nefazodone, Serzone

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

What is nefazodone, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Nefazodone is an oral antidepressant drug. Nefazodone affects chemicals in the brain that nerves use to send messages to one another, called neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters that are released by nerves are taken up again by the nerves that release them for reuse. Many experts believe that depression is caused by an imbalance among the amounts of neurotransmitters that are released. Nefazodone works by inhibiting the uptake by nerves of serotonin and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters, resulting in more serotonin and norepinephrine to transmit messages to other nerves. Nefazodone is chemically unrelated to the serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), the tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), or the monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. It is chemically related to another antidepressant, trazodone (Desyrel) and shares its actions. The FDA approved nefazodone in December 1994.

What brand names are available for nefazodone?

Serzone (This brand no longer is available in the U.S.)

Is nefazodone available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

Do I need a prescription for nefazodone?

Yes

What are the side effects of nefazodone?

The most commonly noted side effects associated with nefazodone are nausea, dizziness, insomnia, agitation, tiredness, dry mouth, constipation, lightheadedness, blurred vision, and confusion. Rarely, nefazodone is associated with priapism or prolonged penile erection. Compared with trazodone, nefazodone has a lesser risk of priapism (prolonged penile erection). Although the erection usually subsides eventually, occasionally blood clots form within the penis and cause serious damage to the penis. Nefazodone rarely may cause liver failure that may result in liver transplantation.

If antidepressants are discontinued abruptly, symptoms may occur such as dizziness, headache, nausea, changes in mood, or changes in the sense of smell, taste, etc. (Such symptoms even may occur when even a few doses of antidepressant are missed.) Therefore, it is recommended that the dose of antidepressant be reduced gradually when therapy is discontinued.

Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in short-term studies in children and adolescents with depression and other psychiatric disorders. Anyone considering the use of nefazodone or any other antidepressant in a child or adolescent must balance this risk of suicide with the clinical need. Patients who are started on therapy should be closely observed for clinical worsening, suicidal thoughts, or unusual changes in behavior.

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