What are the Different Types of MAOI Drugs?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
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There are a wide range of monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) medications available, including tranylcypromine, iproclozide, nialamide, and phenelzine. Each these works to inhibit, or lessen, the productive or impact of monoamine. This is a chemical within the brain which has been shown to directly affect mood. Nearly all types of MAOI drugs are used in the treatment of depression, although sometimes they are used for other mood and mental disorders.

Most types of MAOI drugs work in primarily the same way. They are one of the oldest classes of antidepressants, and they are prescribed less often than newer medications, which are generally considered safer. MAOI drugs have various potential side effects which may become a problem for some patients. These can include dry mouth, dizziness, stomach upset, constipation, and low blood pressure.

When compared with other antidepressant medications, most types of MAOI drugs have a greater risk of serious complications. This becomes a greater risk when high doses are used. Convulsions, seizures, coma, drastic changes in blood pressure, irregular heart rate, and hallucinations may occur. Dropping the dosage or discontinuing MAOI medications can also cause serious health complications.


Patients who are taking any types of MAOI drugs should follow their doctors’ instructions carefully. There are various drugs which may interact with MAOI medications, as well as certain dietary restrictions patients must follow. When drugs must be discontinued for any reason, the dosage should be lessened gradually to reduce the risk of serious health complications.

Although there are various types of MAOI drugs, they are all similar in makeup and they are designed to work in much the same way. There may be slight differences, just as with other medications, so one brand or type may work better than another for most patients. Newer MAOI medications may be safer than the original ones, but they still carry a greater number of potential side effects and drug interactions than more modern drugs. They are most commonly prescribed when other medications have failed to work effectively.

Those who are taking an MAOI should consult a doctor or pharmacist before taking any other drugs or supplements. If side effects are severe or persistent, a doctor should be notified. Many times, altering the dosage or choosing a different medication may lessen troubling side effects. Children, teens, and young adults should be closely monitored when taking an MAOI, or any antidepressant. These drugs should only be prescribed for individuals within this age range when absolutely necessary.


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Post 4

I started having hallucinations while taking an MAOI, and it frightened me more than anything I have ever experienced. I won't go near any mood altering drugs now.

I had been taking it for nearly a week when I started seeing things. They appeared to me in the dim lamp light at night when I was reading in my room.

At first, I saw a large shadow that appeared to be running across the room diagonally until it reached me. Suddenly, it lunged toward me, and it had a monster's face.

I screamed and rolled over face down on the bed. My mother came running in, and I was yelling for help. She rolled me back over

and showed me that nothing was there.

I called my doctor the next day, and he told me that it wasn't safe to quit cold turkey. He said that I could cut my pill in half for a few days, and then cut it in fourths the next few days. I gradually weaned myself off of the drug, but in the meantime, I refused to sleep alone.

Post 3

@shell4life - My doctor told me that I should wait two full weeks before starting my MAOI drug. I also had been taking an SSRI, but I made sure to let her know that.

She said that the SSRI would stay in my system for awhile. If I took an MAOI on top of it, the two would combine to raise my blood pressure and cause extreme excitability. It's a dangerous duo, and I'm glad she told me about this.

I stopped taking the SSRI because it was making my heart skip beats. I also started to feel faint when I would stand up after squatting. I only hope that the MAOI doesn't do the same thing to me.

Post 2

I've been taking an SSRI drug to treat my social anxiety disorder, but it has had some bad side effects. I recently went to a different doctor and got a prescription for an MAOI.

I didn't tell her that I was already on the other drug, because I was afraid she wouldn't give me anything. I plan to stop taking the SSRI before I start the new drug.

Does anyone know how long I should wait from the time I quit the first one to start the MAOI? I don't want to provide a shock to my system, and I have a feeling that jumping right into another drug could do bad things to my body.

Post 1

My mother took an MAOI drug for awhile to treat her depression. She had already been having problems with high blood pressure, and I think her doctor assumed that since the drug can cause low blood pressure, it might help her out in that area, too.

Unfortunately, she had to stop taking the drug. It gave her an irregular heartbeat. She said she could feel sudden surges in her chest, as though someone were punching her from the inside.

She is currently taking herbal medicine to treat her depression. She is afraid of MAOI drugs now, and even though her doctor tried to give her another one, she refused to take it.

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