Many international students are taking Trazodone for various health issues. But is this medication safe? Should students be using this drug for health conditions? There are a lot of controversial questions surrounding Trazodone usage among international students. We are here to clarify issues and detail about the use of Trazodone and factors to be considered while taking this drug.
Trazodone is commonly used as an anti-depressant. Before talking further about Trazodone, it is essential to understand why an international student might require this medication.
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Studying Abroad and Mental Health
Studying abroad is considered as one of the essential experiences in a student’s life. But is it so? The answer keeps one on a thin line between authentic and false for many. Studying abroad requires a student to jump into an unknown space. It takes courage to do so as the student needs to move out of their comfort zone and are away from their family and friends, exploring the world alone.
It takes both patience and time to get used to this new environment. This added pressure while undergoing stress of studies is causing bouts of loneliness and depression in many international students. The need to adapt to a new climate, stressful situation, and routine, triggers the underlying mental health issues to come to the surface.
Anxiety, insomnia, and major depressive disorders are some of the commonly observed mental health disorders in international students.
The History of Trazodone
Trazodone is an old drug that was manufactured in Italy for treating depression in the 1960s; however, adverse events associated with its use, such as fainting, dizziness, irregular heartbeat, and priapism, made it less favoured by the medical community.
Some internists and clinicians recognized the benefits of Trazodone when taken at a low dose. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) back in 1981 approved its use as an anti-depressant.
How Does Trazodone Help in Depression?
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates your appetite, mood, internal clock for resting, memory, digestion, and sexual desire. Experts believe that an imbalance in the brain’s neurotransmitters (chemicals responsible for transmitting brain signals), including serotonin, results in depression.
When the nerve cells increase their uptake of serotonin, its level in the brain reduces. Trazodone prevents this increased uptake of serotonin by the nerves, improving its concentration in the brain and thus improving your mood.
Trazodone and Insomnia
Many international students have insomnia due to academic and social pressure. Trazodone is becoming famous amongst students for managing sleeplessness as it is a cheaper alternative to sleeping pills. However, this is not a wise decision.
Wondering why? First of all, Trazodone was approved for treating depression and anxiety and not insomnia. Secondly, it can cause adverse effects such as irritability, hallucination, and aggravation of depression if taken at a higher dose.
So, Should International Students use Trazodone?
Well, as with all other medications, Trazodone can have side-effects and withdrawal symptoms in some people, especially when taken for a long time or an improper dose. It is best to consult a physician before taking this medication.
Risks Associated with the Use of Trazodone
Consuming Trazodone, especially by those under the age of 24, increases the risk of various conditions. Some of them are:
- Extreme worry
- Panic attacks
- Worsening or new depression
- Thinking about killing or harming yourself
- Increased sleep or difficulty in falling asleep
- Aggressive behaviour
- Severe restlessness
- Acting without thinking
- Frenzied abnormal excitement
It is also essential to understand what should be avoided while taking Trazodone. A Psychiatry advisor described his experience when his patients took other medications with Trazodone: “One patient took melatonin while on Trazodone and woke up with a feeling of the face on fire, headache, and dizziness.”
“Another patient took St. John’s worth and succumbed to upper gastrointestinal bleeding.” He further mentions that “Patients should always consult their physician before taking any medicine while on Trazodone, including supplements and over-the-counter medications.
Who Should Not Use Trazodone?
The use of Trazodone is contraindicated if you have any of the following conditions:
- Liver or kidney disorder
- A blood clotting or bleeding disorder
- History of heart attack or any heart disorders
- Narrow-angle glaucoma
- Long QT syndrome
- Epilepsy or seizures
- Bipolar disorder
- Suicidal thoughts
- Drug addiction
Use of Alcohol while on Trazodone
As both Trazodone and alcohol affect the central nervous system, consuming both of them together can have lethal consequences. It can result in serotonin syndrome (described below)
Trazodone and Serotonin Syndrome
Taking a higher dose of Trazodone or taking it with alcohol or certain medications can result in higher levels of serotonin, which is known as serotonin. Some of the common signs and symptoms of serotonin syndrome are:
- Muscle aches
- Kidney failure
- Muscle aches
Side-effects of Trazodone
Some of the side-effects of taking Trazodone are:
- Blurred vision
- Muscle aches
- Prolonged and painful erections
- Heart rhythm disorders
- Dry mouth
- Tingling or numbness of legs, hands, or arms
- Nasal congestion
- Low blood pressure
- Weight gain or loss
- Increased suicidal thoughts
Withdrawal of Trazodone
Though Trazodone is a non-habit-forming medication, an extended and continued use can cause some mild physical symptoms, joint in those with a history of substance abuse or addiction. Some of the common withdrawal symptoms are rapid mood swings, agitation, muscle pain, confusion, stomach pain, dizziness, sweating, fatigue, and insomnia.
Many international students succumb to the academic and social pressure. Being away from friends and family forces them to deal with this pressure all by themselves, which can trigger underlying mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety in some international students?
Trazodone is an old and FDA approved drug for treating depression. However, it is seen to be abused by students for uses apart from depression, such as insomnia, without consulting a physician as it is cheaper than other medications available for those conditions.
This can be hazardous to health as Trazodone can cause die-effects when taken at a higher dose or for a longer duration. It is best to take this medication only when prescribed by a healthcare professional.