Understanding Antidepressant Medications (cont.)
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Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) include isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), and tranylcypromine (Parnate). These medications are rarely used because of strict dietary requirements and life-threatening drug and food interactions. Because of these drug and food interactions, MAOIs may not be taken with many other types of medicines, and some foods that are high in tyramine, dopamine, or tryptophan must be avoided as well.
How do MAOIs work?
These drugs inhibit monoamine oxidase. Monoamine oxidase is an enzyme in the body that is responsible for metabolizing (breaking down) neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, epinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. The result of MAOIs is an increase in the concentration of neurotransmitters. Some of these neurotransmitters increase blood pressure.
Who should not use these medications?
In many circumstances, the use of MAOIs is dangerous.
Children: Phenelzine is not approved for children younger than 16 years. Tranylcypromine is not approved for children or adolescents.
Mary L Windle, PharmD
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