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?
Do I need a prescription for nefazodone?
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.
What is the dosage for nefazodone?
The recommended dose range is 150-300 mg twice daily. The maximum dose is 600 mg daily. The starting dose is 100 mg twice daily. Doses may be increased weekly by 100 to 200 mg day in two divided doses. As with all antidepressants, the full effect may take a few weeks to become manifest. Doses are often adjusted slowly upward to find the optimal dose. Elderly patients and debilitated persons may need lower doses.
Which drugs or supplements interact with nefazodone?
All antidepressants whose actions include increasing brain concentrations of serotonin, including nefazodone, should not be taken with any of the MAO (monoamine oxidase) inhibitor class of antidepressants, for example, isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), procarbazine (Matulane), and selegiline (Eldepryl). Such combinations may lead to confusion, high blood pressure, tremor, and increased activity. If a patient is switched from nefazodone to an MAO inhibitor, at least one week should be allowed after stopping nefazodone before starting the MAO inhibitor. Two weeks should be allowed between stopping an MAO inhibitor and initiating treatment with nefazodone.
Nefazodone may increase the blood concentration of several drugs by reducing their removal by the liver. Through this mechanism nefazodone may markedly increase the blood concentrations of triazolam (Halcion) and alprazolam (Xanax), resulting in excessive sedation and impaired ability to perform tasks. It is recommended that people taking triazolam who need to be started on nefazodone should have their triazolam dose reduced by 75%. Similarly, those people taking alprazolam who need to take nefazodone should have their alprazolam dose reduced by 50%. Nefazodone also may increase the blood concentration and possibly the side effects of eletriptan (Relpax), eplerenone (Inspra), pimozide (Orap), ranolazine (Ranexa), and silodosin (Rapaflo).
Carbamazepine (Tegretol, Tegretol XR, Equetro, Carbatrol) may decrease nefazodone blood levels and possibly its effectiveness by increasing nefadone's removal by the liver. Conversely, nefazodone may increase the levels of carbamazepine, possibly leading to toxicity, by decreasing the removal of carbamazepine by the liver.
Is nefazodone safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Nefazodone (Serzone) is a drug prescribed for the treatment of depression. Side effects, warnings and precautions, drug interactions, and patient information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
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Related Disease Conditions
Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. The principal types of depression are major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disease (also called manic-depressive disease).
Depression in teenagers may be caused by many factors. Symptoms of teen depression include apathy, irresponsible behavior, sadness, sudden drop in grades, withdrawal from friends, and alcohol and drug use. Treatment of depression in adolescents may involve psychotherapy and medications.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a psychiatric condition, can develop after any catastrophic life event. Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, sweating, rapid heart rate, detachment, amnesia, sleep problems, irritability, and exaggerated startle response. Treatment may involve psychotherapy, group support, and medication.
Depression in Children
Childhood depression can interfere with social activities, interests, schoolwork and family life. Symptoms and signs include anger, social withdrawal, vocal outbursts, fatigue, physical complaints, and thoughts of suicide. Treatment may involve psychotherapy and medication.
Postpartum depression is a form of depression that occurs within a year after delivery. It is thought that rapid hormone changes after childbirth may lead to depression. Symptoms of postpartum depression include crying a lot, headaches, chest pains, eating too little or too much, sleeping too little or too much, withdrawal from friends and family, and feeling irritable, sad, hopeless, worthless, guilty, and overwhelmed. Treatment typically involves talk therapy and medication.
Dysthymia is a less severe form of chronic depression. Symptoms and signs include insomnia, suicidal thoughts, guilt, empty feeling, loss of energy, helplessness, sluggishness, and persistent aches and pains. Treatment may involve psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy, and antidepressants.
Depression in the Elderly
Depression in the elderly is very common. That doesn't mean, though, it's normal. Treatment may involve antidepressants, psychotherapy, or electroconvulsive therapy.
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