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What Happens When You Mix Alcohol and Antidepressants?

Feb 14, 2018 | QA

People struggling with depression will feel lonely and isolated while feeling powerless to their current mood. Depression is a disorder that should be treated with the assistance of a healthcare provider because without help, the illness can continue to progress with persistent sadness and hopelessness. During depression, the brain function becomes imbalanced from the chemicals in the brain that work inside and outside nerve cells that determine perceptions and moods. There are many causes to depression such as stressful life events, genetic predisposition, medical problems, and inadequate mood regulation.

SSRIs (Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and MAOIs (Monoamine oxidase inhibitors) are antidepressants that benefit people by keeping the serotonin from being reabsorbed back into the brain which makes more serotonin readily available for the brain to knock out depression. Getting on antidepressants may help to alleviate some symptoms to help people feel better when they are depressed. Once prescribed by a doctor, the antidepressant will work to balance out some of the chemicals in the brain that may be out of whack. Antidepressants are responsible for producing the chemicals that make individuals feel good by the taking the recommended dosage to increase the concentration of the brain’s neurotransmitters that must communicate with each other.  

There may be an experimental period to see which antidepressants are better suited for each individual. Side effects and interactions from other drugs, including alcohol, can sometimes limit how efficient they will work for each person. Since alcohol is a depressant and the purpose of the antidepressant is to keep a person from being depressed, the two will most surely counteract one another.

While the SSRIs are busy helping to build serotonin, the alcohol does just the opposite by decreasing the levels of serotonin. The effectiveness of the antidepressants will recede making someone feel even more depressed and possibly suicidal. An individual may think that having an occasional drink will be fine, but the likelihood of the medication doing what it is supposed to do, will be lessened by joining the two together. Another reason to stop drinking while someone is on antidepressants is that depression can also lead to an increased risk of becoming addicted to alcohol.

Being prescribed an MAOI for depression, could cause a significant rise in blood pressure to put someone at risk for stroke and other complications with the combination of alcohol and the MAOI. The liver has a harder time disposing of the toxins which can also cause fatal toxicity when mixing the two together.

Incorporating alcohol with antidepressants produces adverse effects that can be detrimental to a person’s recovery and health. If someone is depressed enough to be on medication, they should probably just skip the alcohol altogether.


Serenity Oaks Wellness Center has an extensive 5-week program that provides life-changing treatment to assist addicts and alcoholics in staying sober. Our dedicated faculty is here to help find a recovery plan that works best for each individual.

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