Okay to take trazodone every night?

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Question from HDGIRL51: I am a 2-year survivor of IDC. However, in November 2006 I had a bilateral mastectomy because I had developed malignant fibrous histiocytoma sarcoma in the same side that I had my lumpectomy on. I have had trouble sleeping since chemo. It takes forever to get to sleep; then when I do, I have to force myself out of bed in the mornings. I have been taking trazodone, but don't want to become dependent. Is it better that I take it every night so I can rest?
Answers - Helena Schotland This is someone who should use the sleep hygiene techniques. That's good for every single one of us, no matter why you're having insomnia. One of the other issues—what are you thinking about when you're trying to go to sleep? Is there a role for cognitive-behavioral therapy? In many patients there is. Trazodone (brand name: Desyrel) has been around for a long time and has been used successfully in the treatment of insomnia. For a patient who has been going through chemotherapy and having a lot of medical issues, it does make sense to use something, at least temporarily, to get a good night's sleep. However, at some point in time, you might want to have a night without the trazodone, just to see what happens. If there's a night when you feel drowsy and relaxed, just skip the trazodone that night and see what happens. You may be able to start using the trazodone on an as-needed basis once things get better in terms of your insomnia.

Editor's Note: Trazodone (brand name: Desyrel) is known to reduce the effectiveness of tamoxifen. If you are taking tamoxifen and thinking about medication for insomnia, talk to your doctor about alternatives to trazodone. For more information, please visit the Breastcancer.org Tamoxifen page.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Sleep Well: Healthy Habits for Good Rest featured Helena Schotland, M.D. and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about ways to improve your sleep.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in January 2007.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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