Does Trazodone cause constipation? (+3 factors)
In this article, we will discuss whether Trazodone can cause constipation. We will also discuss some research studies and what one should do if this side effect occurs.
Does Trazodone cause constipation?
Yes, Trazodone can cause constipation. It is one of the listed side effects of this antidepressant and some people have reported it.
If you are experiencing difficulty passing stools or have infrequent bowel movements which are less than normal it indicates constipation. Experiencing this while taking Trazodone is normal and it is called secondary constipation as it is caused by medications.
However, it is essential to note that its incidence can vary from person to person and not everyone who takes Trazodone will experience this side effect. If you do experience constipation while taking Trazodone, it is essential to discuss this with your healthcare provider.
Your healthcare provider can help you manage this side effect and may suggest lifestyle changes to alleviate constipation while ensuring that your treatment plan for your mental health condition remains effective.
What does research suggest?
Research suggests that Trazodone can indeed lead to constipation in some individuals, although the exact incidence can vary. The exact mechanism behind this effect is not fully understood.
One potential explanation is related to Trazodone’s effect on certain neurotransmitters in the brain like serotonin. These neurotransmitters play a role in regulating various bodily functions, including the gastrointestinal tract (1).
Alteration in these systems might contribute to constipation for some individuals. This is why other antidepressants like Mirtazapine, Wellbutrin, Pristiq etc are also associated with this side effect.
One study indicated that Trazodone can treat insomnia in patients better than Quetiapine but patients prescribed Trazodone experienced a higher occurrence of side effects like constipation, nausea and diarrhoea compared to those receiving Quetiapine (2).
It is essential to keep in mind that not everyone who takes Trazodone will experience constipation. People’s bodies react differently to medications, and while constipation is a known side effect, many people tolerate the drug without this issue.
What are the factors influencing Trazodone-induced constipation?
Several factors can increase the risk of experiencing constipation as a side effect of Trazodone (3):
Drinking less water can lead to dehydration. It can affect the overall functioning of the gastrointestinal tract. Adequate hydration is essential for maintaining healthy bowel movements. If you are not drinking enough water, the risk of constipation is increased.
A lack of physical activity can hinder the digestive process, potentially slowing down bowel movements. Engaging in regular exercise helps activate intestinal muscles, supporting a more consistent and healthy digestive rhythm. If you are mostly sedentary, it could lead to constipation issues.
Insufficient fibre intake in one’s diet can increase the chances of experiencing constipation. Fibre plays a crucial role in regulating bowel movements by increasing stool volume and aiding its smooth passage through the intestine. If your diet lacks fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and other high-fibre food, you could face an increased risk of constipation.
Underlying health conditions
Certain medical conditions can make individuals susceptible to experiencing constipation like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), hypothyroidism, diabetes, and some neurological disorders. If you have any of these conditions, your risk of experiencing constipation with medications like Trazodone may be higher.
Individuals are more likely to experience constipation if they are taking Trazodone in a higher dose. As the side effects of Trazodone are dose-dependent, a higher dose increases the risk of constipation.
How to manage Trazodone-induced constipation?
If you experience constipation while taking Trazodone, there are several steps you can take.
Communicate with your healthcare provider: If constipation persists or becomes bothersome, discuss it with your healthcare provider. They may reduce the dosage to see if it helps. If dosage reduction is not helpful, they may gradually discontinue your medication or switch you to another antidepressant with fewer side effects.
Always remember not to discontinue the antidepressant on your own as it can cause horrible withdrawal symptoms (4).
Physical activity: Regular exercise or physical activity can help stimulate bowel movements and alleviate constipation. Do moderate exercise at least three days a week.
Over-the-counter remedies: Talk to your pharmacist or healthcare provider about options such as fibre supplements or mild laxatives that may help relieve constipation.
Increase fibre intake: Increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables. They are rich in fibre and fibre increases the bulk of the stool and helps with constipation.
Hydration: Drink adequate water throughout the day to maintain hydration. Sufficient hydration can help soften stools and facilitate bowel movements.
In my view, constipation is a frequently reported side effect of Trazodone which goes away as your body adjusts to the medication. Factors like dosage, poor lifestyle and medical conditions increase the likelihood of constipation while taking Trazodone.
Laxatives, improvement in lifestyle and open communication with healthcare providers are important to manage Trazodone-induced constipation.
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Shin JJ, Saadabadi A. Trazodone. [Updated 2022 Jul 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470560/
Doroudgar S, Chou TI, Yu J, Trinh K, Pal J, Perry PJ. Evaluation of trazodone and quetiapine for insomnia: an observational study in psychiatric inpatients. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2013;15(6):PCC.13m01558. doi: 10.4088/PCC.13m01558. Epub 2013 Nov 7. PMID: 24800124; PMCID: PMC3977773.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24800124/