Citalopram and alcohol - are they compatible?


Compared to other antidepressant drugs, citalopram and alcohol interact relatively little.
The possible side effects should still be taken seriously.

Citalopram is a drug used in treatment depressive illnesses is used. It is one of the most frequently prescribed psychotropic drugs. The effect is based on its selective serotonin reuptake inhibition (SSRI). Serotonin is a messenger that is not only mood lifting, but also anxiety-relieving works. Increasing its concentration in the gap between the cells has a positive effect on mood.
Citalopram is taken in the form of a tablet and reaches its highest concentration in the blood after two to four hours. Its half-life, i.e. the time after which half of the active ingredient is still present in the blood, can be up to 30 hours be.
The largest proportion will broken down in the liver and only a small part excreted in the urine. The liver is also the central organ when alcohol is broken down. The simultaneous use of alcohol and citalopram can have a negative effect on the effectiveness of the antidepressant. The definitive interactions have not yet been proven.

There is nothing wrong with occasional alcohol consumption when taking citalopram at the same time. However, this should be discussed with the attending physician.

Read more about the topic here: Side effects of citalopram

Which interactions arise?

Simultaneous use of Citalopram and alcohol can interact. These are primarily dose-dependent and related to the individual liver function. Alcohol is first converted to acetaldehyde by alcohol dehydrogenase.
In a second step, acetate is produced with the help of another enzyme. If the supplied alcohol concentration is high, another system is added.

It is an enzyme of the cytochrome P-450 family.
Not only alcohol, but also citalopram can be broken down in this way. The two Active ingredients compete as a result of the binding sites of the degrading enzymes. The consequence is an increased effectiveness of the psychotropic drug and a longer half-life. For this reason, side effects can be intensified.

The psychotropic drug also inhibits the function of certain CYP enzymes, which in turn cause the Breakdown of alcohol delay and go hand in hand with an increased effect.
Citalopram is effective in the central nervous system and, in high concentrations, leads, among other things, to pronounced fatigue and effects on the psychological state. In addition to a Intensification of the depressive symptoms hallucinations may occur.

Film tear

In low concentrations, alcohol is broken down into acetate with the help of alcohol dehydrogenase and acetaldehyde dehydrogenase.
Will against it high amounts of alcohol supplied, the degradation also takes place with the help of an enzyme from the cytochrome P450 family. Citalopram is also metabolized in the liver via enzymes from this family and causes an inhibition of certain CYP enzymes.

Consumption of alcohol in large quantities in combination with the use of citalopram thus causes a delayed breakdown of alcohol. Its intoxicating effect is enhanced. The likelihood of a film tear, i.e. a period of lack of memory, increases.

More about this topic can be found: Alcohol poisoning


Aggression is one of the possible side effects of citalopram. Usually it is not the only side effect that occurs, but can occur together with mood swings, dry mouth, indigestion, increased anxiety symptoms and nightmares.
In connection with alcohol consumption, the Increase in tendency to aggressive behavior become.

Effects on the heart

Citalopram can cause changes in the heart rate as a result of overdose. These appear as Cardiac arrhythmias, one greatly increased heart rate and in the worst case in the form of a Cardiac arrest in appearance.

Furthermore is a Drop in blood pressure to observe.
A Overdose with citalopram as a consequence of a delayed breakdown with alcohol consumption is usually not to be expected. Since taking citalopram on its own can already affect the heart rhythm and blood pressure, one Combination with alcohol not recommended.

Can that be dangerous?

The combination of citalopram and alcohol can in rare cases have dangerous consequences. These are primarily dependent on the dosage and the individual liver function. Compared to other antidepressant drugs such as tricyclic antidepressants or monoamine oxidase inhibitors, the likelihood of dangerous side effects is comparatively low.
You can find more on the topic at: Antidepressants and alcohol - are they compatible?

The impaired mechanism of action of citalopram as a result of alcohol consumption is possibly accompanied by an intensification of the depressive symptoms.
New thoughts of suicide are to be seen as a clear warning signal. Furthermore, a noise-like state can be observed, which makes it impossible to carry out certain tasks. In addition to the ability to concentrate, attention and judgment are severely impaired.

Drowsiness is one of the side effects of the psychotropic drug. This is increased with simultaneous consumption of alcohol.
In rare cases, the side effect of serotonin syndrome can occur, which is associated with muscle twitching and massive changes in consciousness. If no therapeutic measures are taken, it can be fatal.
You can find further information under our topic: Serotonin Syndrome