Trazadone-How to Stop It?
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Q:  Trazadone-How Should It Be Stopped?

What are the side effects to stopping taking trazadone abruptly? Should this medication be stopped in this way or gradually tapered doses. My friend's daughter has been diagnosed bipolar, and recently after loosing a temperary custody hearing, she was placed in her father's care. Her stepmother has recently taken away her medication for this disorder. Any help would be appreciated. Thank You

Dear Mickie -- 
Generally I've come to follow the recommendations of the Harvard Bipolar Program, where Dr. Sachs recommends taking 4 months to taper off antidepressants if things are going okay.  That has worked better for me than going faster.  However, I've seen more people stop trazodone "cold" than almost any other antidepressant, because it's often being used at low doses (100-150mg) for sleep.  At those doses, I think I've seen less trouble from just stopping it versus stopping other antidepressants.   If your friend's daughter was taking other medications for bipolar disorder, though, like mood stabilizers, perhaps most especially lithium, then stopping those suddenly is something we generally very deliberately avoid.  At a recent conference I heard the chair of the department of Psychiatry at Univ. of Colorado say he sometimes takes a year to taper people off lithium.  

Dr. Phelps  

Published August, 2001


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