Does trazodone require a prescription? (3+ reasons)

In this article, we will discuss whether trazodone requires a prescription, why trazodone requires a prescription, what are the indications for trazodone, how to get a prescription for trazodone, and what can happen if you take trazodone without a prescription.

Does trazodone require a prescription?

Yes, trazodone requires a prescription. Trazodone is classified as a prescription-only medication, and this means that you cannot legally get trazodone without a prescription from a licensed healthcare professional, such as a psychiatrist. (1)

Trazodone is an antidepressant and belongs to the class of serotonin-antagonist reuptake inhibitors (SARI). It increases serotonin levels in the body by inhibiting the serotonin transporter and serotonin type-2 inhibitors. Trazodone is an FDA-approved drug to treat major depressive disorder (MDD), but it has several non-FDA-approved uses. (2)

 You should only take trazodone if you are diagnosed with a mental health issue that trazodone is indicated for, as its abuse can cause several harmful effects.

Why does trazodone require a prescription?

Trazodone is a SARI and works by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is not only crucial for mood regulation but also affects several other body systems, including the central nervous system, cardiovascular system, respiratory system, endocrine system, gastrointestinal tract and genitourinary system. (3,7)

An alteration in serotonin levels is beneficial in a depressed patient, but in a normal individual who is taking trazodone, this alteration can pose many dangerous effects. Several reasons contribute to the requirement of a prescription for trazodone:

Potential side effects: Trazodone can cause various side effects, including dizziness, vomiting, drowsiness, blurred vision, nausea, etc. In some cases, it may lead to more serious side effects, such as changes in heart rhythm, bleeding risk, and serotonin syndrome. A healthcare professional can assess your condition and decide whether you need trazodone and if it is a safe option for you.

Interactions with other medications: Trazodone can interact with other medications, like Plavix and cause potentially fatal adverse effects. Only a qualified practitioner can evaluate your current medications and health condition to avoid potential drug interactions.

Individual variations: Mental health conditions are complex and vary from person to person. A healthcare professional is trained to diagnose these conditions and prescribe medications, ensuring an individualized treatment plan.

What are the indications for trazodone?

FDA-approved use: Trazodone is primarily prescribed for the treatment of major depressive disorder by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, which plays a crucial role in mood regulation.

Non-FDA-approved uses include: (5)

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Alzheimer
  • Bulimia
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep apnea

How to get a prescription for trazodone?

If you have any of the symptoms of depression, anxiety, insomnia, PTSD, etc., do not start self-medication with trazodone, as that can cause harmful effects. Follow these steps to obtain a prescription for trazodone:

  • Consult a healthcare professional: Schedule an appointment with a doctor or psychiatrist to discuss your symptoms and medical history. The healthcare provider will assess your condition thoroughly to decide the treatment, considering your medical conditions,  existing medications, and potential side effects.


  • Prescription issuance: If the healthcare professional deems trazodone safe and appropriate for your condition, they will provide a prescription with specific dosage instructions, including dose, frequency, and duration of use. (4)


  • Familiarize yourself with the potential adverse effects and interactions of trazodone before starting your therapy to avoid any harmful effects and ensure the safe use of trazodone.

What happens if you take trazodone without a prescription?

Taking trazodone without a prescription poses significant risks. Potential consequences include:

Use of trazodone without professional guidance may lead to the following adverse side effects: (6)

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Weakness or tiredness
  • Nervousness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness 
  • Dry mouth
  • Rash
  • Sexual problems 
  • Uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body 
  • Tired, red, or itchy eyes

Some serious side effects include:

  • Chest pain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Serotonin syndrome
  • Fall-related injuries
  • Loss of consciousness (coma)
  •  Twitching, agitation,
  • Hallucinations,
  • Priapism
  • Orthostatic hypotension
  • Loss of coordination, 
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding nosebleeds 
  • Problems with thinking, concentration, or memory weakness

Drug interactions: Trazodone can interact with other medications, leading to potentially dangerous outcomes. These drugs include: (1)

  • Monoamine-oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Other serotonergic drugs
  • Antiplatelets or anticoagulants
  • Digoxin and phenytoin
  • CNS depressants
  • Drugs that prolong the QT interval
  • CYP3A4 inhibitors and inducers

Ineffective treatment: Using trazodone without professional monitoring may result in ineffective treatment or the exacerbation of underlying mental health conditions. 


From my perspective, Trazodone is a very useful medication for the treatment of depression, anxiety, and insomnia, but a qualified healthcare professional should supervise its use. Obtaining a prescription ensures the medication is prescribed based on the patient’s health condition, considering potential risks and maximizing therapeutic benefits.

Taking trazodone without a prescription can jeopardize your health. Consulting with a healthcare provider to receive appropriate guidance is crucial.

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DESYREL (trazodone hydrochloride), a prescribing guide by The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Available from:


Shin JJ, Saadabadi A. Trazodone. [Updated 2022 Jul 10]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:


Bamalan OA, Moore MJ, Al Khalili Y. Physiology, Serotonin. [Updated 2023 Jul 30]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:


Batta A, Singh B. Rational approach to prescription writing: A preview. Neurol India. 2018 Jul-Aug;66(4):928-933. doi: 10.4103/0028-3886.236960. PMID: 30038070.


Bossini L, Coluccia A, Casolaro I, Benbow J, Amodeo G, De Giorgi R, Fagiolini A. Off-Label Trazodone Prescription: Evidence, Benefits and Risks. Curr Pharm Des. 2015;21(23):3343-51. doi: 10.2174/1381612821666150619092236. PMID: 26088119.


AHFS Patient Medication Information [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc.; c2019. Trazodone; [updated 2022 Jan 15; reviewed 2018 Jul 5; cited 2020 Jul 1]; [about 5 p.]. Available from:


(2015). Trazodone. Meyler’s Side Effects of Drugs (Sixteenth Edition), 120-123.

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