Serotonin Antagonists

Serotonin antagonists are another group of drugs that are commonly prescribed for people who experience depression and anxiety problems.

They function pretty much like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) - they increase serotonin levels by blocking serotonin reuptake at the nerve synapse levels. Some of the famous and commonly used ones include trazodone or Desyrel and nefazodone or Serzone.

Some of the common side effects of trazodone and nefazodone include GI problems like nausea, vomiting, and constipation, especially if taken on an empty stomach, eye sight problems like blurred vision, headaches, tiredness and fatigue, dizziness, dryness of mouth and throat, sleepiness, disorientation, anxiety, etc.

Trazodone, in particular, can sometimes cause priapism in men, where there is involuntary erection of the penis. Though priapism is of rare occurrence, it needs immediate attention by a professional physician because it can cause some serious damage and impotence on a permanent basis.

Nefazodone does not cause priapism, but could be responsible for increasing the blood pressure level, especially in people who are on medicines for anxiety. Therefore, it is absolutely important that one consults a family physician to understand the side effects of all the various serotonin antagonists and other antidepressants floating in the market, and then takes an informed decision.

Serotonin antagonists and drug reactions

Blood pressure levels are seen to drop considerably when trazodone is combined with medications for hypertension. This could result in excessive dizziness.

Combining nefazodone with SSRIs can lead to build up of a metabolite called m-chlorophenylpiperazine, giving rise to feelings of panic attacks and unhappiness. Therefore, combining nefazodone with SSRI pills is highly unadvisable.

Similarly, when trazodone or nefazodone is combined with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI), it could prove lethal because it can create serotonin syndrome, also referred to as hyperpyrexic crisis.

If trazodone is taken by people who are on anticonvulsants and heart medicines like Dilantin or digoxin, it could result in high toxicity levels in blood. Also, blood-thinning medications and trazodone could react to cause increased bleeding or clots.

If nefazodone is combined with antihistamines normally taken to treat allergies, it could result in alteration in cardiac rhythms, causing fatal and undesired consequences like sudden heart failure.

Therefore, it is extremely important to discuss at length the use of trazodone or nefazodone with one’s family physician and psychiatrist, and to also inform them about any other medication one is currently taking or might need to take in future. Only if it is suitable and does not interfere with any medications already prescribed, should one consider taking serotonin antagonists.

Given the problems with using serotonin antagonists in dealing with depression, you might wish to consider using more natural treatment methods for depression instead. These alternative methods can be rather effective.










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