Does trazodone cause brain fog? (3 tips)

This article will explore whether trazodone can cause brain fog. It will discuss the findings from research studies regarding the effects of trazodone on cognition.

The article will also mention the factors that can influence trazodone-induced brain fog. Furthermore, it will provide practical strategies for managing and reducing brain fog symptoms caused by trazodone.

Does trazodone cause brain fog?

Trazodone may cause brain fog in some people. However, it can also enhance depression-induced brain fog and improve cognitive functions in other cases. Some studies suggest that trazodone can lead to improvements in concentration and recall and protect against cognitive decline or impairment.

However, other case reports and studies indicate negative effects on cognition, including a decrease in short-term memory and verbal learning or an increased risk of cognitive decline. People respond to medications differently.

Thus, while some people may suffer from trazodone-induced brain fog symptoms, other people may experience enhanced attention and memory. Trazodone’s effect on cognition depends on various factors, such as baseline cognitive function, age, individual sensitivity to medications, or the dose.

If you notice any decline in your memory, attention, or concentration, you should inform your doctor right away.

How can trazodone cause brain fog?

Trazodone is a serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SART), working by inhibiting the serotonin transporter, serotonin type 2 receptors, histamine receptors, and alpha-1-adrenergic receptors. As a result, it exhibits various actions [1].

The antagonism of histaminergic and adrenergic receptors contributes to its sleep-inducing effects. On the other hand, trazodone’s inhibition of serotonin reuptake, which leads to an increase in serotonin levels, accounts for its antidepressant actions.

Due to trazodone’s sleep-inducing and sedating effects, along with its long half-life, which can extend up to 16 hours, some individuals may experience a “hangover” effect [2].

For instance, the sleep-inducing effects of trazodone can leave them feeling sedated even after waking up the next day, potentially leading to symptoms resembling brain fog [2].

What does research suggest?

While some studies indicate that trazodone can negatively impact one’s cognitive function and lead to brain fog, other studies suggest potential benefits for brain function [3].

For instance, one study found that patients with ASVD and insomnia had better concentration and recall abilities after starting trazodone therapy.

To illustrate, according to the results of the MoCA test, the mean score in concentration increased from 4.41 to 5.33 after taking trazodone, and the mean score in recall increased from 1.52 to 2.24 [3].

Another investigation revealed that sustained attention was enhanced in individuals who took trazodone for 6 weeks. Additionally, a study investigating the effects of trazodone over 5 weeks found an improvement in delayed recall as measured by the Word Learning Test [3].

Moreover, two separate trials showed that trazodone can delay cognitive decline. For instance, one study found that individuals who did not take trazodone experienced a 2.6-fold faster decline in cognitive function compared to those who took trazodone for 4 years [3].

Conversely, another study suggested that trazodone could negatively impact cognitive and motor functions. It showed a decrease in short-term memory, assessed by the Brown-Peterson Memory Test, as well as a decline in verbal learning, measured by the Selective Reminding Test [3].

Similarly, a 16-week treatment with trazodone led to worse cognition scores (MMSE scores), decreasing by 1.97 points compared to before its administration [3].

In addition, an investigation found that elderly women who took trazodone for 5 years had a three times higher risk of progressing to mild cognitive impairment and dementia than women who did not, even after considering baseline cognitive function, depression, and the effects of depression on cognition [3].

What factors influence trazodone-induced brain fog?

Several factors can contribute to the occurrence of brain fog. These factors can be categorized into medication-related factors and individual-specific factors.

Medication-related factors

Some of the factors that are related to the administration of trazodone are mentioned below:

  • Higher doses of trazodone are more likely to induce brain fog compared to lower doses.
  • Chronic administration of trazodone has been found to increase the chances of experiencing cognitive decline, especially with age.
  • Jumping to high doses of trazodone suddenly without applying dose titration can lead to excessive sedation and increased brain fog symptoms.
  • Individuals who are starting trazodone for the first time may suffer from brain fog symptoms as an early side effect until their bodies adjust to the drug.

Patient-specific factors

The following risk factors can increase one’s risk of suffering from trazodone-induced brain fog:

  • Baseline cognitive function plays a major role in the degree of brain fog symptoms one may experience due to trazodone.
  • Some individuals may suffer from cognitive decline caused by depression, making them more likely to experience brain fog symptoms while taking trazodone, especially at the beginning of treatment.
  • Elderly people are more prone to cognitive side effects and brain fog, especially if they are taking trazodone.
  • Patients who have a personal or family risk of dementia, multiple sclerosis, parkinsonism, or stroke may experience exacerbated trazodone-related brain fog.


  • People who have a deficiency in the enzymes that metabolize trazodone (CYP3A4) will experience increased effects from trazodone. Decreased metabolism of trazodone leads to increased potency and prolongation of its sedating effects. This can result in a prolonged hangover effect, leading to brain fog.


  • The concurrent administration of other medications known to cause brain fog increases the risk of developing brain fog when taking trazodone. These medications include other brain fog-inducing antidepressants like Cymbalta, Effexor, sertraline, and Prozac.

What to do if trazodone causes brain fog?

If trazodone is causing brain fog, several management strategies can be considered to reduce these symptoms.

Treatment adjustments

Firstly, it is advisable to consult with a doctor. They will assess your medical and medication histories and determine an appropriate course of action accordingly. The doctor may consider reducing the dosage of trazodone and monitoring your symptoms to see if the dose reduction reduces brain fog. 

For those who experience brain fog upon initiation of trazodone, applying dose titration can help the body adjust to the medication more smoothly and potentially minimize brain fog symptoms. Furthermore, changing the time of day when trazodone is taken might help minimize brain fog symptoms. 

Moreover, taking it closer to bedtime may reduce daytime cognitive impairment. Finally, if trazodone-induced brain fog persists, your doctor may consider switching you to another drug. However, it is necessary to gradually reduce the dose before stopping trazodone to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Lifestyle modifications

Consider exercising regularly, as physical activity can improve overall cognitive function and reduce brain fog. It is also important to drink around 3 liters of water a day, as dehydration can cause brain fog symptoms.

Furthermore, ensure a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Getting enough omega-3 fatty acids (from fish, walnuts, or supplements) and antioxidants (from berries and leafy greens) can support brain function. 

Adequate sleep plays a significant role in cognitive function and concentration, so make sure to get 7-9 hours of quality sleep at night to optimize cognitive function and avoid brain fog resulting from disrupted sleep.

Moreover, since stress can cause brain fog, it is recommended to employ stress-reducing techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, reading a book, or practicing yoga.

Cognitive function-enhancing techniques

If you’re experiencing trazodone-induced brain fog, you may need to employ strategies to enhance your cognition and train your brain.

For example, engaging in activities such as puzzles, reading, learning a new skill or language, or playing memory games can help stimulate your mind and keep it engaged, possibly reducing brain fog. Moreover, taking short breaks throughout the day can help rest your mind and prevent mental fatigue.

When you need to do an important task that requires concentration, consider eliminating any external factors that can impact your ability to focus, such as avoiding distractions like noise. Simplifying tasks by breaking them into smaller, more achievable steps can also be helpful. 

To prevent brain fog and poor cognition from impacting your daily life, you can use calendars and reminders to help remember important tasks or appointments.


Based on my research, I found that trazodone may cause brain fog. However, it can have different effects on cognitive function, with some studies suggesting improvements while others indicating negative impacts. 

Based on my knowledge, factors such as baseline cognitive function, age, individual sensitivity to medications, and the dose of trazodone can influence its effect on cognition. To manage trazodone-induced brain fog, I recommend consulting with your doctor.

I believe they may consider reducing the dosage, applying dose titration, or changing the time of day when taking the medication. From my perspective, lifestyle modifications, including exercise, a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and stress reduction techniques, can also support cognitive function.

Engaging in activities that stimulate the mind and employing strategies to enhance cognition, such as puzzles or memory games, may help reduce brain fog symptoms. Additionally, I also recommend using calendars and reminders to assist in managing daily tasks and appointments.

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Schroeck JL, Ford J, Conway EL, Kurtzhalts KE, Gee ME, Vollmer KA, Mergenhagen KA. Review of Safety and Efficacy of Sleep Medicines in Older Adults. Clin Ther. 2016 Nov;38(11):2340-2372. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2016.09.010. Epub 2016 Oct 15. PMID: 27751669.


Gonçalo AMG, Vieira-Coelho MA. The effects of trazodone on human cognition: a systematic review. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2021 Nov;77(11):1623-1637. doi: 10.1007/s00228-021-03161-6. Epub 2021 Jun 7. PMID: 34097124; PMCID: PMC8182348.,four%20evidenced%20impaired%20cognitive%20function.

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