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Trazodone (Oleptro) for Anxiety: Is It Effective?

Trazodone for anxiety
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

Dr. Bradley Noon



Medical Disclaimer
The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient’s unique health circumstances and needs.Read more
The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient’s unique health circumstances and needs.

Stress and anxiety have become a common struggle. However, sometimes, they become severe and may transform into an anxiety disorder, often coming along with sleep issues [1*] .

While psychotherapy and lifestyle changes can help deal with anxiety, some people may need pharmacological support in the beginning. There are various medications available, and among them, trazodone [2*] , marketed as Oleptro, is a commonly chosen option. In this article, we will delve into the features and qualities of trazodone, exploring its effectiveness and potential risks.

Take the first step today! Consult a medical expert specializing in anxiety and receive a personalized treatment plan online.

What Is Trazodone?

Trazodone is a prescription medication used for treating major depressive disorder (MDD) [3*] . It can also help ease insomnia and anxiety related to major depression. Trazodone is an antidepressant medication belonging to the class of serotonin antagonists and reuptake inhibitors (SARIs [4*] ). It’s typically prescribed when other antidepressants have either failed or caused severe side effects.

The way trazodone works in the brain has yet to be fully understood. Currently, it is known to inhibit several types of serotonin receptors [5*] , which can increase serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical messenger that affects mood, emotion, and sleep, so its increase can help alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders like insomnia [6*] (at a low dose). It can also effectively treat other conditions [7*] , such as substance abuse and Alzheimer’s.

Can Trazodone Help With Anxiety?

Different people need different approaches to anxiety treatment. For some, trazodone can be an effective medication, even though it is prescribed for anxiety off-label (meaning the FDA has not approved a medicine for the treatment of that specific disorder). Both on-label and off-label uses may potentially cause side effects, so the choice depends on individual health history.

Effectiveness of Trazodone for Anxiety

In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial [8*] , trazodone proved to effectively treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The study reported comparable efficacy between trazodone, imipramine, and diazepam.

In several other studies, trazodone has shown promising results in addressing anxiety-related conditions. In 1987, a study [9*] noted improvements in individuals with panic disorder or agoraphobia with panic attacks.

Additionally, a 2001 study suggested that patients taking trazodone coped with insomnia and nightmares linked to post-traumatic stress disorder. These findings collectively indicate the potential effectiveness of trazodone in managing anxiety and related symptoms.

However, trazodone is not among the most commonly prescribed medications and is not the first-line choice for anxiety treatment. Healthcare professionals usually prescribe it when patients are unresponsive to other treatments.

Get assessed by a qualified healthcare professional and receive a prescription online if deemed necessary.

Side Effects and Potential Risks of Trazodone

Like any medication, trazodone has potential side effects and risks. It’s crucial to be aware of these effects to monitor adverse reactions and contact a healthcare provider when necessary.

Common side effects:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain

Serious side effects:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Irregular heartbeats
  • Mood changes
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Suicidal thoughts

Trazodone may not be suitable for everyone, so it’s important to discuss your medical history and concerns with your healthcare provider before they prescribe trazodone. They can provide personalized guidance to help you make an informed decision.

Trazodone vs Xanax for Anxiety

Xanax (alprazolam) is one of the commonly prescribed medications for anxiety disorders. It belongs to a class of benzodiazepines and is a short-acting medication that can provide relatively rapid relief from symptoms. This anxiety medicine enhances the effects of a neurotransmitter called GABA, which helps calm the central nervous system.

However, it is essential to note that despite the efficacy of Xanax in treating anxiety, it can be habit-forming and has a high potential for dependence, which is why it is usually prescribed for short-term use. Trazodone is considered to be a safer alternative to Xanax. The choice between them depends on various factors, including the type and severity of anxiety, other existing medical conditions, and the risk of dependence.

Let’s review the main similarities and differences between Xanax and trazodone.



Drug class


Serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARI)

Approved uses

It is FDA-approved for treating panic disorder and anxiety disorders. It is generally prescribed for short-term use.

It is FDA-approved as an antidepressant medication used for treating major depressive disorder, but it can be prescribed off-label for anxiety, often in cases where it coexists with sleep disturbances or depression.

Mechanism of action

It enhances the effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, leading to relatively quick relaxation and sedation, compared to some other anti-anxiety medications.

It modulates the levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, affecting mood and anxiety over time.

Onset of action

It acts quickly, potentially providing relief within about 30 minutes. However, this period may vary from one patient to another depending on individual factors.

It may take several weeks of consistent use for the effects on anxiety symptoms to become noticeable.

Duration of action

It has a short duration of action, typically a few hours.

It can last longer, especially when used for its sedative effects, and can help improve sleep in addition to relieving anxiety symptoms.

Dependence and drug addiction risk

It has a high potential for dependence and can be habit-forming.

It is not considered habit-forming like Xanax.

Trazodone Dosage

Generally, the dosage of trazodone for anxiety is usually ranging from 150 to 375 mg once daily. However, the dosage may vary depending on the individual health features, the condition being treated, and the doctor’s recommendations. It is essential to follow instructions and not to adjust the dosage on your own. Your healthcare provider will determine the appropriate treatment plan based on your needs and medical history.

Overdosing and the Risk of Addiction

Trazodone is generally considered to have a lower risk of addiction and abuse when compared to some other medications for anxiety. It is not classified as a controlled substance. However, it is crucial to be cautious and use the medication exactly as your doctor prescribes to avoid adverse effects. Taking more than the prescribed dosage can result in an overdose, which can have severe consequences.

If you suspect an overdose or have concerns about trazodone use, seek immediate medical attention or contact a poison control center. Trazodone overdose can affect respiratory, gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, and nervous symptoms, manifesting through symptoms such as:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Chest pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Lack of coordination
  • Seizures
  • Sleep issues

Although trazodone overdose is not common, it’s important to remember it may cause life-threatening effects, such as coma or serotonin syndrome.

To reduce the risk of addiction or misuse, take trazodone precisely as directed by your healthcare provider and communicate any concerns or side effects. If you are worried about dependency on trazodone, discuss it with your doctor so they can provide guidance and make necessary adjustments to your treatment plan.

Get in touch with a health expert online to receive a personalized treatment plan after a detailed evaluation.

In Conclusion

Trazodone has been found to be a useful medication for managing anxiety. Its effects, combined with its generally lower risk of addiction, make it a compelling treatment option for many people who couldn’t benefit from other treatment options.

Contact our expert medical team if you’re considering medications as part of your anxiety management strategy. We’ll conduct a detailed assessment and provide evidence-based guidance, support, and tailored solutions to help you regain your peace of mind.

Frequently Asked Questions

The time it takes for trazodone to work can differ from person to person. While some individuals might notice a decrease in anxiety symptoms within a few weeks, others may require more time. It’s crucial to follow your doctor’s advice and be patient as the medication takes effect.
Trazodone is often taken at bedtime because it can cause sleepiness as a side effect. It may help you feel calmer and more relaxed, aiding in better sleep, especially if you have anxiety-induced insomnia.
This medication is approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder and is not typically used for panic attacks. The uses of trazodone for anxiety usually include prescriptions for generalized anxiety disorder. Benzodiazepines like Xanax may be considered as a better option for relatively quick relief during a panic attack.
The effects of trazodone can vary among individuals. Some may experience sedation, while others may see improved mood and reduced anxiety over time.
The suitability of each medicine depends on various factors, such as the specific anxiety disorder and individual response to the chosen and other medications. To determine which medication is best for your needs, it’s advisable to seek advice from a healthcare provider. Sometimes, a combination of different treatments may be recommended for effective anxiety management.


9 sources
  1. Sleep and anxiety: From mechanisms to interventions
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  2. Oleptro
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  3. Rediscovering Trazodone for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder
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  4. Serotonin Antagonist
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  5. Trazodon - the antidepressant: mechanism of action and its position in the treatment of depression
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  6. Trazodone for Insomnia: A Systematic Review
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  7. Treatment of Alzheimer's Disease: Trazodone, Sleep, Serotonin, Norepinephrine, and Future Directions
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  8. Antidepressants for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder. A placebo-controlled comparison of imipramine, trazodone, and diazepam
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  9. Trazodone in the treatment of panic disorder and agoraphobia with panic attacks
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology

Dr. Bradley Noon



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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.