MAOIs: Uses, Common Brands, and Safety Info

"MAOIs are a class of antidepressant medications that increase levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. They are used for treating depression, anxiety, and panic disorders. Common brands include Nardil and Parnate. MAOIs require strict dietary restrictions and can interact with other medications, so close supervision is necessary."


Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are a class of medications that are primarily used in the treatment of depression. They work by inhibiting the action of the enzyme monoamine oxidase, which is responsible for the breakdown of certain neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. By blocking this enzyme, MAOIs increase the levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to improved mood and alleviation of depressive symptoms.


MAOIs have been traditionally used as a second-line treatment for depression when other antidepressant medications have not been effective. They may be particularly beneficial for individuals with atypical depression, which is characterized by symptoms such as increased appetite, excessive tiredness, and sensitivity to rejection. Additionally, MAOIs have also been found to be effective in the treatment of other psychiatric conditions, such as anxiety disorders and panic disorder.

Common Brands

There are a few different brands of MAOIs available on the market. Some of the commonly prescribed ones include: - Nardil (phenelzine) - Parnate (tranylcypromine) - Marplan (isocarboxazid) - Emsam (selegiline) It is important to note that Emsam is available as a transdermal patch, which allows for the medication to be absorbed through the skin. This provides an alternative route of administration compared to the traditional oral form of MAOIs.


MAOIs require cautious use due to their potential for serious side effects and interactions with certain foods and medications. When taking MAOIs, patients are advised to follow a strict dietary regimen, avoiding foods that are rich in tyramine, such as aged cheese, cured meats, and fermented products. Consuming tyramine-rich foods can lead to a sudden increase in blood pressure, known as a hypertensive crisis, which can be life-threatening. Furthermore, MAOIs can interact with a range of medications, including over-the-counter drugs, prescription medications, and even herbal supplements. Such interactions may result in a dangerous increase in serotonin levels, leading to a condition known as serotonin syndrome. Therefore, it is crucial for individuals taking MAOIs to inform their healthcare provider about all the medications and supplements they are taking to avoid potential drug interactions. Due to these safety considerations, MAOIs are usually prescribed when other treatments have failed or when the benefits outweigh the risks. Regular monitoring and close supervision by a healthcare professional are necessary during the course of MAOI therapy to ensure the safety and efficacy of the medication. In conclusion, MAOIs are a class of medications primarily used for treating depression, particularly atypical depression. Although effective, they require careful management due to dietary restrictions and potential drug interactions. If prescribed MAOIs, it is essential for individuals to adhere to the recommended guidelines and maintain open communication with their healthcare provider to ensure the appropriate use of these medications.