How SSRIs and MAO Inhibitors Work Animation

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs) are a class of compounds typically used as antidepressants in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, and some personality disorders. They are also typically effective and used in treating premature ejaculation problems as well as some cases of insomnia.

SSRIs increase the extracellular level of the neurotransmitter serotonin by inhibiting its reuptake into the presynaptic cell, increasing the level of serotonin available to bind to the postsynaptic receptor. They have varying degrees of selectivity for the other monoamine transporters, with pure SSRIs having only weak affinity for the noradrenaline and dopamine transporter.

Mode of action
SSRIs are believed to act by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin after being released in synapses. How much an individual will respond to this, however, also depends on genetics. In addition, several other mechanisms are suggested for the desired effect, e.g. neuroprotection and anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory factors. Taken together, SSRI has several advantages compared with tricyclic antidepressants (TCA)s and 5-HT-prodrugs. However, the latter might be required in addition to SSRIs in certain situations.
Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are a class of powerful antidepressant drugs prescribed for the treatment of depression. They are particularly effective in treating atypical depression, and have also shown efficacy in smoking cessation.

Due to potentially lethal dietary and drug interactions, MAOIs had been reserved as a last line of defense, used only when other classes of antidepressant drugs (for example selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants) have failed. Recently, however, a patch form of the drug selegiline, called Emsam, was developed. It was approved for use by the FDA on February 28, 2006. When applied transdermally the drug does not enter the gastro-intestinal system as it does when taken orally, thereby decreasing the dangers of dietary interactions associated with MAOI pills.

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