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Home > Health & Fitness > Healthwise > Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) for Social Anxiety Disorder
These medicines balance certain brain
chemicals (neurotransmitters). When these brain chemicals are in
proper balance, the symptoms of
anxiety are reduced. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors do
this by reducing the amount of monoamine oxidase, the substance that breaks
down the neurotransmitters.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
usually are not the first medicines given for anxiety, because they have
serious side effects when combined with certain foods and/or medicines. They
are usually given to people who have anxiety and who:
MAOIs are not
recommended for children or teens.
MAOIs may not be the
first medicines given for anxiety, because the side effects can be severe. But MAOIs are
the treatment of choice in cases of anxiety or depression with
unusual features, such as a heavy feeling in the arms and legs, sensitivity to
rejection, and a reactive mood. MAOIs are often used as an alternative
treatment for anxiety or depression that has not responded to other
All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.
Here are some important things to think about:
Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:
Call your doctor right away if you have:
Common side effects of this medicine include:
Serious reactions—or even death—can result when MAOIs are
combined with some foods and medicines. While taking MAOIs, you must avoid eating certain foods, such as some cheeses,
broad beans such as fava beans, pickled foods such as sauerkraut, beer, and red
wine. Eating these foods can cause severe high blood
pressure and other health problems. Talk with your doctor about
diet and medicine restrictions you need to follow if you are planning to take
You must wait at least 14 days after you stop taking MAOIs before taking
another antidepressant. Common nonprescription medicines, particularly certain
cold remedies and diet pills, can also be dangerous when taken with an
MAOIs can cause death if they are taken in overdose.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an advisory on antidepressant medicines and the risk of suicide. Talk to your doctor about these possible side effects and the warning signs of suicide.
Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not
available in all systems.)
Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.
There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.
Taking medicines for social anxiety disorder during pregnancy may increase the risk of birth defects. If you are pregnant,
breast-feeding, or trying to get pregnant, talk to your doctor. Medicines may need to be
continued if your social anxiety disorder is severe. Your doctor can help weigh the risks of
treatment against the risk of harm to your pregnancy.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
Current as of:
June 13, 2013
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine & Lisa S. Weinstock, MD - Psychiatry
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org
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