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Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) and the main characteristics

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors refer to the class of medications that belong to the group of antidepressants, which means that they are primarily used in the treatment of depression and other psychiatric conditions. They have the longest history of use, since they were the first type of antidepressants used ever. They work by blocking the action of certain enzyme in the brain, which results in the increased level of neurotransmitters, which are responsible for boosting mood.

Possible side effects of monoamine oxidase inhibitors

As for the possible side effects, having in mind the seriousness of the conditions that they treat, it would be unrealistic not to expect any. When it comes to this type of antidepressants, the list of the possible side effects is rather long, and some of them are rather serious, which is why they are prescribed only in those cases in which other antidepressants have failed to give positive results. Some of those that are most commonly reported include sleepiness, tiredness, blurred vision, lower blood pressure, lightheadedness, and dizziness, but also diarrhea, nausea, dry mouth, headache, and increased sweating. 

Still, none of these side effects is considered to be too serious, particularly because they are temporary and they tend to disappear on their own, after some time. Problems that MAOIs may cause and that are much more worrying are trembling, twitching of muscles, weakness, problems with sleep, increased appetite with the tendency of weight gaining, increased blood pressure, severe pain in the chest, and even impotence and decreased sexual function.

Besides these side effects, there is a danger of possible interactions, because the list of the medications with which they are not to be used is also a bit longer. Such medications are also tryptamines, serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors, as well as other monoamine oxidase inhibitors. Also, there are some over-the-counter medications, pain relievers, and supplements that should not be combined with MAOIs. 

During the treatment with these medications, it is not advised to consume alcohol, and certain dietary restrictions are necessary as well, since, some food is not to be consumed either because of the increased risk of the stroke or cardiac arrhythmia. The reason for this is tyramine, an amino acid that affects blood pressure and that is contained both, in MAOIs and in particular types of food.

It is important to emphasize the fact that people should not stop using these medications abruptly, because the symptoms of withdrawal are very likely to be experienced in such cases. 

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