Depression and Anxiety - Drug and Alcohol

Trazodone Withdrawal Symptoms: Things You Should Know About Withdrawing from Trazodone

Trazodone withdrawal isn't exactly fun, but with the right help anyone can get through it. Learn about trazodone withdrawal in our blog.

What is Trazodone Withdrawal Really Like? Get the Facts

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

October 30, 2023

The Forge Recovery Center

An antidepressant, Trazodone was once marketed under the brand names like Desryel and Trialodine. There have been many uses for the medicine, including using trazodone for treating agitation and insomnia. However, the FDA approved Trazodone specifically for depression.

While there are some arguments about Trazodone being addictive, many healthcare providers largely opine that when taken as prescribed, the medication has no serious risk of addiction. But it is still possible to develop an addiction, as regular and long-term use of Trazodone can lead to tolerance and create dependence.

Trazodone by the Numbers:

In 2004, Trazodone was prescribed over 13 million times. As of 2020, over 26 million prescriptions for trazodone had been issued.

What is Trazodone?

Trazodone is a prescription medication used primarily to treat depression. It belongs to a class of drugs known as serotonin modulators and works by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, which helps regulate mood. Additionally, trazodone is sometimes prescribed off-label for other conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, and chronic pain.

When used as directed, trazodone can be an effective treatment for these conditions. However, like most medications, it may cause side effects and can be habit-forming if not used properly.

Trazodone is usually available in the form of tablets, in 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg, 150 mg, and 300 mg form. The initial dose of trazodone can be as high as 150 mg, taken once a day. Building up the Trazodone dosage regimen means adding to subsequent doses based on how well the patient tolerates the drug and confirming if the medication has caused any side effects.

How Does Trazodone Work?

Trazodone works by increasing the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in regulating mood, in the brain. Trazodone also has sedative properties, making it useful for treating insomnia and anxiety.

As mentioned, antidepressants like Trazodone are classified as serotonin antagonists and reuptake inhibitors (SARIs). These medications typically help people who suffer from low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin—higher serotonin levels are linked with a sense of happiness, most likely to keep away symptoms of depression.

The groups of SARI drugs are so effective because they inhibit the reuptake of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. This is because Trazodone targets specific serotonin receptors, like the 5-HT2A receptor. This means more serotonin levels are maintained, boosting the person's overall mental health. Boosting serotonin levels is often the preferred mode of treating someone with mental health issues, as it promotes a more stable and healthy brain. This means the person is less likely to suffer from typical depressive symptoms like sadness, anxiety, and insomnia.

If you have been curious about what are Trazodone withdrawal symptoms, please note that this medication does not work in the same manner as some of the most commonly prescribed mental health treatment groups of drugs such as SSRIs, TCAs, or MAOIs. Trazodone is more akin to working like a serotonin modulator-booster. 

Is Trazodone Addictive?

Trazodone is not considered to be addictive, as it does not produce the same level of dependence and tolerance as other drugs.

Still, some people might develop a physical or mental addiction to trazodone. It's important to note that while trazodone is generally not abused to get high, trazodone usage in higher doses can create some negative side effects. This typically happens in the form of drowsiness and mental fogginess. Also, when trazodone abusers try to stop suddenly, it might create confusion and physical symptoms.

Dependence on trazodone takes some time to develop. Tolerance to the effects of trazodone can set in as the user seeks higher doses of the medication to achieve the same calming effect. All such cases of trazodone addiction tend to happen when the medication is used improperly, as in not as per the dosing schedule recommended by a mental health expert. Patients who have been using trazodone for a long period can experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to get off the medication without the support of family or professional guidance.

Still, trazodone is not likely to cause addiction when used for short-term respite. As compared to painkillers and opioid medications that are largely abused and form a common reason for people seeking drug detox at rehabilitation centers, trazodone is a comparatively less abused medicine.

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Trazodone Withdrawal: What is a Black Box Warning?

Trazodone is among the few medicines that come with a black box warning. This warning is not common to all prescribed medications, even in the domain of mental health treatment. The FDA black box warning appears like a labeling that is used to draw attention to serious side effects.

The warning for trazodone clearly states that it just might cause or worsen suicidal ideation in children and young adults; the latter are perhaps more vulnerable to developing these serious problems. Also, if a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding, she needs to talk to her doctor about the potential hazards of taking this drug.

There’s another risk to using trazodone: There are definitely dangers of combining drugs like trazodone with some other medication. If someone has taken an MAO Inhibitor in the past 14 days [2 weeks], you shouldn't take this medication without professional medical approval.

What Are Trazodone Withdrawal Symptoms?

Withdrawal symptoms from trazodone may include:

  • Nausea

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Anxiety

  • Insomnia

  • Irritability

  • Flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches and chills

These symptoms are usually mild and resolve within a few days to weeks, but in some cases, they can persist for longer periods of time.

How Long Does Trazodone Withdrawal Last?

The duration of trazodone withdrawal symptoms can vary from person to person, but they typically peak within the first week and gradually improve over the next few weeks. In rare cases, symptoms may persist for several months.

Withdrawal symptoms from trazodone might appear as early as the first day after stopping the medication, reducing the medicine dosage, or when the medicine is not taken for just a few days. However, your case might be different, and trazodone withdrawal might last for a longer period.

Compared to other addictive prescription medications, putting a timeline for trazodone withdrawal seems much more difficult. Trazodone withdrawal signs can also begin on the first day of trazodone detox treatment. The early appearance of these symptoms is because of the short half-life of trazodone. While some antidepressants are likely to create immediate and acute withdrawal symptoms when used for a long duration, trazodone withdrawal might not be as affected by the duration it consumes.

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How Can You Avoid Trazodone Withdrawal?

To minimize the risk of experiencing withdrawal symptoms from trazodone, it is important to follow your doctor's instructions when stopping the medication. They may recommend gradually tapering off the dosage rather than abruptly stopping it.

What Should You Do If You Experience Trazodone Withdrawal Symptoms?

If you experience any withdrawal symptoms from trazodone, speak to your doctor. They may suggest adjusting the dosage or prescribing a temporary medication to alleviate the symptoms.

Coping with Trazodone Withdrawal Symptoms

  • Speak to your doctor before stopping the medication, as they may recommend a gradual tapering off of the drug.

  • Stay hydrated and eat healthy foods to support your body during the withdrawal process.

  • Get plenty of rest and practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation to help manage anxiety.

  • Engage in light physical activity, such as walking or yoga, to help alleviate muscle aches and tension.

  • Seek support from friends and family, or consider joining a support group for individuals going through similar experiences.

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When to Seek Medical Help

In rare cases, trazodone withdrawal symptoms can be severe and may require medical intervention. If you experience any of the following symptoms, seek medical help immediately:

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Severe anxiety or panic attacks

  • Hallucinations or delusions

  • Increased heart rate or irregular heartbeat

Is Trazodone Dangerous With Other Drugs?

Trazodone can interact with other medications, including over-the-counter drugs and herbal supplements. It is important to inform your doctor about any other substances you are taking before starting trazodone, as it may increase the risk of side effects or interactions. Always follow your doctor's instructions and do not mix trazodone with alcohol or other drugs without consulting a medical professional.

Still Confused About Trazodone Withdrawal Symptoms? 

Trazodone withdrawal might still be confusing for you since the amount of online information available is much less than other commonly abused medications. This can be understood by tracing the half-life of Trazodone.

What is the Half-Life of Trazodone?

The half-life of any medicine that has been abused becomes very important in terms of the symptoms it creates due to overdose or sudden stoppage. A drug’s half-life is the amount of time it takes the body to metabolize half of a given dose of a drug. Half-life depends on multiple factors and can be different for everyone.

Trazodone has a half-life of about 5 to 9 hours, and this is rather short. Roughly, it will take just about 25 to 45 hours for Trazodone to exit your system. Since the medication tends to exit your system rather quickly, its withdrawal might set in rather early.

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Trazodone and Alcohol: A Dangerous Combo

When combined with alcohol, Trazodone can be quite harmful. If you have been using Trazodone, try never to combine it with an alcoholic beverage. The drug's FDA label also shows a warning for the same. Alcohol can boost the sedative and dizzying effects of this medicine. As a result, Trazodone can really boost the effects of alcohol.

For those who drink a lot or indulge in binge drinking, using Trazodone along with alcohol can bring about near-fatal experiences.

How Does Tapering Help Treat Trazodone Withdrawal Symptoms?

Gradually tapering off trazodone can help reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms by allowing your body to adjust to lower doses over time. This method also reduces the risk of rebound symptoms, which may occur when a medication is suddenly stopped. It is important to follow a doctor's instructions and not attempt to taper off or stop the medication without medical supervision.

Professional drug detox can help you taper off trazodone. Treatment experts will talk with you to evaluate your overall health condition and to determine your specific needs before developing a personalized tapering plan—this is the best way to ensure that trazodone withdrawal does not hit you hard. The first step in tapering from trazodone is returning to your minimum dose.

This is the baseline that needs to be achieved before the tapering is taken ahead. No matter what the treatment plan is, the dosage is reduced gradually. The pace of the taper can vary. It can be easily adjusted to suit your needs. The initial signs of withdrawal could indicate that the taper is proceeding as planned or a bit too quickly and has to be slowed. To make it easier, a Trazodone taper schedule should be done slowly with more patience.

Many antidepressants have a week to 3-week tapering schedule. By the end of this duration, the person should be completely off the medication. This gives the body plenty of time to make the necessary corrections and readjust to functioning in a Trazodone-free manner.

However, don't try the Trazodone taper on your own. It needs medical supervision. The dosing has to be calculated and prescribed by a physician. This is the only way to ensure that the likelihood of experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms is negated. 

Trazodone Withdrawal: Why Going Cold Turkey is Dangerous

The exact opposite of an adequately planned trazodone withdrawal is trying a "cold turkey" approach. Some people do it at home and some people opt for it as a part of their detox. This can make the symptoms hard to manage. Cold turkey can be a dangerous shock to a person’s system.

In comparison, the Trazodone tapering method is a wiser option. Gradually tapering off of trazodone may take time, but it’s easier on a person’s system and more likely to be successful.

Trazodone Withdrawal: Drug Detox

Most people recommend the virtues of a medical drug detox to control trazodone withdrawal. It makes the entire journey toward a trazodone-free life more bearable. For this, you might not need an inpatient admission. Sometimes, intensive outpatient or outpatient treatment for Trazodone withdrawal can really work. The only exception might be for people with a long history of Trazodone abuse.

Struggling with Trazodone? The Forge Recovery Center Will Help

Trazodone withdrawal is part of the recovery process, but it's easier with professional help. At The Forge Recovery Center, we offer personalized treatment plans to help individuals overcome substance abuse and addiction. Our team of medical professionals can provide support and guidance during the trazodone withdrawal process, as well as ongoing therapy and aftercare to promote long-term recovery.

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