What Is Nardil®?

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  • Written By: Andy Josiah
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2019
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Nardil® is the brand name for phenelzine, which is classified as an monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), a drug created for the treatment of depression and anxiety. Thus it is used as an antidepressant and an anxiolytic, respectively. Nardil® is significant for being one of the three most well known MAOIs, with the others being tranylcypromine and isocarboxazid; the brand name of the latter is Marplan.

The Nardil® medication is manufactured as a 15-milligram film-coated orange tablet. It combines an inorganic chemical compound called hydrazine with the 2-phenylethylbromide organobromine compound and is designed for oral administration three times a day. It can take more than four weeks to experience the therapeutic effects. Nardil® works by suppressing monoamine oxidase (MAO), an enzyme known for the inactivation of neurotransmitters, agents that contribute to normal function of the brain, such as dopamine, epinephrine, melatonin, serotonin and norepinephrine. The breakdown of these chemicals, which indicates heightened MAO activity, are blamed for an increased occurrence of neurological disorders.

Nardil® is chiefly designed to treat major depressive disorder (MDD), more commonly known as clinical depression. This medical condition—characterized by an intensely low mood consisting of low self-esteem and loss of interest in everyday activities—is thought to occur as a result of the decrease in the serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine neurotransmitters. By inhibiting MAO, Nardil® can increasing the amounts of chemicals needed to alleviate mental disorders such as MDD.


The Nardil® medication has also been used to treat other neurological problems. Less severe types of depression such as dysthymia and bipolar depression can be curbed using the drug. Also, physicians use Nardil® for anxiety problems such as panic disorder, social anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Despite its varied applications, Nardil® suppresses the symptoms of depression and anxiety but does not cure them outright. In fact, there are certain side effects to be aware of, including drowsiness, constipation, dry mouth, weight gain, and in the more severe cases, headache, chest pain or vomiting.

As of 2011, Nardil® is approved as a prescription medication by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Australian Drug Evaluation Committee (ADEC). The FDA and ADEC place the drug in the B3 and C category, respectively, regarding their assessment of the degree of fetal risk that the pharmaceutical poses to pregnant women. Each category falls in the middling ranking of the agency's pregnancy category system. This means that while Nardil® is far from the safest medication that can be taken during pregnancy, studies have shown that potential risks to the fetus are of little significance.


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