Depression is a mood disorder that is most effectively treated with a combination of therapy and medication. Antidepressants help manage symptoms, but they have risks and side effects. Consuming alcohol while taking these medications can result in severe side effects, addiction, and even death. Alcohol use is never advised when taking antidepressants. If you are having trouble quitting drinking, you should seek professional help.
What are Antidepressants?
Antidepressants are used for the treatment of a variety of mental health disorders. The most common mental health conditions treated by antidepressants are:
- Major depression, bipolar disorder, and other mood disorders
- Anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and phobias
- Personality disorders
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia
- Eating disorders
Antidepressants change the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain to cause an improved effect on depressed mood and symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, and suicide ideation. Antidepressants target neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), and norepinephrine.
Many manufacturers advise avoiding or restricting alcohol use while taking antidepressants. Alcohol with antidepressants may potentially increase central nervous system (CNS) side effects, such as:
- Difficulty concentrating
Types of Antidepressants
There are several types of antidepressants, including:
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
- Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
- Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs)
- Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
- Tetracyclic antidepressants
- Phenylpiperazine antidepressants
- Miscellaneous antidepressants
Reasons Not to Mix Alcohol with Antidepressants
Antidepressants can help you manage your depression. If you can find a medication that reduces your depressive symptoms and helps you restore your enjoyment of life, it is fantastic. However, this should not give you a false feeling of security. Do not think that you can drink safely because your depression is under control. There are several risks with drinking and taking antidepressants, and they can have life-altering consequences.
Here are seven reasons why antidepressants and alcohol should not be mixed:
Drinking is Not a Healthy for Management of Depression Symptoms
One important thing to understand about alcohol and depression is that drinking can worsen symptoms and increase the frequency and intensity of depressive moods. Alcohol can cause a relapse when depression is generally under control. Whether you take antidepressants, alcohol use is a bad coping method that causes more harm.
The majority of people use drugs or alcohol as a coping mechanism for unpleasant feelings, bad moods, stress, and painful experiences. This is harmful not only because drinking in this manner can develop into addiction, but also because it does not address the underlying causes of those challenging emotions. Only professional medical treatment and healthy coping methods can help you process your thoughts and moods and effectively manage depression over the long term.
Risk of Developing Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Become High
As someone with depression, you are at a greater risk of developing a substance use disorder (SUD). According to experts, the risk is twofold compared to those who do not experience depression. This indicates that you may be able to drink without developing an addiction, but the risk of developing an addiction is significant.
It is common for mental illnesses, such as depression, to co-occur with alcohol or drug use disorders. Although they can be treated, managing a dual diagnosis is far more challenging. If you drink and develop an addiction, it will be more challenging to manage symptoms of depression, lessen the frequency of episodes, and quit or drink in moderation. If you suffer from both depression and an alcohol use disorder, you may need more frequent and long-term treatment.
Risk of Experiencing More and Severe Side Effects
There are several types of antidepressant drugs. All have the potential to cause adverse effects, some of which are quite unpleasant or even severe, and can get worsened by drinking. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most common class of antidepressants. Although they have fewer negative effects than other antidepressants, SSRIs may cause the following:
- Muscle aches and joint pain
- Sexual dysfunction
- Weight gain
- Nausea, diarrhea
- A reduced ability to clot blood
Certain other drugs have negative interactions with SSRIs, worsening the side effects. Adding alcohol to this mixture may increase the severity and number of negative effects you experience. As side effects intensify, you may be tempted to quit taking the antidepressant, which might result in a relapse of symptoms.
The Combination Alters Thinking and Judgment
Combining alcohol with antidepressants impairs judgment and thinking, which can be dangerous. Drunkenness is a state that leads to poor judgment, poor decision-making, and even self-destructive behaviors.
When alcohol is mixed with antidepressants, these effects get amplified. In other words, you can become intoxicated more quickly and with less alcohol than normal. If poor decisions are made while mixing these two substances, the effects might be dangerous.
Drinking on Antidepressants Increases Drowsiness
Drowsiness is another byproduct of heavy drinking. This is also heightened when antidepressants are combined with alcohol. The sedative impact of these substances slows the central nervous system. They lead to sleepiness and drowsiness and cause poor coordination. Both substances’ concentrated effects might result in accidents and injury.
MAOIs and Alcohol Lead to Dangerously High Blood Pressure
MAOIs, or monoamine oxidase inhibitors, are not commonly used antidepressants. They may cause significant adverse effects and even lethal interactions with certain foods and drugs. You are unlikely to be prescribed an MAOI Unless other antidepressants and therapies have failed, and your doctor believes the benefits exceed the risks.
If you are on an MAOI, consuming alcohol is extremely dangerous. MAOIs raise the concentration of the amino acid tyramine in the body. An excess of tyramine can result in severe blood pressure increases. Any drink or food that also elevates tyramine worsens this condition, which can be deadly. Among these are alcoholic beverages. Alcohol should never be consumed while taking an MAOI.
It Can Be Fatal
This is the most important reason to avoid alcohol consumption while taking antidepressants. High blood pressure caused by drinking while taking MAOIs has the potential to be lethal. Increased adverse effects or intensified impairment can result in fatal health complications or alcohol poisoning. Alcohol may also increase suicidal thoughts.
Depression already increases the risk of suicidal behavior. Alcohol exacerbates depressive symptoms, hence increasing the likelihood of suicidal thoughts and suicidal behaviors. This is a potentially deadly combination. Consuming alcohol when depressed is not worth that risk.
Moderate Drinking and Antidepressants
If you love drinking alcohol in moderation and wish to continue doing so while taking antidepressants, it is critical to speak to your doctor first.
If there is a low risk of alcohol abuse, some healthcare practitioners let their patients consume a limited amount of alcohol while taking antidepressants. This normally equates to one drink each day (for example, one glass of wine or a 12-ounce serving of beer).
If you are prescribed an antidepressant for depression or anxiety, your doctor may advise you to abstain from alcohol for several weeks.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can I drink alcohol while on an antidepressant?
Combining antidepressants and alcohol is not recommended. It may worsen your depression symptoms, and it can be dangerous. If you combine antidepressants with alcohol, you may feel more anxious and depressed.
Which antidepressants are OK with alcohol?
There are no antidepressants that may be used with alcohol without risk. According to some providers, certain antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac), and escitalopram (Lexapro), may be compatible with mild to moderate alcohol use.
How much alcohol can you take with antidepressants?
Because many patients are unwilling to entirely abstain from alcohol, it is important to combine alcohol and antidepressants in the safest manner possible. Some physicians approve of moderate drinking for their patients. This equates to one alcoholic drink per day for women and two for men.
Get Over Addiction Problem with The Recovery Team
If you or your family member is battling thoughts of suicide, anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, don’t worry, help is available at the Recovery Team.
At the Recovery Team, the treatment includes an integrated medical approach to simultaneously address both depression and alcohol use disorder. We offer constant support and monitoring at each level of care, including residential treatment, partial hospitalization programs (PHP), intensive outpatient programs, outpatient programs, and transitional living.
Our treatment programs to treat co-occurring AUD and depression include:
- Medical detox
- Dual diagnosis
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
- Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
- Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR)
- Individual therapy
- Group Therapy
- Yoga therapy
- Relapse prevention therapy
Contact us at (800) 817-1247 today to get additional information on the alcohol and drug addiction treatment programs.