Does trazodone feel like Xanax? (similarities)

In this article, we will discuss whether trazodone feels like Xanax or not. Furthermore, we’ll discuss the main differences in how both of these drugs affect the brain, trazodone as a substitute for Xanax in certain situations, what research suggests on this, the common side effects associated with these drugs and the safety profiles of these drugs.

Does trazodone feel like Xanax?

Yes, trazodone may feel like Xanax in many instances. However, both of these medications are different with distinct mechanisms and primary uses but their shared similarity is the sedative and calming effect. (1,2)

Trazodone is approved by the FDA for the treatment of major depressive disorder. It may also be used off-label to promote sedation in insomniac patients. It is classified as a serotonin modulator which means it exerts its effects by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, a neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation among various physiological functions. (1)

While Xanax, on the other hand, is a benzodiazepine. It is a widely used brand of alprazolam and approved by the FDA as an anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) medication. It is also used for the treatment of panic disorders and sleep-related problems. It exerts its effects by stimulating the activation of GABA (gamma amino butyric acid), a neurotransmitter that has a calming effect on the central nervous system. (3)

Both of these medications can be beneficial for anxiety disorders and sleep-related problems. However, despite the similarities there could be a risk of side effects and individual responses to medications can vary and what may be effective for one person may not be the same for another.

Can trazodone be used as a substitute for Xanax?

Trazodone may or may not be used as a substitute for Xanax. It’s important to remember that both of these medications belong to different classes with a different mechanism of action and primary uses, however, the risk of addiction and physical or psychological dependence with benzodiazepine (Xanax) is high whereas, trazodone is not known to cause addiction. (2,4)

Therefore, in such cases where addiction is concerned with long-term usage, your healthcare provider might consider giving you trazodone instead of Xanax, as Xanax is primarily used for anxiolytic and sleep purposes and likewise, is trazodone when it comes to anxiety and insomnia. Trazodone has beneficial anxiolytic and sedative effects in patients suffering from depression, so it might be a choice of substitution for Xanax. (4)

While is crucial to recognize that the choice between trazodone and Xanax depends on various factors including the specific symptoms which need to be treated, the underlying condition and the patient’s medical history and allergies. 

What does research suggest?

According to a research study, the scientists conducted a clinical test to determine the effectiveness of trazodone as an alternative or substitute for depressive patients suffering from addiction to benzodiazepines including Xanax. (2)

They studied 10 benzodiazepine-dependent patients according to certain criteria and these patients were admitted to hospital for 2-4 weeks. During this time, the doctors gave them trazodone thrice a day with a dose of 100mg each time and at the same time the amount of benzodiazepine they were taking was gradually reduced. Even after leaving the hospital, they were told to continue taking trazodone 300mg daily in similarly divided doses and they were also checked for monitoring as outpatients from time to time. (2)

The results showed that there were very few withdrawal symptoms when the patients were reducing their benzodiazepine intake. Over the 1 year that followed, none of the patients was found to go back to benzodiazepines and they didn’t misuse trazodone and got addicted to it as well. The doctors then reduced their trazodone dose to 180mg daily as their anxiety and depression symptoms improved. (2)

This study suggests that trazodone could be a good and safer option for people who might be at risk of misusing benzodiazepines as it seemed to help these patients reduce their dependence on benzodiazepines without causing any new problems.

What are the key differences between trazodone and Xanax?

Other than their distinct mechanisms of action like trazodone increases serotonin levels to exert its effects and Xanax does not alter serotonin levels and their primary uses, here are some key differences discussed between trazodone and Xanax that you might need to know: (1,3)

Onset of action and duration:

  • Trazodone: Trazodone is generally found to have a slower onset of action and is not considered suitable for immediate relief of acute anxiety symptoms. A person can take several weeks to see the full antidepressant effects of this medication. 


  • Xanax: On the other hand, Xanax has a more rapid onset of action and is usually preferred for short-term management of acute anxiety attacks as it provides quicker relief.

Risk of dependence and abuse:

  • Trazodone: Trazodone is generally considered to have a lower risk of dependence and abuse compared to benzodiazepines. 


  • Xanax: Benzodiazepines including Xanax are at higher risk of physical and psychological dependence. It may be habit-forming and used as a recreational drug, especially in case of prolonged use. 

Withdrawal symptoms:

  • Trazodone: Trazodone is generally not associated with a lot of withdrawal symptoms and it can be gradually tapered off under your healthcare provider’s supervision. 


  • Xanax: Abrupt or sudden discontinuation of benzodiazepines including Xanax can lead to various withdrawal symptoms which may include rebound anxiety and insomnia among other effects.

What are the common side effects of trazodone and Xanax?

Both trazodone and Xanax can cause side effects which may vary in severity among individuals as everyone is different and one might need to be aware of these effects which may include: (1,3)

  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Gastrointestinal discomfort (nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea)
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Memory related problems

Keep in mind that both trazodone and Xanax can have more serious side effects and it’s crucial to contact a healthcare provider if any unusual or severe reaction occurs. 

How to ensure the safe use of trazodone and Xanax?

Ensuring the safety and effectiveness of trazodone and Xanax is very crucial. The foremost step is working closely with your healthcare provider to determine the appropriate dosage, monitor for side effects and address any concerns that may arise. Your doctor will assess your health status and specific condition for appropriate prescription of medications for the best therapeutic outcome. (3,4)

Strictly follow the instructions provided by your doctor in terms of dosage and timings and never alter the dose on your own or stop the medication abruptly as it may cause withdrawal side effects. Be vigilant about how your body is reacting to the medication, notice concerning side effects if any and report to the doctor. (3)

Incorporate healthy lifestyle habits into your daily routine like eating healthy food with adequate nutrients, setting up a fixed sleeping schedule, staying hydrated and engaging yourself in physical activities like exercise which may include running or cardio. Practice techniques to manage your stress like yoga or meditation and avoid the excessive intake of alcohol as it may exacerbate the negative effects of these medications. (1)

As a pharmacist, I would suggest never self-medicate yourself and always consult a doctor if you’re a depression patient and considering starting antidepressants. Don’t try to switch from Xanax to trazodone or vice versa on your own as these medications need a gradual tapering-off process to prevent side effects. 

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