Beat The Heat SAVE 25% NOW
Medicine (MD/DO)
Adrenergic Receptor Pharmacology

Master Trazodone with Picmonic for Medicine

With Picmonic, facts become pictures. We've taken what the science shows - image mnemonics work - but we've boosted the effectiveness by building and associating memorable characters, interesting audio stories, and built-in quizzing.


Recommended Picmonics

picmonic thumbnail
Alpha Agonists
picmonic thumbnail
Alpha-2 Agonists (Sympathoplegics)
picmonic thumbnail
Nonselective Alpha-Blockers
picmonic thumbnail
Selective Alpha-1 Blockers
picmonic thumbnail
Selective Alpha-2 Blockers


Trazodone is categorized as an atypical antidepressant medication, which is primarily indicated for insomnia. When administered at higher doses, it can be used as an antidepressant. The main mechanism of action by which trazodone works is it inhibits serotonin reuptake, but also displays serotonergic receptor antagonism.Side effects such as sedation and orthostatic hypotension are related to the α1 blockade effects of trazodone. Another serious, male-specific, side effect of this medication is priapism, which is defined as an erection lasting longer than 4 hours.

Trazodone has strong sleep-inducing (hypnotic) effects and is primarily indicated for insomnia.


Trazodone can also be used in higher doses in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD).

Inhibit Serotonin Reuptake
Inhibiting-chains on Silver-tonic Reuptake-tube

Trazodone works to balance serotonin levels in depressed patients in two primary ways. First, Trazodone is considered a weak serotonin reuptake inhibitor and delays the metabolism of serotonin in the post-synaptic cleft, so there is more neurotransmitter available for use, the same mechanism of action utilized in SSRIs. Secondly, it potently inhibits the excitatory receptors of 5-HT2A, which are more numerous in depressed patients.

Trazodone inhibits specific serotonin receptors called 5-HT2A and 5-HT2C. Interestingly, this antagonistic effect only occurs in low doses, whereas it demonstrates agonist behavior in high doses.

Alpha-1 Blocker
Afro (1) Wand Block-guy

Though the mechanism isn't fully understood, part of Trazodone's effects is attributed to the drug's α1-adrenergic receptor-blocking activity.

Histamine (H1) Blocker
History-man (1) Wand and Block-guy

This medication also inhibits histamine, or H1, receptors. It is thought that this effect is responsible for the associated sedation, which proves beneficial for use as a sleep aid.


A common side effect of Trazodone is sedation, largely thought to result from the histamine (H1) receptor blockade.

Orthostatic Hypotension
Oar Hippo-BP

Trazodone may cause orthostatic hypotension in some patients, possibly due to its blockage of α1-adrenergic receptors.

Dry Mouth
Cotton Mouth

While Trazodone's antihistamine effect proves useful in treating insomnia, it can also commonly cause dry mouth as a side effect.


Priapism is a side effect of Trazodone that is a common exam question regarding potential adverse effects of this medication and may be remembered by the mnemonic, TrazoBONE. This condition occurs when the erect penis does not return to the flaccid state within four hours and is thought to be facilitated by Trazodone's inhibition of α1-adrenergic receptors.


While it remains a rarely seen side effect, it is important to be aware that there have been cases of atrial and ventricular arrhythmias in patients treated with Trazodone. As such, exercise caution when considering prescribing Trazodone to cardiac patients.


Take the Trazodone Quiz

Picmonic's rapid review multiple-choice quiz allows you to assess your knowledge.

It's worth every penny

Our Story Mnemonics Increase Mastery and Retention

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Unforgettable characters with concise but impactful videos (2-4 min each)

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Ace Your Medicine (MD/DO) Classes & Exams with Picmonic:

Over 1,910,000 students use Picmonic’s picture mnemonics to improve knowledge, retention, and exam performance.

Choose the #1 Medicine (MD/DO) student study app.

Picmonic for Medicine (MD/DO) covers information that is relevant to your entire Medicine (MD/DO) education. Whether you’re studying for your classes or getting ready to conquer the USMLE Step 1, USMLE Step 2 CK, COMLEX Level 1, or COMLEX Level 2, we’re here to help.

Works better than traditional Medicine (MD/DO) flashcards.

Research shows that students who use Picmonic see a 331% improvement in memory retention and a 50% improvement in test scores.