Understanding Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), are a class of antidepressant drugs which includes Nardil, Parnate, and Marplan. Developed in the 1950s, MAOIs are some of the oldest continuously prescribed antidepressant drugs still being prescribed. They are regarded as still being as effective as SSRIs and TCAs, and are only less-often prescribed because of their more restrictive dietary requirements and the severity of certain side effects.

The mechanism of action for MAOIs is relatively well-understood. Mood is determined largely by three neurotransmitters: serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. These three chemicals, always present to some degree or another in a person's brain, regulate feelings of anxiety or calmness, sleep, response to stress, sexuality, appetite, and motivation. The more of each chemical present, the higher a person's mood.

Monoamine oxidase is an enzyme that helps break down these three neurotransmitters in a process called reuptake. In certain people, this process can go too far, leaving neurotransmitters depleted. MAOIs work by interrupting the reuptake process, leaving more mood-boosting chemicals available in the brain.

There are two potentially serious conditions that can arise from MAOI use: serotonin syndrome and tyramine-induced hypertension crisis. The first occurs whenever serotonin levels are allowed to get too high. This might result from an interaction between two drugs or dietary supplements, like St. John's Wort.

The other condition that sometimes arises, tyramine-induced hypertension crisis, stems from the loss of MAO effectiveness in the face of MAOI use. Monoamine oxidase, in addition to its effects on neurotransmitter levels, also helps to regulate blood pressure by breaking down tyramine. Without that, tyramine from dietary sources can build up and create a sudden spike in blood pressure (i.e., a hypertensive episode). As a result, MAOI use should be accompanied by an extensive list of tyramine-containing foods to avoid. Some MAOIs, like the Emsam patch, can be administered transdermally, which seems to reduce the likelihood of dietary complications somewhat.

MAOIs, despite their risks, are a well-established treatment regimen and should be considered a viable part of any therapeutic toolkit.

Photo: Pixabay

Anxiety Support Groups

Latest Post by digby Tue, 11/12/2019 - 5:48pm
Comments: 1
Latest Post by digby Tue, 11/12/2019 - 5:49pm
Comments: 2
Latest Post by MillieM Mon, 11/04/2019 - 3:23pm
Comments: 1
Latest Post by MillieM Mon, 11/04/2019 - 2:58pm
Comments: 2

More Articles

Psychology professionals often recommend their clients adopt a pet as part of their mental health treatment. Or, they might prescribe structured...

Everyone suffers symptoms of anxiety now and then, and for many people anxiety is a chronic problem. But not all who suffer from anxiety...

Not all causes of anxiety require a therapist; if you suffer from anxiety there are ways to self-help. And acknowledging that you have an anxiety...

There is no one cause for anxiety but several factors that contribute to its development. Scientists have broken them down into three parts: brain...

Although people typically think of anxiety as a mental condition, it causes a number of physical symptoms. Severe anxiety, particularly...

More Articles

Although people typically think of anxiety as a mental condition, it causes a number of physical symptoms. Severe anxiety, particularly...

Feelings of anxiety and stress cause a number of physical and chemical changes in the body, including the release of adrenaline and other hormones...

In what probably doesn't come as a surprise to many people, a research study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology reports that the...

Controlling anxiety is never an easy thing to do. Some suffering from an anxiety disorder chooses to take medication to ease their symptoms.

...

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a mix of mindfulness meditation and simple yoga poses. It has been proven to help people reduce...

Over the course of my 14 plus years of having an Anxiety disorder, I have read so much information and learned so many techniques for controlling...

Serax® is the brand name for the drug oxazepam, a benzodiazepine that has been in use since the 1960s.

Serax is used primarily for the...

By definition, social anxiety disorder (SAD) is an overwhelming physical and mental response to everyday social interactions, one that generally...

If you're feeling overwhelmed by constant anxiety, or even just bothered by occasional bouts of stress, there are some lifestyle and health habits...

The good news for anyone suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is that there are a number of effective treatment options available....

If you reach adolescence or adulthood with little or no self-confidence, what do you do? Faking it (confidence) until you make it is a stretch for...

How should this medicine be used?

Zoloft or Sertraline comes as a tablet and concentrates to take by mouth. It is usually taken once...

People with an excess of MeCP2 protein experience anxiety and a range of other behavioral issues, but Baylor College of Medicine scientists have...

Psychological problems associated with nausea and vomiting include anxiety nausea. Nausea and vomiting are, in most cases, harmless....

Tofranil is a brand name of the antidepressant medication imipramine. It is used primarily to treat major depression in adults and bed-wetting in...