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How does trazodone work?

Trazodone is an antidepressant medication used to treat mood disorders. But how does trazodone affect the body and brain? Can you get high on trazodone? (no)  Does trazodone have the same effects for everyone? What are the dangers and side effects of trazodone use? We’ll explore all those questions and more in this article. And we invite your questions about trazodone at the end.

How does trazodone affect the brain and nervous system?

Trazodone works by increasing the amount of the chemical serotonin in the brain, which helps manage the symptoms of depression. Trazodone can also be used to treat schizophrenia, insomnia, and anxiety. Can you be addicted to antidepressants?  No.  Trazodone does not induce euphoria, or an extreme sense of well being that get people addicted. Plus,  it’s difficult to abuse trazodone because of its sedative effects – rather than causing a high, trazodone causes most people to simply fall asleep.

How does trazodone work in the body?

Trazodone is a central nervous system depressant which can have some of the following effects:

  • changes in appetite or weight
  • confusion
  • difficulty concentrating and remembering
  • headache or heaviness in head
  • nausea/vomiting/stomach pain
  • nightmares
  • weakness or tiredness

You’re less likely to suffer serious adverse effects if you take trazodone as directed by a doctor. Abusing a drug and taking it in higher amounts than prescribed can often lead to adverse effects.

How fast does trazodone work?

How fast trazodone works really depends on what you’re taking it for. If you’re using trazodone as a sleep aid, it takes 1-3 hours to work. However, if you’re using trazodone to treat depression, you need to take it every day for anywhere from 1-3 weeks before you’ll start experiencing noticeable effects.

How long does trazodone work?

If you’re taking trazodone for depression, trazodone will stay in your system long enough to continuously help balance your mood throughout the day. Typically, antidepressants are only taken once a day. If you’re taking trazodone for insomnia, the dose will be just enough to help you get a solid night’s sleep (6-8 hours), but it should wear off by morning to allow you to be alert.

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What makes trazodone work better?

Different brands and formulas of trazodone need to be taken differently to have the best effect. Some kinds of trazodone need to be taken with food, while others should be taken on an empy stomach. The bottom line is that you need to take trazodone exactly as your doctor has prescribed – and take it before going to bed, since it causes so much drowsiness you may have difficulty functioning if you take it during the day.

Does trazodone work for everyone?

No, trazodone isn’t right for everyone. Some people respond better to different antidepressants than others, and there’s always the possibility of a trazodone allergy or another severe adverse reaction to the medication. Further, trazodone is a good option for people with a history of addiction – while it’s possible to abuse any medication, trazodone is not considered habit-forming or addictive.

How trazodone works questions

Please leave us your questions about how trazodone works below. We try our best to respond to all legitimate queries with a personal and prompt response.

Reference Sources: ToxNet: Trazodone
PubMed Health: Trazodone
DailyMed: Trazodone 

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35 Responses to “How does trazodone work?
8:36 pm December 23rd, 2012

Thank you for a most informative site on depression and insomnia. Since taking Trazodone I hove found that I have become slightly more aggressive and have more courage to say what I feel. I have always been labeled a “doormat” all my life. Has anyone else experienced this effect. Thank you again, Susan

5:44 pm April 23rd, 2013

Hi, I have been suffering post acute withdrawl for 9 months now and although my anxiety and difficulty sleeping are impoving, it is very slow. I am wondering if taking trazadone will interfere with my recovery. Will the chemicals in my brain continue to improve even though I am taking trazadone? I am scared to take it as it has been very hard to get to this point now where I can hold a conversation, and also, get some sleep and I do not want to take a step backwards. I am thinking about taking 25 mg per night for sleep. Thanks!

5:20 am April 24th, 2013

Hi Jenny. Check in and speak with your prescribing doctor about your concerns. Or, you can talk with a pharmacist about the way that trazodone affects the central nervous system. You’ll need expert counsel and advice on these questions.

3:04 am July 29th, 2013

I take 150 dose for sleep nitely. It helps me sleep but have had alot of anxiety and depression during the day any suggestion

9:50 am July 29th, 2013

Hi Dave. It sounds like you might benefit from the expertise of a trained and licensed psychologist or psychiatrist. Generalize anxiety and depression can be the result of low energy, but there can also be a mix of pharmaceutical influence that’s not working for you. You’ll need an expert medical opinion to move forward.

3:53 pm July 29th, 2013

Dave, maybe your suffering PAWS. I have been struggling with it for the past year and the anxiety has been the worst. I personally believe you can get it from quitting anti-depressants and other drugs (not just alcohol). I have gotten a fair amount better in the past year and a bit but the first 8 months were pretty awful. Hope your feeling better soon.

Laurie Hill
7:13 pm May 19th, 2014

can I take things like melotonin or gaba with Trazadone to help with the effects since it is not working quiet well enough by itself? Thank you for your response.

1:49 pm May 21st, 2014

Hello Laurie. This is a question for a medical professional such as your prescribing doctor or a pharmacist. Best of luck to you!

9:19 am September 22nd, 2014

I’ve been taking this for a while now and it works great for sleep. The trick is to not take a whole pill or while half if you find you feel fogged when you wake up. I take a little over a half of a half of a 25mg pill and I sleep right thru the night and don’t wake up feeling funky. In the beginning I didn’t know any better and was taking a whole half or whole pill and woke up very groggy!!! But once I figured out the amount I need I’m totally fine. Every one is different. Some people might need a whole half some a half and a half of half some people maybe a crumb. I Don’t know about taking it for depression though just sleep. I’m not a doctor I only learned from taking it myself. Consult your doctor about it.

9:21 am September 22nd, 2014

I personally wouldn’t take trazadone for sleep and another sleep aid. Doc knows best I’d ask them.

10:49 pm November 7th, 2014

wow. very interesting. im on 100mg at night. hoping It Will work for me as im already on prozac, diazipam. i Was also on Atarax that for some reason i Had an awful reaction to. good luck To All and i Wish u All the best.

3:38 am November 22nd, 2014

I am on methadone for opiate addiction. I am also on trazadone for sleep. Will trazadone cause my methadone to not work properly ?

4:26 pm November 24th, 2014

Hi Lindsay. I’m not aware of such interaction between Thrazodone and Methadone. But, you still need to be carefull. If taken in sufficient quantity, these two medications can cause central nervous system depression and slowed breathing.

8:43 pm January 17th, 2015

Can u take trazodone for ADD

4:16 pm January 20th, 2015

Hi Bridgett. Trazodone is not primarily prescribed for ADD. They say it helps sleep, although many users disagree, and doctors also prescribe it for depression. It also slightly raises serotonin levels and that can affect ADD, but it’s not a medicine that would greatly help or treat the condition.

saurabh kunal
12:30 am March 24th, 2015

I was prescribed trazodone after anxiety attack and sleep disorder.Does trazodone help in restoring the sleep pattern back

12:40 am March 24th, 2015

Hi, I’ve suffer from Fibromyalgia with depression & widespread aches & pains for years. The pain is worse if I don’t sleep well. My GP (who has just retired but knew me best in the practice) had me on Trazodone 100mgs for 7 months which really helped my depression but not my sleep so I ended up in a lot of pain. He then advised me to take 200mgs(which I did for about 2 months) but my sleep did not improve so I returned to the 100mgs. Eventually my sleep got so bad that I did my own research and asked him to put me on Mirtazapine 15mgs. That worked really well so I’ve been on both for 4 months now and feel great. My question is will I have to stay on these drugs forever? The Mirtazapine has made me gain over a stone in weight whilst the Trazodone on its own made me lose my appetite and therefore some weight. I’d like to lose weight but continue to feel and sleep as well as I am now but I fear I may need to be on something to keep me in balance. I was on Amitriptyline for years but gained 2 stone and came off it due to side effects. Any ideas.

4:37 am April 20th, 2015

I suffered from severe insomnia after I went into menopause. I also have restless leg syndrome. Trazodone helps both. I don’t know how, but I’m thankful it does. I’ve been on 100 mg trazodone for almost 20 years with no side effects.

2:48 pm May 3rd, 2015

I have been sober for 3 yrs now. I’ve had serious sleep issues ever since. I work nights(bartending). Been on sleep medication for 4 months now. Temazepam at first. Now Trazedone for 17 days now. My recent doctor visit he told me 3mg melatonin 2hrs before bed and then 100mg Trazedone at bedtime. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. When I get home really late it doesn’t work at all. I stayed up all night Fri and Sat. It’s like a love hate relationship. Maybe I should start taking Trazedone 2 hrs before instead of 10 minutes before. Any advice or input would be appreciated. Also, I always wondered something. Does my past addiction to alcohol have anything to do with my problems with these medications? Every night when I go to bed I get real nervous and scared b/c I don’t know if this will be a night where I sleep or stay up all night? Thanks

2:54 pm May 3rd, 2015

Does trazedone for insomnia have a “window”? I’ve heard that you have to take when you actually get into bed. If you’re not in bed then you miss you’re “window”? But then again, some say it could take 1-3 hrs. How do you actually take it?

8:32 pm May 4th, 2015

Hi Danny,
I tend to take Trazodone at 10pm every night. I head off to bed at about 10.45 and usually within 30 minutes I’m asleep. I also take Mirtrazapine 15mgs at the same time. Recently I’ve not had that woozy feeling of falling asleep and have had some broken sleep so I’m wondering if my body has got too used to these meds. I’ve been on Trazodone for a year and added in Mirtrazapine in November 2014 as even 200mgs of Trazodone was not helping me sleep.So my advice would be to take them at a set time every night an hour before you go to bed. Apparently Trazodone works best if taken with food or at least a glass of milk to help it absorb into the bloodstream quickly. Good luck. G

8:32 pm May 4th, 2015

Hi Danny,
I tend to take Trazodone at 10pm every night. I head off to bed at about 10.45 and usually within 30 minutes I’m asleep. I also take Mirtrazapine 15mgs at the same time. Recently I’ve not had that woozy feeling of falling asleep and have had some broken sleep so I’m wondering if my body has got too used to these meds. I’ve been on Trazodone for a year and added in Mirtrazapine in November 2014 as even 200mgs of Trazodone was not helping me sleep.So my advice would be to take them at a set time every night an hour before you go to bed. Apparently Trazodone works best if taken with food or at least a glass of milk to help it absorb into the bloodstream quickly. Good luck. G

4:11 am May 7th, 2015

I take it when I’m about to go to sleep. But sometimes I don’t fall a sleep for an hour or two after I’m in bed and I still sleep right thru the night.

10:10 pm July 2nd, 2015

I need to know EXACTLY how Trazodone works, please. The description in the article is very generic. Please describe EXACTLY how the Trazodone increases Serotonin. Does it block the reuptake, like an SSRI? Does it cause the body to produce more serotonin? Does it increase the serotonin receptors? Please be more specific. Thank you.

4:16 pm July 3rd, 2015

Hi Mcooks. That’s a very good question. Trazodone prevents serotonin from being reabsorbed back into the nerve cells in the brain. It also has the ability to mimic the mood-enhancing effect of serotonin and slightly enhance the release of noradrenaline from thee nerve cells in the brain. I hope this answers your question.

9:58 pm August 11th, 2015

To make a very long story short…On June 8th I was prescribed trazodone for anxiety and occasional High BP. Dr. told me to take 50mg nightly. I started off quartering it and then slowly increased to only 25mg. I’m guessing over the course of 3.5 weeks I took 25mg. I’m thankful I only took that much! I regret taking it after the 1st night! My gut instinct told me to toss all of them down the toilet since the next morning I woke with what felt like, a severe hangover. I also have a 2.5 year old so understandably I was scared to take it at all! My Dr. told me to increase to 50mg or I wouldn’t see results. Almost a month later I noticed my hair shedding like crazy, and my healthy head of hair looked all knotted and dry. I finally put 2 and 2 together and realized I was suffering from hair loss induced by the trazodone! I frantically called my Dr. who I saw that day and he told me he didn’t think it was due to the trazodone. (What?!) and referred me to a dermatologist who told me the same thing! He then told me to google telogen effluvium, and to buy 5% rogaine and that my hair loss would, “taper off eventually.” Thanks for nothing Doctor! Needless to say, once I found out my trigger for my hair loss I flushed that poison known as trazodone down the toilet! (On July 8th). Since then I’ve estimated about 35% hair loss. Since stopping the trazodone, it appears that the hair loss is not 200+ as it once was. But I am still loosing 100-150 a day! I’ve read that it can take several months, and up to 6 months for the hair loss to subside and regrowth to occur. I have no idea, day to day if the hair loss will lighten up…when it will stop….if my hair will grow back? I’ve spent countless hours crying, and depressed trying to find anyone who’s gone through this like I have. The only positive I can try to gather from having gone through this is that I will NEVER take another mood stabilizing drug again! This is poison you’re putting into your body. I’m beyond disgusted that a physician can sit down with a patient for 10-15 minutes and write up a prescription for a mood stabilizer when a more natural approach could have been taken! Please research in depth any medication you’re prescribed. I wish I had done this! Everyday I regret not taking the time to do this, and I placed my life in the hands of this so called expert.

1:31 am September 25th, 2015

Could I take this on an as needed basis. I become very anxious with work and find my insomnia is greater during the week. On weekends, however, I have no problems. Could I not take the trazodone during that time and still get the desired effect when I need it during the week.

1:02 am December 19th, 2015

Im not sure but i had avisit with my doctor today. Im taking 100mg of seraquel and 25mg of tranzodone, she believes im taking to much of those meds.Thats my psychiatrist who prescribe those meds. she believes to much seraquel,lets make along storyshort,I havent had any trouble taking tranzodone PRN. Always remember Gods in charge. Happy Holidays God bless will keep all us in prayer.

7:58 pm December 22nd, 2015

Thank you very much for your specific answer to my question in July 2015. That really helped. I have since titrated off by 5 mg increments every two weeks (My dose was at 50mg each night). My last dose was a couple of weeks ago. I am still feeling a bit foggy-headed and don’t know if that’s just because my brain is still adapting to not having the Trazodone in my system, or something else. Is there something natural that I can take that will help my brain adjust, or do I just need to wait? How long is the adjustment period normally? I was taking Trazodone for 20 years — I, of course, was never told of the potential damage that could do to my brain. Thank you for your expertise.

9:34 pm January 17th, 2016

I am 47 years old and 3.5 year along after a 1600mg/ day ( 7 years) prescribed OxyContin detox. Sleep was the biggest issue after the nasty part of withdrawal. I am currently taking 100mg of trazadone and 300mg Wellbutrin XL per day to increase serotonin levels and it has help the urges to get high (however you choose to do that). I have noticed if I stop the trazadone for any length of time I spiral down fast. I want to get high all the time and enter a deppesive state, poor sleep and anxiety (which I have never suffered from until I detoxed). When I start back with the trazadone I recover quickly ( 1 week) back to my normal state of mind. This combination of trazadone and Wellbutrin has allow me to stay sober while my brain continues to slowly recover.

5:29 pm January 19th, 2016

How long will side effects last when starting out with 50mg. Does your mind adjust after a couple of weeks like other ad’s

7:51 pm January 19th, 2016


Of course, everyone is different. I finished titrating off of Trazodone, as described above, about 2 months ago. Sleep was a challenge every time my dose went down, for about 3 days. I have just recently started to feel like I’m sleeping well on my own in the last week or so (I use a sleep app to monitor my sleep quality). I am sooooo grateful for that! I advise taking your time to allow you brain chemicals to catch up, and being patient with yourself. You can take your tablets to a compounding pharmacy to pulverize and accurately measure out your smaller dose, if that makes it easier.

1:09 am January 20th, 2016


I haven’t listened to this, but thought you might be interested in this talk about what our brains need to overcome addictions.

I hope it helps!

7:39 pm January 21st, 2016

My questions is why after taking Trazodone 200 mg at bedtime do i have insomnia most of the night. I have been on this medication for 15 years….very frustrated! This has been going on for months Thank you!

10:28 pm April 27th, 2016

I’m taking 50mg and its meant to be helping with my sleep and depression, my meds get blister packed at the pharmacy, its in the night slot, any idea when the best time would b to take it to help with both. Thanks tracy

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