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  • Mixing Celexa & Alcohol | Risks, Interactions, & Effects On Depression

    Mixing Celexa & Alcohol | Risks, Interactions, & Effects On Depression

    Celexa, a brand-name formulation of the prescription drug citalopram, is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) primarily used to treat depression. 

    It is also sometimes used to treat a wide variety of mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders, panic attacks, PTSD, social phobias, and more. 

    But while Celexa is generally considered safe and low-risk, warnings from the FDA and drug manufacturers state that it should not be used with alcohol—this combination can reduce the effectiveness of Celexa for depression. 

    The Risks Of Using SSRI Antidepressants With Alcohol

    SSRIs are not central nervous system depressants and, unlike benzodiazepines, do not cause respiratory depression alone or when combined with alcohol. 

    In clinical trials, Celexa was not shown to increase the cognitive or motor skill impairments caused by alcohol consumption (though many firsthand accounts suggest otherwise).

    Nevertheless, the FDA strongly cautions patients against drinking alcohol with Celexa. 

    Adverse Effects

    If you mix Celexa and alcohol, you increase the likelihood that you’ll experience adverse effects from one or both substances, potentially including immediate symptoms of alcohol intolerance (skin flushing, stuffy nose, feelings of illness, etc). 

    Reduced Therapeutic Effectiveness

    If you continue to use alcohol chronically while on Celexa, you’ll likely reduce the effectiveness of your medication and are more likely to continue to experience unmanaged depression or anxiety as a result.

    FDA Warns Not Mixing Any Antidepressant With Alcohol

    This warning is repeated for all other SSRI medications, including escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), and sertraline (Zoloft). 

    For other types of antidepressants, notably tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), the FDA warns against mixing them with alcohol as well.

    Interactions Of Citalopram & Alcohol 

    While the drug interactions between alcohol and Celexa are not fully understood, it is known that taking these substances together can lead to common side effects, including:

    • dry mouth
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • stomach discomfort
    • drowsiness and sedation
    • increased sweating
    • tremors or convulsions
    • hyperventilation
    • changes in blood pressure
    • reduced sexual drive or ability
    • heart problems

    Combining alcohol and Celexa has been tenuously linked to torsades de pointes, a severe form of irregular heart rate that sometimes leads to sudden death.

    Using alcohol with Celexa or other SSRIs may also increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or impulses, a rare but known side effect of several different types of antidepressant medications.

    Effects Of Alcohol On Depression

    While major depressive disorder, symptoms of depression, and central nervous system depression are all different, they are all related and have alcohol in common. 

    Alcohol use slows down neurotransmitter activity across your body and mind, an effect known as central nervous system depression. If you drink too much too often, the body can become dependent on alcohol to maintain a normal function, mood, and behavior.

    Drinking large amounts of alcohol over a long period of time can lead to lasting feelings of anxiety and depression, as well as severe behavioral and personality changes. 

    If you are taking Celexa to help manage any type of depression, you need to be aware that alcohol will actively work against this medication, increasing your feelings of depression and reducing the effectiveness of your overall treatment.

    Going Off Your Medication Vs. Drinking Alcohol

    Given the serious long-term harm that unaddressed depression can cause, it is vital that you do not give up taking necessary, prescribed antidepressant medications in favor of substance use like alcohol consumption.

    Moreover, going off Celexa after long-term use may cause uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms known as discontinuation syndrome. This is often avoided by healthcare providers through tapering-down Celexa dosage before it is discontinued entirely. 

    Contact your healthcare provider before discontinuing the use of any antidepressant medication.

    Treating Alcohol Use Disorder

    Alcohol use disorder, also known as alcoholism or alcohol dependence, can interfere with or complicate the treatment of depression. 

    If your alcohol use gets in the way of treating your depression, it may be a sign that you need help.

    Fortunately, substance abuse and addiction treatment options are available to help you or your loved ones take back control of your life

    To learn more about our treatment options, please contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - Celexa Label
    Mayo Clinic - Antidepressants and alcohol: What's the concern?
    National Library of Medicine: Medline Plus - Citalopram

    Medically Reviewed by
    Kimberly Langdon M.D.
    on June 24, 2022
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