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Monoamine oxidase inhibitors


Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are the first kind of anti-depressant prescribed and marketed for use combating symptoms of depression. Generally, the drugs have been replaced by ones that do the job a bit better with fewer side effects, but for some people this still remains the most effective option.

Dietary restrictions are usually necessary when taking MAOIs. The can cause dangerously high blood pressure when taken in combination with certain foods. These foods include those with high levels of tyramine like cheese, pickled foods, some meats and wine.

Like most inhibitors the drug works by affecting the chemical messengers between neurons in the brain. Most antidepressants work by changing the level of various natural chemicals.

The enzyme monoamine oxidase is involved in removing the neurotransmitters norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine from the brain. Too many neurotransmitters are suspected of altering mood and causing depression. Once the excess neurotransmitters are out of the way, other chemicals can work better and enhance mood. MAOIs though also affect other chemicals in the brain and also enzymes which aid in digestion which make for the undesirable side effects.

MAIOs include Isocarboxazid (brand name Marplan), Phenelzine (Nardil), Selegiline (Emsam, Eldepryl, Zelapar), and Tranylcypromine (Parnate).

MAIOs can also be used off-label to treat OCD and PTSD.

The long list of side effects includes: daytime sleepiness, dizziness, low blood pressure, diarrhea, dry mouth, altered sense of taste, nervousness, muscle aches, insomnia, weight gain, reduced sexual desire or difficulty achieving orgasm, inability to maintain an erection, difficulty urinating, and prickling skin sensation. They should never be taken if you are or suspect you may be pregnant.

Source: MayoClinic

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