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Trazodone: Pharmacology, Classification & Structure

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Depression is a disorder that can be treated in many ways. This includes the use of medication such as trazodone. Let's find out more about this drug's pharmacology and classification.

Depression

Every one of us, maybe even the Dalai Lama, feels a little bit down every now and then. That's one thing, but imagine that you're always sad and that you lose interest in things and people you once found pleasurable. Not only that, but this begins to impact your personal life, career, and education. That's way more than just being a bit down. That's depression, a real and serious disorder.

Unlike what some people still erroneously believe these days, you can't simply just get rid of depression on a whim, and depression isn't a sign of weakness. You must understand that your brain is an organ. Like any organ in your body, it can suffer from various disorders. Depression to the brain is what heart disease is to the heart. In other words, depression isn't 'nothing', it's a serious disorder based on physiology as real as that of heart disease.

Since we treat heart disease and plenty of other disorders of various organs medically, it only makes sense we treat depression medically, at least in part, as well. One of the treatments aimed at depression is called trazodone.

Trazodone Classification & Structure

Trazodone, or trazodone hydrochloride, is the generic term for a brand name drug called Oleptro. It can be classified in more than one way. For example, therapeutically speaking, we can classify trazodone namely as an antidepressant. Trazodone is also beneficial for anxiety so it can be termed an anxiolytic as well. The '-lytic' in anxiolytic means it's a substance that involves '-lysis', the reduction of something. In this case, it's the reduction of anxiety.

Trazodone is also grouped by class as a synthetic triazolopyridine derivative, meaning it belongs to a class of antidepressants called triazolopyridines. In other words, it's chemically unrelated to more famous classes of antidepressants you have probably heard of like the tricyclic or tetracyclic antidepressants.

The chemical structure of trazodone.
Trazodone

Trazodone Pharmacology

Finally, we can also classify trazodone by its mechanism of action as a serotonin uptake inhibitor. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter, a biochemical that helps send signals and information between various parts of the brain. An imbalance in the levels of serotonin is believed to contribute to depression when, for example, the brain doesn't produce enough serotonin. Since trazodone blocks the reuptake of serotonin by the brain's nerve cells (neurons), it helps to increase the levels of actively available serotonin. This is what is at the heart of trazodone's antidepressant effect - it helps to alter the brain's dysfunctional physiology. Knowing this, you can now easily explain how depression is a real disease to someone who claims it's not!

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