Depression Home > Trazodone and Bipolar Disorder

Since the symptoms of depression can resemble those of bipolar disorder, it is possible for someone to be prescribed trazodone by mistake. From what is known about trazodone and bipolar disorder, the medication may cause a dangerous manic episode if mistakenly given to someone with the condition. Although antidepressants are usually not recommended for people with bipolar disorder, trazodone may be appropriate for those who only have mild manic episodes.

Trazodone and Bipolar Disorder: An Overview

Trazodone hydrochloride (Desyrel®) is a prescription medicine used for the treatment of depression (also known as major depression or clinical depression). Generally, antidepressants (including trazodone) should be used cautiously in people with bipolar disorder, as antidepressants may make this condition worse.

Concerns About Trazodone and Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a serious brain disease that causes extreme shifts in mood, energy, and functioning. It is different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through -- the symptoms of bipolar disorder are more severe.
Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings, from overly "high" and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, often with periods of normal mood in between. Severe changes in energy and behavior go along with these changes in mood. The periods of highs and lows are called episodes of mania and depression, respectively.
Antidepressants are known to cause a "bipolar switch," causing a person to go from being depressed to being manic. This often happens before a person with bipolar disorder has been correctly diagnosed. A healthcare provider may mistakenly believe that a person with bipolar disorder has depression and may prescribe an antidepressant. This can cause a manic episode, which may be dangerous.
Even though antidepressants are generally not recommended for people with bipolar disorder, there are some situations in which trazodone may be prescribed. The medication may be appropriate for people with severe bipolar depression but who have a history of mild manic episodes. Antidepressants may be used when other treatments have failed for bipolar depression. If you have bipolar disorder and your healthcare provider recommends an antidepressant, you should be started at a low dose and should be closely monitored for any manic symptoms.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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