Mixing Paxil and alcohol is not recommended for a number of valid reasons which we will examine.
What Is Paxil?
Paxil is an antidepressant prescription medication that belongs to a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI).
Besides depression, it is also used to treat panic attacks, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders such as bulimia, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and other conditions.
It works by interacting with the chemicals in the brain that are responsible for mood and emotional balance and well-being.
Since alcohol is a depressant, it is never recommended that people already suffering from depression consume alcohol because alcohol increases symptoms of depression. So while many depressed people attempt to self-medicate and numb their depression with alcohol, they are unwittingly making their depression far worse.
In addition, research indicates that Paxil may increase the effects of the alcohol, resulting in a sort of "double whammy" by further increasing symptoms of depression.
Furthermore, alcohol can increase the side effects of Paxil. Such side effects can include nervousness, agitation, drowsiness, dizziness, nasal irritation, insomnia, and nausea. In extreme cases, this can also include an increase in suicidal thoughts and behaviors. (If you experience thoughts of suicide, please contact 911 right away.)
Also, both substances impair thinking, judgement, and reaction time therefore it is not advised to drive or operate other heavy machinery while taking either drug. Therefore, taking not just one, but two, substances that impair reaction time and abilities increases the risk of accidents.
If You Must Drink, Keep Your Alcohol Intake Minimal
Some doctors may allow light drinking while prescribing Paxil. This generally means one drink per day which consists of one 12 ounce beer, 5 ounces of wine, or one shot (1.5 ounces) of hard liquor.
This means you can only limit your consumption to one drink. However, this is not recommended, as the potential health risks can be hazardous.
When my patients ask me if they can drink alcohol while taking Paxil, my answer is to always err on the side of caution. Considering the potential health risks, it's just not worth it.
The bottom line is that it is not healthy for a person suffering from depression to consume a drug that it is a depressant.
Before taking Paxil, inform your doctor if you consume alcohol and discuss this issue with your healthcare providers. If you must drink, wait until the medication gets fully into your system in order to allow your body body fully adjust. This may take one to two months.
Once you are familiar with how the drug interacts with your body, only then should you consider consuming alcohol and only after discussing it first with your doctor.