The Bottom Line

  • Nardil is an antidepressant used for depression and anxiety treatment.
  • FDA approved for depression.
  • Available in tablets.
  • Requires a certain diet.

What is Nardil?

Nardil (Phenelzine) is a monoamine oxidize inhibitor (MAOI) antidepressant. It is prescribed to treat most forms of depression, except for bipolar depression. A doctor may occasionally turn to its off-label use for anxiety, panic disorder, fear, or mood swings management. Nardil is most often used when a patient has not responded to previous treatments or has experienced side effects.

Nardils mechanism of action is linked to increasing the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin, and dopamine which both then contribute to relief of anxiety and depression symptoms.

This medication comes in tablets of 15mg strength. 

Can Nardil be taken for Anxiety? 

Nardil can sometimes be prescribed off-label for anxiety manifested as a stand-alone health condition or an accompanying symptom of depression. Anxiety caused by everyday stress is not an indication for Nardil. Also, it is not recommended as the first-line medication for the treatment. It may be used as an alternative, substitute for other medications, or in combination.

Is Nardil FDA approved for anxiety?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Nardil to treat depression in adults. It is not approved for treatment of anxiety. The FDA has issued a black box warning for Nardil as it has the potentiality to elevate suicidal thinking in adults. Prescription and caution are required.  

What research supports Nardil for anxiety?

Nardil (Phenelzine) has been studied for anti-anxiety effects:

  • Phenelzine was studied in combination with Cognitive-Behavioral Group Therapy (GBGT) on safety and efficacy in social anxiety treatment. 128 subjects with symptoms of a social anxiety disorder (SAD) were subjected to trials for 24 weeks. The results demonstrated that Phenelzine and GBGT were more effective when prescribed together rather than stand-alone treatments.
  • Phenelzine was studied against Atenolol and placebo in the treatment of SAD patients. Subjects were administered with Phenelzine 76 mg and Atenolol 98 mg daily for 7 months. Subjects treated with Phenelzine experienced fewer side effects but required following certain dietary restrictions. Phenelzine improved anxiety scores.
  • Phenelzine was studied against Imipramine in managing anxiety scores. The results showed that their combination was successful in treatment-resistant and severely ill patients with anxiety and panic disorder. 

What are the possible side effects?

Nardil is believed to cause mild to moderate side effects which can be avoided or prevented by adjusting the right dosage in adults, or by making dietary changes (discussed in the next section).

Commonly reported side effects include:

  • dizziness;
  • drowsiness;
  • headache;
  • nausea;
  • vomiting;
  • dry mouth;
  • weight gain;
  • sexual dysfunction.

Stopping Nardil use abruptly may cause withdrawal side effects:

  • dizziness;
  • insomnia;
  • nausea.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns about its potentiality to increase suicidal thinking in adults. Periodical assessment of Nardil’s usefulness is required.

Nardil can impair alertness or cause drowsiness while driving or operating heavy machinery. Do not drive or operate until you know how this medication affects your reaction. Its administration in the long-term treatment may rarely lead to abuse or addiction. Doctor’s supervision of treatment is required.

Does Nardil have interactions with other medications? 

Nardil may interact with certain medications and cause issues. Do not combine Nardil with serotoninergic agents such as Fluoxetine, Paroxetine, as serious and fatal events have been reported.

The following medication may interact negatively with Nardil:

  • Antidepressants;
  • Appetite suppressants;
  • Medication for blood pressure;
  • Migraine medications;
  • Other MAOIs;
  • Parkinson’s medications;
  • Cold medications with dextromethorphan.

Nardil is an MAOI medication which requires a dietary regimen excluding certain food and beverages.

Avoid eating and drinking:

  • liver;
  • herring;
  • wine and beer;
  • dry sausages such as salami;
  • beans;
  • cheese (except for cottage and cream cheese);
  • yogurt.

After discontinuing the treatment with Nardil, you have to abstain from the mentioned foods for at least two weeks.

Always speak to your doctor about possible interactions.

Can you take Nardil while pregnant or breastfeeding?

There is no evidence about Nardil’s harmful effect in pregnant women, however, in animal studies, the maximal doses prescribed to humans have been found to retard the growth of rats and dogs. Speak to your doctor about taking Nardil when pregnant or if you plan to become pregnant.

It is not known if Nardil can excrete into breast milk.

Can children take Nardil for anxiety? 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve Nardil for children. Doctors may rarely prescribe it if benefits outweigh the risk or if other medications have shown no response.

How to take Nardil?

The dosages may differ for each health condition Nardil is prescribed for. Speak to your doctor about the treatment plan suitable for your particular case. 

The treatment dosages are classified per the early and maintenance phases.

The initial dosage is 15 mg 3 times per day.

  • Early phase. 15 up to 90 mg per day until a patient shows tolerance. It may take up to 4 weeks to feel the effect of treatment. 
  • Maintenance phase. 15 mg per day. A doctor will gradually decrease the number of intakes until there is no risk of withdrawal syndrome.

If you skip a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Do not exceed the dose. Overdose events with Nardil have been reported. If you believe you have overdosed, seek emergency help immediately.

Are there alternatives to Nardil? 

Prescription medications as Alternatives to Nardil for Anxiety

Nardil is an antidepressant that responds to long-term treatment. It requires a certain meal plan and may be contraindicated for use if you already take certain medications it can interact with. Speak to your doctor to get to know about other prescription medications for anxiety. Some of them are:

  • Klonopin
  • Valium
  • Lexapro
  • Prozac
  • Buspirone
  • Xanax
  • Inderal
  • Cymbalta
  • Tofranil
  • Hydroxyzine
  • Zoloft

There are various alternatives. If you’d like to learn more about whether Nardil, another medication or treatment modality is right for you, we recommend that you speak with a licensed psychiatrist. Here are the best online psychiatry platforms so you can speak with someone right away!

Therapy as an Alternative to Nardil

Learn more about different therapy options for anxiety here

Energy & Holistic Modalities as an Alternative to Nardil

Learn more about different energy & holistics modalities for anxiety here

Tech & Devices as Alternative Treatments to Nardil

Learn more about tech & devices for anxiety here

Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.