Antidepressants have gone from taboo to widespread use in recent years. According to the CDC, approximately 11% of all American adults (age 12 or older) were taking antidepressants between 2005-2008 – an increase of 400% compared to just fifteen years prior.
Depression medication is used in an attempt to treat symptoms that might otherwise keep a person from getting out and enjoying life. While it is natural to want to join in celebrations with a glass of champagne or some wine while out to dinner with friends, doing so could make the problem worse.
Anyone who is experiencing symptoms of depression or who is taking medication for depression should seriously consider the risks of adding alcohol to the mix.
Depression and Alcohol
Drinking is not recommended for people who are depressed, regardless of whether or not they are taking medicine. The effects of alcohol can make the depression worse and potentially cause whole new problems.
Alcohol is a depressant and has the potential to both create problems and exacerbate ones that already exist. The downer effect of drinking can cause depression in a person who is not already experiencing symptoms. For those already struggling with depression, alcohol can increase the severity of such symptoms as depressed mood, lethargy, or systemic pain, to name a few.
Sleep disturbances are also a common side effect of both drinking and depression. If you decide to drink you could potentially cause an increase in problems associated with either insomnia (difficulty staying or falling asleep) or hypersomnia (sleeping too much).
People with depression are also considered to be at high risk of developing an addiction. Alcoholism often starts as an attempt to cope with unpleasant feelings by drinking and can quickly spiral out of control. For anyone struggling with the disease of addiction, there is hope – please reach out for help.
From the doctor’s mouth to the side of the pill bottle, there are warning signs about mixing alcohol and antidepressants, and for good reason. There are a wide variety of ways in which alcohol interferes with the proper absorption and metabolism of the different substances prescribed to treat depression.
Alcohol and antidepressants are processed through the liver, which when bombarded with both substances can become overloaded and not function as well as it does normally. This can lead to the antidepressants not being processed as it is intended, making the medication ineffective at best and cause life-threatening complications in some of the worst cases.
One of the potential effects of mixing alcohol and antidepressant medication is intensified impaired cognitive, putting a person at much higher risk of poor decision making and accidents. If you are taking a new medication, anticipate that the effects of alcohol may have a greater effect than normal.
This interaction also increases the probability of experiencing adverse side effects such as seizures, drowsiness, dizziness, and, although rare, even death. Cases of people meeting serious injury or death after using both prescription medicine and alcohol are not as uncommon as some people may think.
The number of Americans who are being prescribed antidepressants is steadily increasing. Even though antidepressants are becoming more frequently used and are more socially accepted, the potential dangers of drinking while on the medication should not be overlooked. The mixture of alcohol and prescription depression medication can cause serious consequences.
Depression is a disorder, but whether or not to consume alcohol is a choice.