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Tca vs Maoi

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TCA Overview

TCA Uses

TCA Mechanism of Action

MAOI Overview


MAOI Mechanism of Action


TCA Dosage

MAOI Dosage

TCA Side Effects

TCA Serious Side Effects

MAOI Side Effects

MAOI Serious Side Effects






For patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) or other types of depression, certain drugs that modify the levels of compounds in the brain which are associated with mood, known as neurotransmitters, can aid in stabilizing depressive lows and controlling symptoms. Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are two such groups of medications frequently prescribed for depression. They each influence different neurotransmitters within the brain, but both have mood-stabilizing effects on patients suffering from depression. TCAs work by inhibiting the reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin, thereby increasing their concentration within the synaptic clefts in your brain. MAOIs are a bit more complex because they inhibit an enzyme called monoamine oxidase which is responsible for breaking down several important neurotransmitters like dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin; hence when inhibited it leads to increased levels of these chemicals inside nerve cells helping elevate mood.

Tca vs Maoi Side By Side

Brand NameTofranilNardil
ContraindicationsShould not be taken with MAOIs or if there has been recent use of MAOIs. Increased risk of suicidal thoughts or actions in some individuals.Should not be taken with TCAs or SSRIs, or if there has been recent use of these medications. Requires dietary restrictions to avoid hypertensive crisis.
CostApproximately $4/day for brand name, $0.05 to $0.80/day for genericApproximately $13–26/day for brand name, $0.50 to $1.20/day for generic
Generic NameImipraminePhenelzine
Most Serious Side EffectCardiovascular issues like fast/pounding heartbeat, severe skin reactions, increased thoughts of suicide or self-harmHypertensive crisis from interaction with tyramine-rich foods or certain medications
Severe Drug InteractionsSerotonin syndrome when combined with other drugs increasing serotonin levelsPotential severe interactions with certain foods, medications, and substances leading to hypertensive crisis
Typical Dose25-75 mg/day initially, up to 200-300 mg/dayStarting at 15 mg/day, usual therapeutic dose 30-60 mg/day, up to 90 mg/day

What is Tca?

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) were among the first set of antidepressants developed and utilized in psychiatric treatment. They are known to work by inhibiting the reabsorption, or reuptake, of serotonin and norepinephrine into nerve cells, effectively increasing their levels in the brain. TCAs have been used for various forms of depression but due to their broader mechanism of action, they typically have more side effects than newer classes of antidepressants.

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), another class of early-developed antidepressants also exert significant influence on several neurotransmitters. Instead of blocking reuptake like TCAs do, MAOIs work by inhibiting an enzyme called monoamine oxidase which breaks down serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain thus leading to increased levels. These drugs can be effective for patients who haven't responded well to other treatments but because they also affect tyramine metabolism causing potential severe hypertensive reactions with certain foods or medications; they are not commonly a first-line treatment option.

What conditions is Tca approved to treat?

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are both approved for the treatment of various conditions:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Panic disorders
  • Certain types of pain But it's worth noting that MAOIs, in addition to these uses, are also prescribed for Parkinson's disease. TCAs may be used as well for chronic pains such as neuralgia or migraines. Both drug classes require careful management due to their potential side effects and interactions with other medications.

How does Tca help with these illnesses?

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) are medications used to treat depression by increasing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain that help improve mood. They work by inhibiting the reuptake of norepinephrine and serotonin, allowing these neurotransmitters to remain longer in the synaptic cleft where they continue stimulating the post-synaptic receptors, thereby enhancing their effects. These neurotransmitters play crucial roles in regulating mood, alertness and focus.

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), on the other hand, block an enzyme known as monoamine oxidase from removing excess serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine from your brain's synapses. This has a similar effect as TCAs but also increases dopamine alongside serotonin and norepinephrine - all key players in maintaining a balanced mood state.

Both classes of drugs can be effective for treating depression but are generally reserved for cases where other treatments have failed due to their potential side effects. It is important to note that each person may respond differently to these medicines; therefore it is essential that patients consult with their healthcare provider about which treatment option might be best suited for them.

What is Maoi?

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) are a class of antidepressants that work by blocking the action of monoamine oxidase, an enzyme responsible for breaking down serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine in the brain. By inhibiting this enzyme, MAOIs increase the levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain. The first generation of MAOIs were approved for use by the FDA in 1952.

Unlike Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs), which also increase neurotransmitter levels but do so by preventing their reuptake into nerve cells rather than inhibiting their breakdown, MAOIs have a broader effect on brain chemistry. This means they can be more effective for patients with certain types of depression that are not well managed by other drugs.

However, because MAOI's affect a wider range of neurotransmitters compared to TCAs or SSRIs, they tend to have a more diverse side-effect profile including headaches and sleep disturbances; and unlike TCAs or SSRIs like Prozac, using an MAOI requires dietary restrictions due to potential severe interactions with certain foods.

Despite these drawbacks however, many patients find relief from symptoms through use of an MAOI when other classes haven't worked as effectively.

What conditions is Maoi approved to treat?

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) are approved for the treatment of:

  • Major depressive disorder that doesn't respond to other antidepressants
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Social phobia and panic disorders It's essential to note that MAOIs can interact with certain foods, medications, and substances leading to potentially serious side effects. Therefore, they require careful management under a healthcare professional's guidance.

How does Maoi help with these illnesses?

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, more commonly known as MAOIs, act by inhibiting the action of monoamine oxidase enzymes in the brain. These enzymes are responsible for breaking down several neurotransmitters including serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine - all of which play critical roles in regulating mood. By preventing the degradation of these neurotransmitters, MAOIs can help raise their levels within the brain and thus alleviate depressive symptoms. This mode of action is distinct from that of tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), which primarily work by blocking reuptake mechanisms to increase neurotransmitter concentrations. However, while TCAs tend to have a broader spectrum of effects on various receptors in addition to reuptake inhibition (which may contribute to their side effect profiles), MAOIs focus specifically on enzyme inhibition. Therefore, they may be prescribed when patients do not respond well or cannot tolerate other classes of antidepressants like TCAs or SSRIs.

How effective are both Tca and Maoi?

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are both classes of medication with a long history in the treatment of depression. They were among the first types of antidepressants available, but they act on different neurotransmitters and may be prescribed under different circumstances.

Effective for many forms of depression, TCAs work by blocking the absorption (reuptake) of serotonin and norepinephrine into nerve cells. A 2005 study focusing on amitriptyline, a commonly used TCA, found that it was effective at alleviating symptoms when taken at an optimal dose around 150 mg/day. However, side effects such as dry mouth, constipation, bladder problems or urinary retention can be challenging for some patients to tolerate.

On the other hand, MAOIs function by inhibiting monoamine oxidase enzymes which break down several key neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation like dopamine and serotonin. This results in higher levels of these chemicals within brain synapses. Though not often a first line choice due to dietary restrictions required during treatment and potential severe drug interactions including hypertensive crisis if certain foods or medications are consumed concurrently, MAOIs have been shown to produce good clinical response rates particularly in refractory depressions resistant to other treatments according to a review published in Journal Of Psychiatric Practice in 2014.

While both TCAs and MAOIs might not be considered first-line treatments today due to their side effect profiles compared with newer drugs like SSRIs or SNRISs , they remain important options especially for individuals who have not responded well to other forms of treatment or who suffer from specific types depressive disorders where these older classes show superior efficacy.

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At what dose is Tca typically prescribed?

Dosages of tricyclic antidepressants (TCA) vary widely, depending on the specific drug and individual patient factors. Generally, they are started at a low dose which is gradually increased over time. For most TCAs, an initial dosage might be 25-75 mg/day with maximum dosages usually around 200mg/day but can go up to 300mg/day in some cases. On the other hand, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) are typically prescribed at lower doses due to their potent nature and risk of side effects. The starting dose for many MAOIs is often about 10-20 mg/day while the maximum daily dosage varies between different drugs but could reach up to approximately 60mg/day in some cases if tolerated by the patient. Both TCA and MAOI dosages may need adjustments based on individual response and tolerance after a few weeks of treatment.

At what dose is Maoi typically prescribed?

Treatment with Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) typically begins at a low dosage, often 15 mg/day. This can then be increased depending on patient response and tolerance. The usual therapeutic dose is around 30-60 mg/day, taken in two or three divided doses throughout the day. For some patients who do not respond to this level of treatment after several weeks, the dose may be increased up to a maximum of 90 mg per day, divided into three equal doses spaced evenly throughout the day. As with any medication regimen, it's imperative that these guidelines are followed strictly under your doctor's supervision due to potential side effects and interactions associated with MAOIs.

What are the most common side effects for Tca?

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) both carry potential side effects. For TCAs, these can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Blurred vision
  • Urinary retention
  • Increased heart rate

MAOIs may cause:

  • Nervousness or insomnia
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Headache and tremors
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or indigestion
  • Swelling of the hands and feet due to fluid retention

Both classes of medication can potentially lead to decreased libido, abnormal ejaculation in males, weight gain or loss as well as increased sweating. It's important to note that some people may experience more severe reactions such as rash, flu-like symptoms including fever and chills; pharyngitis; sinusitis; unusual bleeding or bruising.

Always consult your healthcare professional when choosing a treatment plan for depression.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Tca?

In rare instances, both tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) can lead to serious side effects. Here are some you should watch for:

  • Increased thoughts about suicide or self-harm, especially in the first weeks of treatment or when doses change
  • Signs of allergic reactions such as hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat
  • Severe skin reaction including fever, sore throat, burning eyes and skin pain associated with a red or purple skin rash that blisters and peels
  • Vision problems like blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain/swelling; seeing halos around lights could occur due to glaucoma which is more common with TCAs.
  • Cardiovascular issues: fast/pounding heartbeat; fluttering chest sensation; shortness of breath & sudden dizziness - more commonly seen with TCAs but also possible with MAOIs.
  • Low sodium levels indicated by headache/confusion/slurred speech/severe weakness/vomiting/loss of coordination/unsteady feeling – this is more typical for SSRIs but could happen rarely with either drug class. -Severe nervous system reaction characterized by very rigid muscles/high fever/sweating/confusion/fast/uneven heartbeats/tremors/fainting-like sensations may indicate serotonin syndrome. This condition is much more likely if an MAOI is combined improperly with other drugs increasing serotonin levels. -Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea are also symptoms related to serotonin syndrome.

Always consult your healthcare provider promptly if any such symptoms appear while on these medications.

What are the most common side effects for Maoi?

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) can potentially cause a number of side effects including:

  • Dry mouth and difficulty swallowing
  • Sleep disturbances, ranging from insomnia to excessive sleepiness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness, particularly when standing up too quickly due to lowered blood pressure
  • Nausea, possibly accompanied by vomiting or loss of appetite
  • Muscle cramps or weakness
  • Headache and ringing in the ears
  • Changes in heart rate such as palpitations or fast heartbeat
  • Constipation and urinary problems
  • Mood changes like confusion, agitation or feelings of hostility.

In some cases MAOIs may also lead to skin reactions that present as a rash. Additionally, these medications have been known to contribute to unexplained weight gain or loss. Please note that not every individual experiences all these side effects; they vary among individuals depending on their health conditions and other factors.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Maoi?

MAOIs, although less commonly used than TCAs, can cause potentially serious side effects. If you are taking a MAOI and experience the following symptoms, it may be indicative of a more severe reaction:

  • Allergic reactions such as skin rash or hives, swelling in the face or throat
  • Rapid heartbeat or chest pain
  • Breathlessness or trouble breathing
  • Severe nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Increased suicidal thoughts; sudden changes in mood
  • Signs of liver problems like dark urine, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach or stomach pain
  • Blurred vision; seeing halos around lights
  • Uncontrolled muscle movements which could be signs of tardive dyskinesia (TD)

These symptoms should not be ignored and require immediate medical attention.

Contraindications for Tca and Maoi?

Both Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs), like most other classes of antidepressant medications, may initially worsen symptoms of depression in some people. If you notice your depressive symptoms intensifying or an increase in suicidal ideation, thoughts, or behavior after starting a TCA or MAOI regime, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention.

Neither TCAs nor MAOIs should be taken if you are currently taking the other class of medication or have been doing so recently. The combination can lead to serious complications such as serotonin syndrome - a potentially life-threatening condition associated with increased serotonergic activity in the nervous system. Always inform your physician about any medications you are taking; switching from MAOIs to TCAs will require a period of approximately two weeks to avoid dangerous interactions. Similarly, if transitioning from TCAs to MAOIs, at least 14 days should pass before initiating treatment with the latter.

How much do Tca and Maoi cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price for 60 tablets of Nardil (an MAOI, phenelzine sulfate, 15 mg) averages around $400, which works out to approximately $13–26/day depending on your dose.
  • The price for 30 capsules of Tofranil (a TCA, imipramine hydrochloride, 25 mg) is about $125, working out to roughly $4/day.

Thus, if you are in the higher dosage range for Nardil (i.e., 90 mg/day or higher), then brand-name Tofranil is less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. Please note that cost should not be a primary consideration in determining which of these drugs is right for you.

For the generic versions of Nardil (phenelzine) and Tofranil (imipramine):

  • Phenelzine (15 mg tablets) can be found in packs of 60 tablets with prices ranging from approximately $0.50 to $1.20 per day based on doses between 45mg and up to even potentially as high as180mg daily.
  • Imipramine comes available in amounts varying from packets containing just enough pills for two weeks all the way up to packages containing hundreds - pricing starts at an incredibly low rate when bought in bulk: paying only about $.05 cents daily if purchasing one thousand pills upfront – but it does not exceed more than $0.80/day regardless of how many are purchased initially.

Popularity of Tca and Maoi

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), such as amitriptyline and nortriptyline, have been prescribed for a long time, with approximately 8 million prescriptions in the US in 2019. They account for about 5% of overall antidepressant prescriptions. While effective, they are nowadays typically used as second-line treatments due to their potential side effects including dry mouth, constipation and blurred vision.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), like phenelzine or tranylcypromine, on the other hand were estimated to be prescribed to fewer than 500 thousand people in the US in 2019. MAOIs make up less than half of one percent of all antidepressant prescriptions due to their strict dietary restrictions and possible drug interactions which can lead to serious reactions such as hypertensive crisis. Despite these challenges both TCAs and MAOIs could still be useful for patients who do not respond adequately to other types of antidepressants.


Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) both have a long-standing history of use in treating depression, with numerous clinical studies and meta-analyses indicating their effectiveness compared to placebo treatments. Both classes of drugs can sometimes be combined but this requires careful medical supervision due to potential contraindications. They have different mechanisms of action: TCAs primarily affect the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine while MAOIs inhibit the enzyme monoamine oxidase, which breaks down several neurotransmitters including norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine.

Both are available in generic forms representing significant cost savings for patients who must pay out-of-pocket. Starting treatment with either TCAs or MAOIs may require an adjustment period as effects might not be noticeable right away.

The side effect profiles are somewhat similar between these two classes of antidepressants; however, they each come with distinctive risks too. While generally well-tolerated, TCAs do carry a risk of anticholinergic effects like dry mouth and constipation plus cardiac toxicity in overdose situations. On the other hand, MAOIs pose dietary restrictions due to dangerous interactions with tyramine-rich foods that could lead to hypertensive crisis if not adhered to strictly. Patients on either class should closely monitor how they're feeling especially when starting treatment - any signs of worsening depression or thoughts about self-harm need immediate medical attention.