Can you die from mixing alcohol and antidepressants?

Questioning whether you can die from mixing alcohol and antidepressants is a relevant concern given the facts surrounding alcoholism and depression. There is substantial evidence supporting the claim that alcohol abuse and depression go hand-in-hand. American Addiction Centers report that suffering from either condition doubles the probability of developing the complementary one.

Mixing alcohol and other drugs is never a good idea. A major concern that arises for people who take antidepressants is whether they can safely take antidepressants with alcohol. People who don’t want to adjust their lifestyle and stop drinking are always quick to ask, can you die from mixing alcohol and antidepressants.

The simple answer to this important question is yes. Does that mean you will automatically die from mixing alcohol and antidepressants? No, of course not. As is true with so many overdoses, fatal situations often arise when a perfect storm of negative factors come together that lead to a death that would have never happened if antidepressants were taken as prescribed, without alcohol.

Fatal Physical Complications

Falls from Excessive Dizziness or Drowsiness

Dizziness and drowsiness sound like minor complications at first glance if you imagine a person quietly going to bed to “sleep it off” without any other repercussions. Unfortunately, this is not always the scenario that occurs. Drowsiness can come on slowly, suddenly causing you to pass out while walking up or downstairs or simply moving around the house.

Fatalities from falling and hitting your head due to a toxic mix of alcohol and antidepressants are all too common. The probability of passing out and ultimately killing yourself increases with the frequency of these types of incidents. You may get lucky the first six times this happens, then that seventh time, you may fall and hit your head on a hard surface and pay the ultimate price.

Fatal Car Accidents

Possibly even worse than staggering around and falling to hit your head is the act of getting behind the wheel of a car when you are drowsy or dizzy. You not only risk your own life but the lives of others as well. While great strides have been made to keep people from drinking and driving, sometimes drinkers don’t realize that mixing alcohol with psychiatric medicine can increase drowsiness and dizziness until it is too late.

It is not unusual to leave the house feeling fine, only to have that last drink suddenly catch up with you, magnified by the drugs already in your system. This is how drivers unintentionally end up in risky situations on the highway, which can turn deadly.

As an adult male, you can probably drink two or three beers over a couple of hours without any problem whatsoever, at least before you started taking antidepressants. But things can change significantly after you start mixing those beers with your new prescription. It is not unusual for people to feel a false sense of security when taking prescribed drugs, even when they aren’t following the instructions.

Understandably, this period of adjustment when you first start taking antidepressants is dangerous. Getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking is always risky, but when you add in the effect of antidepressants, then problems tend to multiply. Overconfidence in one’s ability to safely drive a car after drinking while on antidepressants represents a real problem that can quickly become fatal.

Overdose

Granted, fatal and unintentional overdoses from mixing alcohol and antidepressants are not as common as overdoses from mixing painkillers and alcohol, it still happens. Feeling depressed with an inability to function cognitively can lead to disastrous repercussions, making it far too easy to forget how many pills you’ve taken or how many drinks you’ve enjoyed. The blur of alcohol abuse can lead to unfortunate outcomes, with death as a real possibility for the most unlucky.

Liver Damage

The liver has an enormous role to play in your overall health. The negative impact of alcohol on liver function has been widely documented. That’s why adding in any other drug can only worsen the problem. In extreme cases,the National Alliance on Mental Illnessreports that fatal toxicity can occur when the liver is overrun and can’t process all the toxins present.

Granted, this condition does not typically happen overnight, but in cases of alcohol poisoning or a mix of toxic amounts of antidepressant medications and alcohol, liver failure can occur. When you factor in the lack of judgment associated with heightened intoxication or confusion, it is not difficult to understand how drinking too much or overdosing on antidepressants by mistake can happen.

Dangerous Blood Pressure Spikes and Increased Heart Attack Odds

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are commonly prescribed as an antidepressant. Unfortunately, combining alcohol with MAOIs can increase blood pressure readings to dangerous levels. Mayo Clinic warns against mixing alcohol with this antidepressant.

Fatal Psychological Results

The dangers associated with mixing drugs are not limited to physical dangers. American Addiction Centers reports that mixing alcohol and antidepressants can actually increase feelings of despair and depression.

When you consider the fact that many depressed people also abuse alcohol as a way to self-medicate, it is no surprise that mixing alcohol and antidepressants is all too common. WebMD reports that one-third of people who are depressed also abuse alcohol.

When you consider the fact that the use of alcohol has been found to increase depression in the longterm and also negates the effectiveness of antidepressants, then it is not a stretch to conclude that mixing the two together is dangerous. In fact, it can lead to suicide. World Health Organization reports that 800,000 commit suicide annually.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that you can die from mixing alcohol and antidepressants. While these deaths are not the stuff of headlines, often blamed instead on car accidents and fell that are regularly categorized as accidents, that does not mean that the connection should be discounted.

Sources:

https://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/

https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/statedeaths.html#:~:text=In%202018%2C%2067%2C367%20drug%20overdose,2018%20(20.7%20per%20100%2C000).

https://www.alcohol.org/mixing-with/prescription-drugs/

https://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/alcohol-and-depresssion

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/antidepressants-and-alcohol/faq-20058231

https://www.goodrx.com/blog/10-medications-you-shouldnt-mix-with-alcohol/

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