Can You Drink Alcohol While on Antidepressants?

The Effects of drinking while taking medication 
Mixing antidepressants and alcohol can have harmful effects on the central nervous system and exacerbate side effects of both substances. If you or a loved one are suffering with addiction to either or both of these, our alcohol rehab in Thailand is perfectly suited to help. 
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Antidepressants are psychotropic medications that help treat clinical depression, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, and panic disorder.

Many people mistakenly operate with the fact that alcohol is also a mild antidepressant as it can elevate one's mood, cheer us up, relax us, and boost a person's activity. 

For a short time, yes. But what happens after longer term use?

Though some types of antidepressants are considered relatively safe when mixed with small amounts of alcohol, most come with risks - alcohol and psychotropic medications are usually not a great mix . 

There are plenty of reasons for this, let’s get into them.

Antidepressants can exacerbate the effects of alcohol, while alcohol can exacerbate the side effects of antidepressants. 

Under certain circumstances, alcohol consumption may trigger or worsen symptoms of depression in people at risk, leading them to need a higher level of care such as attending an alcohol rehab program to address the problem completely. 

Let's find out whether or not it's always detrimental to mix antidepressants and alcohol and why it's best to avoid drinking alcohol while on antidepressants.
Key Takeaways
Mixing antidepressants and alcohol can worsen side effects, increase symptoms of depression and anxiety, affect thinking abilities, coordination, and alertness, and can lead to substance use disorder or even fatal consequences.
Mixing alcohol with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) is especially dangerous and can lead to severe spikes in blood pressure that may cause a cerebral hemorrhage or stroke.
Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) can affect coordination and make a person drowsy, but small amounts of alcohol may be safe after a few weeks of starting the medication.

Alcohol and Antidepressants: What Happens If You Mix Them?

Many manufacturers advise against drinking alcohol while taking prescription drugs as there can be a wide range of effects experienced by the individual.

When mixed with antidepressant medications, alcohol may increase side effects on the central nervous system (CNS), such as:
Difficulties concentrating.
Antidepressants come in several different types. Each one affects crucial neurotransmitters and neural processes in treating depression in its own way.

To understand the effects of mixing alcohol and antidepressants, we need to analyze each type.

Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOIs) 

If you are prescribed a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), avoid drinking alcohol at any cost. 

This is a very dangerous mixture.

This relatively old class of antidepressants is notorious for their potential adverse effects and interaction risks. 

Therefore, these antidepressants are commonly prescribed if newer medications aren't fully effective at treating the symptoms of depression.

MAOIs, which interact with chemicals called tyramines, can mix especially dangerously with alcohol such as beer, red wine, vermouth, and sherry. 

When combined with antidepressants, tyramine can trigger a severe spike in blood pressure, affecting your overall health and it might cause a cerebral hemorrhage, or even a stroke.

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs)

Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs), such as imipramine, amitriptyline, and doxepin, may affect your coordination and make you drowsy, especially during the first few weeks since the beginning of taking the medicine. 

TCAs are generally considered safe to take while drinking small amounts of alcohol, and some physicians allow moderate drinking for their patients, but not soon after starting on TCA medications. 

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are one of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, known as a first-line treatment for symptoms such as:
Mood Disorders.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder(OCD).
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
They work by increasing serotonin levels in your body, preventing reabsorption (or reuptake) after communicating to a cell receptor.

SSRIs don’t usually cause severe adverse interactions if someone consumes alcohol while taking them. However, this type of antidepressants can make patients drowsy, and alcohol can intensify this effect.

What About Other Antidepressants?

Other types of antidepressant drugs, including noradrenaline and specific serotonergic antidepressants (NASSAs), serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and serotonin antagonists and reuptake inhibitors (SARIs), are considered relatively safe when mixed with small amounts of alcohol.

Still, the mixture will likely make a person feel drowsy, dizzy, and less alert. 

Moreover, consuming more than the current US dietary guidelines for alcohol recommend, which is one drink or less per day for women, and two drinks or less per day for men may prevent you from reducing your depression or anxiety symptoms.

What are the Risks of Mixing Antidepressants and Alcohol?

Even though you may be sure the antidepressant medications you take are not dangerous when combined with alcohol, no one can accurately predict the reactions and side effects. Here is the list of them.

You May Experience Worse Side Effects

Drinking alcohol while taking antidepressants increases the risk of enhancing and worsening some of the negative side effects, including:

Some of the adverse effects may be dangerous and harmful to your health. 

Another risk is that as side effects worsen, you may be tempted to quit taking antidepressants, which can result in a relapse of symptoms.
Sexual Dysfunction.
Muscle Aches.
Weight Gain.

May Cause Symptoms of Depression

As has already been mentioned, it's a common misconception to consider alcohol an antidepressant, and while it can make you feel good in the moment, its overall effect increases depression symptoms as well as anxiety. 
For those suffering with alcohol use disorder frequently counteracts the benefits of antidepressant medication, making depression worse and the symptoms harder to treat. Also, it may lead to an increase in suicidal thoughts and actions.

Worsens Thinking Abilities, Coordination, and Alertness 

It's generally known that alcohol affects coordination, thinking, reaction, and alertness. 

When combining alcohol with antidepressants, you risk increasing these effects to a greater extent than when you consume alcohol alone. 

It becomes more difficult to perform tasks that require attention, concentration, and precision.

Also, the chances of having an accident or putting the people around you at risk increase.

You May Develop a Substance Use Disorder

Some people suffering from depression have a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder. 

According to Dr. Richard A. Friedman, a professor of clinical psychiatry and director of the psychopharmacology clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York, the risk of alcohol abuse is double compared to people without depression. 

It will be more challenging to manage depressive symptoms, lower the frequency of episodes, and stop or minimize drinking when getting addicted to it. 

If you suffer from both depression and an alcohol use disorder, you would usually require more frequent and extensive treatment.

May be Fatal

At worst, this combination can cause death. Drinking alcohol in excess can cause some people to develop serotonin syndrome.

If you combine antidepressants (the effect of which is producing more serotonin in the brain) with alcohol, the result is too much serotonin. This can cause the already mentioned serotonin syndrome.

The most serious symptoms of this syndrome are:
High fever.
Epileptic seizures.
Irregular heartbeat.

Is Drinking Alcohol While on Antidepressants a Sign of Alcoholism?

Drinking alcohol can turn into a serious problem, which, as has already been mentioned, may turn into alcohol dependence in people suffering from depression at a doubled risk.

The problem is even more serious when the condition isn’t treated. In this case, some people stick to mixing various medications to get “high” or escape emotional despair.

If someone receives medical treatment while drinking despite the possible dangers, they need professional help for alcohol abuse disorder. Those people are also at high risk of self-harm or even committing suicide.

Here is where the best rehab center in Thailand, Miracles Asia, can help. If you or one of your loved ones suffer from alcohol abuse while on antidepressants, starting treatment as soon as possible is vital.

Our team of exceptional professionals, top-drawer rehab services, and a luxurious five-star hotel type experience in a secluded area on the stunning island of Phuket will change your life forever.

What are the Risks of Skipping a Dose of Antidepressants to Drink Alcohol?

Skipping doses of antidepressants is never a good idea. The majority of antidepressants only work when taken consistently.

Though skipping a single dose may not bring serious effects, it could temporarily make your symptoms of depression return and result in a longer-term relapse.

Sudden withdrawal from antidepressant medications can induce severe physical side effects, and in the worst-case scenario, it can cause seizures.

The common withdrawal or antidepressant discontinuation syndrome symptoms include headache, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, vertigo, anxiety, dizziness, sweating, lethargy, aggression, agitation, and sensory disturbances.

The withdrawal consequences may be even more severe if combined with the effects of alcohol.

You Can Break Free from Dependance on Drugs

Whether you are dealing with alcohol abuse, mental issues, or both, Miracles Asia is ready to help you change your life once and for all!

Our rehab center in Thailand is a real Eden that offers guests a personalized alcohol addiction treatment program that includes:
Psychoeducation sessions.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
Regular Yoga classes.
One-on-One therapy sessions.
Group recovery sessions.
Thai massage.
Regular Exercise at world class facilities.
Outings to beautiful places around Phuket.
Also during your stay at Miracles Asia, you will have round-the-clock support from the team of highly skilled and experienced therapists & support staff, all from western countries and backgrounds, along with our friendly and welcoming hospitality team.

With our holistic approach to your treatment, you will get rid of all triggers and start living a new, happy-than-ever life. 

Contact us today, book your stay, and prepare for the life-changing journey leading you to your new, happy era.

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