Antidepressants are widely prescribed, and alcohol is consumed regularly by people across the globe. It’s no wonder that people are curious about whether or not they can combine antidepressants and alcohol.
The answer to this question depends on a few things. This article explains which antidepressants can safely be used alongside a drinking habit. (Although one should remember that no drinking habit is truly safe.)
Can I Use Antidepressants and Alcohol?
The absolute simplest way to answer this question is to check your prescription bottle. If it warns against drinking alcohol, then you should avoid drinking alcohol.
However, things aren’t really as simple as that. There are many reasons that you might want to avoid drinking while you’re on antidepressants. While the combination might not necessarily be a medical threat, there are plenty of reasons you still may want to avoid it.
- Some antidepressants cause side effects. Alcohol can increase the side effects of certain antidepressants. You may find that drinking makes you extremely dizzy, uncoordinated, or sleepy while using antidepressants.
- Alcohol occasionally causes depression on its own. If it isn’t causing depression specifically, alcohol invariably alters your mood. While taking antidepressants, this may cause problems. Emotional instability could endanger you or your loved ones.
Specific Types of Antidepressants and Alcohol
The main thing to consider is the different effects of each antidepressant. There are many different types of antidepressants, and each one affects the body in its own way.
This means that certain antidepressants may be more or less dangerous to take while drinking.
The most common antidepressants are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). While drinking under the influence of SSRIs generally doesn’t cause any serious issues, most doctors will recommend against it.
Drinking may exacerbate certain side effects of SSRIs, such as drowsiness.
Tricyclic antidepressants tend to cause drowsiness and coordination problems during the early phases of treatment. During these initial stages, it is wise to avoid alcohol entirely.
Once your body adapts to the medication, it may be safe to consume small amounts of alcohol.
Mono-amino oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are another class of antidepressants. You should avoid drinking alcohol entirely if you are taking MAOIs.
This is because MAOIs interact with a compound that is often found in alcohol. Tyramine, present in beverages like wine and beer, seriously interacts with MAOIs. The interaction can dangerously spike blood pressure and lead to medical complications.
If you’re taking an antidepressant of a different class, then be sure to talk to your doctor prior to drinking. While most other antidepressants aren’t known to interact with alcohol, it’s still in your best interest to double-check. Drugs like Tramadol can certainly cause dangerous interactions.
Taking antidepressants and drinking alcohol can create hazards. The majority of antidepressants do not seriously interact with alcohol, but certain types – especially MAOIs – can cause serious problems.
If you’re unsure as to whether or not the antidepressants you’re taking will interact with alcohol, make sure to ask your doctor. When in doubt, avoid drinking, and never stop taking your antidepressants just so you can have a drink.