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Antidepressants – what you need to know about your tablets alongside drug and alcohol use

Let’s take alcohol first – it is itself a depressant, hard to believe when you’re enjoying a night out, but that night is often fun because of the company you have. Drink alone and the feelings are often very different. We know alcohol is a depressant because of how it works in our brain. So it can make your mood worse

Whilst your less likely to experience unpleasant and unpredictable side effects with alcohol and the most commonly prescribed antidepressants SSRI’s – it is still recommended that you avoid alcohol, there are still risks, which can include increases to your heart rate and blood pressure. If you are taking a class of antidepressants known as TCA (Tricyclics) then these can cause significant drowsiness/sedation and dizziness so do avoid alcohol. MOAI’s have very specific dietary restrictions due to the risks so you will need to have very clear medical guidance and stop alcohol and drug use

By using alcohol or illicit drug alongside your prescribed medication, it’s worth realising that side effects which are often mild or non-existent can be exacerbated, especially so with illicit drug use. These can include

  • Abnormally increased heart rate
  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Lethargy, Dizziness, Drowsiness
  • Problems with your motor function and co-ordination
  • Nausea
  • Confusion and problems with judgement

The effect you can get by mixing your medication with alcohol and drugs can be the same symptoms you are struggling with, with your low mood – so do speak with your GP – be honest and open about your alcohol and drug consumption – the GP will work with you to look to how to manage your alcohol /drug use – to minimise its harms and look to successfully treat your low mood. If you wish to address your alcohol or drug use or seek further support. Wellbeing Support service can guide you or you can directly contact Change Grow Live | Charity | We can help you change your life

To keep safe DO NOT use cocaine and antidepressants together this is very dangerous and causes significant health risks and can be fatal.

Other drugs used alongside antidepressants can cause CNS depression this can result in a decreased rate of breathing, decreased heart rate, and loss of consciousness possibly leading to coma or death.

St Johns Wort is an over the counter herbal remedy which has been used to manage depression anxiety and sleep issues - -It does however have significant interactions with a range of medications. Do not use this alongside any prescribed antidepressants.

Further information on common illicit drugs and there effects can be found on the self-help pages or by contacting Honest information about drugs | FRANK ( 

  • Make yourself aware, be informed so that you can make safe decisions.

  • Need to talk, contact Wellbeing Support or your GP.

  • Specific recreational drugs can cause significant health risk when taken alongside antidepressant medication
  • ask your GP or other health care professional for further information
  • make yourself aware!