Difference Between SSRIs and MAOIs

Depression is a kind of terrible disorder leading to stress, anxiety, and panic attacks. The medications which are used to treat and cure depression are called antidepressants.

Besides these, antidepressants also treat anxiety, disorders related to panic attacks, addictive causes, etc. SSRIs and MAOIs are antidepressant drugs.


The main difference between SSRIs and MAOIs is that SSRIs work at a safe level to treat depression disorders whereas MAOIs are extremely more powerful than SSRIs. The power and action of these antidepressants drugs are based upon their effects and actions in the nervous system of the body.


SSRIs stand for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. SSRIsares a more common and short name. They are the type of antidepressant drugs used for the treatment of depression.

They work by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a chemical that regulates mood and anxiety levels.

MAOIs stand for Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors. They are commonly known by the name MAOIs. MAOIs are also strong antidepressants that treat depression disorders.

MAOIs drugs work by raising the levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the brain. These chemicals also help in regulating mood and anxiety levels.

Comparison Table Between SSRIs and MAOIs

Parameters of ComparisonSSRIsMAOIs
DefinitionSSRIs work at safe levels and function normally as an antidepressant drugs.MAOIs work at extreme levels and function more aggressively to treat depression.
Chemicals triggeredSSRIs majorly trigger to regulate and increase the level of serotonin in the brain.MAOIs work to increase the levels of serotonin dopamine and norepinephrine chemicals in the brain.
PotencySSRIs are drugs that are safe and sound to use with normal potency.Antidepressants like MAOIs are more potent and aggressively stronger than SSRIs.
Side effectsSSRIs are safe and normal antidepressants. They have very few side effects on the body.MAOIs are harsh antidepressants. Their side effects on the body are more and the risk factor is also high.
DirectionsSSRI drugs are frequently and commonly directed by the doctor for normal treatment of depression.The MAOIs drugs are directed in harsh and serious cases. They are less prescribed.

What are SSRIs?

SSRIs are abbreviated as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. They are less potent drugs that are first preference for treatment of depression and work normally with very fewer effects on the body as other normal antidepressants do.

SSRIs drugs are those antidepressants that work by regulating serotonin levels to increase in the brain and more nerve cells to interact with one another.

More interaction of the nerve cells and increment in serotonin levels in the brain cause mood upliftment and reduced anxiety levels.

They have a complex behavioral pattern in the brain but to make it simple, we can say that they don’t work by cyclic reabsorption of the serotonin again and again by the nerve cells of the brain.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that carries messages and signals between brain and nerve cells. SSRIs block and inhibit the reabsorption of serotonin.

This reabsorption is known as reuptake and they prevent reabsorption. As time passes by, the patient becomes calm, and fresh nerve cells take control over the emotions.

However, the drug has side effects too but they are very fewer and regulated at safe levels. Some drugs approved by FDA from the SSRIs class are citalopram, sertraline, fluoxetine, etc.

What are MAOIs?

MAOIs are abbreviated as Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors. MAOI drugs are among one of the first antidepressants developed that work ahead of the normal boundaries for antidepressant drugs.

They are prescribed less and only when the situation is critical and harsh.

This clear behavior shows that MAOIs drugs are harsh and aggressive antidepressants. They are also used for a variety of purposes like treatment of depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.

MAOIs antidepressants are more potent and aggressive than other antidepressants. Besides serotonin levels, they also work by increasing the dopamine and norepinephrine chemicals in the brain.

The working mechanism of MAOI drugs is more complex and sophisticated than SSRIs.

MAOIs work by inhibiting or blocking an enzyme called monoamine oxidase because monoamine oxidase causes the reduction of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

These chemicals are the necessities for mood upliftment and lowering anxiety levels.

These harsh antidepressants have very complex brain chemistry for increasing neurotransmitters. Besides depression and unlike SSRIs, MAOIs also treat Parkinson’s disease.

Moreover, the harsh properties of this antidepressant also lead to various side effects in the body. MAOIs are used only when the case is serious. MAOIs class includes drugs like selegiline, phenelzine, rasagiline, etc.

Main Differences Between SSRIs and MAOIs 

  1. SSRIs are those antidepressants that are used as frontline protection and treatment against depression disorders whereas MAOIs drugs are harsh and aggressive antidepressants and are used in cases when SSRIs and other drugs fail to treat depression disorders.
  2. SSRIs have very few or almost no dietary restrictions whereas MAOIs drugs have specific restrictions and boundations in the diet. 
  3. The SSRIs take time of effect from four to six weeks whereas MAOIs drugs take about two to three weeks to become effective.
  4. SSRIs antidepressants treat depression disorders like anxiety, restlessness, etc whereas MAOIs drugs treat depression disorders and also Parkinson’s disease.
  5. SSRIs have no relation with blood pressure whereas MAOIs can increase blood pressure if dietary restrictions are lacking.


Depression has become a very terrible disorder that has life-taking consequences. According to reports and data, depression has most of the time become suicidal. It should never be taken lightly.

Thus, it becomes very important to take antidepressant drugs. On the doctor’s prescription, SSRI drugs are the frontline fighters to cure depression. However, some adverse body conditions and critical situations demand MAOIs drugs.

They have their dosage, medicational name, and prescription as directed by the doctor. SSRIs must be the first prescription and MAOIs should be kept at last. The will of the heart and the peace of mind is what make a patient recover faster.

Thus, these antidepressants become important.


  1. https://www.psychiatrist.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/12682_dont-succeed-sequential-strategies-antidepressant.pdf
  2. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD000561/abstract
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