Studies have shown that as people age, they become more susceptible to the depressant effects of alcohol. This is because a person’s body chemistry is prone to changes as they reach middle age. Along with these changes, the chances of someone taking medications that could interact negatively with alcohol also increase. Because of these factors, many doctors recommend only moderate drinking: no more than two alcoholic drinks a day, and always a break of one day in between the amount consumed.
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that the number of people who take antidepressants has nearly doubled since the late 90’s. Now, almost 15% of Americans are prescribed antidepressants. For people over the age of 60, at least one in six of them take antidepressants as prescribed by their doctor. Because alcohol is a depressant, it has the ability to increase the symptoms and effects of depression. Symptoms of depression include a difficulty concentrating and making decisions, decreased energy, fatigue, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, feelings of hopelessness and despair and more.
Drinking can increase depression because it can affect our brain chemicals and processes. Drinking actually interferes with neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that aid in transmitting signals between nerves in our brains. Additionally, regular, heavy drinking can inhibit the amount of serotonin in the brain, and serotonin is a mood-regulating chemical. While it remains unclear as to just how much drinking it takes to severely impact someone’s depression, what is clear is that people who suffer from depression are more at risk for heavy drinking and alcohol dependence.
For people with diagnosed depression, the chances of becoming reliant on alcohol is two times greater than the chance for those who do not have depression. And, if someone suffers from depression as well as another psychiatric condition, the chances of alcohol dependence skyrockets to six or seven times greater than the general population. There are other risk factors of drinking on antidepressants as well. Some medications, when combined with alcohol, can pose a seizure risk. With others, high blood pressure can be an issue. Sometimes, it appears as though drinking can actually inhibit the positive side effects of antidepressants, and create additional feelings of sadness, anxiety or hopelessness. With risk factors like these, another very important and serious worry is the chance for suicidal thoughts or ideation. Suffering from depression does increase the chance of suicide and when combined with a depressant such as alcohol, this chance can increase.
If you are worried about the amount of alcohol you drink because you are prescribed an antidepressant, it is important to consult directly with your doctor or psychiatrist. With them, you can report how much you drink, how frequently, and discuss ways to limit your chances for alcohol dependence or adverse side effects. Many medical professionals recommend speaking directly with your doctor if you are prescribed antidepressants prior to drinking any type of alcoholic beverages, to insure that you are taking your medication in a manner in which is both safe and effective.
If you have a legal question, call the Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Galfand Berger at 800-222-8792 or contact us online. We have been helping injured victims throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey for more than 70 years.