Last Updated: October 26, 2022
Desyrel (trazodone) is a commonly prescribed antidepressant in the U.S. People who take trazodone as an antidepressant or to treat insomnia for several months or longer may experience withdrawal symptoms when they reduce their dose or stop taking it.
A dose tapering protocol should be established with a medical professional in order to reduce or eliminate uncomfortable trazodone withdrawal symptoms.
Is Trazodone Habit-Forming?
Although trazodone withdrawal may cause discomfort to some people, trazodone withdrawal is not typically dangerous and the drug is not habit-forming.
Trazodone and other antidepressants work in the body by increasing serotonin, which is not known to be related to addiction. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps to regulate mood. Trazodone is not a controlled substance and can be prescribed with no additional regulations by a healthcare professional.
See More: Trazodone Addiction
How Long Does Trazodone Stay in Your System?
The trazodone half-life is between 5–9 hours, which means that half of the drug is eliminated from the body in this amount of time. Most drugs will clear from the body in five half-lives. Therefore, trazodone is metabolized approximately 25–45 hours after the dose.
When you abruptly stop taking a drug that your brain has become dependent on, the brain must readapt. For trazodone and other antidepressant medications, this phenomenon is called antidepressant withdrawal syndrome (AWS). With AWS, withdrawal symptoms may feel like they last beyond the withdrawal period because trazodone causes chemical changes in your brain that remain even after the drug is completely out of your system.
Antidepressant withdrawal syndrome is common and is more likely to occur in people taking antidepressants with a relatively short half-life, like trazodone.
Trazodone’s half-life is 5–9 hours, meaning it will take about 25–45 hours for trazodone to be out of the system. Since trazodone is metabolized by the liver, people with liver-related conditions may experience a longer half-life.
It should be noted that half-life is not necessarily a rule when it comes to withdrawal symptoms after stopping trazodone. Since antidepressants make semi-permanent changes in the CNS when taken daily, it may take several days or weeks for withdrawal symptoms to resolve.
Since trazodone does not have abuse or addiction potential, people seeking addiction treatment usually do not need to stop taking it. However, they may need to taper off the drug for a medical reason, or if they no longer need it.
Even at low doses, trazodone can have sedative effects, with heightened effects experienced at higher doses. A taper plan should only begin after speaking with your doctor.
It is difficult to predict what an individual’s trazodone detox will look like. Many people don’t experience trazodone withdrawal symptoms, even when they stop taking it abruptly. Other people have physical symptoms like nausea, vomiting, anxiety, trembling, flu-like symptoms, vertigo, “electric shock” sensations and insomnia. Up to half of people who try to stop taking antidepressants experience withdrawal symptoms.
What Causes Trazodone Withdrawal?
Among antidepressants, trazodone is generally not considered high risk for withdrawal symptoms. Several recent reports have been published detailing withdrawal symptoms after discontinuing antidepressants, but only one included trazodone.
However, case studies indicate that, in some people, trazodone can cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that take up to 50 days to diminish.
When Does Trazodone Withdrawal Start?
Trazodone is known to cause withdrawal symptoms as soon as the first day after the dose is stopped or lowered. The effects come on quickly due to the short half-life, and drugs with short half-lives are more likely to cause withdrawal symptoms.
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How Long Does Trazodone Withdrawal Last?
Unlike most other drugs that are associated with withdrawal symptoms, the length of treatment time does not seem to be a significant predictorof antidepressant withdrawal symptom severity.
This still does not explain why one person may experience incredibly uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms while someone else on the same drug may not. The mechanism of trazodone withdrawal symptoms remains largely unknown.
Trazodone Withdrawal Symptoms
Empirical data that clarifies the effects of trazodone withdrawal are limited. Even reports on antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, which may be considered roughly equivalent to withdrawal, don’t outline signs and symptoms of trazodone withdrawal. However, most reports indicate that atypical antidepressants like trazodone have fewer withdrawal-related side effects than other types of antidepressants. Among the most commonly reported symptoms of trazodone withdrawal are:
- Flu-like symptoms
Trazodone Withdrawal Timeline
Although case studies of trazodone withdrawal are rare, most people who experience trazodone withdrawal symptoms report that they subside within a week or two. One case study reported on a patient who had symptoms for 50 days.
Although there is a scarcity of empirical data on trazodone withdrawal, there are a number of forums where people report symptoms persisting for 2–3 weeks or more. Unfortunately, most of these anecdotal reports provide few details.
Since there is so little data, it is unclear what the exact “timeline” is for trazodone withdrawal. It appears to vary from person to person, with some being more susceptible to severe symptoms than others.
Trazodone Detox and Addiction Treatment Center
For people who are struggling with detox, rehab facilities provide 24/7 access to medical professionals who address questions and concerns as they arise. Quality rehab centers staff multidisciplinary teams including medical doctors, licensed addiction therapists, and behavioral therapists who assist and motivate patients through recovery.
Medical detox is provided by many rehab facilities as the first step of an addiction treatment program. Drugs that affect serotonin should not be used during medical detox. Medications, such as benzodiazepines, that are commonly used to help people detox from other substances may not be appropriate for all people who experience trazodone withdrawal. Although this has not been reported for trazodone withdrawal specifically, some people benefit from replacing a short half-life antidepressant with one with a longer half-life.
Several factors should be considered when choosing a trazodone detox center:
- The single most important factor is finding a high-quality rehab facility with a multidisciplinary team of experts who can address the physical and psychological aspects of recovery.
- If possible, find a facility that has experience in dealing with antidepressant discontinuation syndrome.
- Many rehab centers provide statistics on success rates and endorsements from former clients, but be wary of any program that touts a 100% success rate.
- Insurance can help cover some of the cost of rehab, and rehab facilities may offer sliding fee scales, grants or scholarships.
- A low staff-to-patient ratio will ensure that the staff has adequate time and resources to address your needs.
- Accreditation through The Joint Commission or CARF International will guarantee a certain standard of care.
Trazodone is not a drug of abuse, so you are unlikely to need inpatient treatment, intensive outpatient (IOP), or outpatient treatment while going through withdrawal symptoms, but medical detox may be useful and make the process more comfortable.
See More: Trazodone Treatment
If you or someone you know is experiencing withdrawal from any substance, reach out to The Recovery Village Columbus. We have trained professionals that are experts in managing the symptoms that come along with stopping substances, including trazodone.
Our Recovery Advocates are ready to answer your questions about addiction treatment and help you start your recovery.