QUESTION: Can Trazodone Cause Harm Without Food?

Kelley-Ross Pharmacy GroupAsk The PharmacistQUESTION: Can Trazodone Cause Harm Without Food?

ANSWER: By taking trazodone without food or a light snack, your risk of having side effects, such as dizziness and lightheadedness, increases.

REASONING: The absorption of many medications can be impacted by whether or not we take them with food for a number of reasons. In the case of Trazodone, we counsel patients to take the immediate release tablets with food in order to:

  1. Slow down how quickly the drug is absorbed by the body in order to extend how long the medication works.
    • Eating with the medication slows down the absorption of the drug because the stomach and intestines are also working to break down the food consumed.
    • This delay prevents too much of the drug from being absorbed all at once.
    • By reducing the peak concentration (the highest total amount of drug in circulation) of the drug, side effects can be avoided.

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  •  Sometimes, when medications have high peak concentrations, they can saturate their site of action and begin to exert their effects in other areas, which can potentially lead to side effects.
  • When Trazodone is taken without food, there is no delay in absorption to prevent a high peak concentration of drug. This high drug concentration results in a greater risk for dizziness and/or lightheadedness.

Many patients take Trazodone to help them sleep and may not want to eat something right before laying down for bed. While this is understandable, patients who take Trazodone without food may find the effects wearing off sooner, potentially limiting its usefulness. If the effects are wearing off quickly, patients may then awaken and feel increased dizziness if they get up out of bed.

Roughly 25% of patients already report dizziness as a side effect of taking Trazodone and that risk is increased when taken on an empty stomach. Thus, to help patients avoid this common side effect, we recommend eating a small snack with the medication.

Now, it is important to remember that all medications work differently, and that some medications should indeed be taken on an empty stomach. Therefore, it is best to Ask The Pharmacist if you are curious about how your medications should be taken.


Kelley-Ross is an independently owned corporation operating 4 pharmacies in Seattle. Kelley-Ross provides a wide range of pharmacy services, including prescription dispensing, compounding, medi-set packaging, compliance packaging, long-term care facility services, consultant pharmacist services, immunizations and a variety of health screenings.

We provide Clinical Community Care. This means that our staff combines expert medication therapy management and clinical skills, with caring, patient centered pharmacy services. By using the triad approach – patient, provider and pharmacist – we can help patients maximize their healthcare resources while achieving optimal health outcomes.

Our high service level and commitment to problem solving has made Kelley-Ross the pharmacy of choice for patients and providers across the Northwest.