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David Baxter

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Mixing Wine With Antidepressants
Johns Hopkins Health
March 12, 2008

Q. I have been drinking wine with my dinner for more than 30 years. Now that I am taking an antidepressant for the first time, my wife has told me that I should not drink any more wine. Although my doctor never mentioned this, my wife?s brother (who takes antidepressants) told her that alcohol of any sort could interfere with the antidepressant. Is there an interaction between antidepressants and two glasses of wine a night? Frederick, MD

Dr. Karen L. Swartz
A. Alcohol does not mix well with mood disorders for a variety of reasons. Although there is not a hard and fast rule about how much alcohol is safe to drink while taking antidepressants, generally it is recommended that alcohol consumption be kept to a minimum.

Alcohol is a chemical depressant that can worsen or destabilize one?s mood. Some patients report that alcohol seems to alleviate anxiety or even helps their depressive symptoms. While alcohol may provide ?an escape? from feeling bad temporarily, evidence shows that it significantly worsens the course of all mood disorders in the long run. Alcohol can essentially negate the effect of antidepressants and mood stabilizers. When a person is diagnosed with major depression, it is always a good idea to stop drinking alcohol entirely for several months to see how this affects mood. Many individuals who stop drinking alcohol completely find that this alone improves their mood dramatically.

In addition to affecting one?s mood, alcohol significantly disrupts sleep. Individuals who drink alcohol regularly have abnormal sleep studies with more periods of wakefulness and less restorative, slow-wave sleep. Disrupted, restless sleep is not only a symptom of depression, but it also makes anyone feel weary and worn out. Thus, because consistent, good sleep is imperative to the treatment of mood disorders and to vitality in general, it is important to limit alcohol consumption to prevent sleep problems.
 

lallieth

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I had a friend that went out drinking one night while on anti-depressants,she was sick as a dog for 3 days after,I reminded her that she was told NOT to drink while on meds and I had no pity for her..I just dont understand why some people don't listen
 

Retired

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Quote from the Canadian monograph of Effexor (venlafaxine)

• Alcohol
The possibility of additive psychomotor impairment should be considered if
venlafaxine is used in combination with alcohol. Patients should be advised to avoid alcohol while taking venlafaxine

Quote from Canadian monograph of Paxil (paroxetine)

Alcohol: The concomitant use of PAXIL? and alcohol has not been studied and is not recommended. Patients should be advised to avoid alcohol while taking PAXIL?.

In addition, I believe there could be other sites of interaction such as in the liver where both the medication and alcohol could be competing for liver enzymes (demethylation and hydroxylation)

For all the reasons mentioned in the article as well as the potential for metabolic interaction, it's would seem prudent to avoid alcohol while taking psychotropic medication, or any other central nervous depressant such as analgesics (pain relievers).
 
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David Baxter

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While all of that is technically true, I will also say that I've yet to see any detectable deleterious effects from the occasional drink with SSRIs.

Heavy regular use of alcohol (or marijuana and other psychoactive street drugs) should definitely be avoided, however, not only because of potential toxicity but also because the effects of substance abuse can undo any of the potential benefits of taking the SSRI.
 

ladylore

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Heavy regular use of alcohol (or marijuana and other psychoactive street drugs) should definitely be avoided, however, not only because of potential toxicity but also because the effects of substance abuse can undo any of the potential benefits of taking the SSRI.

Heavy use cancels out the benifits of SSRI's as drugs and alcohol are natural depressants.
 

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