Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 7/9/2022
If you’re dealing with anxiety or depression, taking an antidepressant can help. One such antidepressant? Paxil® (also known as generic paroxetine). Paxil is a mostly safe and effective treatment for symptoms of depression and anxiety, but like most medications, there are some things you should be aware of — especially if you’re a fan of an after-work cocktail or glass of vino. Simply, Paxil and alcohol don’t make a good mix.
We’ll get to the “why?” in a little bit, but first, let’s look at what Paxil is and why it’s so popular in the mental healthcare community.
Paroxetine is commonly prescribed for a number of mental health issues, including major depressive disorder, various anxiety disorders and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. It is available in tablet, liquid and extended-release forms.
Like any medication, there are common side effects associated with paroxetine. Some of them are:
Confusion and forgetfulness
Weight loss or weight gain
If you’re taking this antidepressant and notice persistent side effects, you should contact your healthcare provider.
There are a few more serious side effects associated with paroxetine, too. They include chest pain, trouble breathing, irregular heart rhythm, fainting and more. Speak to a medical provider immediately if you experience any of these.
If you start taking paroxetine and decide you want to stop, don’t quit cold turkey. Instead, work with a healthcare professional to lower your dosage slowly until it’s safe for you to stop. By doing this, you’ll avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Generally, it’s not advised to drink while taking antidepressants, including paroxetine.
Here’s why: drinking and taking paroxetine could decrease the benefits on the medication and increase your chances of experiencing side effects. For example, a side effect of drinking while taking this antidepressant is that you may feel more sedated.
Because many people refuse to give up alcohol completely while taking antidepressants, some medical professionals will okay one drink a day for female patients and two drinks a day for male patients.
However, it is very important to speak with your personal healthcare provider, as everyone’s situation and medical history are different.
No matter what, you should not start drinking until you know how Paxil makes you feel. If you are experiencing side effects like dizziness or drowsiness, alcohol will only make these things worse.
But the conversation around paroxetine and alcohol is a bit more complicated and nuanced.
The results suggest that taking paroxetine helped people feel more comfortable in social settings and curbed alcohol use.
Of course, it’s worth noting that this was just one study, and the sample size was extremely small and involved just 15 people.
On the flip side, taking SSRIs (like paroxetine) has been linked in some research to inducing alcoholism.
Paroxetine (or the brand name Paxil) is an antidepressant medication that is used to treat things like major depressive disorder and various anxiety disorders — specifically generalized anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, social anxiety (aka social phobia), panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Drinking while taking paroxetine is, for the most part, not recommended. If you do drink, you may find it enhances the adverse reactions of this antidepressant.
There is some research that found that people with social phobia who take paroxetine may find they don’t feel the need to imbibe in alcohol consumption since their anxiety symptoms are alleviated.
That said, there’s other research that suggests alcohol abuse or alcohol cravings may increase when taking SSRIs. With Paxil and alcohol interaction being so iffy, it really is best to avoid it if you can.
If you have questions about alcohol and paxil, it’s a good idea to speak with a mental health provider.