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Lexapro and Alcohol

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Medically Reviewed Fact Checked

Last Updated on October 18, 2023 by Carol Gillette

by itself,Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Michael Loes MD

The FDA-approved drug label for Lexapro says, “DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL WHILE TAKING LEXAPRO,” but does not explain why a person should not take Lexapro and alcohol together.4

Of course, each person is unique, with individual sensitivities, dietary habits, and history.  And modern lifestyles hold their own sets of challenges. On the surface, these things may seem unrelated to one’s overall mental health, and finding solutions to unwanted symptoms can be perplexing. Let’s look a little deeper, to see if a better understanding can be achieved.

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Interactions Between Lexapro and Alcohol

Doctors typically prescribe Lexapro long-term, rather than on an occasional or “as-needed” basis. Problems can arise when Lexapro and alcohol interact. While more understanding is needed, we do know that both Lexapro and alcohol cause changes in certain neurotransmitters. The domino effects between drugs and alcohol create a complex set of interactions, which are not yet fully understood. But, there are case reports and clinical studies that can help us to better predict what these interactions can do to a person. We will discuss some of these below.

Interactions between Lexapro and alcohol can include:
  • lexapro & alcohol domino effectsA single episode of alcohol use can elevate serotonin levels. Case reports have demonstrated that the combined serotonergic effects of Lexapro and alcohol can cause serotonin syndrome — a potentially life-threatening reaction to abnormally elevated serotonin levels.12
  • Symptoms may emerge such as tremors, racing heart rate, agitation, confusion, disorientation, agitation, disorientation, spasms & jerky muscle movements, uncontrolled stretching movements of muscles, and excessive sweating.13
  • In chronic alcohol use, drug interactions are not 100% understood but clinical research suggests alcohol erases any benefits of antidepressant medication. Their combined use is associated with worsened depression.3
  • Pathological intoxication and gross disinhibition have been observed in case reports involving combined alcohol and antidepressants, including memory impairment, poor risk assessment, impulsive, violent, aggressive, homicidal, or other erratic and unusual behaviors.1
  • Both Lexapro and alcohol can cause cognitive impairments, which may be increased when combining these two substances.4
  • In young persons, both alcohol use and antidepressants are linked to an increased risk of suicide.5,6

Lexapro and Alcohol — Effects on Depression?

Statistics don’t always paint a complete picture, but we can use them to better understand the pieces of a larger puzzle. For example, on average, depressed people drink more alcohol than non-depressed persons. Studies show alcohol impairs brain function and causes neurological impairments resulting in psychiatric, emotional, and physical impairments.8

Other research suggests that overconsumption of alcohol can take on the guise of self-medicating to suppress unwanted symptoms like depression and anxiety. And, as we also see from clinical research, there are many adverse effects of alcohol overuse by itself, as well as concurrent alcohol and Lexapro use, including depression, that self-medicating may actually further complicate, and worsen.10

A similar characteristic of worsening depression with the long-term use of antidepressants has also been observed, as in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. A person taking antidepressants may find paradoxical worsening depression instead of the relief they were hoping to get.7

The research indicates that a great many people have not achieved the relief they were looking for by medicating their symptoms, drinking alcohol, or combining Lexapro and alcohol too. It may be time to consider another approach altogether for combating depression or other unwanted symptoms.

Holistic Mental Health Treatment — A Better Option?

Holistic treatment provides the means to achieve improvements in mental health and wellness without the penalty of the harmful effects of drugs or alcohol. In contrast, combining both alcohol and antidepressant medication can act like a double-barrelled shotgun, creating disastrous outcomes in some cases.

do not combine alcohol & lexaproAdditionally, nutrition is often neglected and could be actually making symptoms worse for people taking Lexapro and drinking alcohol.11

At Alternative to Meds, we use lab testing to assess nutrient deficits and to inform the design of the person’s program that will reverse these problems, often eliminating unwanted symptoms that have plagued a person for years. Restoring the gut microbiome is another strategy for mental wellness and physical improvements as well including mood, energy, and better quality sleep.9

Clearing neurotoxins from the body is another holistic strategy that holds much potential for better overall mental and physical health. You can read more about the holistic treatments offered at the center on our service overview pages that can address the unwanted effects of Lexapro and alcohol Many of these may be accessible to you in your own area, and you may find many of them benefit your own situation.

But in the interim, please remember that persons who are taking a drug such as Lexapro should NOT drink alcohol while taking Lexapro.

Find Out More about Holistic Treatment for Lexapro and Alcohol

Alternative to Meds Center has helped many persons find better solutions for reducing and eliminating symptoms that prescription drugs or alcohol use did not help. If you are interested in finding out more about the benefits of treatment, please do not hesitate to contact us directly. We can help answer any questions you might have about the effects of Lexapro and alcohol, and what drug-free treatment options may be available to you, to get the type of help you have been looking for.


1. Menkes DB, Herxheimer A. Interaction between antidepressants and alcohol: signal amplification by multiple case reports. Int J Risk Saf Med. 2014;26(3):163-70. doi: 10.3233/JRS-140632. PMID: 25214162. [cited 2023 May 15]

2. Suzuki A, Otani K. Serotonin Syndrome After an Alcohol Intake in a Patient Treated With Escitalopram and Clomipramine. Clin Neuropharmacol. 2019 May/Jun;42(3):103-104. doi: 10.1097/WNF.0000000000000331. PMID: 30844852. [cited 2023 May 15]

3. Graham, K., & Massak, A. (2007). Alcohol consumption and the use of antidepressants. CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne176(5), 633–637. [cited 2023 May 15]

4. FDA Label Lexapro (escitalopram oxalate) capsules, oral solution [approval 2002] [cited 2023 May 15]

5. Galaif ER, Sussman S, Newcomb MD, Locke TF. Suicidality, depression, and alcohol use among adolescents: a review of empirical findings. Int J Adolesc Med Health. 2007 Jan-Mar;19(1):27-35. doi: 10.1515/ijamh.2007.19.1.27. PMID: 17458321; PMCID: PMC3134404. [cited 2023 May 15]

6. Li K, Zhou G, Xiao Y, Gu J, Chen Q, Xie S, Wu J. Risk of Suicidal Behaviors and Antidepressant Exposure Among Children and Adolescents: A Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies. Front Psychiatry. 2022 May 26;13:880496. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2022.880496. PMID: 35693956; PMCID: PMC9178080. [cited 2023 May 15]

7. Fava GA. Can long-term treatment with antidepressant drugs worsen the course of depression? J Clin Psychiatry. 2003 Feb;64(2):123-33. doi: 10.4088/jcp.v64n0204. PMID: 12633120. [cited 2023 May 15]

8. Oscar-Berman M, Shagrin B, Evert DL, Epstein C. Impairments of brain and behavior: the neurological effects of alcohol. Alcohol Health Res World. 1997;21(1):65-75. PMID: 15706764; PMCID: PMC6826797. [cited 2023 May 15]

9. Clapp, M., Aurora, N., Herrera, L., Bhatia, M., Wilen, E., & Wakefield, S. (2017). Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis. Clinics and practice, 7(4), 987. [cited 2023 May 15]

10. Turner, S., Mota, N., Bolton, J., & Sareen, J. (2018). Self-medication with alcohol or drugs for mood and anxiety disorders: A narrative review of the epidemiological literatureDepression and anxiety35(9), 851–860. [cited 2023 May 15]

11. Muscaritoli M. The Impact of Nutrients on Mental Health and Well-Being: Insights From the Literature. Front Nutr. 2021 Mar 8;8:656290. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.656290. PMID: 33763446; PMCID: PMC7982519. [cited 2023 May 15]

12. Lovinger D. M. (1997). Serotonin’s role in alcohol’s effects on the brainAlcohol health and research world21(2), 114–120. [cited 2023 May 15]

13. Simon LV, Keenaghan M. Serotonin Syndrome. [Updated 2022 Jul 19]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: [cited 2023 May 15]

Originally Published Sep 18, 2018 by Diane Ridaeus

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Michael Loes, M.D.


Dr. Michael Loes is board-certified in Internal Medicine, Pain Management and Addiction Medicine. He holds a dual license in Homeopathic and Integrative Medicine. He obtained his medical doctorate at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1978. Dr. Loes performed an externship at the National Institute of Health for Psychopharmacology. Additionally, he is a well-published author including Arthritis: The Doctor’s Cure, The Aspirin Alternative, The Healing Response, and Spirit Driven Health: The Psalmist’s Guide for Recovery. He has been awarded the Minnesota Medical Foundation’s “Excellence in Research” Award.

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