Does trazodone cause memory loss? (6+ factors)
In this article, we will discuss whether trazodone causes memory loss issues or not. We’ll further discuss the potential link between trazodone and memory loss, what research suggests on this, other factors contributing to memory loss while taking trazodone, tips for managing memory issues while taking trazodone and precautionary measures.
Does trazodone cause memory loss?
Yes, trazodone may cause memory loss as a rare side effect. However, memory-related issues are not commonly reported with trazodone but it’s important to remember that individuals are unique in terms of brain chemistry and how they respond to certain medications, especially antidepressants. Hence, some people can experience memory and cognitive issues while others may not. (1)
Trazodone is approved by the FDA for the treatment of major depressive disorders. It may also be given to some insomniac people to induce sedation. It exerts its effects by blocking serotonin reabsorption and increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for improving mood and boosting motivation in a person. (1,2)
If you’re concerned about memory-related or cognitive issues while taking trazodone, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider for further guidance regarding this matter.
What is the link between trazodone and memory loss?
The direct relationship between trazodone and memory loss is not well understood. Trazodone is considered an antidepressant which exerts its effects by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. The fluctuations in these neurotransmitter levels are often associated with altered cognitive functions. (2)
Trazodone has also been found to improve focus and concentration and sharpen the memory by reducing feelings of self-doubt, excessive worry and anxiety. Serotonin receptors are present in the region of the brain called the hippocampus and the activation of these receptors can modulate learning and memory. (1,2)
It’s crucial to keep in mind that serotonin itself is not the only direct cause of memory loss, there might be some other factors or underlying conditions contributing to memory loss. However, individuals are different and some may be more sensitive to the cognitive side effects of taking trazodone due to disruptions or imbalances in serotonin levels.
What does research suggest?
According to a research study, researchers in the United Kingdom studied the health records of over 15 million people. They focused on individuals who were aged 50 and above and were prescribed antidepressants from the years 2000-2017. Their goal was to determine if there is a connection between trazodone antidepressants and the risk of developing dementia. (3)
They found out that the majority of people prescribed trazodone were older and more likely to have cerebrovascular disease (59.7%) and used other drugs as well. After comparing them to a similar group using different antidepressants, they discovered that the incidence of dementia was higher among those taking trazodone. (3)
However, the researchers wanted to be clear that their findings don’t prove that trazodone directly causes dementia. Other factors could have influenced these findings and more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between trazodone and dementia. (3)
What factors can contribute to memory loss while taking trazodone?
Factors that may contribute to trazodone-induced memory issues include the following: (4)
- Individual sensitivity: People react differently to medications, especially antidepressants like trazodone. Some individuals may be more susceptible to memory and cognition-related trazodone’s effects than others.
- Dosage: The dosage of trazodone may also influence its therapeutic and adverse effects profile. Higher doses are more likely to cause cognitive impairment like memory loss.
- Duration of use: Long-term use of trazodone may have different effects compared to its short-term use. Consuming this medication for a prolonged time might influence cognitive functions differently and affect memory.
- Interactions with other medications: Trazodone can interact with other medications a person might be taking, especially SSRI antidepressants that affect serotonin levels too. Their combined effect can cause a serious condition called serotonin syndrome which negatively impacts cognition.
- Underlying health conditions: Certain health conditions can also contribute to memory issues. Individuals who already have some cognitive condition or disorder are more at risk of cognitive side effects from trazodone.
- Age: Older people may be more vulnerable and prone to cognitive-related side effects of trazodone and other medications. Trazodone is sometimes prescribed to older individuals and their age-related factors and concurrent use of multiple medications can play a role in memory disruption.
- Underlying sleep disorders: This medication is sometimes prescribed for sleep disorders. Disruptions in sleep patterns or quality can significantly impact a person’s cognitive function and memory.
- Hydration and lifestyle factors: Not enough consumption of water (dehydration) and other lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise can influence cognitive functions to an extent.
What are the other potential side effects of trazodone?
Some common side effects of trazodone may include: (1)
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Dry mouth
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Blurred vision
- Gastrointestinal distress (nausea, vomiting, changes in appetite)
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Weight changes (weight gain or weight loss)
- Low blood pressure
- Sexual side effects (changes in libido, erectile dysfunction etc)
It’s important to remember that these side effects may vary in severity depending on the individual specific condition and dose of trazodone. Most of these side effects are temporary and go on their own once the body is adjusted to the medication regimen.
Additionally, some rare but more serious side effects may require immediate medical attention, including:
Signs include rash, itching and swelling on the skin, severe dizziness and difficulty in breathing.
A prolonged and often painful erection in men can be caused by the use of certain antidepressants like trazodone but in rare cases with extremely high doses.
Combining trazodone with other antidepressants particularly those that affect serotonin levels like SSRIs (Citalopram, Luvox etc) can lead to excessive accumulation of serotonin in the brain causing serotonin syndrome. Symptoms include hallucinations, confusion, restlessness, seizures etc.
In young individuals, especially under the age of 25, trazodone like many other antidepressants may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviours. (1)
How to manage memory loss while taking trazodone?
If you’re experiencing memory issues while taking trazodone, consulting with your doctor is the foremost recommended step. Whatever symptoms you’re sensing are becoming bothersome, explain them accurately to your healthcare provider so they can assess your health status and determine the cause of the problem whether it’s due to the medication or other factors involved.
If memory issues are related to trazodone use, your doctor might consider adjusting the dosage or may explore other alternative antidepressants with less cognitive side effects.
Your doctor may suggest adopting healthy lifestyle factors that promote cognitive functions and memory, such as fixing your appropriate sleep schedule, incorporating a balanced diet in your routine with sufficient essential nutrients, keeping yourself hydrated by drinking an adequate amount of water and practising some stress-reducing approaches like yoga or meditation. (1,2)
As a pharmacist, I would suggest if you experience any of the aforementioned symptoms of trazodone or suffer cognitive impairment, reach out to your doctor immediately as time is crucial. Do not ever stop antidepressants on your own as they may cause troublesome withdrawal side effects further affecting your memory.
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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. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8182348/
Brauer R, Lau WCY, Hayes JF, Man KKC, Osborn DPJ, Howard R, Kim J, Wong ICK. Trazodone use and risk of dementia: A population-based cohort study. PLoS Med. 2019 Feb 5;16(2):e1002728. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002728. PMID: 30721226; PMCID: PMC6363148. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6363148/
Sayyah M, Eslami K, AlaiShehni S, Kouti L. Cognitive Function before and during Treatment with Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors in Patients with Depression or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Psychiatry J. 2016;2016:5480391. doi: 10.1155/2016/5480391. Epub 2016 Aug 15. PMID: 27597949; PMCID: PMC5002481. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5002481/