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Difference between SSRIs and MAOIs

Difference between SSRIs and MAOIs

When it comes to treating depression, there are a few different types of antidepressants available. SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) are two of the most common. But what’s the difference between them? And which one is right for you? Here’s a look at the key differences between SSRIs and MAOIs.

What are SSRIs?

SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed type of antidepressant. They work by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain, which can help to improve mood and ease symptoms of depression. SSRIs are generally considered to be safe and effective, with fewer side effects than older types of antidepressants.

However, they can cause some unpleasant side effects, such as nausea, headache, and sexual difficulties. SSRIs are also not suitable for everyone and should be used with caution in people with a history of suicide or self-harm. If you’re considering taking an SSRI, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the potential risks and benefits.

What are MAOIs?

MAOIs are a type of antidepressant medication that inhibits the activity of monoamine oxidase, an enzyme responsible for breaking down neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine. By preventing the breakdown of these neurotransmitters, MAOIs can help to alleviate the symptoms of depression.

MAOIs are typically used as a last resort after other types of antidepressants have failed, due to the risk of serious side effects. When taken with certain foods or medications, MAOIs can cause a dangerous increase in blood pressure, which can lead to stroke or even death. As a result, it is important to always check with a doctor before taking MAOIs.

Difference between SSRIs and MAOIs

SSRIs and MAOIs are two of the most commonly prescribed types of antidepressants.

  • SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, while MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) work by preventing the breakdown of monoamines (such as serotonin and norepinephrine).
  • Both SSRIs and MAOIs can be effective in treating depression, but they have some key differences. SSRIs are generally less likely to cause side effects, and they can be taken on an as-needed basis.
  • MAOIs, on the other hand, require dietary restrictions and must be taken daily. MAOIs also have a greater risk of potentially dangerous interactions with other medications.

As a result, SSRIs are typically the first-line treatment for depression, while MAOIs are reserved for patients who do not respond to SSRIs or who cannot tolerate the side effects.


The main difference between SSRIs and MAOIs is that SSRIs are safer because they don’t cross the blood-brain barrier as easily. However, MAOIs can be more effective in some cases. If you think your depression isn’t responding to SSRI treatment, ask your doctor about trying an MAOI.

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