Antidepressants and Alcohol

Generally, antidepressants and alcohol are considered to be a bad combination. Since both act upon similar chemicals in the brain, it is believed that the medications may increase the effects of alcohol. Although you may not need to abstain from alcohol completely, it's important to use caution.

Do Alcohol and Antidepressants Mix?

Often, people are warned to avoid alcohol while taking antidepressants. Alcohol and antidepressants act upon similar chemicals in the brain, and there is some concern that antidepressants will increase the effects of alcohol. It is good advice to abstain from alcohol while taking an antidepressant.
Practically, many people are not willing to completely give up alcohol while taking an antidepressant. Many healthcare providers take a moderate approach, recommending abstinence from alcohol as the best choice but also providing some guidance for the use of alcohol and antidepressants. Often, it is recommended that if people must drink alcohol, they should limit their intake to light or moderate amounts and should drink only after they understand how combining the two will affect them.

What Is Moderate Drinking?

When healthcare providers recommend moderate alcohol drinking, they mean one drink a day for women; two drinks a day for men. Because the alcohol content in drinks varies, what counts as one drink also varies. When healthcare providers talk about one alcoholic drink, they are referring to one of the following examples:
  • 12 ounces of beer
  • 5 ounces of wine
  • 1 ounce of 80-proof whiskey, or 1 ounce of 100-proof spirits.
Having a little food and drinking your alcohol slowly can help minimize any problems caused by combining alcohol with an antidepressant.
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Information on Antidepressants

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