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Early Response To Trazodone Once-a-day In Major Depressive Disorder: Review Of The Clinical Data And Putative Mechanism For Faster Onset Of Action

Umberto Albert, Pallavi Lamba, Stephen M. Stahl

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AbstractBackgroundMost antidepressants have a delayed onset of action and must be administered for several weeks to generate therapeutic effects. Trazodone is a serotonin antagonist and reuptake inhibitor approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder. The once-a-day (OAD) formulation of trazodone has an improved tolerability profile compared to its conventional formulations. In this study, we systematically reviewed the evidence available for the antidepressant efficacy and early improvement in depressive symptoms with trazodone OAD treatment.MethodWe conducted a PubMed database search for randomized controlled trials published from 2005 to 2020.ResultsTwo studies, a placebo-controlled and an active-comparator (venlafaxine extended-release or XR) study were found. Both the studies demonstrated that trazodone exhibits antidepressant activity at a starting dose of 150 mg/day and results in statistically significant greater reduction in Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D17) scores within 1 week of starting treatment compared to placebo or venlafaxine XR (P < .05). Trazodone also resulted in significant early improvement in the HAM-D17 sleep disturbance factor compared to placebo or venlafaxine XR at day 7 (P < .05). This clinical effect is supported by in vitro proprietary data for the affinity of trazodone for different target receptors. Activity at these receptors may underlie trazodone’s fast antidepressant action.ConclusionsTrazodone, if properly dosed, can be an effective antidepressant with early onset of action and good tolerability. Future studies designed to specifically evaluate onset and timing of improvement of depressive symptoms remain necessary to confirm and extend these results.