Published on: 03 Apr 2023
The use of alcohol and any psychiatrist-prescribed medication can be a dangerous combination. Lexapro, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) used to treat depression and anxiety, is no exception. So while it might be tempting to think you can safely combine Lexapro and alcohol in small amounts, there are risks you need to be aware of.
Understanding the potential dangers of combining alcohol with Lexapro is crucial. Here we’re discussing some of the risks and offering tips for talking to your doctor about your concerns about mixing these two substances.
Can I Drink on Lexapro?
It’s important to note what’s at stake when you combine Lexapro and alcohol use. Lexapro, also known as escitalopram, is an antidepressant medication that belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, which can improve mood and reduce anxiety symptoms in a mental health condition.
When combined with alcohol, though, one can experience serious side effects of Lexapro. For example, you might experience increased drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion. Drinking alcohol while taking Lexapro can also increase the risk of developing suicidal thoughts or tendencies.
How much alcohol can you drink on Lexapro?
It’s not recommended that you drink any alcohol with Lexapro, since even small amounts can have a significant impact. However, some people do choose to consume alcohol occasionally while taking Lexapro. You should discuss this with your doctor before making any decisions.
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What Happens if You Drink Alcohol with Lexapro
If you decide to drink alcohol despite warnings, monitoring yourself closely for signs of adverse reactions is important. Pay attention if you’re feeling more depressed than usual or having an increase in suicidal thoughts. If any unusual symptoms occur, contact your healthcare provider immediately for advice.
“Medications prescribed for mood anxiety disorder must cross the blood-brain barrier to work. They stay in the brain circulation as well when alcohol is ingested. Lexapro use with alcohol causes worsening side effects with an increase in drowsiness, poor coordination, gait problems, increased agitation and loss of control besides the other common side effects.”
When combined with alcohol, Lexapro may increase the risk of developing more severe side effects like drowsiness or dizziness. It’s believed this is due to the sedative effect alcohol has on the body. In addition, there are other potential risks associated with combining these two substances.
Increased risk of injury
Drinking alcohol while taking Lexapro increases your chances of getting injured. The combination of drugs in your system can cause impaired judgment or coordination.
Interactions with other medications
Alcohol consumption can interact negatively with other medications you may be taking. You should always talk to your doctor about possible interactions between alcohol and other drugs you’re currently using.
Dehydration and hangovers
The combination of alcohol and Lexapro can cause dehydration that may lead to hangover-like symptoms. You might have headaches, fatigue, or nausea following drinking when on Lexapro. This can occur even after drinking just a small amount of alcohol.
The Counteracting Effect of Alcohol on Depression
This is because long-term use of alcohol might lead to a decrease in serotonin levels and production, according to some studies. Instead of relying on alcohol consumption as a coping tool, seek out healthier alternatives. Try talking to friends or family members who can offer support, working out, meditating, eating healthy, or sleeping well. Self-care can offer a positive way to manage your depression.
“Alcohol is a chemical and has different effects when ingested. It has an initial effect of getting the buzz relaxation. The mid-effects are the drowsy and sluggish feeling of poor coordination and reaction time. The later effects are long-term damage to various organs, the liver, pancreas circulation, and the endocrine system. Besides the impact on other systems, alcohol impacts mood and is depressant over time which also increases the suicide risk with overdose concerns.”
Talk to Your Doctor About Lexapro
It’s imperative to understand the potential risks of combining Lexapro and alcohol, especially if you’ve ever wondered can I drink on Lexapro.
It’s always best practice to consult your doctor about concerns regarding drinking on medication, especially if you’re taking antidepressant medication like Lexapro. Your doctor will be able to offer you personalized advice based on your medical history and current condition. They can help advise if you’re also wondering about using Lexapro while pregnant.
At Talkspace, we understand how challenging it can be to manage mental health conditions like depression, particularly if you’re trying new antidepressants like Lexapro. That’s why our licensed therapists and online psychiatrists can provide you with personalized support tailored to your needs. If you’re wondering about side effects or curious whether Celexa or Lexapro is right for you, a licensed professional can advise. Reach out today to learn more about how Talkspace can help you.
- Frequently asked questions. NAMI. https://www.nami.org/FAQ/Mental-Health-Medication-FAQ/Can-I-drink-alcohol-while-taking-antidepressants. Accessed December 15, 2022.
- Kuria MW, Ndetei DM, Obot IS, et al. The association between alcohol dependence and depression before and after treatment for alcohol dependence. ISRN Psychiatry. 2012;2012:1-6. doi:10.5402/2012/482802. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3658562/. Accessed December 15, 2022.
- Lovinger DM. Serotonin’s role in alcohol’s effects on the brain. Alcohol Health Res World. 1997;21(2):114-120. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6826824/. Accessed December 15, 2022.
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