Can you drink on antidepressants?

Samir Kadri
Author: Samir Kadri Medical Reviewer: Morgan Blair Last updated:

Antidepressants can help combat symptoms of numerous mental health conditions and greatly improve your mood. If your medication improves your symptoms, that’s great!  But remember that in addition to medication, it’s advisable to continue striving to implement healthy habits into your everyday life.

There are numerous risks that are involved with drinking alcohol whilst on antidepressants that will be explained below.

Drinking alcohol whilst on antidepressants: What are the risks?

Drinking alcohol while taking antidepressants is not advised as both substances can make you drowsy, dizzy, and unalert. [1][2]

However, since many patients are reluctant to eschew alcohol, some doctors allow them to moderately drink. Caution ought to be exercised when drinking alcohol, and patients should drink slowly and eat food whilst drinking alcohol to decrease the effects of the alcohol. [1]

This article will outline 6 other risks to be aware of when drinking alcohol while on antidepressants:

1. Increased side effects

Alcohol can amplify the side effects of antidepressants, such as drowsiness, dizziness, and discoordination.  [1] This can cause disruption to your life and present a greater danger to people around you.

2. Worsened depression or anxiety

Alcohol is a depressant that can worsen your mood. [1] Thus, drinking alcohol while taking antidepressants may counter their intended effect and deepen feelings of depression or anxiety.

3. Impact of tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)

If you drink alcohol, particularly whilst taking TCAs or MAOIs, you may become drowsy or dizzy. [2] In addition, alcohol may contribute to an increased spike in blood pressure when taking MAOIs and result in a stroke. [1]

It is best to discuss eating and drinking patterns with your healthcare provider to identify the alcoholic beverage that could cause a reaction.

You are less likely to experience unpleasant side effects related to alcohol if you take selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or a serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SNRI), but avoiding alcohol is still recommended. [2]

4. You may be at increased risk of alcoholism

People with depression are more likely to abuse alcohol. Whilst many psychiatric disorders commonly co-occur with alcohol abuse, major depressive disorder (MDD) is the most heavily associated with alcohol use disorder (AUD). [3]

While an AUD is treatable, managing two conditions at once is more challenging and can result in more frequent and long-term treatment programs.

5. Reduced effectiveness of your liver

Both alcohol and certain antidepressant medications can put stress on the liver. When used together, they may increase the risk of liver damage or interfere with the liver’s ability to process toxins effectively. [1] This can prove fatal.

6. Suicidal thoughts

Mixing alcohol and antidepressants elevates the potential for suicidal behavior and thoughts. [4] If you have suicidal thoughts, call 911 immediately and seek emergency help.

Final thoughts

If you are using alcohol, or thinking about doing so, to mitigate symptoms related to a mental health condition, you need further treatment. Always consult your healthcare provider before consuming alcohol while on antidepressant medication.

Drinking may feel good initially, but long-term use can reduce the effectiveness of your antidepressants and worsen your symptoms.

If you have questions about your treatment plan or the potential risks associated with alcohol consumption, don’t hesitate to discuss them openly with your doctor. They will tailor their advice based on your medical history, condition, and their expertise.

  1. Can I drink alcohol while taking antidepressants? | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness. (n.d.).
  2. Website, N. (2022, March 10). Cautions – antidepressants.
  3. McHugh, R. K., & Weiss, R. D. (2019). Alcohol Use Disorder and Depressive Disorders. Alcohol research : current reviews, 40(1), arcr.v40.1.01.
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Samir Kadri
Author Samir Kadri Writer

Samir Kadri is a medical writer with a non-profit sector background, committed to raising awareness about mental health.

Published: Oct 10th 2023, Last edited: Oct 13th 2023

Morgan Blair
Medical Reviewer Morgan Blair MA, LPCC

Morgan Blair is a licensed therapist, writer and medical reviewer, holding a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling from Northwestern University.

Content reviewed by a medical professional. Last reviewed: Oct 10th 2023