If you take antidepressants to treat your depression, you may notice a warning on the medication to avoid or limit alcohol consumption. It’s important that you take this warning seriously and stay away from alcohol. Even if your particular medication does not have a specific interaction with alcohol, drinking while being treated for depression is never a good idea.
Alcohol and Depression
Whether you take antidepressants or not, if you struggle with depression you should avoid drinking alcohol. It’s not unusual for people to turn to alcohol as a way to self-medicate depression, and in fact, people with depression are at an elevated risk for having an alcohol use disorder. In the short term, drinking can distract you from your feelings and make it seem as if your symptoms are lessened. However, in the long run, alcohol only worsens depression. Alcohol is also dangerous for someone struggling with depression because it lowers inhibitions. This includes any hesitation in terms of suicidal thoughts.
Alcohol and Antidepressants
If you are being treated for depression and take antidepressants, you might feel as if you can drink because you have your condition under control. There are important reasons why you should still avoid alcohol, though. One is that there could be a dangerous interaction between your medication and alcohol. If you take a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, or MAOI, drinking can cause a dangerous spike in your blood pressure because of an interaction with tyramine, a substance found in many alcoholic beverages. MAOIs used to treat depression include Marplan, Nardil, Emsam and Parnate.
Other types of antidepressants cause less serious effects when mixed with alcohol, but are still problematic if you drink. Some antidepressants become less effective when combined with alcohol. By drinking, you could be counteracting your treatment and putting yourself at risk of having a relapse of symptoms. It’s not worth wasting the hard work you’ve put in just to have a couple of drinks.
Another issue with mixing antidepressants and alcohol is an increase in certain side effects. Alcohol impairs your coordination, reaction time and judgment. These effects are intensified when you drink and use antidepressants. The combination will also make you feel sleepier and drowsier than you would if you were only drinking. This intensified effect can be dangerous because it may cause you to have an accident.
Finally, there are certain medications that, when taken along with antidepressants and alcohol, can cause side effects to worsen. The unique combination of all three reinforces the side effects that you may experience from any one of them. These medications include certain drugs used to treat anxiety, sleep disorders and pain.
If you aren’t sure whether your particular antidepressant interacts badly with alcohol, don’t risk it. It’s not worth the possible side effects and harmful interactions. You can also talk to your doctor or pharmacist about your medications and find out what the warnings and indications are. But, whatever you do, don’t stop taking your antidepressant so you can drink. Most antidepressants work by building up a steady concentration of the drug in your body. If you disrupt this, your medication won’t work as it should. Even worse, some antidepressants can cause serious and dangerous side effects when abruptly discontinued.
Drinking and antidepressants just don’t mix, but it’s more comprehensive to say that drinking and depression don’t mix. No matter which medication you take, if you struggle with depression, stay away from alcohol. The possibility of making your condition worse or causing dangerous interactions and side effects is just too risky.