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Page last updated: 19/09/2022


This blogspot will answer the question “what are the effects of consuming alcohol while taking citalopram as an antidepressant among humans”. It will be based on the topics the adverse effects of consuming alcohol and citalopram, the potential problems of consuming alcohol with citalopram, the consequences of alcohol and citalopram interaction, can citalopram be used for treating alcohol abusers,  how drinking alcohol effects body while being on citalopram?

What are the effects of citalopram and alcohol on human beings?

The Food and Drug Administration of the United States has warned against using alcohol while taking citalopram. Citalopram is an antidepressant  that works by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin by neurotransmitters and hence aids the serotonin to stay longer in the brain. Citalopram has certain warnings and precautions associated with its use. Though it is an effective antidepressant, it has potential threats related to mixing the citalopram with other food categories or substances.

What does combining alcohol and citalopram do to your body?

Combining alcohol with citalopram results in various negative consequences as determined by the US Food and Drug Administration. 

These are :

  • Drinking alcohol while being treated with citalopram leads to overdose.
  • Citalopram does not augment the effect of alcohol in any way.
  • Even the prescribed dose of alcohol in a depressed person can lead to nausea, vomiting, racing heart, sleepiness, sweating and limbic tremors.
  • Often, due to alcohol consumption while taking citalopram, the overdose reaction occurs and the person faces breathing issues severe enough to need hospitalisation and ventilator.

What are the adverse effects of consuming citalopram and alcohol?

The adverse effects of combining citalopram and alcohol are as follows:

  • Amnesia
  • Partial or complete loss of consciousness
  • Stupor
  • Coma
  • Convulsions
  • Hyperventilation
  • Disturbed heart rate
  • Sudden Death

What potential threat does citalopram and alcohol have on side effects of other medications?

Combining citalopram and alcohol results in augmenting the side effects of any other medication that the individual has been taking. The combination of alcohol and citalopram have the tendency to worsen the side effects of any psychiatric medications, tranquilizers, sleeping aids, over the counter drugs and any other prescribed medications.

What is the effect of drug overdose due to combining citalopram and alcohol?

According to the Food and Drug Administration, combining citalopram and alcohol leads to drug overdose among the depressed humans. The overdose effect often results in severe heart effects. A condition known as torsades de pointes is commonly known to occur due to the drug overdose effect of combining alcohol and citalopram. Torsades de pointes is known to cause severe irregularities in heart rate that often leads to sudden death of the person.


What are the effects of citalopram intake in heavy alcohol drinkers?

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors have been considered as a drug of choice for treating problem drinking behaviors among humans. Citalopram has been one of the most widely accepted drugs for this purpose. 40 mg of citalopram has been significantly tested to reduce drinking behaviors among adults.

Research has also verified the use of citalopram as a drug of choice for treating addictive drinking behavior. The growing clinical research is based on the following two facts:

  • There has been evidence of  negative correlation between brain serotonin levels and alcohol consumption in animal studies conducted on rodents.
  • A resulting decreased alcohol intake produced as a result of drug induced increase in the brain activity related to serotonin in humans.

Yet another study was conducted to examine the mechanism behind the role of citalopram in reducing drinking behaviors. Gorelick (1989) suggested that the antianxiety and antidepressant properties of citalopram were not solely responsible for decreased drinking behaviors in adults. Rather the drug-alcohol interaction resulted in reduced alcohol intake among the participants due to decreased appetitive behavior and conditioned aversion to alcohol. 

Hence the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (Citalopram, fluoxetine and Zimelidine) were found to decrease the alcohol intake significantly among humans. The effects were visible in social drinkers, chronic alcohol drinkers and early problem drinkers as well. 

What is the effect of citalopram on heavy alcohol drinkers?

Citalopram results in reducing alcohol intake from 10-26 %. The effects of citalopram on alcohol drinkers are not short lived and usually last from 2 to 4 weeks after administration of the drug.

Research suggests that 40mg of citalopram has a tendency of reducing alcohol intake among heavy drinkers with a mean daily consumption of 60 g to 90 g of pure alcohol (Balldin, Berggren, Engel, Eriksso, Hård & Söderpalm, 1994).

What happens if a person taking citalopram starts  drinking alcohol?

Alcohol should be avoided totally by anyone who is undergoing treatment through citalopram. Alcohol drinking while being prescribed with citalopram can cause:

  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Disturbed focus
  • The lack of concentration can lead to disturbed executive functioning and organization skills. 
  • There is a great chance of an accident due to low ability of comprehension.

What is the effect of alcohol if a depressed person takes it while getting treated with citalopram?

If a depressed person takes alcohol while being treated with citalopram there is a greater chance of getting addicted to the drug. Alongside, a greater instability in sleep pattern occurs that further distorts the adaptive functioning of the individual.


The present blogspot made us learn the various effects of combining citalopram and alcohol.there are many adverse effects of consuming alcohol with citalopram as advised by the US Food and Drug Administration. The citalopram-alcohol combination leads to many changes in our physical and psychological health that often lead to being fetal.  It discussed the role of citalopram in treating drinking behaviors among humans. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Citalopram and Alcohol

What happens when you mix alcohol and antidepressants?

Drinking alcohol while being on antidepressants is not advised because alcohol further elevates depressive features. It also has a tendency to increase the intensity of side effects of antidepressants like low concentration, disturbed ficus, dizziness and amnesia.

What you can not mix with citalopram?

There are several medications that can not be mixed with citalopram. Some of these drug interactions are :
Methylene Injections

Is alcohol a depressant or antidepressant?

Alcohol is a depressant. The more an individual consumes its quantity the greater the tendency to feel the blues and thus enhance low mood and being sad. There is also a potential harm of taking impulsive decisions and getting involved in risky behaviors like suicidal attempts.

Why does alcohol make you feel good if it’s a depressant? 

Alcohol is a depressant. Like other drinks it tends to slow down the cognitive abilities, thinking capacity and judgment ability. The physical and psychological pain is thus less registered as a result of which a relaxed and calm body makes any situation pleasant.

Does alcohol stop antidepressants from working?

Drinking can reduce the functioning of antidepressants. It produces a short term feeling of relaxation but leads to further worsening of depression features making them more severe and hard  to manage with medications.


  • Balldin J, Berggren U, Engel J, Eriksson M, Hård E, Söderpalm B. Effect of citalopram on alcohol intake in heavy drinkers. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 1994 Oct;18(5):1133-6.
  • Gorelick DA. Serotonin uptake blockers and the treatment of alcoholism. Recent Dev Alcohol. 1989;7:267-81.
  • Frequently asked questions: Can I drink alcohol while taking antidepressants? National Alliance on Mental Illness.

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