Sertraline (Zoloft®) and Alcohol: What You Need to Know | yours (2023)

Sertraline, which is sold both as a generic drug and as Zoloft®, is an antidepressant drug used to treat depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, social anxiety disorder, and premature ejaculation.

It's okay to have a beer, glass of wine, or other alcoholic beverage every now and then. If you've been prescribed sertraline to treat one of the conditions listed above, you may have wondered if it's okay to drink alcohol while on your medication.

In general, it's best to avoid alcohol while using drugs like sertraline, which means you might want to think twice about opening that next bottle.

Here's what sertraline is and how it works as a treatment for depression and other mental health conditions.

We also discuss why it's not a good idea to drink alcohol if you're prescribed sertraline or a similar type of medication prescribed for depression.

SPECIAL OFFER ⏰ Save when you sign up for a 3 month supply. FREE TRIAL

Zoloft and alcohol side effects

Sertraline (Zoloft) is a safe and effective medication for most people. However, drinking alcohol with sertraline, like other antidepressants, has the potential to exacerbate the followingzoloft side effects:

  • nausea

  • Diarrhea

  • shivering

  • Dyspepsia (indigestion and/or stomach discomfort)

    (Video) How and When to take Zoloft (Sertraline) | What Patients Need to Know

  • changes in appetite

  • Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating)

  • difficulty in ejaculating

  • decreased sexual desire

Although less common, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as sertralinecan also cause more serious side effectssuch as drowsiness and dizziness.

Mixing alcohol with sertraline can increase your risk of experiencing these side effects, especially if you drink a lot of alcohol (for example, after a night of drinking).

Can you safely drink Zoloft?

No, you cannot safely drink it with sertraline. The FDA recommends avoiding alcohol consumption while using sertraline. This is because, as we said before, alcohol can make some of sertraline's side effects worse and increase your risk of harm or injury when using sertraline to treat depression.

In addition to the common side effects listed above, sertraline can cause excessive drowsiness and reduce your ability to think clearly, react, and make decisions. These effects can become more severe when alcohol is consumed while sertraline is active in your body.

There is also evidence published in the journal,alcohol use disorder and depressive disorders,This says that alcohol, especially when abused or consumed in excess, can make symptoms of depression worse, a huge concern if you are using sertraline to help with major depressive disorder. We discuss this in more detail further down the page.

Also, mixing sertraline and alcohol can cause serious health problems.

online mental health assessment

your mental health journey starts here

Can Alcohol and Zoloft Cause Serotonin Syndrome?

While not a direct cause, mixing Zoloft and alcohol can increase your risk of serotonin syndrome. As an SSRI, sertraline works by increasing the amount of sertraline present in the brain and body.

(Video) Can I Drink Alcohol with Sertraline? Antidepressants and Drinking

Research published in the journal,alcohol health and research world,shows that alcohol can affect the body's serotonin receptors. In fact, animal studies have found that alcohol exposure can increase serotonin levels in the brain.

This is concerning, as mixing drugs that increase serotonin levels can lead to severe symptoms called serotonin syndrome.

According to an article published inThe Ochsner newspaper, serotoninRoma occurs when serotonin receptors are overactivated due to high levels of serotonin. It usually develops when antidepressants are combined with other medications that increase serotonin levels, such as triptans, anxiety medications, or other antidepressants.

In the same article, mild symptoms are listed as hypertension, tachycardia, dilated pupils, excessive sweating, chills, tremors, muscle spasms and excessive or insufficient responsive reflexes. Moderate cases include all of the above symptoms plus fever, hyperactive bowel sounds, abnormal eye movement, irritability, and slurred speech.

When severe, serotonin syndrome can be a life-threatening health problem that requires urgent medical attention. Symptoms of severe cases include extremely high fever, rapid changes in pulse and blood pressure, muscle stiffness and delirium. These symptoms can lead to complications such as seizures, kidney failure, coma, respiratory failure and even death.

Although alcohol is generally not associated with serotonin syndrome, its effects on serotonin may increase the risk of this interaction.

Sertraline and Alcohol: Can I Have a Drink or Two?

The FDA strongly advises against consuming alcohol while using sertraline. This means that it is best to avoid consumingsomealcohol while using sertraline, even if it's just a can of beer or a glass of wine.

If you have a small intake of alcohol as part of your general lifestyle (for example, a single serving of alcohol with dinner) and wish to maintain this while using sertraline, it is important to consult your physician first.

Be sure to strictly follow your doctor's instructions while using sertraline, even if it means avoiding alcohol completely until you are finished with the treatment.

How does alcohol interact with sertraline?

Alcohol interacts with sertraline in several ways. While alcohol is often considered a beverage, it is also a drug, meaning it can increase the risk of harmful interactions when used with other drugs.

The negative effects of alcohol include:

  • Changes in your brain's communication pathways and function

  • Disruptions of your normal moods, feelings, and behavior.

  • Motor coordination and movement impaired.

  • Reduced ability to think, control your impulses and make decisions.

    (Video) 3 Things To Know Before Taking Zoloft (Sertraline)

When you consume excessive amounts of alcohol, you may start toface deteriorationwith basic vital functions such as breathing, temperature control and heart function.

Symptoms of substance abuse or alcohol abuseincludevomiting, mental confusion, seizures, slow heart rate, shortness of breath, blunted physical responses, low body temperature, and even brain damage.

Using sertraline while drinking alcohol can make these problems worse and contribute to an increased risk of harm to yourself, even with moderate alcohol consumption.

How does alcohol affect depression?

Even without antidepressants like sertraline, major depression and alcohol are not considered a good combination.

Research published in the journal,current reports of psychiatry,found that alcohol use disorders (AUDs) and clinical depression often co-occur, meaning they often develop together. Furthermore, they tend to produce worse clinical outcomes, such as alcohol dependence, when they occur concomitantly.

While alcohol may make you feel better in the short term, it is a depressant that affects the central nervous system by shrinking brain tissue, interfering with brain receptors and their communication with nerve cells, and suppressing nerve activity, according to a scientific review. published. in the daily magazineCurrent neurovascular research. In addition, excessive alcohol consumption can cause memory and cognition problems.

In the long term, excessive alcohol consumption isassociated withan elevated risk of developing depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. According to an article published in the magazine,Research on alcohol: current commentsalcoholism and depression are highly comorbid. The article explains that there is an association between the internalization of depressive symptoms and the development of motives for self-medication with alcohol.

According to the same article, the scientific rationale behind the relationship between the development of depression and alcohol abuse is still limited, but alcohol-induced depression is often marked by a reduction in depressive symptoms after cessation of alcohol use. alcohol.

Simply put, drinking during depression is not recommended. Not only could it make your depressive symptoms worse, but it could also lead to a substance use disorder.

Should I skip my next sertraline dose to drink alcohol?

No, you shouldn't skip yoursertraline dosagedrink alcohol if using sertraline to treatdepressionthe oneanxietydisorder, you must use it exactly as directed by your doctor.

Skipping or discontinuing antidepressants is not recommended. This is because antidepressants can cause a variety of withdrawal symptoms, known as antidepressant withdrawal syndrome, when stopped abruptly, according to an article published inJournal of the Canadian Medical Association.

These symptoms affect about 20% of people and can include nausea, sensory issues, poor balance and flu-like symptoms, as well as mood swings such as irritability, agitation and feelings of anxiety.

In addition to potentially causing withdrawal symptoms, stopping sertraline treatment may increase the risk of relapse of depression symptoms.

Because of this, it's a good idea to avoid all alcoholic beverages and continue using sertraline as prescribed if you have depression or anxiety.

psychological medications

Psychiatrist-supported care, all from your couch

(Video) Zoloft and alcohol

Drinking Zoloft: Not a Good Idea

The use of sertraline with alcohol is not recommended. Not only can it increase your risk of side effects, but it can also make your condition worse.

Sertraline is one of the most common prescription medications for depression. When used as prescribed, it can help you deal with your symptoms, improve the way you think and feel, and make real progress towards recovery.

If you are concerned about your alcohol use or feel that you cannot control your depression while you are depressed, it is important to seek help from your doctor.

Regarding treatment options, we offersertralineonline, after consultation with a licensed healthcare professional who will determine if a prescription is appropriate. we also offeronline mental health servicessuch aspsychiatryyterapia individual, it's includedanonymous support groups

Want to know more about sertraline? Oursertraline guidegoes into more detail about how this medication works, how you can take it for depression, possible side effects to look out for, and much more.

16 fonts

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, December 29). Drinking too much alcohol can harm your health. learn the facts. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from
  2. Chu, A. (May 10, 2021). Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. StatPearlsInternet. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from
  3. Darby-Stewart, et al. (2010, May 15). Antidepressants for the initial treatment of depression. American family physician. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from
  4. DeVido, J.J. and Weiss, R.D. (December 2012). Treatment of the depressed alcoholic patient. Current reports from psychiatry. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from
  5. Endocrine Society. (2022, January 24th). Brain hormones. Endocrine Society. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from
  6. Gabriel, M. and Sharma, V. (May 29, 2017). Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. CMAJ: Journal of the Canadian Medical Association = Journal of the Canadian Medical Association. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from
  7. Kaye and others. (2013). Serotonin syndrome. The Ochsner Journal. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from
  8. Lover, DM (1997). The role of serotonin in the effects of alcohol on the brain. Alcohol health and research world. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from
  9. McHugh, R.K. & Weiss, R.D. (2019). Alcohol Use Disorder and Depressive Disorders. Alcohol Research: Current Revisions, 40(1), acr.v40.1.01.
  10. Mukherjee S. (2013). Alcoholism and its effects on the central nervous system. Current Neurovascular Research, 10(3), 256–262.
  11. Reference ID: 4032692. (s.f.). Retrieved February 8, 2022, from
  12. US Department of Health and Human Services (North Dakota). Alcohol and other drugs. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from
  13. US Department of Health and Human Services (North Dakota). Alcohol use disorder and depressive disorders. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from
  14. US Department of Health and Human Services (North Dakota). The effects of alcohol on the body. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from
  15. US Department of Health and Human Services (North Dakota). Understand the dangers of alcohol overdose. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from
  16. US National Library of Medicine (North Dakota). Sertraline: Medlineplus Drug Information. MedlinePlus. Retrieved February 8, 2022, from
(Video) Is It Okay to Drink Alcohol While on SSRI Anti-Depressant Medication? | Psychiatrist Answers

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained in this document is not a substitute for, and should never be relied upon as, professional medical advice. Always talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standardson here.


1. What To Avoid When Taking Sertraline, Fluoxetine, Paroxetine, Escitalopram (SSRIs)
(JJ Medicine)
2. Can I drink alcohol with Zoloft (Sertraline)?
(Sophie Elizabeth Radford)
3. Why Antidepressants Make You Feel Worse - At First
(Dr. Tracey Marks)
4. How to use Sertraline? (Zoloft) - Doctor Explains
5. A Year on Sertraline/Zoloft SSRI: Anti-Depressant Update 2023
(David Masson)
6. 50mg to 100mg of Sertraline Daily - Side Effects - Why I changed - How I feel now?
(Alex Robb)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Maia Crooks Jr

Last Updated: 08/09/2023

Views: 5888

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (43 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Maia Crooks Jr

Birthday: 1997-09-21

Address: 93119 Joseph Street, Peggyfurt, NC 11582

Phone: +2983088926881

Job: Principal Design Liaison

Hobby: Web surfing, Skiing, role-playing games, Sketching, Polo, Sewing, Genealogy

Introduction: My name is Maia Crooks Jr, I am a homely, joyous, shiny, successful, hilarious, thoughtful, joyous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.