The bright red label on my son’s depression medication, fluoxetine, the generic of Prozac, warns in bold lettering: DO NOT Drink Alcoholic Beverages while taking this medicine. We learned through first-hand experience why this bold red label is added to the medicine bottle, and that alcohol mixed with Prozac is not a good idea!
Ability to make wise choices impaired
Although Darrell had been taking fluoxetine for a year and had never challenged the red warning label before, one day he randomly decided that drinking beer would help him relax and lessen his depression. I believe the ability to make wise choices is sometimes impaired when plagued with a mental disorder because of incoherent (mixed up) thoughts that are present causing confusion. The decisions of someone who has a mental disorder often make no sense!
Full panic attacks
He purchased a six-pack of beer and drank all six cans throughout one afternoon and evening. Interestingly enough, instead of becoming more relaxed as Darrell had anticipated, he became more anxious. By bedtime, the anxious feelings heightened to full panic attacks. It became difficult for him to breathe and he thought for sure he was going to die. It was scary. I quickly loaded him into the car and speedily drove to the emergency room.
Alcohol mixed with Prozac
There was no doubt the panic attacks were related to drinking alcohol mixed with Prozac /fluoxetine. Possibly Darrell could have handled one or two beers in his system, but it is likely his body would still have reacted adversely to even a small amount of alcohol. The doctor gave him a shot of anti-anxiety medicine to reverse the effects of mixing alcohol with fluoxetine. Within 30 minutes, Darrell calmed down and began to feel sleepy.
I find it interesting that alcohol alone can relax the body, but alcohol mixed with an antidepressant had a completely opposite reaction making Darrell so anxious he could hardly breathe. It was the first time I had witnessed panic attacks of this magnitude. Panic attacks are indeed real.
We learned first-hand alcohol mixed with Prozac /fluoxetine is risky. We have also experienced the effects of caffeine mixed with Prozac if you would like to read the details about that experience.
It was a big lesson for Darrell. May we all learn from Darrell’s mistake by following red warning labels that are placed there for an important purpose (like preventing trips to the emergency room).
Top Featured Photo by Michal Ch