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Moderate Severe Anxiety, Psychiatry & Medication, Severe Anxiety

Trazadone and Alcohol

 September 11, 2020

By  Natalie Kirilova

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The Bottom Line 

  • Trazodone is a tricyclic antidepressant prescribed to treat depression.
  • Available in tablets, capsules as well as liquid.
  • Available under the brand names of Desyrel, Desyrel Dividose, Oleptro. 
  • Off-label uses include anxiety, eating disorders, insomnia.
  • Consuming Trazodone and alcohol together may cause severe side effects, and in some cases, death.

What is Trazodone?

Trazodone is a medication from the tricyclic antidepressant class which is prescribed to treat depression. A doctor may occasionally prescribe it off-label to treat anxiety, insomnia as well as eating disorders. This medication fits long-term treatment. It is most well-known under the brand names of Desyrel, Desyrel Dividose, Oleptro. Available in tablets, capsules, and liquid. It is believed to work by affecting neurotransmitters in the brain which then provide relief for depression.

What conditions is Trazodone taken for? 

It is usually prescribed to treat depression. Off-label uses include anxiety, insomnia as well as eating disorders if no other first-line medications have been effective or caused many severe side effects. 

Can you drink alcohol while taking Trazodone? 

It is contraindicated to take Trazodone and alcohol together. Taking these two substances together in large doses may be deadly.

Is there an interaction of Trazodone and alcohol?

Taking Trazodone and alcohol together may cause many severe side effects and in high doses can be deadly.

Alcohol is a depressant and can increase the risk of side effects of this medication, such as dizziness, drowsiness, and impaired concentration. Long-term application of Trazodone and alcohol can also lead to abuse and withdrawal. Other possible risks include: 

  • Drop in blood pressure. Taking Trazodone and alcohol alone or in combination may cause a drop in blood pressure, which may result in fainting or dizziness, especially in elderly people.
  • Impaired judgment. Individuals who consume Trazodone and alcohol may experience a decrease in their ability to think, concentrate, drive, or operate heavy machinery. 
  • Deterioration of depression or anxiety. Taking Trazodone and alcohol together may worsen symptoms of anxiety and depression, and in some cases increase risk of suicidal ideation.
  • Decreased motor skills. Taking Trazodone and alcohol together may decrease the motor skills. 
  • Long-lasting vomiting or nausea. Taking Trazodone and alcohol in high doses may lead to long-lasting effects of vomiting or upset stomach which may require hospitalization and pharmacological treatment. 
  • Overdose. Taking Trazodone and alcohol in large doses may result in toxicity and lead to overdose incidents. 

The full list of side effects when taking Trazodone and alcohol in both small and high doses, as well as their severity, differ in individuals. 

You should not mix Trazodone and alcohol to enhance the effects of your treatment. Speak to the doctor if you have had a history of substance abuse, or if your family members have had such incidents.

Individuals who suffer from Trazodone and alcohol abuse may speak to their doctors about the applicability of rehabilitation. Many rehab programs exist to stop abusing substances and start living a sober life.

Can Trazodone be taken for Depression? 

It is prescribed to treat depression in adults.

Is Trazodone FDA approved for depression?

It is FDA-approved to treat depression in adults.

Can Trazodone be taken for Anxiety? 

This antidepressant may be used off-label to treat anxiety if other medications have been ineffective or caused severe side effects

Is Trazodone FDA approved for anxiety?

Trazodone is not approved for anxiety treatment by the Food and Drug Administration(FDA).

What research supports Trazodone for anxiety?

  • Trazodone, Diazepam, and Imipramine were studied for efficacy in generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) treatment. An 8-week double-blind study included subjects who have had a diagnosis of GAD and a score of 18 in the Hamilton Anxiety Scale. Subjects were randomized to take Trazodone 255mg/daily, Imipramine 143mg/daily, and Diazepam 26mg/daily. The results demonstrated that all medications reduced symptoms of anxiety significantly.
  • Trazodone was compared against Chlordiazepoxide efficacy in anxiety treatment. 83 subjects were randomized to take one of the medications and were assessed using the Hamilton Anxiety Scale, and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist. Trazodone was found to be more effective to relieve anxiety over Chlordiazepoxide.

What do experts say about Trazodone for anxiety? 

Todd Christiansen, a child, and adolescent psychiatrist says – “Trazodone (once called Desyrel, now sometimes sold as Oleptro) was originally designed as an antidepressant. But due to the drug’s nature, patients had to take very high doses for it to effectively combat depression and anxiety.

What are the possible side effects of Trazodone?

The FDA warns about the following side effects when taking this antidepressant:

  • Dizziness;
  • Nausea;
  • Serotonin syndrome;
  • Extreme tiredness;
  • Cardiac arrhythmias;
  • Glaucoma;
  • Suicidal ideation in children, and adults;
  • Motor skills impairment.

The following side effects are associated with taking Trazodone and alcohol:

  • Drop in blood pressure;
  • Impaired judgment, concentration, driving ability;
  • Vomiting and nausea;
  • Mood swings;
  • Deteriorated depression or anxiety;
  • Decreased motor skills.

Overdose incidents have been reported when taking Trazodone and alcohol together in large doses. If you believe you have overdosed, seek emergency help immediately (call 911).

Speak to your doctor about safe intake of this antidepressant. 

Can you take Trazodone while pregnant or breastfeeding?

The FDA does not deem this antidepressant to be completely safe for pregnant women. Other medications and therapies are available to treat anxiety or depression while pregnant.

A doctor may occasionally prescribe it to nursing mothers if no other modalities have been effective or caused side effects.

Can children take Trazodone? 

Children under 18 are not typically prescribed this antidepressant, however, a doctor may prescribe it to treat depression if previous treatments have not been successful.

How to take Trazodone? 

The initial dose of the medication is typically 150 mg/daily. A doctor may increase it up to 400 mg if the patient is unresponsive to treatment. Take it as directed. Do not change the dosage without speaking to your doctor. A gradual decrease in dosage is required to avoid withdrawal effects. Take it after food or a light snack.

A medical history including a history of Trazodone and alcohol abuse should be assessed prior to administering this medication.

Are there alternatives to Trazodone? 

Prescription medications as Alternatives to Trazodone for Anxiety 

Trazodone is an antidepressant prescribed to treat depression, while a doctor may occasionally prescribe it off-label to treat anxiety. If you believe that treatment with this medication may be for you, you must speak with a doctor. Beyond that, other medications are available for anxiety treatment including:

  • Klonopin
  • Valium
  • Lexapro
  • Prozac
  • Buspirone
  • Inderal
  • Cymbalta
  • Tofranil
  • Hydroxyzine
  • Zoloft

There are various alternatives. If you’d like to learn more about whether Trazodone, another medication or treatment modality is right for you, we recommend that you speak with a licensed psychiatrist. Here are the best online psychiatry platforms so you can speak with someone right away!

Therapy as an Alternative to Trazodone

Learn more about different therapy options for anxiety here

Energy & Holistic Modalities as an Alternative to Trazodone

Learn more about different energy & holistics modalities for anxiety here

Tech & Devices as Alternative Treatments to Trazodone

Learn more about tech & devices for anxiety here

Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.


Natalie is a writer with a focus in medical research with over 10 years of experience

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