How to Treat Depression with MAOI Medication


If you suffer from depression, it’s important to know that you are not alone. It is estimated that more than 25 million adults are affected with depression, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

There are many treatment options available to help alleviate the symptoms of depression, including prescription antidepressant medications such as MAOIs.

What Are Antidepressants?

Antidepressants are prescription medications that work on two chemicals in the brain called serotonin and norepinephrine, which are neurotransmitters. These two neurotransmitters are targeted by antidepressant medications because research has demonstrated that they help to regulate mood for reasons not fully understood.

There are several different classes of antidepressant medications that are commonly used to treat depression. These include selective monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), and tricyclics.

What Are MAOIs?

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, more commonly called MAOIs, are an older class of antidepressant medications that are not commonly prescribed today. This is due to the fact that MAOIs have several food and medication interactions, requiring those who take them to adhere to a strict diet. Furthermore, MAOIs cannot be used in combination with SSRIs, which are a class of medications more commonly used today.

However, MAOIs may be effective in people who suffer from atypical depression, meaning they also suffer from anxiety, excessive sleeping or irritability. Additionally, MAOIs may be helpful to some sufferers whose depression does not improve on other antidepressant medications.

Which Drugs Are MAOIs?

Medications that are part of the MAOI class of antidepressants include:

  • • Emsan patch (selegiline)
  • • Nardil (phenelzine)
  • • Marplan (isocarboxazid)
  • • Parnate (tranyclcypromine sulfate)

Like all medications for depression, it’s important to speak with a healthcare professional to determine what type of medication, along with other treatments such as psychotherapy, may be best to treat a particular type of depression.

Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness


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