Alcohol and antidepressants do not mix. Anyone with a mental illness like depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia should stay far, far away from alcohol, whether they are on antidepressants or not. If you want to successfully manage your depression, than do not drink alcohol if you are taking an antidepressant. If you haven’t a care about your mental illness and want to become suicidal while taking depressants, then bottoms up.
If you are already an alcoholic, then you have another reason to stay away from alcohol. Also, you need to talk to your doctor about your drinking so that you can get the right medication and therapy for you.
Danger of Making Yourself Even More Depressed
Alcohol is a depressant, even though you may not feel sad when drinking. It relaxes the body, causes drowsiness and tends to make people fall asleep. Drinking is often called “loosening up” for a good reason. Although the stereotypical image of a drinker is someone happy while drinking, alcoholics can become even more miserable, angry or paranoid while drinking.
If a depressive takes antidepressants and still drinks alcohol – even if he or she isn’t chasing the pills down with vodka – there can still be physical repercussions. The alcohol may cut down the effectiveness of the antidepressant. The Mayo Clinic notes that it is common for people on antidepressants to have a drink, even socially, and then feel depressed instead of giddy with drunkenness. The person may even become suicidal.
There is one class of antidepressants called monoamine oxidase inhibitors or MAOIs. These include medications like Nardil (phenelzine), Parnate (tranylclpromine) and Marplan (isocarboxazid.) This class is not prescribed as often as the other two classes, but is still used. Unfortunately, people taking MAOIs can die if they also drink alcoholic beverages, according to the Mayo Clinic.
What happens is that soon after drinking, the blood pressure suddenly skyrockets. The victim suffers a stroke and can die of the stroke or complication from the stroke.
Danger of Self-Medication
It can be very tempting to self-medicate symptoms of mental illness with alcohol, because alcohol gives the illusion that you are well and all is right with the world. But after the alcohol buzz wears off, you find out that you often are in a worse mess mentally than you were before. You discover that when you thought everyone was admiring you at the party last night, they were really laughing behind your back at your outlandish antics.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists also notes that people on antidepressants need less alcohol than usual in order to get drunk. This means that even men who are social drinkers can get too drunk to drive or do much of anything else on a fraction of their usual amount of beer if they are taking antidepressants.
Self-medicating with alcohol can dangerously skewer your perception of reality. With depression, you are going to have a hard enough time determining what is reality, anyway. You do not need the extra hardship.