Prozac is an antidepressant. It’s the brand-name version of the generic drug fluoxetine. You take Prozac long-term to control your symptoms. It belongs to a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These drugs work with neurotransmitters in the brain to help people with depression and anxiety. Many people tolerate SSRIs like Prozac well without having many side effects.
However, that doesn’t mean the drug comes without risks. For example, mixing Prozac with brain-altering substances like alcohol can be harmful. In fact, it’s recommended that you avoid drinking alcohol while you’re on this medication.
Even though Prozac is nearly 30 years old, it’s still one of the most prescribed antidepressants in the United States. It works by inhibiting the uptake of the neurotransmitter serotonin in your brain. This can help control your mood and behavior. Prozac is prescribed for the following health conditions:
- bulimia nervosa
- major depressive disorder (MDD)
- obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- panic disorder
- treatment-resistant depression
This drug is also sometimes combined with other medications to treat bipolar disorder.
Some adults like to have a drink for a special occasion. Others might drink more often to alleviate stress. Regardless of why or how much you drink, alcohol has the same basic effects on your body. It’s a depressant that impacts your brain function. Drinking slows down and even blocks messages within your brain. It can cause the following problems:
- trouble thinking and impaired judgment
- trouble hearing and seeing
- decreased motor skills
The ingredients in Prozac are designed to help calm your mood. One of the side effects of the drug is tiredness. Prozac can interfere with coordinated movement and alertness, like alcohol does. Combining Prozac with alcohol can quickly lead to increased sedation. Having even one drink while you take Prozac can cause extreme drowsiness. This effect can lead to potentially dangerous situations. These include poor decision-making, impaired driving, and an increased risk of falls and injuries.
Mixing alcohol and Prozac can also lead to other side effects. These can include:
- sudden fatigue and weakness
- feelings of hopelessness
- suicidal thoughts
Mixing Prozac and alcohol may cause fatigue and weakness, which may interfere with your ability to finish simple tasks. You may find yourself needing to take a break to rest.
Alcohol can also keep Prozac from working as well as it should. Taking antidepressants like Prozac doesn’t mean you’re immune to the depressive effects of alcohol. Instead, alcohol may actually keep your medication from working to its full effect. This means you won’t get the full benefits of Prozac. This can make the symptoms of your condition even worse.
What to do
If you take Prozac, do not drink alcohol. Mixing the two can put your health at risk. If you have strong urges to drink, talk about these feelings with your doctor.
If you’re trying to control your drinking, there’s some good news. According to a review in American Family Physician, there’s a small amount of evidence that suggests that fluoxetine, the generic name of Prozac, may help alcohol-dependent people abstain from drinking alcohol. This doesn’t mean that Prozac should be used to treat alcoholism. But it does suggest that the drug may reduce your desire to drink.
It’s important to note that the effects of combining alcohol with Prozac can happen even if you don’t drink at the same exact time you take the drug. Prozac is a long-term medication, so it stays in your body for a long time after you take it. Waiting a few hours after you take the drug to drink won’t reduce your chance of negative effects. If your doctor stops your treatment with Prozac, ask them how long you should wait before drinking any alcohol. How long the drug stays in your system depends on your dosage and how long you’ve been taking the medication. Some forms of the drug can affect your body for more than two weeks after you take your last dose.
Alcohol is a depressant, so drinking it when you have depression can make the symptoms of your condition worse. It can even cause signs of depression in people who don’t have clinical depression. Symptoms of depression can include:
- frequent sadness
- feelings of worthlessness
- loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- unusual tiredness
- suicidal thoughts
If you’re tempted to drink when you feel depressed, don’t. Drinking will only make your health worse. Instead, call your doctor. There are many safe, effective ways to treat depression.
Due to safety risks, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends avoiding alcohol while you take Prozac. Remember that dangerous interactions can happen with even a small amount of alcohol. If you take Prozac, you shouldn’t drink alcohol at all.