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This article is a clinical guide which discusses the “state-of-the-art” usage of the classic monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) antidepressants (phenelzine, tranylcypromine, and isocarboxazid) in modern psychiatric practice. The guide is for all clinicians, including those who may not be experienced MAOI prescribers. It discusses indications, drug-drug interactions, side-effect management, and the safety of various augmentation strategies. There is a clear and broad consensus (more than 70 international expert endorsers), based on 6 decades of experience, for the recommendations herein exposited. They are based on empirical evidence and expert opinion—this guide is presented as a new specialist-consensus standard. The guide provides practical clinical advice, and is the basis for the rational use of these drugs, particularly because it improves and updates knowledge, and corrects the various misconceptions that have hitherto been prominent in the literature, partly due to insufficient knowledge of pharmacology. The guide suggests that MAOIs should always be considered in cases of treatment-resistant depression (including those melancholic in nature), and prior to electroconvulsive therapy—while taking into account of patient preference. In selected cases, they may be considered earlier in the treatment algorithm than has previously been customary, and should not be regarded as drugs of last resort; they may prove decisively effective when many other treatments have failed. The guide clarifies key points on the concomitant use of incorrectly proscribed drugs such as methylphenidate and some tricyclic antidepressants. It also illustrates the straightforward “bridging” methods that may be used to transition simply and safely from other antidepressants to MAOIs.
Recent reviews have questioned whether the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) desvenlafaxine succinate offers any practical clinical advantages over existing SNRIs. The following case is one instance where it appears that this SNRI offers unique safety and benefit. Presented is a case report of a patient with Gilbert's syndrome, longstanding social phobia, and more recent depressive disorder not otherwise specified, who was found to have elevated liver transaminases when prescribed both duloxetine and venlafaxine. The patient subsequently responded to desvenlafaxine but without liver abnormalities. In this patient with Gilbert's Syndrome, desvenlafaxine's lack of metabolism through the cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2D6 pathway may explain the avoidance of these abnormalities and thus suggests a possible therapeutic role for this SNRI in similarly susceptible patients.
As with members of other cultural and religious groups, patients within the Orthodox Jewish community present with their own distinct clinical psychiatric issues related to their unique beliefs and practices. This article reviews the existing literature and anecdotal experience on the psychopharmacologic assessment and treatment of Orthodox Jewish patients. Specific aspects examined include this group's perceived intense stigma in receiving treatment, the priority this community places on cognitive functioning, and how the influence of Jewish laws on marriage and sexual practices impacts one's treatment decisions. The relevance of Jewish dietary laws, the Sabbath, and the community's interest in alternative treatments are also discussed. The limited ethno-psychopharmacology research related to Orthodox Jewish psychiatric patients is reviewed. We conclude that understanding issues such as these is critical if one is going to work within this cultural system in order to successfully address their mental health issues. However, the dearth of controlled research in this community needs to be addressed to provide more effective treatment.
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