Oct 13th 2023
Selegiline is a medication approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder and Parkinson’s disease. It’s important to follow all precautions from your doctor or healthcare provider when taking this medication, as it can come with risks and side effects.
Selegiline is primarily used to treat Parkinson's disease and major depressive disorder. In the treatment of Parkinson's disease, selegiline is used in combination with other medications, primarily levodopa. Selegiline is unlikely to benefit patients with Parkinson's disease when taken without levodopa .
Selegiline belongs to a class of drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Medications in this class work by preventing the breakdown of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, so that larger quantities of these neurotransmitters are available in the nervous system .
When used in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, selegiline exerts its effects by preventing the breakdown of dopamine in the nervous system. When treating major depressive disorder, selegiline works by stopping the breakdown of not only dopamine, but also serotonin and norepinephrine .
Selegiline is taken in different ways, depending on the reason a person is taking the medication. To treat Parkinson's disease, selegiline is taken as either a capsule or a tablet that dissolves in the mouth. The oral selegiline capsule is taken twice daily, with one capsule at both breakfast and lunch. The disintegrating tablet is taken once a day in the morning before a person has eaten breakfast .
On the other hand, when selegiline is used for the treatment of major depressive disorder, it comes as a transdermal patch that is applied once daily to the skin. The patch remains in place for 24 hours, and a new patch is applied the next day. The patch should be applied at around the same time each day .
The most typical dose of tablet or capsule selegiline is 5 mg, taken twice daily. The oral disintegrating form of the medication is available in 1.25 mg tablets. When used as a transdermal patch, selegiline is available in 5 mg, 9 mg, and 12 mg patches. Patients typically begin at a daily dose of 6 mg, and doses can be increased by 3 mg every 24 hours if needed .
A drug’s half-life indicates how long the medication stays in the system. The average half-life of selegiline is 2 hours, meaning that half of the initial dose of the drug is eliminated from the system within this time. However, once a person is taking the medication regularly and reaches a steady state, the half-life increases to 10 hours .
As with any medication, selegiline can come with side effects, so it’s important to monitor yourself and keep in close contact with your doctor when taking it. Many adverse effects are mild and will go away with time.
If your doctor has prescribed selegiline, it is because they believe that the benefits will outweigh the risks. If side effects are severe or do not improve, talk with your doctor.
Side effects of selegiline can vary, based on whether a person is using the capsule form or the transdermal patch form.
The following side effects of oral selegiline capsules are considered mild and typically improve with time :
The following side effects of selegiline are rare but serious :
Contact your doctor immediately or seek medical attention if you experience severe side effects.
Mild side effects associated with selegiline patches, which vary from those of the capsule form of the medication, include :
The more serious side effects of the selegiline patch, which require immediate contact with your doctor, include :
When taking selegiline, there are certain precautions you must keep in mind. There are also some people who should not take this medication, because of health conditions or other risk factors.
Consider the following precautions :
Selegiline can lead to dangerous side effects when taken in combination with certain substances, so it’s important to tell your doctor about any and all medications and supplements you’re taking before the initiation of treatment. Substances that interact with selegiline can vary, depending upon whether you’re taking the oral or the transdermal version of the medication.
While this list is not exhaustive, the following substances can cause dangerous interaction effects when taken with oral selegiline :
While this list is not exhaustive, the following substances can cause dangerous interaction effects when taken with transdermal selegiline :
If you're taking a medication that could interact with selegiline, your doctor may prescribe a lower dose of selegiline, carefully monitor you for drug interaction effects, or simply prescribe a different medication that is safer for you to take.
Your medication should be kept out of reach of children in its original, tightly closed container to prevent a child or someone else from mistakenly accessing the medication. The medication should be stored at room temperature, and not in excessively hot or moist environments, such as the bathroom. Selegiline patches should be kept in their protective pouches, and you should not open a patch until you’re ready to use it  .
It is possible to overdose on selegiline. If someone you know has collapsed, has a seizure, is struggling to breathe, or cannot be awakened, contact 9-11 immediately .
Symptoms of overdose that suggest you may need medical care include :
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