Trazodone Insomnia Treatments

Trazondone may not be appropriate as a sleep aid for your condition. The trazodone insomnia usage is off-label in most countries. In the US, the drug is approved for the treatment of clinical depression, with or without anxiety, but there are many warnings concerning its use.

It is considered safer than the first-generation tricyclic antidepressants by some practitioners, but not as safe as the SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) like Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil, although all antidepressants are accompanied by unwanted side effects.

Withdrawal symptoms occur when patients stop taking the drugs, although doctors and pharmaceutical companies prefer to refer to the symptoms as “discontinuation syndrome”. Pharmaceutical companies claim that antidepressants are non-addictive. Many physicians believe that to be true.

Trazodone sleep assistance is due to the hypnotic and anti-anxiety properties of the drug. In fact, sleepiness and uncontrollable yawning are among the side effects reported by people taking the drug for depression.

As with other hypnotic drugs, it is possible to overdose. There have been several reported deaths caused by deliberate or accidental overdose of the drug. Tricyclic antidepressants can also be lethal when a person takes more than the amount prescribed.

Fuzzy image of man's face sleeping.Photo: Daniel Mohorovic

Doctors must use caution when prescribing any of these drugs to suicidal patients. One of the possible side effects is an increase in suicidal thoughts, especially among teenagers. Black box warnings exist for most of the drugs.

Trazadone may be indicated for obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep apnea occurs when a person stops breathing during their sleep. It is sometimes accompanied by difficulty staying asleep and may be the underlying reason that a person consults a doctor for sleeping assistance in the first place.

According to the study Trazodone Effects on Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Non-REM Arousal Threshold:

"Evidence suggests that trazodone, a commonly prescribed antidepressant with hypnotic properties, increases effectively the arousal threshold without altering upper airway muscle activity, making this medication a potentially useful candidate for treating OSA."

Most doctors will counsel patients about natural approaches for sleeping disorders before they prescribe a hypnotic drug, although the pharmaceutical company’s television ad campaigns are something of a problem. Many people come to their doctor’s office with the intention of requesting drugs like Zolpidem, sold under the trade name Ambien, after seeing a TV commercial. Doctors sometimes have difficulty saying no to their patients.

Zolpidem has side effects, too. One of which is sleepwalking. Hallucinations, delusions and amnesia are not uncommon. Headaches and impulsive behavior are relatively common.

Basically, any drug that causes drowsiness can be dangerous. It is unwise to operate motor vehicles or machinery when under the influence of the drugs. They have been held responsible for many motor vehicle accidents.

Other possible side effects of using trazodone for insomnia include low blood pressure, heart palpitations, irregular heartbeat and increased heartbeat. There have been reported cases of heart attack being attributed to a trazodone sleep aid. Doctors are advised not to prescribe the drug to patients that are known to have cardiovascular problems.

Sexual side effects range from low sex drive to priapism, a state in which the penis becomes erect without sexual stimulation. In 33% of the reported priapism cases, surgical intervention was required, which sometimes resulted in permanent impotence or erectile dysfunction.

There have been a few cases of liver failure caused by the drug, which is not surprising, since all drugs that are metabolized by the liver can cause liver damage and ultimately failure. Alternative practitioners prefer to exhaust natural treatments, before resorting to drugs of any kind. It might be smarter for mainstream physicians to do the same thing.

Now, you have the facts about trazodone insomnia usage. Hopefully, it helps you make a good decision about what medications to seek out.

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