Lexapro and Alcohol

by on May 14, 2012

Lexapro (escitalopram) is the brand name of an antidepressant that falls into the class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. Lexapro helps restore a chemical balance to the brain to combat depression and anxiety, and is known as a central nervous system, or CNS, active-agent. Alcohol also acts as a CNS active-agent in the form of a depressant. Alcohol directly interacts with Lexapro and alters its effects.

Health care professionals generally recommend that people taking the SSRI Lexapro avoid or limit their intake of alcohol. Combining Lexapro and alcohol increases both the effects of the medication and the effects of the alcohol. Drinking while on Lexapro may impair judgment and thinking. Alcohol also increases the side effects of Lexapro, including drowsiness and dizziness, as well as abdominal distress such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. In extreme cases, Lexapro and alcohol together may cause death.

Safe Amounts

Small amounts of alcohol may be consumed while taking Lexapro if approved by a physician. Safe amounts vary from person to person. In general, health care professionals recommend people taking Lexapro limit their alcohol intake to no more than one drink a day, which is equal to 12 oz. of beer, 5 oz. of wine or 1 oz. of hard liquor. Consuming alcohol with food may also lessen the side effects. In addition, Lexapro should be taken separately from the alcoholic beverage.

Signs of Over-consumption

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol while taking Lexapro can have serious consequences. As a depressant, alcohol may worsen a person’s depressive mood, and in some cases, it may cause suicidal ideation. Immediate medical attention is recommended if depression worsens or experiencing suicidal thoughts.


When taken together, Lexapro and alcohol decrease action and reaction time. To reduce danger, do not participate in activities that require concentration or a rapid response. This may include driving, operation of heavy machinery or leisure activities such as riding a bicycle.

As an antidepressant, Lexapro (escitalopram) positively affects mood. Alcohol, on the other hand, negatively affects mood. For some, small amounts of alcohol may be safe to drink while taking Lexapro. However, people taking Lexapro should first discuss alcohol intake with their doctor before taking a drink.