Paroxetine is a medication that is often used in the treatment of various types of emotional disorders, including depression, anxiety, stress disorders, as well as premenstrual dysphoric disorder. The calming effect of paroxetine can help patients to begin recovering from whatever triggered the underlying problem. As with most medications used to treat emotional disorders, there are some potential side effects related to the use of this drug. This is especially true in terms of how paroxetine and alcohol can interact in the system.
Like most medications classed as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, paroxetine has an effect on the level of serotonin in the brain. The end result is the regulation of serotonin to a level that allows the individual to remain relatively even in mood, rather than experiencing the debilitating effects of depression or even a panic attack. Since the consumption of alcoholic beverages also has an effect on the brain, combining paroxetine and alcohol is generally discouraged.
One of the more common side effects of paroxetine and alcohol combinations is that the effects of the medication on mood are greatly amplified. Rather than allowing the depressed patient to achieve a balanced mood, the introduction of the alcohol may trigger either a deeper depression or a sense of overwhelming euphoria in different people. At the same time, someone who is taking the drug as a means of dealing with an anxiety disorder or minimizing the discomfort of a panic attack may find that the calming effect goes beyond simply regaining an emotional equilibrium and results in a sense of lethargy, sometimes to the point of losing consciousness.
Depending on the individual, the interaction between paroxetine and alcohol may be somewhat minor, resulting in feeling somewhat listless and not very energetic. Others may experience pronounced side effects from the combination that include a sudden rebound of depression or panic symptoms. Others may experience an overwhelming urge to go to sleep. In some patients, combining paroxetine and alcohol may slow down the breathing to a dangerous level, requiring immediate medical attention.
Choosing to combine paroxetine and alcohol is discouraged by medical practitioners. Typically, a patient will be counseled to avoid the consumption of alcohol while actively taking the drug. Even during the period in which the patient is incrementally weaning off the medication, avoiding the use of alcohol until the attending physician is satisfied that the paroxetine is completely out of the system is recommended.