Does trazodone improve mood? (3+ uses)

In this article, we will discuss whether trazodone improves mood. We will also discuss how trazodone improves mood and share some evidence from the literature on its efficacy in improving mood and other relevant information. 

Does trazodone improve mood?

Yes, trazodone does improve mood. Trazodone, classified as a serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor (SARI), serves as an antidepressant. It is primarily prescribed for major depressive disorder (MDD) and is approved by the FDA for this purpose (1). 

Trazodone improves mood because it treats MDD which is associated with a persistent low mood. It affects those neurotransmitters that are involved in mood regulation. Trazodone has several uses due to its impact on different receptors (1).

Trazodone must be used only if prescribed by your healthcare provider. It improves mood but can only be used if you are diagnosed with a condition it is known to treat. You must talk to a healthcare provider if you experience a low mood. 

How does trazodone improve mood?

The entire spectrum of how trazodone functions is not fully understood. It works on different neurotransmitters including serotonin, histamine, and norepinephrine (NE) also called noradrenaline (1). 

Trazodone blocks histamine and alpha-1 adrenergic receptors. It prevents serotonin reuptake, resulting in elevated levels of this neurotransmitter. Additionally, studies have shown that it antagonizes different serotonin receptors (1). 

The activity of trazodone on different receptors makes it useful for different conditions. Trazodone’s role in mood improvement is associated with its inhibition of serotonin reuptake which increases the serotonin concentration (1). 

Dysfunction in serotonin release, transport, and concentration is involved in the development of depression. Studies have shown that patients with depression present with a serotonin deficit (2). 

A lack of serotonin results in low mood and other negative emotions like loneliness, disgust, fear, and self-blame which contributes to a persistent low mood. Thus, trazodone improves your mood by increasing serotonin levels (2). 

What does research suggest?

Several studies have investigated how effective and well-tolerated trazodone is in treating MDD, thereby enhancing mood. A randomized control trial compared how well venlafaxine and trazodone worked in treating MDD (3). 

The study’s findings highlighted that while venlafaxine demonstrated effects after an 8-week treatment period, trazodone notably decreased depressive symptoms within just one week. Trazodone was considered a valid treatment option for MDD (3). 

Other studies have shown that prolonged-release formulations of trazodone are safe, effective, and tolerable in the treatment of MDD. This formulation causes mild-to-moderate side effects and significantly helps with depression (4,5). 

Thus, the evidence from the literature suggests that trazodone effectively improves mood and is a suitable treatment for MDD. 

Is the effect of trazodone on mood dose-dependent? 

Trazodone’s therapeutic effects depend on the dose you are taking. Trazodone in lower doses is not likely to produce antidepressant effects. The doses between 25-100 mg can produce sleep but do not produce antidepressant activity (6).

Thus, if you are using trazodone for sleep disturbances in the dose range of 25-100 mg, it may not improve your depression. However, improvement in sleep can have a positive effect on your body (6). 

To achieve the antidepressant effects of trazodone doses of 150-600 mg are required which fully saturates the serotonin transporters. In this dose range, trazodone will improve your mood (6). 

The individual response to different doses of trazodone may vary. The decision of what dose should be taken is made by your healthcare provider based on your symptoms and needs. 

It is important to remember that you cannot take trazodone just to improve your mood if you are feeling low. You should be diagnosed with a depressive disorder and you can only take trazodone if prescribed by your healthcare provider

What factors can influence the effects of trazodone on mood?

Different factors can influence the efficacy of trazodone in improving mood. Some of these factors include: 


The effectiveness of trazodone in improving mood depends on the prescribed dosage. Trazodone does not have antidepressant effects at low doses of 25-100mg. Very high doses can heighten the side effects. 

The time of the day trazodone is taken is also important to achieve optimal results. High doses of trazodone are recommended to be taken at night and not in the morning due to its sedative effects. 

Individual variations: 

Every individual responds differently to medications due to their unique genetic makeup. Factors like metabolism and absorption influence the efficacy of trazodone in enhancing mood.

Health status and lifestyle: 

The overall health status of a person influences the individual’s response to trazodone. The presence of other mental health conditions like anxiety, physical health issues, or chronic illnesses influences the efficacy of trazodone. 

Additionally, different lifestyle factors like sleep duration, diet, and exercise influence an individual’s mood and indirectly affect trazodone’s impact on mood. 

What to do if trazodone does not help your mood?

You should contact your healthcare provider if you think trazodone is not improving your mood. Your healthcare provider may consider increasing your dose of trazodone to achieve the desired results. 

Your healthcare may also suggest psychotherapy along with treatment with trazodone to manage your condition. Cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy are effective for major depressive disorder (7). 

What are the alternatives to trazodone for mood disorders? 

Several other antidepressants can be used if trazodone is not effective for mood disorders. Alternatives to trazodone for mood disorders include (7):

  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like sertraline, fluoxetine, citalopram
  • serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like venlafaxine, desvenlafaxine, and duloxetine
  • tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) like amitriptyline and imipramine
  • atypical antidepressants like bupropion and mirtazapine 

In my perspective, trazodone improves mood. It is an FDA-approved drug to treat major depressive disorder. It improves mood by acting on serotonin receptors and inhibiting its reuptake.

Trazodone’s efficacy in improving mood and treating depression is well-established. Its efficacy depends on its dosage and individual characteristics. If trazodone is not effective, other antidepressants can be used. 

Trazodone should only be used when prescribed by your healthcare provider. The choice of antidepressant is based on your symptoms and characteristics. 

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Liu Y, Zhao J, Guo W. Emotional Roles of Mono-Aminergic Neurotransmitters in Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety Disorders. Front Psychol. 2018 Nov 21;9:2201. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02201. PMID: 30524332; PMCID: PMC6262356.


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Fagiolini A, González-Pinto A, Miskowiak KW, Morgado P, Young AH, Vieta E. Role of trazodone in treatment of major depressive disorder: an update. Ann Gen Psychiatry. 2023 Sep 2;22(1):32. doi: 10.1186/s12991-023-00465-y. PMID: 37660092; PMCID: PMC10474647.


Bains N, Abdijadid S. Major Depressive Disorder. [Updated 2023 Apr 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:

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