From a glass of wine with your dinner to the occasional beer with friends, colleagues or family members, it’s normal to enjoy alcohol from time to time. However, if you use an SSRI such as sertraline (Zoloft), it’s not recommended to drink alcohol. The relationship between sertraline (Zoloft) and alcohol is big and well-researched.
Sertraline is one of several SSRIs used to treat major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder. With millions of prescriptions in the US alone, it’s one of the most widely used and thoroughly tested SSRIs on the market.
If you’ve been prescribed sertraline, it’s normal to have questions about drinking alcohol while you take it. Below, we’ve answered common questions about consuming sertraline (Zoloft) and alcohol, and the health risks it can create.
Spoiler alert: Sertraline (Zoloft) and alcohol don’t go together.
Is it Safe to Drink Alcohol While Using Sertraline?
The FDA recommends avoiding alcohol consumption while using sertraline.
Sertraline and alcohol both affect your brain. When used together, alcohol’s effects on the brain can complicate the effects of sertraline.
Sertraline works by increasing the amount of serotonin that’s active in your brain. Alcohol, as a depressant, can affect your body’s serotonin levels and communication between different parts of your brain, potentially worsening sertraline side effects. Mixing sertraline and alcohol means you may have a higher risk of experiencing sertraline side effects such as nausea, drowsiness and dizziness. Alcohol’s sedative effects can compound those of sertraline, making you feel more fatigued and sleepy than normal.
Additionally, because alcohol is considered a depressant, consuming it while using sertraline can also increase your risk of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and headaches.
Our point? Sertraline and alcohol don’t mix well.
Alcohol and Depression
If you use sertraline to treat depression, you should not consume alcohol. In fact, your doctor will likely recommend avoiding all alcoholic beverages if you have depression, even if you do not use SSRIs such as sertraline.
Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it can contribute to and worsen many of the most common symptoms of depression. Despite the common belief that alcohol can improve mood, it’s very common for just one or two drinks to cause you to feel more depressed than normal.
Consuming alcohol can also increase your risk of experiencing suicidal thoughts — a serious potential issue if you’re receiving treatment for depression.
In general, it’s best to avoid mixing sertraline (Zoloft) and alcohol. If you’re invited to an event that’s likely to involve alcohol, it’s best to take sertraline as normal and drink a non-alcoholic beverage.
It’s also recommended to avoid alcohol if you use any other SSRIs or antidepressants, as these drugs often interact with alcohol. Finally, if you have depression, you should avoid alcohol even if you aren’t actively receiving treatment using SSRIS or other antidepressant medication.
Learn More About Sertraline
Do you currently use, or are considering using, sertraline? Our 101 guide to sertraline goes into more detail on how sertraline works to treat depression, social anxiety disorder and a variety of other conditions.