Can You Consume Alcohol While Taking Paxil?

By Alicia Wooldridge, MD
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
March 7, 2022

Paxil, a brand of paroxetine, is a commonly prescribed antidepressant medication.

In 2019, paroxetine was the 78th most prescribed medication in the United States.

It works by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. 

Many people are uncertain about whether they can drink alcohol while using medications.

This is especially tricky when managing a mental health condition as these medications work on the nervous system, which is impacted by alcohol intake.

In this article, we’ll explain more about how Paxil works, what happens when you take alcohol with Paxil, the potential risks and whether it’s a good idea at all.

We’ll also explore what alcohol abuse means and how to get help if you think you may be dealing with it.

What is Paxil?

Paxil (paroxetine) is a selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor (SSRIs).

SSRIs are a class of drugs used to treat depression, anxiety, and other psychological disorders by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. 

Serotonin is a mood-stabilizing chemical that helps create healthy sleep patterns and maintain mental balance. 

Paxil is used to treat the following conditions:

Is it Safe to Drink While Taking Paxil? 

It’s advised that you do not drink while taking antidepressants like Paxil.

Alcohol can reduce Paxil’s effectiveness and expose you to more side effects of the medication. 

Since alcohol is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, it can make Paxil less effective.

This makes your symptoms likely to return.  

Taking alcohol while using Paxil can worsen symptoms of depression.

Also, the additional side effects from mixing both can be uncomfortable and make you more likely to stop using Paxil.

Potential Risks of Mixing Paxil with Alcohol 

Drinking alcohol while taking Paxil comes with risks.

At best, taking alcohol with Paxil will only make you sleepy, but at worst, Paxil’s effectiveness can be hampered by alcohol.

You may also experience an increase in mental health symptoms and increased side effects.

Increase in Mental Health Symptoms 

Combining alcohol with Paxil can make depression worse.

Alcohol interferes with how Paxil works, making it less effective in treating depression and other mental health issues. 

Increased Side Effects 

Alcohol can worsen the effects of Paxil on your central nervous system.

You may experience more dizziness, trouble concentrating, and mood swings.

It’s best to avoid alcohol altogether or reduce your intake. 

Other side effects that may be increased by consuming alcohol and paroxetine together include: 

  • Drowsiness 
  • Impaired judgment 
  • Sleepiness 
  • Hallucinations 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Irregular heart rhythm 
  • Restlessness 
  • Stiff muscles 
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting 
  • Sexual dysfunction 
  • Weight gain
  • Joint pain
  • Paranoia 
  • Suicidal thoughts

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Alcohol Abuse

If you find yourself drinking too much alcohol, unable to control your alcohol intake, or spending a lot of time drinking, you may have a problem with alcohol. 

The dietary guidelines for Americans 2020-2025 recommend drinking in moderation.

For men, it’s advisable to cut down your alcoholic drinks to two drinks or less per day on the days that you drink.

Women are advised to take one drink or less in a day.

Consistent heavy drinking can lead to severe health conditions like liver disease, high blood pressure, different forms of cancer, and memory problems.

Alcohol also weakens the immune system and drinking heavily can lead to alcohol dependence, wherein a person becomes unable to function without drinking.

It can also make it difficult for doctors to detect and diagnose specific health issues, like heart disease. 

When to See a Doctor 

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) are contraindicated with Paxil.

Let your doctor know if you’ve been on MAOI medication before beginning treatment with Paxil. 

Also, talk to your doctor if Paxil is making you feel suicidal.

Paxil increases the risk of suicidal thoughts in children, adolescents, and young adults.

If you’re having a mental health emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room. You can also get free 24/7 support from a suicide and crisis expert by calling or texting 988. If you’d prefer to chat online, you can chat with a suicide and crisis expert by visiting the Lifeline Chat.

Paxil can have some other serious side effects.

Report to your doctor if you:

  • Feel suicidal 
  • Have new or worsened depression 
  • Act aggressive or violent 
  • Have trouble sleeping
  • Feel restless
  • Have new or worsened anxiety and panic attacks 
  • Experience unusual changes in behavior or mood

Let your doctor know if you’re allergic to Paxil.

In some rare cases, people experience severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) to Paxil.

Seek immediate medical attention if:

  • You’re wheezing
  • You notice a skin rash that may include red, itchy, swollen, or peeling skin
  • You have trouble breathing
  • You have swelling in your face, throat, lips, and face

These are some signs of a serious allergic reaction to Paxil. 

Apart from MAOI, Paxil interacts with:

  • Mellaril (antipsychotic drug pimozide)
  • Fentanyl
  • Cinetadinr
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like diclofenac, ibuprofen 
  • Tamoxifen (for breast cancer) 

Discuss the drugs you’re currently on with your doctor.

Remember to never take Paxil without a prescription. 

How K Health Can Help

Think you might need a prescription for Paxil (paroxetine)?

K Health has clinicians standing by 24/7 to evaluate your symptoms and determine if paroxetine is right for you.

Get started with our free assessment, which will tell you in minutes if treatment could be a good fit. If yes, we’ll connect you right to a clinician who can prescribe medication and have it shipped right to your door.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you drink alcohol while taking Paxil?
We recommend you avoid alcohol intake while on Paxil because it might increase your depression symptoms.
Is it dangerous to drink alcohol while having withdrawal symptoms from Paxil?
Yes. You should not drink alcohol while having withdrawals from Paxil.
K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Alicia Wooldridge, MD

Dr. Alicia Wooldridge is a board certified Family Medicine physician with over a decade of experience.

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