Mirtazapine and Alcohol

Whenever you take a new medication, it is important to follow safety instructions, including whether or not you can take it with alcohol. Many medications, particularly antidepressants, caution against drinking alcohol while on them, making it crucial to understand the interactions between mirtazapine and alcohol.

What is Mirtazapine?

Mirtazapine is an antidepressant that works by enhancing the impact of neurotransmitters, which are naturally occurring chemicals. These chemical compounds are responsible for bringing chemical messages between the nerve cells and the most well-known examples include serotonin and noradrenaline.

When serotonin and noradrenaline are released from the brain’s nerve cells, they lighten your mood. When bound to these nerve cells, they cannot affect mood. Experts believe that depression may involve a reduction in the quantities of these neurotransmitters being released from the nerve cells within the brain.

Mirtazapine works through blocking alpha-2 receptors within the nerve cells of the brain. In healthy people, serotonin and noradrenaline would bind these receptors, but mirtazapine stops them from binding with the nerve cells. This allows for increased levels of free serotonin and noradrenaline, which in turn improves their effect on a person’s mood and combats depression.

Can I Drink Alcohol While Taking Mirtazapine?

Most doctors and pharmacists advise you NOT to combine mirtazapine and alcohol. This is because alcohol impacts the same chemicals within the brain as mirtazapine, but does so differently. Alcohol is also associated with an increased risk of medication side effects, particularly when you first begin taking mirtazapine.

Increase Side Effects

As mentioned above, combining mirtazapine and alcohol can increase the side effects that you experience. Drowsiness is among the most noticeable side effects of the medication and having even small amounts of alcohol with it can increase the feeling. This makes certain tasks more dangerous, such as operating machinery, driving, or doing household chores like ironing and cooking. Both alcohol and mirtazapine can slow down your reaction time. When this is combined with drowsiness, it can lead to serious consequences, even fatalities in extreme situations.

Affect Behavior

Some patients will notice that antidepressants can lead to abnormal thinking, including suicidal thoughts. Alcohol is also known to interfere with rationality, occasionally causing people to act in ways they would not ever consider when sober. Additionally, alcohol lowers peoples inhibitions, meaning you are more likely to engage in activities you typically wouldn’t. If you take mirtazapine and alcohol at the same time, you will be increasing your chances of inappropriate or risk-taking behavior.

Interfere with the Medication

Alcohol works as a depressant. If you already suffer from depression, alcohol may make the condition worse. If you drink large quantities of alcohol over a long period of time, this may increase the risk of mood disorders. Drinking alcohol while on mirtazapine will make it more challenging for the medication to successfully combat depression.

Is Small Amount Allowed?

After you have been taking mirtazapine or any other antidepressant for several weeks, you would normally better understand the effects it has on you and the side effects will generally become milder. This means that you can occasionally take mirtazapine and alcohol, but should only do so in moderation and on rare occasions. Most patients who have been on antidepressants for this amount of time won’t notice significant negative effects from a glass of champagne or wine. You should, however, discuss the matter with your doctor first.

More Notes on Taking Mirtazapine

  • Always follow your doctor’s instructions when taking mirtazapine. Don’t adjust your dosage or take it for a longer period of time than your doctor recommends.
  • Most doctors recommend taking mirtazapine once a day before bed, but again, follow your health care provider’s instructions as individual cases vary.
  • You may not notice an improvement in your symptoms for several weeks. Continue to use the medication, and let your doctor know if you don’t notice any improvement in 4 weeks.
  • Never stop taking mirtazapine suddenly as this can lead to withdrawal symptoms. Your doctor can help you gradually stop taking the medication to avoid negative effects.
  • If you miss a dose, take it right away when you remember. If it is nearly time to take the next dose, skip your missed one. Don’t double your dose to make up for it.

Other Drugs that Affect Mirtazapine

In addition to exercising care with alcohol and mirtazapine, there are other drugs that can worsen its side effects, particularly drowsiness. Always talk to your doctor before you take a sleeping pill, muscle relaxer, narcotic pain medication, or medicines for seizures or anxiety while on mirtazapine.

It is particularly important for him/her to be aware of the following medications:

  • Tramadol
  • St. John’s wort
  • Ketoconazole
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Cimetidine (Tagamet)
  • Tryptophan (L-tryptophan)
  • Phenytoin, carbamazepine, or other seizure medications
  • Zolmitriptan, sumatriptan, or other medicines for migraine
  • Lithium, antipsychotics, or other medications to treat mental illness, though or disorders

It is also possible for other medicines to interact with mirtazapine, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, herbal products and vitamins. Your doctor should know all the medicines that you take as well as any new ones that you start taking or medicines that you stop taking while on mirtazapine.

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