One out of six adults will have depression at some point in their life. Depression affects about 16 million Americans each year. As a result, one out of every 10 Americans over the age of 12 takes some form of antidepressant medication.1
Doctors wrote about 254 million prescriptions for antidepressants back in 2010 alone.And that number is increasing annually. Prozac® is perhaps the most well-known antidepressant brand name. Generically known as fluoxetine, Prozac is prescribed not only for depression, but also to help those suffering from obsessive-compulsive, eating, anxiety and panic disorders.2
How Does Prozac Work in the Body?
Prozac works to balance the brain’s neurotransmitters responsible for mood, such as serotonin. It is in the class of medications called “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors” (or SSRIs). While not considered addictive, SSRIs can produce side effects. The effects can include: nausea, drowsiness, shaking, nervousness, weakness, sexual dysfunction and loss of appetite. There are added risks when mixing other substances, like alcohol, with this drug.3
Specific Health Risks
Alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that slows down bodily functions and disrupts the brain’s chemistry. Prozac also affects brain chemistry and body functions. So, consuming alcohol while taking Prozac is likely to amplify the side effects of both substances.
Potential health concerns include:
- Impaired motor functions
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
- Increased risk for overdose
- Memory lapses
- Impaired cognition
- Heart damage
- Liver or kidney problems
- Blood sugar irregularities4
Perhaps the most unexpected result of mixing alcohol with Prozac is heightened symptoms of depression and anxiety – the very symptoms that Prozac is designed to treat. The “even worse feelings” that can ensue with this drug combination might lead to suicidal tendencies. It is estimated that more than six percent of those suffering from severe major depressive disorder may commit suicide.5
Who Mixes Prozac and Alcohol and Why?
Drinking alcohol causes a rush of pleasure. This is because it acts on the brain’s pleasure center. So it is not uncommon for people suffering from depression to try to “self-medicate” themselves with alcohol in an attempt to feel better.
Unfortunately, if they are already taking an antidepressant like Prozac, the mixture can lead to an increased risk of a life-threatening overdose or the development of an alcohol dependence disorder. When alcohol abuse and mental illness co-occur, the best treatment option is a dual diagnosis approach, which treats each disorder at the same time.
The attending team integrates their services (serving a unified goal). Each member of the team is aware of all services and medications being administered. They are also aware of any possible complications that might result.
Elderly people are at an even greater risk when mixing Prozac and alcohol. Part of this added risk comes from their frequent need to take more than one medication at a time. More medications translate to more possible danger.
Also, as you age, alcohol takes longer to be absorbed into the body. It stays in the bloodstream longer. As a result, it increases the potential for a toxic chemical interaction. The symptoms of an overdose should be noted. Overdose can lead to coma and even death.6
Heed the Warning Signs and Seek Needed Help
The warning labels on medications are often overlooked. They are there to protect patients from harm. Everyone’s physical and chemical makeup is slightly different. Drug and alcohol interactions are not completely predictable.7
If you or your loved one suffers from a mental health issue that warrants a Prozac prescription, know that there are many others dealing with this as well. In 2015 alone, nearly 10 million adults reported having a “serious mental illness” in the past year. This represents about 4% of all U.S. adults.8
Unfortunately, substance use disorders often co-occur with mental health issues. This creates a dual-diagnosis situation. Both conditions need to be treated simultaneously for best, long-term results.9
Michael’s House, located in Southern California, offers integrated treatment options that cater to the needs of each unique individual. A personalized program can even be designed for those with a dual diagnosis of both mental and substance use disorders.
Medications, detox, behavioral therapies, group and individual counseling sessions, family therapy, support groups and holistic methods are all utilized by our compassionate and highly skilled staff. For more information or to make a reservation, you can call us anytime – day or night – on our toll-free line, 760-548-4032.
1 “Mental Health Conditions: Depression and Anxiety.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, January 23, 2017. Web. Accessed 23 July 2017.
2 Vann, Madeline R., MPH, “Are We Still a Prozac Nation?” Everyday Health, Medically reviewed by Nija Jones, MD, MPH, August 13, 2013.Web. Accessed 23 July 2017.
3 “Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs).” Mayo Clinic, ART20044825, June 24, 2016. Web. Accessed 23 July 2017.
4 “Fluoxetine.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, November 15, 2014. Web. Accessed 23 July 2017.
5 “Harmful Interactions: Mixing Alcohol with Medicines.” National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Revised 2014. Web. Accessed 23 July 2017.
6 “Interactions between Prozac and Alcohol.” Healthline, Medically reviewed by Alan Carter, PharmD, on July 29, 2016. Web. Accessed 23 July 2017.
7 “Antidepressant Use in Children, Adolescents, and Adults.” U.S. Food & Drug Administration, April 13, 2016.Web. Accessed 23 July 2017.
8 “Serious Mental Illness (SMI) among U.S. Adults.” National Institute of Mental Health.Web. Accessed 23 July 2017.
9 “Mental and Substance Use Disorders.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, March 8, 2016.Web. Accessed 23 July 2017.