Is It Safe to Combine Mirtazapine and Alcohol? (with pictures)

Nicole Etolen
Nicole Etolen
Alcohol may increase the side effects of mirtazapine and other antidepressants.
Alcohol may increase the side effects of mirtazapine and other antidepressants.

Major depressive disorder, or MDD, is generally treated by some combination of talk therapy and drug therapy. Mirtazapine is part of a class of drugs known as tetracyclic antidepressants, which are effective in the treatment of MDD for some patients. These drugs work by altering chemicals in the brain that are thought to be responsible for mood regulation. It is not typically safe to combine mirtazapine and alcohol because alcohol also affects those same brain chemicals, but in a different way. Alcohol can also increase the side effects of these medications, especially when patient are first taking the medication.

A common side effect of both mirtazapine and alcohol is drowsiness, which can intensify when the two are combined.
A common side effect of both mirtazapine and alcohol is drowsiness, which can intensify when the two are combined.

Drowsiness is one of the most common side effects associated with mirtazapine. Combining mirtazapine with alcohol, even in small amounts, increases the level of drowsiness. This can be particularly dangerous while driving, operating machinery, or performing household tasks such as cooking and ironing. In addition to causing drowsiness, both mirtazapine and alcohol are known to slow down reaction times. The combination of drowsiness and a delayed ability to react to a situation can cause serious consequences or fatalities in certain situations.

Like other tetracyclic antidepressants, mirtazapine should not be mixed with alcohol.
Like other tetracyclic antidepressants, mirtazapine should not be mixed with alcohol.

In some patients, antidepressant can cause periods of abnormal thinking or irrational thoughts, including thoughts of suicide. Alcohol also affects rational thinking, sometimes leading to behavior that is totally different from sober behavior. Alcohol also lowers drinkers’ inhibitions, which means they may do things they usually wouldn’t do. Taking both mirtazapine and alcohol together can increase the risk of engaging in excessive risk-taking or otherwise inappropriate behavior.

Mirtazapine belongs to the family of tetracyclic antidepressants.
Mirtazapine belongs to the family of tetracyclic antidepressants.

Alcohol is a depressant, and in patients already suffering from depression, it can significantly worsen the condition. Those who drink heavily for a long period of time may be more prone to mood disorders, although it can be unclear as to whether the disorder existed prior to the drinking and led to heavy alcohol consumption or whether the alcohol brought on the condition. While combining mirtazapine with alcohol may not always directly increase a patient’s level of depression, the alcohol does make it more difficult for the antidepressant to do its job.

After taking mirtazapine for a few weeks it may be safe to drink alcohol in moderation.
After taking mirtazapine for a few weeks it may be safe to drink alcohol in moderation.

After several weeks on the antidepressant, side effects typically tend to become milder and patients have a better idea of how the medication affects them. At this point, it may be safe to combine mirtazapine and alcohol on rare occasions and in moderation, as long as the patient doesn’t have any other health conditions that require abstaining from alcohol. For example, drinking one or two servings of alcohol, such as a glass of wine or champagne, will not typically cause significant negative effects. Patients should discuss this with their doctor first, however, as every case is different.

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Discussion Comments

anon950385

Have had alcohol only once so far on this drug and I drank pretty excessively, but consumed the same amount as a few of my mates. It seemed to magnify the drunkenness, although luckily I did nothing stupid. My friends tell me I was tripping over, slurring words and very hammered while they were all fine. I am certain this wasn't a case of tolerance or metabolism as I have had similar amounts with no problems.

I had no idea about avanzas dangers when consuming alcohol and would recommend that others do not consume alcohol while using avanza.

ZipLine

Drinking while on anti-depressants is just a bad idea in general. Alcohol depresses the central nervous system. So someone who is already suffering from depression and anxiety is going to feel even worse the day after they drink. Alcohol basically makes an anti-depressant ineffective.

Drinking while on medications also strains the liver because it has to work over-time to process everything. If someone already has issues with their liver, mixing mirtazapine and alcohol can tip things over the edge and cause real problems.

fBoyle

@turquoise-- Well, I guess you're lucky, because that hasn't been my experience.

I had alcohol on two occasions after starting this drug. The first time, I went crazy and started acting very weird. My friends had to escort me home because they thought that I would either get hurt or do something illegal and get arrested before I got home.

The second time I drank while on mirtazapine, I just became very tired and sleepy and basically fell asleep at the party.

Either way, drinking while on mirtazapine is no fun. I don't do it anymore.

turquoise

I have alcohol while on mirtazapine. I don't have a lot, just a beer or two, but it's fine. It doesn't do anything.

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    • Alcohol may increase the side effects of mirtazapine and other antidepressants.
      Alcohol may increase the side effects of mirtazapine and other antidepressants.
    • A common side effect of both mirtazapine and alcohol is drowsiness, which can intensify when the two are combined.
      A common side effect of both mirtazapine and alcohol is drowsiness, which can intensify when the two are combined.
    • Like other tetracyclic antidepressants, mirtazapine should not be mixed with alcohol.
      Like other tetracyclic antidepressants, mirtazapine should not be mixed with alcohol.
    • Mirtazapine belongs to the family of tetracyclic antidepressants.
      Mirtazapine belongs to the family of tetracyclic antidepressants.
    • After taking mirtazapine for a few weeks it may be safe to drink alcohol in moderation.
      After taking mirtazapine for a few weeks it may be safe to drink alcohol in moderation.
    • Combining mirtazapine and alcohol will increase one's level of drowsiness, eliminating driving as a possibility.
      Combining mirtazapine and alcohol will increase one's level of drowsiness, eliminating driving as a possibility.