Antidepressants - Life and love
This section covers:
If you take tricyclic antidepressants and also drink alcohol, this can make you more tired or sedated. If you wish to drink while taking SSRI’s you should drink in moderation. This is particularly the case with fluvoxamine, which can increase the effect of alcohol. You can drink alcohol while taking MAOIS but you should try to avoid Chianti wine, home made beers and wines, real ales and red wines. Gin, vodka, and other clear spirits are the safest, but should only be drunk in moderation (1-2 measures a day).
Some antidepressants may make you drowsy, or have effects that impair your driving, for example affecting your alertness or concentration. Effects may be most obvious at the start of treatment and after increasing the dose. You should inform the DVLA if you are taking medication that may affect your driving. You should also inform them if you have a medical condition that could affect your driving.
You can find more information on this in our
section ‘ Driving and mental illness’.
Both depression and the drugs used to treat it can cause disorders of desire, arousal and orgasm. 40-50% of people with depression report reduced libido (sex drive) and problems with sexual arousal before they are diagnosed.
Antidepressant drugs can make you feel tired and can also cause hormonel changes. This can affect your sexual function. Sexual dysfunction has been reported as a side-effect of all antidepressant drugs. These effects vary with individuals and also with each different drug.
All effects on sexual function are reversible. Among the possible problems you may experience is decreased libido, problems with erection, impaired ejaculation, more difficulty in reaching orgasm and poor vaginal lubrication. If you are experiencing problems you should consult your doctor, who may adjust the dose or change to a different drug.
If you are already taking an antidepressant and are at high risk of relapse then it is best to stay on your antidepressant during and after pregnancy.
Doctors have most experience with certain antidepressants during pregnancy.
A mitryptyline and imipramine can make you feel constipated and tired or sedated. They can also cause withdrawal symptoms. F luoxetine can increase the chance of an early delivery and a lower birth weight.
MAOIs should be avoided in pregnancy due to a possible risk of complications to the unborn child.
If you take antidepressants during pregnancy, newborn babies may experience withdrawal symptoms such as agitation and irritability. The risk is thought to be particularly high with antidepressants such as
paroxetine and venlafaxine.
Experience with other drugs is growing and a change in treatment may not be necessary, or wise.
If you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant, you should tell your doctor. If possible, it is best to tell your doctor before you become pregnant so that there is time to plan a change in your medication if this is necessary.
In each case, the benefits of breastfeeding should be weighed up against the risks of drug exposure to the infant. The
Maudsley Prescribing Guidelines recommend that as far as possible you stay on the same medication should be during pregnancy and breastfeeding, on the lowest effective dose and as far as possible avoid breast feeding when the medication is at a peak. They recommend the use of paroxetine or sertraline while breast feeding, although other antidepressants may be used.
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Advice team about mental health & related issues 0300 5000 927 Monday - Friday 10am - 2pm, not including bank holidays