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Paxil and Alcohol
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Paxil and Alcohol

I am 23 years old and currently on Paxil 20mg a day for depression, OCD, and anxiety/panic disorder.  I have always had a problem with anxiety...but the depression has been in the past three years and the OCD more recently.  I am about to finish my first month of the medicine and then I am supposed to up to 30mg a day since the anxiety is not getting any better.  In the past month I have found that I have a HUGE desire to drink.  ALL DAY LONG.  I have NEVER been a big drinker....maybe a glass of wine at night....occasionally go out on the weekends...but since having my daughter I generally stay sober.  I have alot of self restraint and as a stay at home mom I generally do not have my first drink until close to 5 at night (knowing my husband will be home in an hour).  I am now not even interested in it...unless its VODKA 100 PROOF.  I have spent close to 300 in the past month alone on vodka.  My husband drinks alot....so between him and I we are going through close to 1.5Liters every two days.  To make matters worse I went out with some friends last night...(sort of a reward to myself as I never go ANYWHERE anymore) and apparently I was taking shot after shot after shot of liquor.  Chasing the shots with mixed drinks and beer.  I didn't think I drank that much last night....and don't really remember much of it (which is not typical of me).  Apparently I was LOUD, OBNOXIOUS, and when I got home I told my husband that he and my daughter would be better off without me....and I grabbed a knife and threatened to slit my wrists.  WHERE is that coming from!  Seriously?  I have NEVER behaved this way!  I guess I kept him up until close to 5 in the morning...complaining about my life and how I am a horrible mother.  

Now...having said all that....has ANYONE else experienced this kind of behavior on paxil?  The medicine has been overall GREAT for my depression...and has truly given me part of my life back....but my daughter does NOT need to have a mother who can't even remember what she did the night before.  I have upset my best friend...my husband says that while overall I am much more enjoyable to be around...its like I don't care about ANYTHING.  It took alot for me just to admit that I had a problem with depression, etc...so now I have to admit that I still have a problem?

Someone please?  Some advice?
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Avatar_m_tn
It sounds like the problem is the Alcohol rather than the Paxil.

While you can safely drink Alcohol while taking Paxil, it is not advised.

Considering that Alcohol is just about the worst thing you can take if you suffer from depression, then I would try to limit your intake.

Limiting Alcohol intake is very easy for someone that is not an alcoholic. It is not so easy for someone that has an addiction to Alcohol.

I takes AD meds also, and I also drink, but I keep my alcohol intake to a minimum and drink less often. I think it's all about moderation.

There are also some studies that suggest that Alcohol consumption may reduce the overall effectivness of many AD medications including Paxil.
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457721_tn?1256644398
I understand this....but I have never had a compulsion to drink until taking Paxil.  I have searched the internet and find that I am not alone in this compulsion.  
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Avatar_m_tn
That is unusual. I have never heard of any SSRI medication causing cravings for Alcohol.

Do you think your improved mood from taking Paxil has caused you to feel more like drinking and being social?
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457721_tn?1256644398
That would be what I would think....IF I only wanted to hang out with friends and drink...but I want to drink all the time....by myself....with people....it doesn't matter.  

Also....there is a very distinct possibility that this medicine is screwing me up....I have had horrible nerve pain in my whole body....cannot sleep at night even though I am exhausted and NOW I am hearing things.....the hearing things just started today.
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Avatar_n_tn
I have been a big drinker since my undergraduate days.  I know that you don't have the same history, but I still believe that I have some insight into the problem.  I didn't standout in the crowd as having a problem in those days, but not many did.  I was also a bit depressed, and drinking allowed me to overcome my feelings at parties.  I  can't say exactly when my depression began, but it was near the end of high school.  As the years progressed, so did the frequency and severity of the illness.  And my drinking habits - another illness in itself - remained on par with my college days.  

Eventually, my depression became bad enough for me to start medication.  It took years of suffering because I had a difficult struggle with my ego.  It was hard for me to admit that I needed meds, and I was ashamed.  

Anyway, I started with Paxil when I began grad school and the results were fantastic.  Everything was clear, my mornings no longer began in the afternoon, and I was able to concentrate for great lengths of time.  I was also able to drink like never before.  Three drinks didn't make me feel like one used to, and I would eventually lose count.  The combination of my mental stability, my increased metabolism and alcohol made me feel like I was at the top of the game.  But some nights, when I switched from beer or cocktails to shots, I would lose control.  I'd get extremely angry, jumping at even the slightest teasing or harmless taunts from friends and strangers alike.  Other nights, I would fall into deep depression which was sometimes accompanied by suicidal thoughts.

Over the years, I switched to other drugs and drug combinations, and each time, my ability to drink remained enhanced to various degrees and results.  When I took zoloft, I was an angry drunk.  I stopped taking it after an embarrassing meltdown at a party with my family and their friends.  

I remember hearing a warning on an anti-depressant drug commercial recently that if you begin to have gambling urges that you've never had before to see a doctor before continuing with the drug.  I don't remember which drug it was, but what matters is that these drugs can affect us in non-intuitive ways.  How the hell can a drug make me want to go to Vegas and shoot craps?  It's like warning that a drug might increase your desire to ride roller costers while wearing tank tops.  Well, who knows how it can do it, but if it couldn't, we both know that the drug company's lawyers would never insist that they place the warning.  

These drugs work on our brain chemistry, and that's where everything happens - emotions, reason, dreams, perception.  One drug may stabilize your mood, but make you more compulsive or impulsive.  Another may make you less anxious in social situations, but, in combination with alcohol, give you the energy and desire to drink all night.  The important thing is that you know it's happening, and - believe me - it's the combination of Paxil and alcohol that's causing it.  Because you know, you should take this opportunity to decide how you want to handle it.

I still haven't done that.  I don't drink as often as I used to, but when I do, I still drink quite a bit.  I still can get sad or angry as well.  I feel that I'm on a good drug combination for my specific issues, but I know that it would be better if I didn't drink.  My mood can be affected as long as five days after a rough night.  I've simply never been willing to give it up.

I'm not suggesting that you do one thing or the other, I just think it's important that you know that it's happening.  Please take care and give Addy a kiss for me.
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457721_tn?1256644398
First off, thank you for sharing your story.  

Secondly, between the horrendous headaches, the extreme fatigue, restlessness, hallucinations, low grade fever, and extreme pain I am starting to wonder if this is worth it.  I actually feel ill.  I am hearing things....no voices telling me to do one thing or another...just voices in general.  I can't concentrate for the most part....its horrible.

The hallucinations are new...and my husband is worried about Seratonin Syndrome.  I don't know what to do....in all honesty...I wish I could take a break for a few days....no baby, no husband....and sleep.....I can't concentrate on myself because my daughter is so important to me...that I devote every waking hour to taking care of her and keeping an immaculate house for my husband who has a full time job and is in school full time.  

I guess I will just have to wait and see what the doctor says?
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Avatar_n_tn
OK, that's different.

Don't drink tonight.  Have your mom watch your daughter or get a baby sitter, and go see your doctor or go to a hospital.  Some of the things you describe - fatigue, restlessness, inability to concentrate - are typical.  When you feel that way, drinking always makes it worse.  You shouldn't be hearing voices.  Get to a doctor as soon as you can, and rest before then.  You most definately can take a few days off - just have your family, friends, a babysitter pitch in.  After you put a new plan together with a doctor, you can get back to taking care of your family.  Until then, let them take care of you.  
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457721_tn?1256644398
I will be okay I think....like I said...the voices don't tell me to anything....its just I hear people talking.  Almost like they are standing outside my window or something.  Its weird.  I have an appointment with my doctor on Monday....and my husband is going to be home from work shortly and he has already told me as soon as he gets home he wants me in the tub and then he is making me take one of my pain pills and REST in the bedroom.  BY MYSELF he says.  He is worried....and rightfully so.  we will see...
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Avatar_n_tn
That's good to hear. Try not to drink though.  And about the voices, if you mean that you're in a dream like state, mostly awake but nodding off every now and then, I have had some experiences like seeing or hearing some crazy things.  I have alway chalked it up to my subconscious; I believe that I was having brief dreams and never fully awake.  But if you mean that you're reading, or taking a shower or folding the clothes fully awake and hearing voices, I haven't ever hadthat happen.  It's good that they don't tell you to do anything, but you shouldn't hear them at all.  
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401554_tn?1270217356
Oh my gosh, I hope you can get everything straightened out! Paxil may not be the drug for you; there are many other antidepressants out there to choose from. I was on Paxil for 7 years, starting at age 13 and then finally stopping at age 20. I took 40mg and it worked well for several years, but then it began to lose its effectiveness and made me EXTREMELY LAZY!!! I was sleeping constantly and by the time I turned 18, I had an ever constant desire to drink, smoke weed, and take any drug I could possibly get my hands on. It turned me into a sloth that cared about my situation but was too lazy to do anything about it. After stopping it, I developed flushing in my face and chest, and then over the course of several months, my resting heart rate rose from the 60's into the upper 90's, and has remained there since. I must mention that it is neurological in origin. I also developed an additional arrhythmia which has waxed and waned since then, and it has caused me so much sadness that some days I pray that I die. I also must mention that I was taking Xanax and Klonopin from age 19 to 20 and stopped it (cold turkey) shortly after the Paxil, which may be behind my heart-related problems, but I'm not sure. I am now 22 and am taking Lexapro, an SSRI antidepressant just like Paxil, in addition to Xanax (ugh!) and Atenolol to control my arrhythmia. The Atenolol has my heart rate back into the 60's, but it only masks my palpitaions...it's no cure. Since starting the Lexapro, the laziness has returned as well as my desire to get drunk and high, but my arrhythmia (and God) keeps me from doing so because it gets much worse, even after 1 drink or a tiny puff of MJ. For some reason, I worry that God is punishing me for having used weed, and that He will make my condition worse or even kill me if I ever touch it again. I always look at the clock when it turns 4:20, and also when it turns 1:23, and I interpret this as a sign of some kind, since 4:20 is a pothead slogan and since I started and stopped smoking weed 3 times (hence 1,2,3). I worry that I have no more "second chances," so I keep away from it, but still want to smoke. I'm afraid that after years of taking Paxil (while I was young and my brain was developing) may have permanently f***ed my brain chemistry, and I now find myself taking psychiatric drugs once again, trying to correct the damage that they may have caused. Do yourself a favor and try something else other than Paxil, lest you end up in my condition. Sorry about ranting, but I'm alone on a Saturday night with no one to talk to.
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457721_tn?1256644398
Last night I took 2 muscle relaxers and a Tylenol PM and went to sleep....I slept for about 8 hours and woke up this morning still feeling like I did yesterday....a little bit better...but...still like I did.  

I am terrified today with it being Easter.  I don't want to go over to my husbands family to eat easter dinner because there are going to be about 13 people there and 4 children (not including my own).  I feel like I might lose it over there.  So....we will see.  My husband said if we need to leave we can.  However, only his mom and step dad know that I am on this medicine....and have never seen me behave this way...so naturally I don't want them to wonder whats going on.

bgrimes...don't feel like God is punishing your for your drinking/drug use.  Lord knows if we were going to be punished for that I would have been punished LOOOONNNG ago.  I was addicted to coke at one point, meth at one point, pain pills at one point.  So...please don't worry.  I feel like my current condition stems FROM all the things I did in the past...and how badly I destroyed the seratonin receptors in my brain.  There have been studies that link alcohol and meth to damaging those receptors.  

Must go now...I feel like I need to go back to sleep.

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457721_tn?1256644398
Hey I thought I would give you an update.  My doctor said I am having a reaction to being on Paxil....and she switched me to Lexapro 10mg.  

I finally admitted it this morning because I did the same thing last night that I posted about originally...except this time I scared my husband so bad he almost called the hospital.  I somehow convinced him not to.

I am exhausted today....and most likely will be sick for a little while longer considering that my doctor said I might have withdrawal symptoms.  

I am going to bed.
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457721_tn?1256644398
Hi guys.  I feel a million times better after finishing almost 1 week on Lexapro.  I have been going through some minor withdrawal symptoms.  Mainly flu-like symptoms.  I have also been experiencing the electric like shocks in my brain, and some muscle spasms.  I was having some severe panic attacks and so when I have one I take an Ativan .5 mg and that seems to help out alot.  

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Avatar_f_tn
Alcohol is safe to drink with anti-depressants? I guess if you want to fall into a coma or become even more depressed you have suicidal ideations while you're intoxicated. Definetly NOT a good idea to drink heavily on ANY anti-depressant. One is ok, anything more and you might as well stop taking the anti-depressants because that is what it is going to feel like the next morning.
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457721_tn?1256644398
I don't think anyone on here has said that it is safe to drink with anti-depressants.  In all honesty I was posting because I never had the strong urge to drink until I started the anti-depressants.  In fact...I KNOW that it is NOT a good idea to drink while on ANY anti-depressant.  

Please....only post if you have some insight...otherwise...your post is not telling me anything that previous people, family, and myself have not told me.  I am not trying to be rude...but I have struggled with alot...and it would help if I didn't feel like people were making me feel "stupid" for having an urge to drink.  Especially since I didn't have this urge until I started the meds.
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Avatar_f_tn
I also had serious and persistent alcohol cravings when I was on Paxil. In fact the only time in my life I *ever* craved a drink was while on Paxil, and then the urge to drink was so strong that it was actually physically painful.

Before then, I had no history of drug/alcohol abuse and I usually avoided alcohol anyway (it gives me stomach aches). The cravings were a brand new sensation that started about a week after going on Paxil and stopped a few days after quitting it and switching to Effexor.

I've talked to a few folks who have said the same thing and googling around pulls up a bunch of first-hand accounts of a Paxil/alcohol connection, but I don't think it's anywhere in the medical literature yet, or listed as a potential side-effect. Maybe I'm wrong? I'd be interested in learning more though because my alcohol cravings were definitely linked to Paxil usage.

Overall, Paxil was *NOT* the drug for me and I had a very strong, very negative reaction it even at a low dosage. Since then I found I'm able to tolerate Xanax, Effexor and Wellbutrin at their highest recommended doses (not combined, I tried each individually over time)  without a problem, but Paxil was like taking the express train to crazytown.

These days I'm on 225mg of Effexor (for moderate depression and seasonal affective disorder) and loving it except for the drowsiness. Even with an endless supply of coffee, I need to schedule a lot of naptime into my day.

I think Paxil is great for many people, but from what I've heard/read, it can also wreak havoc on a select few, so don't feel bad about intense cravings or sudden emotional turmoil. You're not the only one, trust me!
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457721_tn?1256644398
Hey...thanks so much for your insight!!  It is sooooo good to hear that someone else has experienced what I am going through.  (i hate hearing that you went through it...but at the same time its comforting?)

I have switched to Lexapro and find that (only after a week) i still have the urge to drink (although it is diminishing)  I prefer the lexapro.  I feel "normal" finally.  I do still have to take .5mg Ativan for anxiety...but I have had a script for 1 mg of 7 for about a week...and I take 1/2 and I still have about 4 1/2 left....(finding I need them less and less).  Sometimes I use them to sleep (per my doc) because I have had trouble sleeping...but overall...I am starting to feel like a "normal human being".  

My reactions to certain things are normal, I dont cry like I use to....in fact I haven't cried in over a month!! (which feels weird for me...)  but I feel like I am normalizing....

Wow....life seems pretty good right now....thats something I haven't felt in years!
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Avatar_f_tn
I have been on Paxil for 10 years and feel Im becoming an alcoholic. Is there any way to safely wean yourself from the drug? When I try I get this constant head rush. Thanks for any help..so glad I found you all.
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Avatar_f_tn
Ive had the same problems with increased alcohol cravings which got me into all sorts of problems with binge drinking, loseing my job and even ending up in prison. I have found research papers that show that alcohol cravings can be induced by SSRIS, Ive told my story on Dr David Healys website davidhealy.org. To go straight to my story click here http://davidhealy.org/out-of-my-mind-driven-to-drink this story helps to explain why some people get the cravings/alcohol abuse whilst taking SSRIS.        
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Avatar_f_tn
Ive had the same problems with increased alcohol cravings which got me into all sorts of problems with binge drinking, loseing my job and even ending up in prison. I have found research papers that show that alcohol cravings can be induced by SSRIS, Ive told my story on Dr David Healys website davidhealy.org. To go straight to my story click here http://davidhealy.org/out-of-my-mind-driven-to-drink this story helps to explain why some people get the cravings/alcohol abuse whilst taking SSRIS.        
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Avatar_f_tn
just realized this post was in 08'. interested to see how youre doing now
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