Serotonin is a neurotransmitter and is one of the chemicals responsible for relaying signals between the cells in your brain. Selective Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) block the uptake of serotonin back into the brain cells and so increase the amount of serotonin available in the brain for transmitting signals. This increase in serotonin is thought to improve the symptoms of depression.

Alcohol can reduce the effectiveness of antidepressants, making you feel more depressed and possibly making your depression harder to treat.

What happens when you mix?

When a person drinks alcohol, serotonin levels in the brain significantly increase. Alcohol tends to modify serotonin activity throughout the brain in regard to both signaling and neurotransmission. Since your antidepressant medication prevents reuptake of serotonin, it may lead to elevated levels of serotonin, which could cause manic symptoms, risky behavior, and dangerous mood swings.

Adverse Effects

In some cases, alcohol can interact with antidepressants and lead to unpredictable adverse effects such as seizures, drowsiness, dizziness, and/or fainting. Your chances of experiencing adverse or rare side effects is thought to increase if you consume alcohol while on an antidepressant.

Although alcohol can sometimes help temporarily improve depressive symptoms, once a person sobers up, their depression may be worse than it was before they drank. This could be due to the fact that alcohol consumption can affect neurotransmission and is thought to lower serotonin levels over time. Additionally, some people may notice worsened mood swings and increased depression when they take consume alcohol while on antidepressants.