Anti depressants : Happy pills that can damage your reputation

anti depressants alcohol

Pretty to look at but not to take

We live in a world fraught with stresses, upset and sadness.  Some of us are able to deal with what life throws at us, but some need a little help.  Anti depressants are now prescribed more and more readily to young women in the UK.  Out of my five closest friends, four of them have been on or are currently taking an anti depressant daily.  GPs market these as a short term fix but the reality of their schedules means that these drugs rarely get reviewed so we end up taking them long term.

From my experiences, especially recently, I’ve learned the hard way that Effexor and alcohol do not mix. I have noticed in myself, and heard from others, that the effects of alcohol and its intensity change dramatically while on Effexor.  I thought I could handle it but sitting here typing with a broken arm says otherwise

I have been on Effexor for about 4 years now and really never drink. Every once and awhile I would go out and have a few drinks with co-workers or friends every 4-5 months, the latest being a few evenings ago. I came to a harsh conclusion that while I have been on Effexor, the effects of drinking have changed from when I never was on this medication. For the first few years I noticed a few negatives.  If I drank alcohol my hangovers from just two glasses of wine would mean I was out of action for an entire day. I constantly had a dry mouth, no interest in sex or hobbies and while I was not constantly crying, I never laughed either.  It was almost as if my ability to show emotions had been removed

In November last year I fell into a depressive spiral causing the doctor to double my Effexor dose.  Since then I have experienced a high desire to drink more and getting very drunk in a very short amount of time with few drinks. I never become buzzed or tipsy anymore. I realized quickly that after 2 drinks, I was completely smashed, the sort of drunk you would be after 8 drinks. I got used to never remembering a night and waking up feeling embarrassed and sick.  Friends would be baffled at the change in me after one drink.  The change from elation to anger to upset was rapid.

The next day the depressive spiral that hit me would mean I was unable to move or function apart from vomiting violently.  I would be obsessive, paranoid and cranky, unaware that alcohol stopped my Effexor from working.  People used to invite me places but the invites have dried up as nobody wants a walking liability on their hands.

Things came to a head a few weeks ago at my bosses 40th.  After one glass of wine my eyes were blurred, after two I couldn’t feel my legs.  Upon starting my third I insulted one of my co workers, talked like a slut to another, stormed upstairs at their outrage but slipped and broke my arm on the way. Normally, I would be happy and jovial after a couple of drinks were I not on Effexor. But, this amount of alcohol caused me to have long periods of blackouts and memory loss from the evening.

The effects of a couple of beers while taking Effexor are the same as if I were on an all day drinking binge were I not to be taking it.

I suppose everyone needs a wake up call and mine was thankfully this rather than waking up in a strange bed having been taken advantage of or worse.  My doctor never warned me about any dangers involved with my pills.  Only my own research taught me that Effexor and alcohol manipulate the same part of the brain so taking the two together accelerates the instant breakdown of your motor skills, the alcohol lessens the effect of the tablets and the tablets intensify the effects of the alcohol.

I’m now quitting alcohol and at the same time cutting down my dose of Effexor while in a happy environment.  I’m looking at alternatives for my depression such as CBT and other interests that boost my serotonin levels.

If you are taking anti depressants now, you may not have noticed the changes in you – the physical ones such as weight gain (I gained 14 pounds in 10 months) you might, but the emotional changes are subtle.  Ask your loved ones who might be keeping quiet to spare your feelings and act on their advice as I’ve learned the hard way that there really isn’t a magic pill.

Caution : pills may embarrass


A thirty something, fifties inspired traveller with a love of home comforts and pretty things. Lives in Norwich, plays in London.

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