

        Hematologic: Anemia, neutropenia, leukopenia, liver enzyme alterations

        Hypersensitivity: Allergic skin conditions, edema, rash

        Musculoskeletal: Musculoskeletal aches and pains, muscle twitches

        Other: Sweating, clamminess



        Increased serum levels and toxicity of alcohol, CNS depressants, digoxin, phenytoin

        Risk of serotonin syndrome if combined with other SSRIs

        Increased risk of toxicity with phenothiazines

        Decreased effectiveness with carbamazepine

        Increased risk of severe reaction if combined with St. John's wort therapy


Nursing considerations


        History: Hypersensitivity to trazodone; EST; recent MI, preexisting cardiac disease; pregnancy, lactation

        Physical: Skin color, lesions; orientation, affect, reflexes, vision and hearing; P, BP, orthostatic BP, perfusion; bowel sounds, normal output, liver evaluation; urine flow, normal output; usual sexual function, frequency of menses; liver function tests, urinalysis, CBC, ECG



        WARNING: Ensure that depressed and potentially suicidal patients have access to only limited quantities of drug.

        Administer shortly after a meal or light snack to enhance absorption.

        Administer major portion of dose hs if drowsiness occurs.

        Anticipate symptomatic relief during the first week of therapy with optimal effects within 2 wk (some patients require 2–4 wk to respond).

        Monitor patient for orthostatic hypotension during therapy.

        WARNING: Discontinue therapy immediately if priapism occurs.

        Arrange for CBC if patient develops fever, sore throat, or other signs of infection.


Teaching points

        Take drug with food or a snack to enhance absorption and decrease likelihood of dizziness.

        Avoid alcohol, sleep-inducing drugs, and OTC drugs.

        You may experience these side effects: Ringing in the ears, headache, dizziness, drowsiness, weakness (reversible; safety measures may need to be taken if severe; avoid driving or performing tasks that require alertness); nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite (eat frequent small meals; practice frequent mouth care); dry mouth (suck sugarless candies); changes in sexual function and abilities; nightmares, dreams, confusion, inability to concentrate (may lessen).

        Report dizziness, light-headedness, faintness, blood in urine, fever, chills, sore throat, rash, prolonged or inappropriate penile erection (discontinue immediately).


Adverse effects in Italic are most common; those in Bold are life-threatening.