What should I know about Nardil before taking it?

Before taking Nardil (phenelzine), you should know what it is, why it is being prescribed for you and what you can expect from taking it. Nardil is an antidepressant medication and has been approved for treating depression in adults. It belongs to the oldest category of antidepressants available, called monoamine oxidase inhibitors, or MAOIs. These antidepressants are believed to work by raising the levels of certain brain chemicals (neurotransmitters).

Because MAOIs are more likely to cause side effects than newer antidepressants, they're usually prescribed only after someone's depression has not been successfully treated with other medications. Nardil may also be used to treat anxiety and some other mental illnesses. Doctors are not sure if Nardil is safe and effective for treating mental health conditions in children or in pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Nardil may not be safe to take if you have certain conditions, including bipolar disorder, diabetes, high blood pressure, history of stroke, or problems with your kidneys, liver or heart. Share your medical history with your doctor, including conditions that run in your family as well as your own experiences with mental or physical health problems. Nardil may interact with certain other medications (both prescription and over-the-counter), raising your risk for side effects. Before taking Nardil, give your doctor a list of all your medicines and supplements. Nardil may also interact with some foods, which can cause a dangerous spike in blood pressure or other symptoms. Ask your doctor about foods you should avoid while taking this drug.

Be aware that Nardil can take several weeks to work. Your doctor may start you on a low dose and increase it gradually until your symptoms improve; then he or she may slowly reduce your dose until you are taking just 15 milligrams every day or even every other day. If you want to stop taking Nardil, you shouldn't quit without talking to your doctor first, because he or she may need to slowly taper your dose to minimize your risk of withdrawal symptoms.

Nardil may cause side effects, most of which are mild and may improve with continued use. However, in a small percentage of people, Nardil may cause worsened depression and suicidal thoughts and attempts. This side effect is more common in people under age 25 than in older adults.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.