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Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Every once in a while, it’s pretty normal to want to unwind with a nice cold beer or a big glass of cabernet.
But, if you’re on Prozac® (or generic fluoxetine), you may want to pause on that adult beverage — even if it’s only one or two drinks per day
Prozac is what’s called a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and is approved to treat depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder and bulimia.
So, why don’t alcohol and Prozac mix? First, let us explain a bit more about how Prozac works.
As we mentioned, Prozac (and the generic version, fluoxetine) is an SSRI. This type of medication works by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin, a neurotransmitter, into neurons.
This means there is an increase of serotonin activity floating around your brain.
So, why do SSRIs help people with depression? Serotonin is a key component of mood regulation and behavior. It affects everything from memory to sexuality.
Fluoxetine comes in tablets, capsules, delayed-release capsules and liquid.
Like with many medications taken for mental health conditions, your healthcare provider may start you on a low dose and then slowly increase it to mitigate short term side effects.
It can take a few weeks to start to feel the benefits of Prozac, which means it’s important to continue taking Prozac — even after you start feeling the effects. Stopping abruptly can result in a return of your original symptoms along with withdrawal symptoms.
Like with any medication, there are some known side effects associated with Prozac. Many of these side effects go away as your body gets used to the medication.
Some of the common side effects include:
Changes in sex drive
Certain side effects can indicate something more serious. If you notice any of the following adverse effects, contact a healthcare professional immediately:
Rash, hives or blisters
Difficulty breathing or swallowing
Shortness of breath
Irregular heart beat
The short answer to this question is: absolutely not. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends avoiding alcohol when taking both Prozac or generic fluoxetine because of the potential drug interactions.
As you now know, fluoxetine works by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain. Similarly, one of the effects of alcohol has been shown to be an increase in the amount of serotonin in the body — which could worsen the side effects of taking fluoxetine.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness also warns that one of the negative effects is that both alcohol and antidepressants can make you drowsy and when taken together, those effects can increase.
In fact, combining alcohol and antidepressants could be fatal. Doing so can also make your depression symptoms worse.
All of this said, some people do drink alcohol while taking Prozac — even if it’s not advised. If you have questions about this, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider before you begin mixing alcohol and Prozac.
Thinking about skipping a dose of Prozac to safely drink? Don’t do it. If you’re taking Prozac (or the generic, fluoxetine), it’s important to take it exactly as prescribed — and that means not skipping doses.
Missing your dose can increase your risk of experiencing symptoms again. Additionally, stopping Prozac abruptly can also lead to nausea, dizziness and other withdrawal symptoms.
As much as we know what a craving for alcohol on a Friday afternoon is like, if you’re taking Prozac, it’s probably not a good idea.
If you’re invited to a dinner where wine may be served or are out with friends, opt for something non-alcoholic.
If you have the urge to go off Prozac or would like to discuss alcohol consumption while taking it, contact a healthcare professional before doing either.