Phenelzine (Nardelzine)


Overview: Phenelzine, known by the brand name Nardelzine, is an antidepressant of the Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor (MAOI) class. Phenelzine is mainly used to treat depression, though is occasionally used for Anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Phenelzine has helped many people recover from their mental health problems, and is used especially in the modern age when patients fail to respond to SSRI and SNRI antidepressants. Phenelzine is an older antidepressant, but is one of the few older antidepressants still in widespread use. However, given its age, it has more side effects than newer medications. Phenelzine is only available on prescription.





Key Facts: Phenelzine is fast-acting and should take full effect within two weeks, and normally after around a week. There are some side effects to Phenelzine, and many cautions. Phenelzine should be used without interruption – you shouldn’t suddenly stop taking the medicine. The medication should help jump start your mood, and slowly make you feel like your old self again.


How do they work?: Unfortunately, it isn’t entirely known how antidepressants work. MAOI antidepressants work by blocking an enzyme that removes neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine from the brain. These neurotransmitters are believed to be linked to mood and emotion. Therefore, more chemicals are available, which in theory results positively. It is recommended that Phenelzine is used in conjunction with therapy.


Dosage: The normal dosage of Phenelzine is 45mg per day. This is taken via one tablet three times a day. If no response is seen within two weeks, the dosage can be increased to 60mg – with four tablets being taken. It doesn’t upset the stomach, and therefore can be taken with or without food. You should stick to a set time to take each tablet, spacing the dosage out. It can take some time to find the correct dose. A typical treatment course of Phenelzine is twelve months, though a longer treatment course is common.


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Side Effects

With each box of Phenelzine, there will be an information leaflet enclosed. This will provide an exhaustive list of side effects. Side effects from Phenelzine should only last a few days, though can cause issues. It is natural to experience some side effects as your body gets used to the medication.


Common side effects of Phenelzine include drowsines, dizziness, low blood pressure, nausea, dry mouth, constipation, sexual dysfunction.


Serious side effects include suicidal thinking, seizures, chest pain and psychosis. An overdose should be avoided, as it can cause the potentially fatal Serotonin Syndrome, nervous system breakdown and cardiovascular problems. You should contact your doctor if any of these serious side effects take place.




You should always read the information leaflet that comes with your medication as it will include important information there. You should tell your doctor if you are taking any other medication. It is important that you don’t use the herbal remedy St. Johns wort. You shouldn’t take any other antidepressant with Phenelzine unless directed by your doctor. There are a huge amount of medications that you shouldn’t combine with MAOI’s. Just some of these include cough medicines, hay fever medications, painkillers, tryptophan’s, amphetamines and  diabetes medications. Always ask your doctor if you are unsure on combining medicines.


MAOI’s shouldn’t be combined with food and drinks including tyramine. Eating foods or drinks containing tyramine while using MAOI’s can lead to a severe rise in blood pressure. This can lead to severe illness, and can be fatal. Just some of the popular foods to avoid include cheese, liver, yoghurt, Marmite, Bovril, aged protein, pepperoni, salami and excessive chocolate. You shouldn’t drink alcohol, lager or wine. Don’t drink excessive tea or coffee.


Alcohol acts as a depressant, therefore it is recommended that anyone taking an antidepressant stays away from drinking alcohol. Combining Phenelzine with recreational drugs is also not recommended.


Phenelzine is not recommended in pregnancy or the breastfeeding stage. Antidepressants are generally considered unsafe to use in pregnancy.


Phenelzine is not normally prescribed to anyone under the age of 18. Instead, some form of psychotherapy is recommended. Younger people have been shown to be more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts when using antidepressants. In the case that an antidepressant needs to be prescribed, Fluoxetine will instead generally be prescribed.


Other MAOI’s: