Can you drink while on anti-depressants?
Everything you need to know about drinking while you’re taking anti-depressants
Written by spunout
Fact checked by experts and reviewed by young people.
When you start taking antidepressants, there are a few lifestyle changes you might make. You might try to exercise more, eat a more balanced diet and improve your quality of sleep. You might also try counselling along with your medication or keeping a journal to track how you’re feeling each day.
But what about alcohol? Can you drink while taking antidepressants, and if you can, how much is okay to drink?
Can you drink while taking antidepressants?
Generally speaking, drinking alcohol while taking antidepressants is not advised for a number of reasons.
What happens if you drink alcohol while on antidepressants?
One of the reasons why it’s best to avoid alcohol while taking antidepressants is that alcohol is known to actually make depression worse, even though it might seem to improve your mood in the short-term by making you feel more confident.
Although some people think alcohol will help them when they are feeling depressed, alcohol is a depressant. Alcohol messes with your brain’s own level of happiness chemicals, like dopamine and serotonin. When the levels of these chemicals go down, it can have a negative effect on your mood and mental health. Alcohol also slows down how your brain functions.
Drinking cancels out the benefits of your antidepressant. It can make your symptoms worse and more difficult to treat.
Side effects of your medication
Depending on the antidepressant you are taking, there are a number of different side effects that could come with it. You could feel more tired than normal, dizzy and experience problems with coordination, driving, operating machinery and speaking.
Drinking alcohol can make these side effects worse, and could put you and your own safety at risk.
Know your medication
It’s very important to know what type of antidepressant you are taking when it comes to drinking alcohol. Some types of antidepressant have specific risks associated with them if they are combined with alcohol.
If you are taking an anti-depressant, it is important to ask your doctor about any possible risks that might come with drinking alcohol. For example, if you are on a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI), like Isocarboxazid, Phenelzine, Selegiline, or Tranylcypromine, you should avoid alcoholic drinks, cured meats and aged cheeses, as they can have serious consequences for your heart, including a sharp rise in blood pressure.
If you do choose to drink, it’s important to drink in moderation, and discuss what that means for you with your doctor. Drinking in moderation can mean different things for different people, so speak to your GP about what drinking in moderation looks like for you.
Speak to your doctor
No matter what antidepressant you take, it’s important to speak to your doctor before drinking alcohol because every person is different.
They will be able to advise you on what to do, and can answer any questions in person that you might have.
Are there other medications you should or shouldn’t avoid drinking while taking? Read up on drinking alcohol when you’re taking antibiotics to find out.