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Discharge Instructions: Taking Monoamine Oxidase (MAO) Inhibitors

Your doctor has prescribed a medication for you. It is called a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor. It helps reduce the symptoms of depression. These include extreme sadness, hopelessness, and lack of interest in life. MAO inhibitors are very useful in treating people who also have problems such as anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, or the desire to sleep too much.

The  name of my MAO inhibitor is



Guidelines for Use

  • Follow the fact sheet that came with your medication. It tells you when and how to take it. Ask for a sheet if you didn’t get one.

  • Tell your doctor about any other drugs you are taking, including over-the-counter or herbal drugs.

  • Take your medication exactly as directed. This medication takes several weeks to reach its full effect. Because of this, it is important to take it every day. Do this even if you think it is not helping your symptoms.

  • If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Do this unless it’s almost time for your next dose. In that case, skip the dose you missed. Don’t take a double dose.

  • Don’t drink alcohol while taking this medication.

  • Avoid the following foods:

    • Sour cream and cheeses (except for American cheese, cream cheese, ricotta cheese, cottage cheese, and yogurt)

    • Beer, sherry, Chianti and other red wines

    • All distilled alcohols

    • Yeast/protein extracts (yeast is safe when baked, as in bread)

    • Smoked or pickled meats, fish, or seafood

    • Beef liver or chicken liver

    • Fermented sausages (bologna, pepperoni, salami, and summer sausage)

    • Figs, raisins, and bananas

    • Fermented bean curd, soy beans, soy paste, soy sauce

    • Fava or broad beans

    • Large amounts of caffeine (coffee, tea, colas)

    • Chocolate

    • Other high-protein foods that have started to go bad, such as old leftovers

  • Don’t take this medication if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.

  • Don’t stop taking this medication without talking with your doctor. Very bad withdrawal reactions (scary dreams and confusion) may occur.

  • Take a daily multivitamin with vitamin B6 (pyridoxine).

  • Store this medication in a cool, safe place. Keep it away from the reach of children.

Possible Side Effects

Tell your doctor if you have any of these side effects. Don’t stop taking the medication until your doctor tells you to. Mild side effects include:

  • Dizziness

  • Lightheadedness

  • Drowsiness

  • Tiredness

  • Weakness

  • Blurred vision

  • Shakiness or trembling

  • Restlessness

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Twitching during sleep

  • Increased appetite (especially for sweets)

  • Weight gain

When to Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor immediately if you have any of the following:

  • Severe chest pain

  • Severe headache

  • Stiff, sore neck

  • Enlarged pupils

  • Eyes that are more sensitive to light

  • Fast or slow heartbeat

  • Sweating with or without fever

  • Cold, clammy skin

  • Nausea and vomiting


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