Drinking alcohol can be a social experience, a way to relax, or a form of cultural engagement. It can also lead to unhealthy dependencies and addiction that can negatively impact your life. And it’s sometimes known to interact with medications in ways you might not expect. This can be the case with mixing alcohol and antidepressants.
Is it okay to drink alcohol while you’re taking antidepressants? The short answer is: it’s not generally recommended. And it can actually make your symptoms worse. Here’s why.
Some types of antidepressants called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) can mix dangerously with certain types of alcohol. The combination can cause a spike in blood pressure that can affect your overall health. It might even lead to a stroke.
The antidepressants interact with chemicals called tyramines, found in some beers and foods. If you’re taking this type of antidepressant, it’s especially important to talk to your healthcare provider. Be sure you work out together what is safe to eat and drink.
Even though drinking can sometimes boost your mood in the short term, it won’t help for the long term. It might actually increase symptoms of anxiety and depression. And when alcohol interacts with your medication and makes your symptoms worse, your depression becomes harder to treat. Since alcohol is a depressant, lowering your brain’s activity, it works against your antidepressant. That interaction can sometimes take away any benefit your antidepressant brought you.
A common side effect of many antidepressants is drowsiness. And the same goes for alcohol. Mix the two, and it can be even worse. That can make managing your depression even harder. And basic life tasks can become impossible. This might include working, driving or operating other machinery.
Combining alcohol and antidepressants can also impact your cognitive function. It might affect your judgment, reaction time and motor function, even more than alcohol would just by itself. That can be dangerous, especially if it affects you in ways you aren’t used to or don’t expect. You could fall and hurt yourself, or get into a car accident, especially if you’re impacted more than you usually would be by a drink.
If you’re taking medications besides antidepressants, adding in alcohol can worsen side effects from both. That might be increased fatigue, dizziness, feelings of depression, or risk of seizures.
As your liver works hard to process both the alcohol and antidepressants, the overload can take a toll. Combining the two might lead to liver damage, or even liver failure, over time. This is especially a risk with certain types of antidepressants like Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs).
Don’t be left wondering about how your medication will interact with your life. Discuss your concerns with your provider or clinical pharmacist. At CHP clinics, they’re here to provide more comprehensive, transparent care. Make an appointment to get all the information you need to lead your healthiest life.