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Is Xanax an MAOI?

author image Jaime Herndon
Jaime Herndon has been writing for health websites since 2009 and has guest-blogged on SheKnows. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and women's studies, she earned a Master of Science in clinical health psychology and a Master of Public Health in maternal-child health. Her interests include oncology, women's health and exercise science.
Is Xanax an MAOI?
Is Xanax an MAOI? Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Shutr

Xanax (generic name alprazolam) is a drug known as a benzodiazepine, which is used to treat anxiety. It is not an antidepressant, which is what an MAOI drug is.

MAOI Definition

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) were the first kinds of antidepressants developed, in the 1950s, according to the Mayo Clinic. These drugs work on the chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters: dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine.

MAOI Drugs

Drugs included in the MAOI class of antidepressants are phenelzine (brand name Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), isocarboxazid (Marplan) and selegiline (Emsam).

Benzodiazepines Definition

Benzodiazepines are drugs that help reduce anxiety and help people sleep. These drugs are sedatives and can also be used to control seizures.

Benzodiazepine Drugs

In addition to Xanax, other drugs that are considered benzodiazepines include diazepam (brand name Valium), lorazepam (Ativan) and triazolam (Halcion).

Side Effects of Xanax

Minor side effects of Xanax include drowsiness, irritability, nausea, constipation, forgetfulness, lack of interest in sex and blurred vision. Serious side effects include abnormal risk-taking behavior, thoughts of suicide, seizures, muscle tremor and hallucinations.


Benzodiazepines, including Xanax, can be habit-forming. You should not take Xanax if you have a history of addiction or drug abuse, and you should not take this medicine if it was not prescribed to you by your physician.

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