Antidepressants: The Pros and Cons
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The monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs, such as phenelzine sulfate (Nardil) and tranylcypromine sulfate (Parnate), work by reducing the quantity of the enzyme MAO (monoamine oxidase) within the synapses. Since MAO ordinarily breaks down neurotransmitters, its reduction leads to higher adrenaline and dopamine levels. MAOIs can produce a dangerous elevation in blood pressure, called the "cheese effect," if the patient also takes decongestants, antihistamines, or foods containing the amino acid tyramine, such as aged cheese or red wine.
Downside of MAOIs
Taking MAOIs with decongestants, antihistamines, or foods containing tyramine, such as cheese or red wine, can cause dangerously high blood pressure.
There are some antidepressants that appear to affect neurotransmitter activity but don't fit in the above categories: bupropion (Wellbutrin), trazodone (Desyrel), venlafaxine (Effexor), and nefazdone (Serzone).
All this said, there is a role for medications as well as for herbs in psychiatric treatment. There are circumstances when one or the other is called for, and there are situations when they are needed in combination. However, the synthetic pharmaceutical medications should be reserved for those times when their benefits outweigh their downsides. During my years of psychiatric practice, I have learned that natural supplements should be the first line of treatment. Their more gentle actions are often all that is needed to resolve the imbalances leading to depression, as you will see in the section that follows.
More on: Alternative Health Care
From NATURAL HIGHS: Supplements, Nutrition, and Mind/Body Techniques to Help You Feel Good by Hyla Cass and Patrick Holford. Copyright © Hyla Cass, M.D., and Patrick Holford. Used by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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