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Mechanism Of Action Of Trazodone: A Multifunctional Drug

Stephen M. Stahl

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Multifunctional drugs are those with more than one therapeutic mechanism. Trazodone is a multifunctional drug with dose-dependent pharmacologic actions. That is, it has hypnotic actions at low doses due to blockade of 5-HT2A receptors, as well as H1 histamine receptors and α1 adrenergic receptors. Higher doses recruit the blockade of the serotonin transporter (SERT) and turn trazodone into an antidepressant. Although trazodone has traditionally been used as a low dose hypnotic, a new controlled release formulation that has the potential to improve the tolerability of high doses may provide an opportunity to revisit this multifunctional drug as an antidepressant as well.