The National Institute of Mental Health reported that in 2017 alone, 17.3 million American adults reported at least one major depressive episode. Other studies indicate a link between depression and an increased risk of alcohol abuse. With those figures in mind, if someone is taking Prozac for depression, is it still safe to drink alcohol? What are the risks involved?
Side Effects of Mixing Prozac and Alcohol
Some common side effects of Prozac include:
- Dry mouth
Moderate to excessive alcohol consumption or binge drinking can negatively impact the effectiveness of depression treatment and increase depressive symptoms.
Consider the negative effects of mixing Prozac and alcohol:
- Increased feelings of depression and anxiety: Although some people may seem to feel better after consuming alcohol, it can worsen feelings of depression.
- Decreased alertness and reactions: In combination, alcohol, and Prozac can decrease mental alertness, coordination, and motor skills. These effects could result in unnecessary impairment of basic skills such as caring for children or driving a car.
- Drowsiness: Alcohol and Prozac can both cause sedation or sleepiness. When used together, the lethargic effects may be more intense than when the substances are used individually.
- Induced tendency to stop taking antidepressants: One study indicated that even people who drank alcohol moderately were more likely to stop taking their antidepressants than those who did not drink alcohol.
- Decreased function of Prozac: One study found that the effectiveness of Prozac was significantly reduced after alcohol consumption.
- Alcohol use is associated with lower tryptophan levels: Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, and low levels of tryptophan are related to depression.
- Alcohol use is associated with negative coping skills: Reaching for alcohol as a way to cope with depression can lead to severe drinking problems, including alcohol addiction.
Key Points: Prozac and Alcohol
The goal of taking Prozac as prescribed by a medical professional is to improve a mental health condition that a person may be struggling with.
If the goal is to feel less depressed, it may be a good idea to refrain from even moderate alcohol consumption. However, each person is different. It is recommended to speak with a physician who can fully evaluate individual risk factors and the potential for alcohol misuse.
Keep these important points in mind if you are considering mixing Prozac and alcohol. You could experience:
- Increased feelings of depression
- Decreased effects of Prozac treatment
- Increased negative side effects such as drowsiness and decreased alertness
- Possible increase in negative coping skills
- Increased risk of alcohol addiction, especially with heavy alcohol use
If you or someone you love is currently taking Prozac or another antidepressant and misusing alcohol simultaneously, we encourage you to reach out to The Recovery Village. You can speak with one of our representatives without fear of judgment, and receive information about our comprehensive treatment plans. Your call is free and confidential, and there’s no obligation to commit to a treatment program.
National Institute of Mental Health. “Major Depression.” February 2019. Accessed April 24, 2019.
Ramsey, S.E., Engler, P.A., Stein, M.D. “Alcohol Use Among Depressed Patients: The Need for Assessment and Intervention.” Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, January 1, 2005. Accessed April 24, 2019
Rossi, A., Barraco, A., Donda, P. “Fluoxetine: a review on evidence-based medicine.” Annals of General Psychiatry, February 12, 2004. Accessed April 24, 2019.
National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Fluoxetine (Prozac).” December 2018. Accessed April 24, 2019.
Hall-Flavin, Daniel K. “Antidepressants and alcohol: What’s the concern?” Mayo Clinic, June 9, 2017. Accessed April 24, 2019.
Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.