Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are a class of medications that are primarily used to treat depression. They work by blocking the action of the enzyme monoamine oxidase, which breaks down neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain. By blocking the activity of this enzyme, MAOIs increase the levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain, which can help to alleviate symptoms of depression.
MAOIs are also sometimes used to treat other conditions, such as anxiety disorders, Parkinson’s disease, and borderline personality disorder. However, they are generally not considered a first-line treatment for these conditions and are often only used when other treatments have been ineffective.
MAOIs can have significant side effects and can interact with a wide range of medications and foods, so they are typically only prescribed by a healthcare professional who is experienced in their use. Some of the potential side effects of MAOIs include dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, constipation, and sexual dysfunction. Additionally, MAOIs can interact with certain foods that contain high levels of the amino acid tyramine, such as aged cheeses, cured meats, and some types of wine, and can cause a dangerous increase in blood pressure. For these reasons, people who are taking MAOIs are typically advised to follow a specific diet and to avoid certain medications and supplements.