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What is Desyrel®?

Marlene Garcia
Marlene Garcia

Desyrel® is the trademark name of trazodone, a drug used to treat depression and insomnia. It affects chemicals in the brain that may cause depression when they become unbalanced. The medication is sometimes used with other drugs as a sedative to treat panic attacks, phobias, and withdrawal from illegal drugs. Controversy surrounds the use of anti-anxiety medication because it may stimulate suicidal thoughts in children and adolescents.

Some health experts believe an imbalance of the various neurotransmitters in the brain causes depression. Desyrel® inhibits the amount of serotonin released to nerves in the brain, which allows more serotonin secretion to the body’s other nerves. It is prescribed for patients with major depression symptoms that interfere with daily living and last more than two weeks. Users begin with a small dosage of the drug that is gradually increased, if necessary.

Trazodone increases the level of the chemical serotonin in the brain.
Trazodone increases the level of the chemical serotonin in the brain.

Major depression is a disruption of mental balance that occurs daily over an extended period of time. It is characterized by changes in appetite and sleep patterns. Those suffering from anxiety or depression often lose interest in activities they previously enjoyed, including sex. They may frequently feel tired and have trouble concentrating. Other symptoms of depression include feelings of worthlessness and suicidal thoughts.

When a patient begins taking Desyrel®, or other anti-depressant drugs, suicidal thoughts and behavior may increase, especially in patients under 25 years old. Children and adolescents should be closely watched for signs that their depression is getting worse. This condition affects a small number of Desyrel® users, according to studies of short-term use, at the onset of treatment or when the dosage is changed.

Other side effects of Desryel® include nausea, diarrhea, or constipation. Some patients using the medication experience headache, dry mouth, and feel tired. More serious side effects are rare, and should be reported to the physician who prescribed trazondone. They include fainting, urination problems, or tremors. Men using the drug have experienced painful erections lasting more than four hours, but this is also rare.

Most patients begin taking 150 mg of Desryel® a day. The dosage can be increased slightly every three or four days until a maximum level of 400 mg a day is reached, half in the morning and half at bedtime. During the maintenance phase of therapy, the lowest level of the drug possible is used to obtain desired results. Anti-depressant drug treatment is usually prescribed for several months.

The drug is not suitable for all conditions, and a complete screening of the patient is necessary to determine the type of depression he or she suffers. These drugs are not recommended for use in patients with bipolar disorder because they could cause an increase of manic episodes. Desryel® has not been approved for treating the more severe bipolar depression.

Discussion Comments


Should a 96 year old with dementia and being a sundowner and having problems sleeping take trazodone?

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    • Trazodone increases the level of the chemical serotonin in the brain.
      Trazodone increases the level of the chemical serotonin in the brain.