Experts, including the FDA, caution against drinking alcohol while taking citalopram (Celexa). Doing so can lead to potentially serious side effects, including heart irregularities and convulsions.

If you have depression, your doctor may give you a medication to ease your symptoms. One common antidepressant is Celexa. It’s the brand-name version of the drug citalopram. This medication is part of a class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). They help make the neurotransmitter serotonin stay in your brain longer by blocking serotonin’s reuptake. SSRIs such as Celexa are now the most popular type of antidepressant drug. They work to improve your mood and outlook on life.

While Celexa is effective in treating depression, it’s important to note that it comes with warnings and precautions. This includes risks when the drug is used with alcohol. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warns against mixing Celexa and alcohol.

The FDA notes that Celexa does not increase the effects of alcohol, but a person taking the medication still should not drink alcohol. Combining the drug with alcohol can lead to overdose and other problems.


There are serious overdose risks when you mix Celexa and alcohol. These effects can happen even when you take Celexa at your prescribed dose. The symptoms of overdose include:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • sleepiness
  • sweating

You may also have a tremor in one of your limbs or a racing heart rate. If you have any of these symptoms, call 911 or local emergency services right away.

In many cases of overdose, your doctor will just treat and manage your symptoms. This may be the best way to treat a Celexa overdose that’s combined alcohol. In some cases, your doctor may put you on a ventilator (breathing machine) to make sure that your body receives the right amount of oxygen. They may also watch your heart.

Other reactions

Alcohol and Celexa can mix in other dangerous and deadly ways. Side effects of combining the two can include:

  • irregular heart rate
  • amnesia
  • coma (loss of consciousness)
  • convulsions
  • hyperventilation
  • severe heart issues
  • death

The side effects of other medications can also be more severe if you take Celexa and drink alcohol at the same time. For instance, this combination can make side effects from anxiety drugs, sleeping aids, and prescription pain medications worse. Talk to your doctor about all of the other medication and supplements that you take.

The FDA warns that any doses of Celexa over 40 mg per day can cause heart issues. Adding alcohol to the equation may also cause severe heart effects. The combination of alcohol and Celexa may be linked to torsades de pointes, which is a severe form of irregular heart rate that sometimes leads to sudden death. Talk to your doctor to learn more, and be sure to tell your doctor if you have a history of heart problems.

Read more: Complete drug information for citalopram (Celexa), including usage, warnings, interactions, and more »

Your doctor may tell you to avoid drinking alcohol altogether to help prevent dangerous complications. Have an open conversation with your doctor if you want a drink. In some cases, your doctor may tell you an occasional drink is safe. Still, this won’t be the case for everyone, especially if you have other health issues. Be sure to tell your doctor if you have a history of heart problems.

If you want to drink, don’t suddenly stop taking Celexa to do so. For the medication to work, you have to take it on a set schedule. Your depression could get worse if you stop taking your medication abruptly.

Also, skipping your dose one day does not mean that the drug is out of your body. Celexa builds up in your body over time to work. So, even if you skip your medication for the day, you could still have side effects if you drink alcohol.

Alcohol can also interfere with your depression treatment. This is because alcohol is a known depressant. Drinking may create a feel-good effect, but the feeling doesn’t last long. A short time after drinking, the good feelings often wear off, leaving you feeling more depressed or anxious.

Alcohol also impairs your judgment, affects your motor skills, and makes you sleepy. These effects can get in the way of your ability to manage your condition. The combination of alcohol and Celexa may also keep you from taking positive steps toward treating your depression, such as exercising, eating right, and keeping up with checkups with your doctor.

That means, with or without medication, drinking alcohol when you have depression may not be a good idea.

If your doctor has given you Celexa, your depression symptoms are likely serious. To help the medication work well and to help treat your condition, it may be best for you to stop drinking alcohol. Always follow your doctor’s advice.