What Happens When SSRIs and Alcohol Mix?
Facts about this dangerous combination
If you’re considering mixing SSRIs (antidepressants) and alcohol, think twice. Combining alcohol and SSRIs can lead to a number of troublesome side effects, including the worsening of your depression and other symptoms. Here are seven of the most likely things that will happen if you mix SSRIs with alcohol:
1. Increased Depression
Combing alcohol with antidepressants can actually have the effect of making you more depressed. While alcohol can improve mood short term, the overall effect ultimately increases the condition of depression and its symptoms. Alcohol can have a neutralizing effect on the helpful compounds within antidepressant medications, causing your symptoms to become exacerbated and harder to treat.
Whether anxiety was already a symptom for you or not, combining SSRIs with alcohol can lead to increased anxiety in addition to worsened depression. Again, while drinking alcohol might make you feel better in the short term, there is a price to pay with other symptoms, including higher anxiety.
3. Increased Medication Side Effects
Another unforeseen development can be increased SSRI side effects. Many medications lead to known issues when they are taken with alcohol, including antidepressants as well as anti-anxiety medications, prescription pain medications and sleep medications. Existing side effects can worsen when an SSRI is in your system and you drink alcohol, and if you had no side effects, you could develop them.
4. Impaired Alertness
Combining SSRIs with alcohol can also cause you to feel sedated, drowsy and downright sleepy. Both antidepressants and alcohol can cause these symptoms on their own, and when taken together, this effect is often intensified.
5. Impaired Judgment and Motor Skills
Your ability to think clearly and stay alert may also be impaired by mixing SSRIs with alcohol. The combination tends to affect judgment, coordination and reaction time even more than just drinking alcohol. Your ability to drive or do basic tasks requiring attention, focus and dexterity can all be affected adversely.
6. MAOIs and Blood Pressure
MAOI stands for monoamine oxidase inhibitors. This type of antidepressant can lead to a dangerous reaction when combined with alcohol as well as certain kinds of foods. A spike in blood pressure can result, which can lead to unforeseen health problems. If taking an MAOI type of antidepressant, check with your provider about what is safe to eat and drink. Some alcoholic beverages can be more harmful than others when taking this drug.
7. Sleep Disruption
People who have issues with both depression and alcohol abuse may have insomnia or other sleep issues. Taking both can exacerbate these effects and lead to disrupted sleep patterns. Drinking alcohol to get to sleep may work initially, but you’ll be more prone to waking up throughout the night.
The Dangers of Stopping and Starting SSRIs
The fear of these seven side effects can cause some persons to consider not taking their antidepressant medication so that they can drink. Never stop taking an antidepressant or any other medication you’ve been prescribed for this or any other reason. You were prescribed it for a reason, and most antidepressants require a regular dosage on a daily basis so that you can maintain a consistent level of the medication in your system. Some take up to two weeks to get to the level required to have relief
Stopping and starting can impair the SSRI’s ability to work as intended, and ultimately cause your depression to become worse. As a general rule, it’s best not to drink any alcohol when depressed, but you should definitely check with your doctor with any questions about this matter.
Depression and Addiction
Persons who are depressed tend to be at a higher risk of abusing alcohol as well as other substances. Left unchecked or untreated, substance abuse can lead to addiction. Persons who have a hard time controlling their alcohol consumption may require treatment for their issues with addiction in addition to treatment for their depression.