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What is Tranylcypromine?

By A. Delgado
Updated May 17, 2024
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Tranylcypromine is a prescription medication used in the treatment of major depression. It belongs to the drug class known as monoamine oxidase inhibitors, which help stabilize chemicals in the brain that affect a person's mental condition. It comes in the form of a tablet that is taken twice a day. The dangers associated with tranylcypromine include a tendency to be habit-forming and an increase in the risk of suicide, especially in patients who are 24 years old or younger.

Doctors generally prescribe tranylcypromine when other antidepressant medications prove ineffective. It works by preventing monoamine oxidase from reducing the amount of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin, in the brain. Since these neurotransmitters provide better cognitive functioning and increase positive moods, they serve an important role in controlling depression.

Tranylcypromine is available in a tablet form that doctors usually instruct patients to take twice a day. Taking the medication at the same times each day helps decrease the risk of forgetting a dosage. Due to the risk of addiction, doctors may start patients out with a lower dosage and slowly increase the amount. Patients should expect to begin seeing improvement after about three weeks and are advised to not stop taking tranylcypromine suddenly, since this can lead to withdrawal. Doctors will gradually wean patients off the medication when they no longer need it.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning that patients 24 years old and under may experience an increase in suicidal thoughts when taking tranylcypromine, although this side effect can also affect older patients. Doctors also advise patients to avoid eating foods with tyramine, since this substance can lead to dangerously high levels of blood pressure. Foods that have tyramine include bananas, beef, caffeine and yogurt. Other risk factors that can interfere with this medication include an allergy to tranylcypromine, diabetes, liver disease and other antidepressants. Patients should also let their doctor know if they're nursing or pregnant.

Side effects associated with tranylcypromine include drowsiness, chills, dry mouth, appetite loss, decreased sexual performance, blurred vision and constipation. These are generally mild, but patients should alert their doctor if these side effects become severe or don't go away. Serious side effects that doctors consider a medical emergency include a rapid or slow heartbeat, stiff neck, swollen extremities, fever, yellowed eyes or skin, dilated pupils and unexplained bruising or bleeding.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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