Trazodone is a prescription drug commonly used to treat depression, sleep disorders and anxiety. Some doctors prescribe it to manage eating disorders, diabetic nerve pain, and agitation in people with dementia. The drug works by regulating serotonin activity in the brain. A higher level of serotonin in the central nervous system will help patients feel better, improve sleep and mitigate depression symptoms.
Trazodone overdose can happen when someone takes more than the recommended dosage. Here is an informative guide that aims at shining light on what happens if you take too much trazodone to help you seek the proper treatment.
How to Take Trazodone
The drug comes in the form of oral tablets, and the dosage depends on various factors. It might vary based on the type of condition, severity, underlying medical issues, and age. Your doctor will start you off with the lowest dose that delivers the desired effects and adjust it over time. The tablets have varying strength and come in 50mg, 100mg, 150mg, and 300 mg.
The typical starting dosage is 150mg daily divided into multiple doses to treat major depressive issues. The doctor may then gradually increase this dosage by 50mg until you reach the maximum, 400mg. Individuals in inpatient treatment for depression may take up to 600mg of trazodone.
It’s worth noting that children below the age of 18 shouldn’t take this drug. You can use the drug for long-term treatment, but it could lead to adverse health issues when taken other than as prescribed. For instance, if you suddenly stop taking the medication, your conditions may get worse, and you might even experience some withdrawal symptoms, which include:
- Troubled sleep
If you want to discontinue taking the drug, inform your doctor to prescribe lower doses, and you should be able to stop over time. If you fail to take the medications on schedule, the drug won’t work as expected. When you forget to take your medicine, do it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s just a few hours before your next dosage, take a single dose at the next scheduled time. If you take too much, a higher level of the drug accumulates into your blood, potentially causing an overdose.
The drug comes with a boxed warning from the FDA to notify users of deadly side effects. According to a report by FDA, trazodone can cause an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, especially in young adults. The possibility of overdose is also higher at the beginning of the treatment or during dosage changes.
People who have a high risk of trazodone overdose are users who need the drug to manage specific conditions. This is because the medication doesn’t have any recreational use. Taking a higher dose speeds up the effects of the drug while increasing drowsiness.
Even if they are prescribed the medication, some people feel tempted to take an increased amount in an attempt to get rid of depressive symptoms. In most cases, trazodone overdose occurs unintentionally, but a few issues happen when patients attempt to cause self-harm or die by suicide.
How Much Trazodone Causes an Overdose
The amount of trazodone that can cause an overdose varies. This highly depends on your kidney functionality because the kidneys are responsible for processing and removing the medication from your body. It’s worth noting that people aged 65 and above are at a higher risk of trazodone overdose. With age, the kidney may not work as efficiently as it used to, and it processes the drugs slower.
While taking the drug to treat depression, if you take over 600mg of trazodone in a single day, this is typically considered an overdose. You will need a lower dosage to treat insomnia, about 75mg. The amount and type of products you consume together with the drug may also cause an overdose. A large number of deaths linked to trazodone overdose occur when users mix the medication with other substances.
Signs and Symptoms of Overdose
A trazodone overdose causes a wide range of hazardous symptoms in various areas, including the following.
The Respiratory System
An increased level of trazodone in your body depresses the respiratory system. As a result, the lungs fail to expand and contract as expected. When this happens, breathing may stop for some time or entirely. Note that slowed or stopped breathing for an extended period can cause permanent brain damage. Some common symptoms include:
- Respiratory arrest
- Breathing problems
Central Nervous System
Most of the benefits you reap from taking trazodone develop when the drug interacts with the central nervous system. Hence, in case of an overdose, it highly affects your brain functionality and causes various symptoms like:
- Uncoordinated actions
- Chronic headache
Trazodone overdose also affects the functionality of your heart and blood vessels. The drug dramatically slows down your heart rate. Blood pressure can also drop low, resulting in fainting. Watch out for irregular heartbeat and chest pain.
If you have overdosed on trazadone, you might also experience stomach problems. An overdose can result in vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea.
In some cases, trazodone overdose can also affect the male reproductive system. It typically causes abnormal erections that can last for up to four hours. More often than not, the erection should go away after 24 hours, but it can still cause significant harm to your genitals. You can try alleviating this symptom by applying ice or taking painkillers. Seek immediate medical assistance too.
Besides affecting some vital body systems, trazodone overdose can cause serotonin syndrome. Serotonin is a brain chemical whose primary purpose is to promote a positive mood and boost relaxation. When you take trazodone, it blocks serotonin receptors to accumulate more active chemicals in the body. When serotonin gets in your blood at higher levels, it causes adverse reactions. You will begin to experience:
- Loss of consciousness
- High fever
- Profuse sweating
- High blood pressure
- Stiff muscles
- Dilated pupils
- Loss of muscle coordination
- Irregular heartbeat
Overdose Due to Mixing Trazodone With Other Drugs
Before you start taking trazodone, let your doctor know if you are taking any other medications. This covers everything from supplements to over-the-counter drugs or any other herbal medicine. Sharing such information with a qualified physician will help reduce the risks of drug interactions.
Opioids, alcohol, and benzophenones have similar effects on the body as trazodone. They all target the brain, reduce its activities, and slow down the heart rate to promote relaxation. Combining such substances increases the central nervous system’s effects and severely depresses the respiratory system, which can be fatal.
Note that your body can only process a certain amount of antidepressants at a time. When you combine too many of them, a higher level of unutilized drugs accumulates into your body, causing an overdose. For an individual using cocaine, trazodone can also lead to priapism.
Overdose as a Result of Snorting the Drug
It can take you up to two weeks to experience the drug’s anti-depressive effects when taken orally. As a result, some people choose to crush the medication and snort it to get immediate results. You should only take the drug in tablet form. This method allows the pill to go through the digestive system, decreasing the speed at which it reaches the bloodstream, which slows down the effects.
If you snort the medication, your nose blood vessels absorb the drug and take it directly into the blood. Thus, there is a high risk of overdose even after snorting the safe dose that you should have taken orally.
Trazodone Overdose Treatment
If you suspect that your loved one has taken more than the recommended dose of trazodone or you see any of the symptoms mentioned above, seek emergency medical assistance. When you take in a person for trazodone overdose treatment, you need to explain to the physician how the scenario occurred. Be ready to give specific information about the victim, like their age, weight, and height. If you know how much of the drug they took and at what specific period, availing such information will help in treatment.
When the patient arrives at a health facility, the doctor may begin by pumping the stomach to remove any remaining drug traces. They may also administer a dose of activated charcoal to absorb the toxins and alleviate overdose symptoms. The patient might need intravenous fluids to replenish nutrients and prevent dehydration. Physicians may also administer intubation to aid in proper breathing. If a person displays serotonin syndrome symptoms, the doctor will provide some medication to block the serotonin.
Luckily, most people recover from trazodone overdose, especially if they seek medical attention as soon as possible. Based on the overdose’s extent, the doctor may require that the patient stays within the health facility for monitoring.
Preventing Further Overdose
Taking the person to a rehab facility like Granite Recovery Centers can help the user uncover potential overdose triggers and prevent another incident in the future. Our facility aims at helping people struggling with drug misuse. Our patients often undergo a mental health program to help them deal with emotional or psychological issues that could encourage drug overdose.
At Granite Recovery Centers, we offer a dual diagnosis program to treat mental health concerns as well as drug misuse. The main aim is to identify and address any underlying issues to ensure that the patient won’t be at risk of another overdose after treatment.
When the doctors identify a potential problem, they can recommend that you opt for various treatment programs based on your condition. For patients who require intensive care and monitoring, you might have to enroll in an inpatient treatment program. For this option, you reside within the treatment center, which provides a supportive environment to aid in recovery. You will undergo therapy sessions aimed at addressing the emotional and other impacts of medication misuse.
If your case isn’t so extreme, you can consider an outpatient treatment program. You can plan several visits to the rehab center for professional support and counseling to ensure that you overcome drug misuse. You can still go ahead with your daily activities, but you will visit the rehab center on specific days as agreed upon with your doctor.
How to Avoid Trazodone Overdose
The only way to avoid trazodone overdose is by taking the drug exactly as prescribed. You should take the pill shortly after a meal and swallow it whole. You can also break it into two for ease of ingestion, but don’t crush or chew the drug. If you often feel dizzy after taking medicine, discuss this with your doctor, and they may suggest that you take it before bedtime.
Don’t increase the trazodone dose on your own or take it more times than prescribed. Only your doctor should recommend a new refill for this medication. Read the prescription guide carefully each time you get a refill and ask the doctor for clarifications if you have any questions.
For people suffering from heart disease, the drug can cause irregular heartbeat. You may need close monitoring if you must take the medication. If your condition persists even after taking medicine for some time, tell your doctor. They may decide to increase your dosage or change the medication.
If you drink alcohol heavily, talk to your doctor about it before taking trazodone. Remember that when combined, the two substances cause increased risks of dizziness and overdose. Your doctor may recommend that you first go through a detox program to quit your alcohol use. A rehab center can help you recover from alcohol addiction before you begin taking trazodone.
Consuming higher than the prescribed amount of trazodone doses increases the risk of an overdose. The excess drug can alter your body’s functionality and cause serious medical complications. Also, remember that even a lower trazodone dose can produce toxic symptoms when mixed with other substances. Hence, you should only take the drug under medical supervision to avoid such complications.
It’s a good idea for people struggling with trazodone abuse to enroll in a rehabilitation facility like Granite Recovery Centers. You will learn ways to manage depression, alleviate anxiety, and relieve insomnia without misusing your medication, minimizing the risks of a drug overdose.