NEFAZODONE (‘Dutonin’)
Nef - az - o - done
Why have I been prescribed nefazodone?
Nefazodone is used to treat depression. It is an antidepressant. Depression is a common condition. It is different from the
normal “ups and downs” of everyday life. People with depression may feel sad most of the time and cannot see an end to
their sadness. Tiredness and poor sleep are very common, and so are changes in appetite. Many people find that they
simply cannot enjoy any of life’s pleasures.
Depression can be treated in many ways. Certain “talking” therapies are also effective for some people. Antidepressants
can generally be relied upon to relieve the symptoms of depression in most people.
What exactly is nefazodone?
Nefazodone is a relatively new kind of antidepressant. It is not a tranquilliser or sleeping tablet, although if you take it at
night, it may help you sleep. The trade or brand name of nefazodone is ‘Dutonin’.
Is nefazodone safe to take?
It is usually safe to have nefazodone regularly as prescribed by your doctor, but it doesn’t suit everyone. Let your doctor
know if any of the following apply to you, as extra care may be needed:
a) if you have epilepsy, diabetes, or suffer from heart, liver, or kidney trouble;
b) if you are taking any other medication. This includes medicines bought from your pharmacist without a prescription,
such as antihistamines and St. John’s wort;
c) if you are pregnant, breast feeding, or wish to become pregnant.
What is the usual dose of nefazodone?
The starting dose of nefazodone is usually 50mg twice a day. This is generally increased slowly to 200mg twice a day. The
usual maximum dose of nefazodone is 300mg twice a day.
How should I take nefazodone?
Look at the label on your medicine; it should have all the necessary instructions on it. Follow this advice carefully. If you
have any questions, speak to your doctor or pharmacist. Most medicines are now dispensed with an information leaflet for
you to read.
What should I do if I miss a dose?
Never change your dose without checking with your doctor. If you forget a dose, take it as soon as you remember, as long
as it is within a few hours of the usual time.
Is nefazodone addictive?
Nefazodone is not addictive, although some people do get some “discontinuation” effects if they stop it suddenly. These
effects include anxiety, dizziness, feeling sick and not being able to sleep. Some people feel confused and “out of sorts”.
These symptoms are less severe if you come off nefazodone slowly. It is best to discuss this with your doctor. Some
people can get these symptoms just by missing one or two doses of nefazodone, although this is rare.
What will happen to me when I start taking nefazodone?
All antidepressants work slowly. People tend to feel better over a period of weeks rather than days. Different symptoms
may get better at different times. Most people find that they feel noticeably better after about two or three weeks. However,
the full effect of antidepressants is usually felt only after about four to six weeks. It is very important to continue to take
antidepressants so that the full effects can be felt. Speak to your pharmacist, doctor or nurse if you have any questions
about this.
Unfortunately, you might get some side effects before you start to feel any better. Most side effects should go away after a
few weeks. Look at the table over the page. It tells you what to do if you get any side effects. Not everyone will get the side
effects shown. There are many other possible side effects. Ask your pharmacist, doctor or nurse if you are worried about
anything else that you think might be a side effect.
Side effect What is it? What should I do if it happens to me?
COMMON
DIZZINESS Feeling light headed This should wear off with time. If it is bad, contact your doctor.
DROWSINESS Feeling sleepy or sluggish. It can last
for a few hours after taking your dose.
Don’t drive or use machinery. Ask your doctor if you can take your
nefazodone at a different time. The drowsiness may wear off with time.
DRY MOUTH Not much saliva or spit. Sugar-free boiled sweets, chewing gum or eating citrus fruits usually
helps. If not, your doctor can give you a mouth spray. A change in
medicine or dose may be possible.
NAUSEA Feeling sick. Taking each dose with or after food may help. If it is bad, contact your
doctor.
UNCOMMON
ABNORMAL
DREAMS
Dreams that you don’t usually have.
Your dreams may be more vivid.
If they are really bad, see your doctor.
CONSTIPATION Feeling “bunged up” inside. You can’t
pass a motion.
Eat more fibre (bran, fruit, vegetables). Do more walking. Ask your
doctor or pharmacist for a mild laxative.
FEVER A high temperature. It should be safe to take aspirin or paracetamol.
POSTURAL
HYPOTENSION
A low blood pressure. You may feel
faint when you stand up.
Try not to stand up too quickly. If you feel dizzy, don’t drive. This
dizziness is not dangerous
VISUAL
DISTURBANCES
When you look away from an object
you may see a “trail”.
Don’t drive. This should wear off with time. See your doctor if you are
worried.
RARE
SEXUAL
DYSFUNCTION
No desire to have sex. Difficulty in
reaching orgasm.
Nefazodone is unlikely to affect your sexual function. If you are having
such problems, contact your doctor
What about alcohol?
It is officially recommended that people taking nefazodone should not drink alcohol. This is because both nefazodone and
alcohol can cause drowsiness. If the two are taken at the same time, severe drowsiness can result. This can lead to falls or
accidents. As well as this, drinking alcohol often makes depression worse. Excessive drinking is especially likely to do this.
Once people are used to taking medication, they can sometimes drink alcohol in small amounts without any harm. Avoid
alcohol altogether for the first one or two months. After this, if you want a drink, try a glass of your normal drink and see
how you feel. If this doesn’t make you feel drowsy, then it is probably OK to drink small amounts. It pays to be very cautious
because alcohol affects people in different ways, especially when they are taking medication.
Don’t stop taking your medication because you fancy a drink at the weekend. If you do drink alcohol, drink only small
amounts. Never drink any alcohol and drive while on nefazodone. Discuss any concerns you may have with your
pharmacist, nurse or doctor.
When I feel better, can I stop taking nefazodone?
No. If you stop taking nefazodone, your original symptoms may return. To reduce your chances of becoming depressed
again, you may need to take your antidepressant for at least 6 months after you feel better, and sometimes longer. This is
not thought to be harmful. You should decide with your doctor when you can come off it.
Remember, leaflets like this can only describe some of the effects of medication. You may find other
books or leaflets also useful. If you have access to the internet you may find a lot of information
there as well, but be careful, as internet based information is not always accurate.
2001 United Kingdom Psychiatric Pharmacy Group www.ukppg.org.uk
This leaflet is to help you understand about your medicine. It is not an official manufacturer's Patient Information Leaflet.
For more information call the UKPPG National Telephone Helpline, 11am to 5pm, Monday to Friday on 020 7919 2999 or
visit www.nmhct.nhs.uk/pharmacy
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