Anxiety and depression are two of the prevalent mental health disorders affecting adults today. While there are numerous alternative methods for treating these disorders, some turn to prescription medications, which include Lexapro. Taking the medication already has risks, but it has not stopped others from mixing Lexapro and alcohol.
What is Lexapro?
As mentioned, Lexapro is one of the drugs commonly prescribed for generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. Lexapro falls under the classification of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors that works by blocking serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for one’s mood. The generic drug name of Lexapro is escitalopram oxalate.
Much like any other drug, the use of Lexapro comes with risks. Some of its noted side effects include the following.
- Dry Mouth
- Trouble Sleeping
Though rare, Lexapro also causes severe adverse reactions, which include changes in sexual ability, decreased interest in sex, and easy bleeding or bruising. It is advised to seek immediate medical aid if one manifests any of the following side effects.
- Black or Bloody Stools
- Fast or Irregular Heartbeat
- Eye Redness, Swelling, or Pain
- Vomit That Resembles Coffee Grounds
- Vision Changes (Blurred Vision, Rainbows Around Lights at Night)
- Widened Pupils
Furthermore, this medication is likely to heighten the levels of serotonin which may lead to serotonin toxicity or syndrome. The risk of getting this syndrome is higher if an individual is taking other drugs that increase serotonin. Again, seek medical attention at once if you manifest the following symptoms.
- Fast or Irregular Heartbeat
- Loss of Coordination
- Severe Diarrhea
- Severe Nausea and Vomiting
- Severe Dizziness
- Twitching Muscles
- Unexplained Fever
Males are also likely to experience a prolonged or painful erection that lasts more than four hours, though rare. Another rare incident is an allergic reaction to the drug. However, it is vital to seek medical help if an individual experiences itching or swelling of the tongue, throat, and face, as well as trouble breathing. e
Mixing Lexapro and Alcohol
While not enough clinical trials have been done to verify the increased effect of Lexapro when combined with alcohol, it does not guarantee that there is no health risk. Drinking alcohol while taking Lexapro puts an individual at risk for potentially severe side effects.
According to healthcare professionals, consuming alcohol while on Lexapro or other antidepressants may either worsen depression or counter the benefits associated with antidepressants.
Furthermore, taking Lexapro and alcohol together may cause a person to feel more anxious or depressed, and such symptoms become difficult to treat. This situation may also lead to a dangerous incident as the individual involved has heightened suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
Consuming alcohol while on Lexapro may also worsen the known side effects of the drug. These include dizziness and drowsiness. It is also highly ill-advised to discontinue taking Lexapro just to consume alcohol. Abruptly stopping the medication is likely to cause withdrawal symptoms which include the following.
- A Feeling of Pins and Needles
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Symptoms of a Flu
Mixing Lexapro and alcohol also impairs an individual’s alertness and thinking. A combination of alcohol and antidepressants affect motor skills, reaction time, coordination, and judgment. So, an individual is likely to get into an accident as it impairs one’s attention and focus, especially for activities such as driving. Furthermore, the feeling of drowsiness and sedation is already at a high when one consumes too much alcohol. This feeling intensifies if combined with antidepressants like Lexapro.
With regards to the interaction of both substances, it affects the way the drug works in the system. Drinking while taking Lexapro may also result in the following.
- Decreased Efficacy of the Drug
- Increased Anxiety
- Liver Problems
- Worse Depression
Alcohol is also likely to heighten the risk of experiencing side effects associated with the drug. The adverse reactions may also be severe when mixed with alcohol. Some of the adverse reactions that may worsen while one consumes alcohol include the following.
- Dry Mouth
- Difficulty Staying or Falling Asleep
Depending on the dosage one is prescribed, the dangers associated with alcohol intake are also heightened. If an individual is currently taking 20 mg of Lexapro, which is the highest dosage of the drug for depression, then the risk of experiencing side effects from Lexapro and alcohol are higher.
Safe Amounts of Alcohol
Even when consumed in moderation, alcohol affects the treatment of mental health disorders like depression. A small amount of alcohol may be deemed safe if consumed occasionally. Nonetheless, an individual should always consult with their doctor firsthand before consuming alcohol, especially when on the prescription drug.
As a general rule, doctors recommend drinking in moderation as one alcoholic drink in a day for women. On the other hand, it is two alcoholic drinks in a day for men. Moreover, the guidelines with regards to the safe level and volume of alcoholic beverages are as follows.
- Beer that is 12 ounces of five percent alcohol by volume (ABV).
- Wine that is 5 ounces of 12 percent ABV
- Whiskey that is 1.5 ounces of 40 percent ABV
Individuals who wish to consume alcohol while on antidepressant medications are advised to consume alcohol with food. Doctors also recommend drinking alcohol slowly. Apart from antidepressant medications, alcohol also interacts with other drugs including over-the-counter medicines. Take note that over-the-counter medications like cough syrup already contain trace amounts of alcohol.
This is why it is highly advised to inform your primary physician regarding all medications, whether prescription or non-prescription, one is taking. It significantly reduces the side effects associated with drug-related interactions.
For individuals concerned with the amount of alcohol consumed, it is recommended that they attend treatment and counseling programs. Such programs like Alcoholics Anonymous help individuals overcome their misuse of alcohol. It may also help them in their goal of achieving sobriety.
As for individuals with a low-risk of alcohol addiction, an occasional drink is alright. However, it is still highly advised to speak with their primary healthcare provider.