This post is written anonymously.
I outlined how my daughter Petra came to take Cymbalta on this blog a few months ago (see Petra’s story; also see Symbolta of Sorts). This post tells of events that led to her coming off.
Petra is an enthusiast for motor sport events. She has been on track days, hill climbs and driver training events. She is a member of an Italian car club. She is a safe, smooth and confident driver, who has held a driver’s license since age 17 – for over six years now. She has had no disqualifications or accidents.
Shortly after starting Cymbalta, she noticed that alcohol seemed to affect her judgment while driving. So she stopped driving if she had had any drink. This was easy because at the time she would tend to drink quite heavily or not at all.
One afternoon she had two glasses of beer (8 oz each) while listening to music at a city venue. The event ran for most of the afternoon. She felt happy to drive home. On the way home she was stopped for a random breath test and to her horror recorded a 0.05 Blood Alcohol level on the police breathalyzer. Fortunately, the police officer decided that since the reading was exactly 0.05 and probably falling, she could wait in her car for a while and then continue home.
This was very close to a disaster. In Australia a reading of 0.05 or higher means that your driver’s license may be suspended pending a court hearing, which is likely to result in a fine plus automatic license disqualification for a minimum of 3 months. The loss of independence and convenience and the loss of something that she takes pride in would have been a real blow.
I purchased an alcometer. A standard drink for Australian purposes is one that contains 10 gm (about 12.5 ml) of alcohol. One such standard drink can be expected to raise Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) by about 0.025 grams per 100ml of blood. BAC levels are commonly thought to fall at the rate of about 0.02 per hour.
We confirmed on several tests that Petra would return a reading of 0.04 per 375 ml of beer (this was 1.4 standard drinks). This was the first problem. The second was that the reading didn’t fall at the expected 0.02 per hour and her BAC would consistently show 0.08 for 2 beers and 0.12 for 3 beers consumed over 2-3 hours.
Petra’s friends, brother and myself all had much lower readings. The consistency of the tests was good. I also tested our device against a police roadside check and obtained the same result as the police device. Finding that Petra returned readings in excess of 0.2 after the consumption of several alcoholic beverages over quite long periods of time was a shock and a big concern. Clearly alcohol was going to be a serious problem for her under these circumstances.
Petra raised this with her doctor, whose response was dismissive – your device was ‘probably inaccurate’. A local pharmacist observed that some young women return much higher readings than expected and that this was probably ‘normal for them’. Our solicitor said that ‘Magistrates are not interested in young women who claim to have only had 2 drinks’.
Petra has now stopped Cymbalta. She says that alcohol does not now seem to affect her anywhere near as much.
So we ran the test again, with the same device as before. This time she returned a reading of 0.03 soon after the consumption of 2 x 375 mls beers, where the figure was 0.08 for the same drinks while taking Cymbalta. This is almost the same as her brother’s reading of 0.02 for the same consumption.
She then had one 375 ml drink with lunch and we checked how quickly her levels fell. She returned a reading of 0.00 1 hour and 35 mins after the start of lunch.
Conclusion: Cymbalta more than doubles the effect of alcohol for some people at least. This could lead to and probably has led to regrettable consequences including harm to self and others, loss of driving licenses, fines, and other losses.
Eli Lilly’s prescribing information for Cymbalta is as follows:
When Cymbalta and ethanol were administered several hours apart so that peak concentrations of each would coincide, Cymbalta did not increase the impairment of mental and motor skills caused by alcohol.
Although Cymbalta does not increase the impairment of mental and motor skills caused by alcohol, use of Cymbalta concomitantly with heavy alcohol intake may be associated with severe liver injury. For this reason, Cymbalta should not be prescribed for patients with substantial alcohol use
There is no mention of the risks Petra ran and others seem likely to be running.
It is difficult to explain this finding but if valid there is no reason to think these risks are confined to Cymbalta. The testing that drugs undergo does not test for this possibility. There are routine drug and alcohol driving simulation tests which an hour after alcohol often show better performance on the combination of drug and alcohol than on alcohol alone – but no-one tests what might be happening several hours later.
Cymbalta and many other drugs can have an effect on liver function. At present this seems the likeliest way to explain this effect.
In the meantime, anyone on any medication who thinks they might have been affected should check themselves out. Anyone who has ever had a driving conviction may have a case to have their conviction overturned on the basis of company negligence. The same may apply to anyone who has ever lost a job or had an accident at work.
Anyone paying increased premiums on their insurance as a result of a drink driving accident or offence may have a case to reclaim their insurance payments.
There is an urgent need to establish the genetic bases behind effects like this. It is likely that not just Petra but others in her family would be similarly affected, and so it is not just the affected person who needs checking.
The implications for employers of possible accidents at work apparently linked to alcohol but not primarily caused by alcohol are immense.
The already high risks of birth defects and miscarriages in women of child-bearing years stemming from antidepressants, and possible mental handicap in their children, would be compounded in this case by additional increased risks from alcohol. A woman taking a single glass of wine, of which several a week should be harmless, might be exposing her child to riskier concentrations than she thought.
There are clearly issues here for health and other insurance companies covering occupational hazards at large corporations such as General Motors.
We are interested in every report we can get of people having problems that might be attributed to intoxication by alcohol and drugs as well as all possible reports of drug induced cravings for alcohol – See Out of my Mind: Driven to Drink. Please add your accounts to these posts to help get recognition for these issues.
Copyright © Data Based Medicine Americas Ltd.
Some years ago I did research on a genetic disorder that included, at onset, a craving for nicotine (even in non-smokers), caffeine and carbohydrates. In light of the craving for alcohol (which is metabolized as a carbohydrate) in some people on certain antidepressants, I wonder if anyone has had or knows of the development of carbohydrate craving in a like manner? Cakes, cookies, pasta, potatoes, soft drinks seem to be the most common.
I was tapering off of mirtazapine, had reached about 8 mg/day (started at 30 about a year before), and developed a strong sweet craving, but only late at night. Peior to this I’d been losing weight, 25 lbs. I finished with the mirt about 2 weeks ago and haven’t had the craving at all. It stopped within 48 hours of finishing the taper. A little taste of something tastes good, but there’s a big difference in the strength of the urge. And it’s easy to stop once I start. Previously I stopped only when I reached the bottom of the ice cream container.
This may not be isolated to genetic subtypes, antidepressants in general may affect metabolism of alcohol. Yet another overlooked adverse effect would not be a surprise.
Irene, I have many anecdotal reports that antidepressants induce carb craving.
Clearly, they’re hormonal disruptors and have widespread effects throughout the body.
There are lots of people reporting cravings for carbohydrates on antidepressants on many websites as well as cravings for alcohol, I agree that these drugs effect lots of things. When I was on citalapram my weight went from 8.4 st to 7.4 st, my blood pressure also fell from approx 110/60 to approx 70/50 and at my worst reading it was 60/40 which really worried me, I was at this time in hospital and they had to tilt the bed up and were querying if I had any stomach problems, (my stomach was always churning like a washing machine on ssris) but I didnt have any pain so they left it. I also had intense cravings for alcohol and found that my blood sugar reading was also very low often at 2.0 but this was after drinking. On Mirtazapine Ive gone the other way I dont crave alcohol anymore but do get hungry more often especially an hour after taking it then I have to eat something, my weight can you believe is now 9.3 st which Im getting a bit worried about as I dont want to put on any more weight, but my blood pressure and blood sugar is back to normal thankgod.
I came across this article this morning and I was wondering if this poor man was another victim of ‘every drink spiked’? It seems to have all the trademarks. http://www.camdennewjournal.com/news/2012/may/man-49-found-dead-mother-living-room-floor-had-taken-anti-depressants-and-alcohol-cock
This seems to me a particularly important comment. In the sense here there have been several deaths by misadventure reported in individuals who have had combinations of antidepressants and alcohol on board at the time. A high alcohol reading might inappropriately suggest suicide. Drinking in a safe setting might well be safe but if unexpected drunkenness occurs in another setting the effects might be serious
This was in 2012, but do you happen to haveanyarticles/research that show blood alcohol spikes quicker if taking cymbolta.
In 2002, California’s Stanford University published a study where it claimed that Citalopram/Celexa was effective in treating compulsive shoppers. Lundbeck was then targeting compulsive shoppers by marketing Citalopram as the new ‘anti-shopping drug’.
An article in the Daily Mail described 3 compulsive shopper’s experience on Celexa:
Luke, 21 was on the drug for 3 months and did ok.
Christelle, 26, “It had a very strange effect on me. I don’t know if this was due to all the other drugs I was on, but it knocked me out, and I could hardly move. So I suppose it did cure me of shopping, I couldn’t get out of the house.”
The interesting one was Anya, assuming the doctor reported the side-effects it seems that Lundbeck could have been aware of the dangers of ‘every drink spiked’ for at least a decade…
Anya, 32, “However, I made a mistake when I didn’t cut down on my alcohol. One evening I was enjoying my favourite drink – an alcopop – when suddenly I felt very sick, and very drunk. Worse than this, my libido vanished.”
Most, if not all of the evidence we have about eating and serotonin comes from rat experiments. I’ve never found these particularly persuasive but am willing to give them a chance to shed some light on human behaviour. Serotonin has many receptors throughout the body, not just in the brain. These receptors are substances that, basically, allow the neurotransmitter to travel. There are at least 14 established serotonin receptors. Each of these will produce different effects, explaining to some degree, the varying reactions to SSRIs. Pratt and colleagues concentrated on five specific receptors and showed that rats will go to great lengths to gain access to sugar pellets i.e. pure carbohydrate, just like alcohol, as well as being what they define as “palatable.” Palatability in humans is most often associated with sweetness. This is the last taste sensation to remain normal in the elderly and the reason that sweet food is ingested to a greater degree than salt, sour or bitter. It may well be an adaptive mechanism in that early humans could, for the most part, recognize ripeness by the sweetness of fruit and berries. Babies show this preference very early.
The area of the brain Pratt and colleagues experimented on by increasing serotonin was the nucleus accumbens that has been repeatedly identified as one of our main “hedonic” or pleasure centres. Stimulation of receptors other than those identified above, causes appetite suppression in rats and, it is believed, in humans.
The rat experiments show that some specific serotonin receptors in the nucleus accumbens influence how motivated rats are to get that sugar pellet, often pushing the pellet-releasing lever until exhaustion. It may be that different SSRIs have varying effects on different serotonin receptors or the influence depends on dosage in relationship to gender, weight and other factors. We are far from an explanation of this effect and, indeed, still far from an understanding of the brain’s mysteries but there are clues that anecdotal information may very well play an important role in pointing the way to appropriate treatments and the reasons for dangerous ones. Reports of effects such as these are, in my view, as important as reports of more frequently described adverse events.
This is human nature, shopping, eating, drinking, smoking, taking drugs, having sexual relationships, playing computer games, gambling, but when is one person’s excess, another’s norm.
If we all do the above to excess, then the straitlaced professionals enter our lives by invitation and we are then invited to take medication to cure us of our ills and ails.
Those shopping persons mentioned were, once again, hijacked into thinking that a pill could cure their habit. The professionals, once again, got the wrong end of the stick thinking ‘the pill’ would stop the habit.
It fails every time.
The habit will go on despite, perhaps, a brief interlude when a brain numbing pill enters the equation for a short while and renders the person immobile.
On it goes, the gift to the socially inadequate to give them some relief.
Until it all goes very, very wrong.
When I was coming off an ssri, cold turkey, I could down a bottle of wine in the time it took to drink a bottle of Perrier on a hot day.
I always enjoyed a glass of wine; we always had a drink before dinner. But, I was, at this time, swallowing glasses of wine as if it was water.
I don’t remeber getting drunk on it. It was like a self-medication. I still walked the dog; I still played with my daughter; I still functioned.
I did not get drunk.
I think all the drugs I was given during cold turkey from Seroxat = Lorazapam, Diazapam, Beta blockers, Valium, Ativan, etc. etc. made me immune from drunkeness from alcohol. I was so away with the fairies with all these drugs that alcohol actually gave me a form of awareness and brought me back.
Anyway, all these drugs and alcohol was not a good idea.
Prescription drugs and alcohol do not mix at all well.
It’s easy to appreciate that antidepressants might interfere with driving performance given the need for sustained vigilance and attention, indeed recently researchers have examined the effects of antidepressants and other prescription drugs driving accidents using a primary care database in the UK (Gibson et al., 2009). Using the year prior to drug exposure as a baseline risk, after 4 weeks of use the risk of driving accidents increased and remained increased for the duration of SSRI treatment (IRR = 1.16, 95% CI =1.06–1.28). The risk returned to the baseline level on stopping the SSRI. (IRR = 1.03, 95% CI = 0.92–1.16). While much of this effect may be from the direct adverse effect of the drugs eg sedation, it is conceivable that some of the increased risk might be attributable to a SSRI induced change in alcohol pharmacokinetics.
o changes in alcohol pharmacokinetics
Driving on Antidepressants. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2766284/
Antidepressant withdrawal syndrome and DUI evaluation. http://acfei-forensics.blogspot.com/2008/03/antidepressant-withdrawal-syndrome-and.html
Here’s another tragic story from 2010 involving antidepressants and alcohol: http://www.herald.ie/news/booze-and-pills-alert-after-bertie-tragedy-2139007.html
This incident involves a nephew of Ireland’s ex-taoiseach (prime minister) Bertie Ahern who was head of Irish Government from 1997 till 2008. His nephew died after a night out, from a mixture of Alcohol and Antidepressants. I’m sure this was big news in Ireland at the time but I don’t remember hearing about it, as it happened shortly after Shane died.
In the article Dr Chris Luke warned of the “lethal” consequences of combining alcohol and prescription medication.
No alcohol craving but I have always suffered with hypoglyceamia (low blood sugar) and it feels like it controls my life and eating patterns, I manage to stay within correct BMI through exercise and watching what I eat, but it’s a constant battle, and I was interested to read in Ann Blake Tracy’s book Prozac: Pandora or Panacea that this was linked to SSRI use. It seems like whatever I eat doesn’t even touch the sides for long and I’m hungry very quickly, mid morning start getting the shakes and have to eat something to keep me going, and I do crave sweet things as well.
I developed a drinking problem while on Lexapro and klonopin. I had no history of alcohol abuse as a teen. I started on Lexapro at 18, klonopin shortly after. On turning 21 I found myself drinking. And drinking. I attempted to stop and also discontinue my psychiatric medication at age 24.
I experienced a horrific withdrawal episode and I escalated alcohol consumption. Was referred to rehab where my psych meds were stabilized and new ones added. I became convinced I was an alcoholic. I spent the next 4 years drinking alcoholically and, for a brief period while also on neuroleptics and wellbutrin, abusing street stimulants.
I have spent a total of 14 months living in sober living homes, halfway houses, inpatient treatment centers due to addiction. I have attended hundreds of AA meetings.
In late 2009 I resolved to get off my medications. This went very poorly and has compromised my health in a variety of ways. However, one big surprise …. Cravings for drugs and alcohol have dissipated. During my terrible withdrawal period in 2010, I tried to use alcohol to cope but had no interest.
I’d reverted to my preferences of my teens. In the last 20 months I have consumed alcohol on two occasions, each time I failed to even finish one drink due to lack of appreciation of the effects.
For almost a decade, I believed I was a hopeless alcoholic. I couldn’t abstain. I went bankrupt due to my addictive behavior.
I find it vastly more likely that my addictive drinking and drugging which defined and ruined my 20s were merely an unwanted effect from psychiatric medications.
[…] None of these peoples experiences are very convincing, Anya in particular seemed to be suffering from a side-effect which is only coming to light lately; see Prof. Healy’s “Every Drink Spiked“. […]
I was started on Prozac in May 2012. I felt great initially. I have taken almost every other SSRI, & feel great for 1-2 months, then, I get even more depressed, & wean myself off of them. I have gone for long periods without any antidepressants. I have been a Registered Nurse for 30+ years, with a very strong background in critical care. I know medications have side effects, & every patient is different. I started craving alcohol about 1-2 months after I started on Prozac. I consider myself a social drinker, & have gone for prolonged periods where I didn’t drink @ all. I started drinking Tequila straight out of the bottle @ 8 am. I had never in my life drank any alcohol out of the bottle, nor had I ever drank anything stronger than a mimosa in the morning. I also started sweating profusely (hyperhidrosis). I asked 2 MD’s (my psychiatrist & my gynecologist) about this excessive sweating, & was told it was not the Prozac, even though this is a common side effect of SSRI’s. I go to Zumba classes 3 x week, & I had to stop because I was sweating profusely before I started class, & my heart rate would get up to 200. My 25 y/o son caught me drinking in the morning, & told me he would not have anything to do with me, unless I completed 30 days in rehab. I also had suicidal thoughts while on Prozac. I weaned myself off the Prozac, & the profuse sweating stopped 2 days after I quit. I went to rehab for 30 days in November 2012, & was discharged December 2012. I have not had any cravings for alcohol, & have been to a few AA meetings since I was discharged. I don’t think AA meetings or working a 12 step program is the solution for me. (I know AA truly helps those who are addicted) I drank 2 glasses of wine with dinner a few evenings ago, & had a glass of champagne New Year’s Eve. Neither time did I feel like I couldn’t stop or had any further cravings since. I will always believe that the Prozac caused me to start drinking, the excessive sweating, & made me have suicidal thoughts.
Yikes….more proof. Celexa has me feeling the same way you describe the Prozac for yourself. I’m an ICU Critical Care nurse, and have had regular blackouts after drinking small amounts of alcohol on Celexa. I’ve also been through the regular changing of meds over the years. This is the only med that has ever done that to me, though interestingly, I’ve never taken Prozac.
I went out a few nights ago, had one glass of wine and two glasses of water and was fine. Two nights before that though, I had four beers, then one mixed drink over multiple hours and lost about an hour of that night and the entire car ride home.
I’m getting more and more scared the more I read. I hate to stop the Celexa because it does actually work quite well for me for the anxiety and depression, though I now have a new lovely diagnosis from treating COVID patients for 5 months straight.
I was unknowingly given an antidepressant called Imipramine 26 years ago for the treatment of migraine. The doctor told me it was a migraine preventative. I was 21, trusting and had no idea. What followed was 16 years of trying to find out what was wrong with me.
I was diagnosed with depression about 2 years later. I had stopped the imipramine only 2-3 months earlier because I was still getting migraines and didn’t see the point of taking it if it didn’t stop them. I was given Prozac to start but suddenly found myself increasingly aggressive within 2 months and I was never violent. The doctor at the time did blame the drug, so changed it to Zoloft.
I didn’t link stopping imipramine with the onset of depression because I didn’t know imipramine was an antidepressant.
About 6 months after starting Zoloft, because it seemed to be not working, the diagnosis was changed to Bipolar and I was given Lithium. No link was made to Zoloft causing the mania. No link was made to the mood swings being caused by a recent trauma. I was told I had a chemical imbalance and may have been born with it.
The reaction to Lithium was so horrendous I was swapped to Epilim. My brain was seriously in a zone that was ugly and I couldn’t think like I used to be able to. I had memory and concentration issues. I blamed the drugs for this plateau zone and I stopped taking them. The doctor didn’t warn me about gradual removal. I went into meltdown and ended up in a psychiatric hospital twice in a year. What I now know as discontinuation syndrome. Still no link to the drugs, no link to the trauma.
I refused medication because of the way my brain felt but the wild mood swings were still happening and I finally believed a year or so later that perhaps the doctors were right and was started on Effexor. This lovely gem caused damage to my glycaemic control systems. While I was on it I experienced intense cravings for alcohol, an inability to control my drinking if I started, disinhibition and increased aggression again. I was even arrested at one point. It was the increasing aggression that triggered my memory of Prozac. They then tried Lexapro and it reminded me of Zoloft with the bipolar. I happened to meet someone who was imipramine and so I sympathised about migraines only to be told she didn’t have them but was diagnosed with depression. This was like a light bulb going off and I started my own research project to find out more.
I found a psychologist who treated the trauma with CBT and hypnosis, the mood swings disappeared.
I was never depressed, never bipolar, never an alcoholic, never an aggressive person.
I still get migraines and treat these with stress management and diet. I have gained a problem with alcohol control, permanent damage with reactive hypoglycaemia and a nervous system that is still delicate over stress due to the increased cortisol over the years meaning IBS, hand trembles etc. All of this because I had migraines and trauma. And you cannot sue anyone because they can say it was all me. It’s been about 8 years no drugs and my brain is finally starting to feel like it’s recovering and I still think those drugs damaged my brain.
I have a mysterious problem that may be related to being on a cocktail of psych meds for years. After finishing a slow taper of 4 psych meds, 4 years ago, I started feeling very drugged after dinner to the point where I had to lay down immediately which persisted repeatedly.
At the end of 2011, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea but have been unable to stay asleep on the machine for more than 4 hours. Of course, conventional sleep doctors blame it on insomnia and offer more drugs which simply have not helped.
The carb intolerance comes into play because out of concern I may have metabolic issues, I started testing my blood glucose and found out that eating high carb foods caused severe spikes. But even foods not known for spiking blood sugar such as blueberries, caused me to feel drugged last night after eating dinner in combination with chicken. I have gotten to the point where I feel I need to eliminate all carbs in an attempt solve this problem.
If anyone has experienced similar difficulties, I would love to hear from you. Mentioning this problem to sleep doctors simply got me one of those looks. Primary care doctor was alot more sympathetic but I sensed she was quite puzzled also.
It is normal to feel “drugged” or drowsy after a meal. This is called a post-prandial dip. Perhaps what’s involved here is an exaggeration of the normal post-prandial dip, maybe linked to prior drug intake, maybe for other reasons.
As an FYI, this problem has persisted no matter what I tried. Routine blood work keeps coming up normal.
My recent A1C was in the low end pre diabetic range but everytime I test my blood sugar during one of these sleep attacks in the afternoon, it is normal.
It feels like I have taken a bunch of ambiens when this sleep attack strikes so this definitely doesn’t feel normal to me. This is in spite of eating a very low carb diet. More carbs makes the situation even worse.
Obviously, I can’t offer any proof but I feel being on these meds has permanently destroyed my sleep cycle which is causing what I call pseudo narcolepsy.
Out of desperation, I tried a very low dose of Provigil and all it did was make me extremely agitated. Needless to say, I am very frustrated.
Pseudo-narcolepsy is a wonderful term. Some of these drugs have effects on the orexin system which does influence the sleep wake cycle. One of the worries about the new orexin group of sleeping tablets is that they might cause narcolepsy
Kindred soul here, present. I am feeling, absolutely, everything you describe…to the letter. I have extreme difficulty with carbs and the balance with the anti-depressants/alcohol factor….makes it extremely sensitive and delicate in this moment…Currently on 40mg Fluoxetine/day…my ED psychiatrist would like to see me change to Cymbalta…but I am afraid…quite afraid given my new-found tolerance to red wine (up to one bottle per day)…Whilst yearning for the day my depression dissipates…I am afraid to ‘up’ my tolerance further still with the acceptance of Cymbalta therapy instead of fluoxetine/Prozac…Thoughts?!
I have been charged with 2 DUIs and required to go to inpatient alcohol treatment. I am currently fighting my 2nd DUI and I crave alcohol on my Cymbalta and have episodes where I don’t even remember buying the alcohol or drinking it. I tried to quit Cymbalta…but had auch terrible withdrawls that I couldn’t handle it. On it or off it I sleep all the time…am still depressed…and it is causing problems in my family and in my relationships. Also I feel like I can’t concentrate or make good decisions on it and I even take Adderall XR twice a day for my ADD and with the Cymbalta it doesn’t help at all…I even sleep right after taking it. I hope my legal problems will go away soon and I can start living my life instead of sleeping it away.
I had the worst experience ever with Cymbalta. Ended with a Suicide which thanks to my Partner and the emergency team I survived.
In the beginning of taking this medication I started to feel the side effects. mostly diarrhea and feeling ill or needed to sleep after taking each 30 mg. After the side effects disappeared ( aprx. 2-3 weeks ) I started to feel happy some how hyper . I have never been like that before in my life. The Dr increased the dose to 120 after a while and there the problem started…. I started to feel more and more depressed. THIS was unbelievable. and suddenly that idea of killing myself at 3:00 am waking up from bed and going to kitchen and taking a knife and …
Withdrawal symptoms. Damn it … This medication is a beast. The worst ever feeling i had in my life:
-brain zaps ( I had the feeling that some sounds or kinda strange voices in my ear) like getting electroshock on my Brain… specially when I moved my head.
-Could not walk normal
-Dizziness & concentration problem
I was absolutely disabled!
Feel exactly the same. By using Cymbalta 90g feeling more depressed cravings for alcohol and lately pannic attacks whilst dtiving on free ways
I know these comments are old, but recently my life has spun out of control enough to post something on here. I was prescribed Zoloft when I was 22 (now 31) for depression. I had trouble being in public places that were crowded, I was constantly uneasy and nervous and would sometimes get panic attacks. I immediately started to increase weight from 160 until I reached my current 214 on 150mg. When I was 25 I developed type on diabetes. I had always liked alcohol, but only a drink or two, and only every once in a while. A glass of wine turned into glasses of wine and for the past 10 years now, I binge drink every single night. I didn’t connect Zoloft to the drinking. About 2 years ago, I felt like I needed a change in my life and had read that zoloft could be affecting my blood sugar and could even be why I crave alcohol and so I went to see a Dr. He denounced the two worries I had, but he prescribed me Stratera (to help me focus, which I could use) and wanted to lower my dosage of Zoloft. I took the Stratera twice and decided I didn’t like how I felt. The Zoloft dosage slowly went down until I was on 50mg. I dropped back down to my 160lbs and my blood sugar did get a lot better, I was also able to cut down (even cut out at points) my drinking. Then I lost my mind. I got really bad health anxiety (thought I was dying all the time) locked myself in a dark room, and even had very bad vertigo. I couldn’t even lay in bed without the room spinning like I was going to fall off the bed. I call it anti-gravity vertigo. I immediately went back to the 150mgs and everything somewhat stopped except for small bouts of vertigo. I also find myself craving liquor at around 3pm every day. It is intense. I quit smoking when I was 23 and this is far worse than that. With extreme self discipline I can go a month or two without a drink, but it is VERY hard. I don’t know what to do because I DON’T want these alcohol cravings but I DON’T want to go absolutely insane like I did last time I tried to get off Zoloft. I feel like recently I am completely out of control, my alcohol consumption has gotten worse, and I just don’t want to die.
I have. Been on cymbalta for two years and always though I was just a light weight…but right now I am desperately trying to sober up after just oneand a half standard drinks.
I did not intend to get buzzed at all as I need to visit a friend in an hour . Luckily I do not drive…why aren’t people looking in to this?
I think it is because by the time people figure it out, they already have DWIs and doctors think the person is an alcoholic looking for an excuse. As soon as I quit my Cymbalta (150 mg) my desire to drink alcohol, eat carbs and sweets all left instantly. The last time I drank after getting off it, it took me almost 40 minutes to finish 1 beer and I dumped 1/2 of my 2nd one down the drain. My kids were amazed. I drank on the 4th of July and remembered everything and wasn’t affected at all like when l was on the Cymbalta. I realize it does have a caution not to drink, but that crap made me desire to drink alcohol all the time. I have decided to choose to live a Sober life now, but this needs to be looked into before someone dies. I had a friend who got 6 DWIs while on it, he eventually weaned off it in treatment and he died in his sleep there.
I started taking effexor at the suggestion of my husband, a pharmacist, in 2007. I drank socially but never like I did while on effexor. I craved alcohol 24/7 and could drink a lot of volume. For example an entire magnum of wine by myself in just a few hours and never could get enough. I could not sleep and finally was able to taper off of it the effexor. It was hellish. I suspected the effexor had something to do with it. I started researching about SSRIs and alcohol craving. Didn’t find much at the time and people I talked to about it thought I was crazy. I have kept taking SSRIs and have at times found that I get cravings for alcohol and sweets and can’t get enough. I also found myself with a DUI and in AA and out of control. Breathylized a .28 and felt “just fine”. VERY scarey! I was always the goody goody until introduced to antidepressants. At age 45 no less! I have been sober for two years but it has been difficult at times. I have been also tapering off of lexapro and my cravings seem to be diminished. Many people I have met in recovery are also on antidepressants. It would be awesome for someone to do some clinical research on this, right? Thanks for all of the comments. The info has been helpful
Now, I take 15,000 IUs of Vitamin D3 to control my depression. I have been medicated most of my life for Major Depression and Anxiety Disorder. I have a service for for my anxiety.
Hi Jody. How do you treat your anxiety. I also use Cymbalta was on 90g now on 60g pusshing to stop in total. I experience pannic attacks/anxiety attacks whilst driving on free ways. Do you have the same experience?
I recently got a script for clonazepam that I only take as needed. Otherwise, I use breathing and visualization techniques.
I’ve been taking Cymbalta only for about 5 weeks now. Any side effects I initially felt have seemed to subside, if not completely resolve. I’m an avid wine drinker and have been for probably 5 years now. Last weekend I shared a bottle of my favorite wine with a friend, and the two of us had about half of the bottle each over the time span of about 2-3 hours. This was my first time drinking wine again since before starting Cymbalta. I’m 5’3″ and 120 lbs. so perhaps that might have pushing the recommended consumption rate. But again, this was my favorite wine that I’ve been drinking for years and each time I do it’s about the same amount over that timespan or more. Anyway, to cut to the point, after drinking half of the bottle of wine over 2-3 hours I almost completely blacked out. I drank two more beers after that within an hour of each other, but I have almost no recollection whatsoever of doing that. I remember having one particular drink of beer, which was my last drink of anything before calling it a night with regards to drinking. We hung out over the next hour or two, but I remember less than 2 minutes total of what happened after finishing half the bottle of wine. I’ve blacked out like that less than 10 times over the ten years that I’ve been drinking, and I drank significantly more each of those 10 or less time. Thankfully I didn’t make any huge mistakes or suffer any major consequences, but I searched the web out of curiosity to see if there was a correlation of what happened and my new medication. I’m thankful to have found this page and to confirm that there is a correlation, which I can now be much more cautious of. Hopefully someone else can relate to this comment as well.
I’ve experienced the same. I would have blackout after about 5 beers and would keep on drinking. It’s like cymbalta has blocked the off switch which used to kick in when I had enough
I started taking Cymbalta about 3 months ago and recently turned 21 and wanted to experience going out legally. I’ve never been someone to drink a lot but I’ve drank in the past enough to know my limit and have to avoid being too messed up. The past 3 times I’ve been out to drink I don’t remember a single thing after my first drink but apparently no one knew I was drunk and I was acting fine and even told my friends it was okay to leave and I was fine and they believed me. Two nights ago I woke up naked in a strangers bed and everyone says “oh I’ve been there”. I only had 2 drinks that I remember. I didn’t having a warning or a doubt in my mind that I might be drunk, it was almost instant. I blacked out each time I drank and seemed to act fine, last night I thought I was drugged but if it happened each time that can’t be a coincidence. People need to be worried about the effects with this drug, had I known the risk I wouldn’t have gone out in the first place. I’m glad to see the other people have had similar reactions with this drug.
I would black out after 2 drinks while on Cymbalta. Never had black out before. I am done with probation and abstained for 1 1/2 yrs and now…I can have a few glasses of wine and I am fine. Except for the first time in my life (as I have been on antidepressants most of it, all of my drinking days) I get a horrible headache the next morning. I don’t crave alcohol, carbs or chocolate anymore and have dropped weight since getting off the Cymbalta and taking the Vitamin D3 for my depression. I truly blame the Cymbalta for my drinking.
I’ve been on various antidepressants for almost 20 years, and have drank regularly throughout that time. I would definitely still get drunk on occasions, but more funny, laughing, silly drunk.
Last year I started on Celexa, It greatly helped my depression, but I have definitely found that it has affected my alcohol tolerance. After just a few drinks I’m drunk…and it lasts. I have no desire to stop drinking, in fact, I feel that I become thirstier and want to drink even faster because I’m thirsty, not because I’m trying to get drunk.
I have regular periods of blackouts when drinking…forget things almost right after they’ve happened. Make incredibly foolish decisions…and yet, I hold a high level medical degree, treat critical patients and function normally during the day without alcohol. No memory lapses, no errors in judgement.
I’ve recently altered my alcohol intake in which I drink two glasses of water to every alcoholic drink, and I find that I am still getting slightly tipsy which shouldn’t happen. I feel like I too would like to do testing with a breathalyzer, yet, the medication works well for me otherwise and I hesitate stopping it, knowing that it is so difficult to find one that works well for you.
Great content and I agree that alcohol really affects the impairment of a person, with that as much as possible avoid drunk driving.
Definitely had extreme cravings while on antidepressants and other psychotropic medications. Sweets, fatty salty high-carb products, hyperpalatable foods — I could eat massive quantities and never feel full. It was as though my brain registered the pleasure “rewards” without their being adequate signaling from the gut. Now that I am psych-drug free it is a mystery to me how I could physically consume such vast amounts. If I tried to do that today my stomach would ache and I’d feel physically ill long before I could do any major damage. Not so while I was on psychiatric medications. Some kind of connection to my belly/gut was not working. When I think back on it now the binges were really mind-boggling — thousands and thousands and thousands of calories in one sitting, maybe even tens of thousands — with no accompanying feelings of nausea, pain, discomfort — no normal warning signs. I was a brain in a jar, and everything I put in my mouth went into some bottomless pit down there. Eventually I’d feel fatigued and fall asleep. That’s what would stop the momentum. Often I’d wake up and go right back at it. Crazy! Entirely iatrogenic.
I was put on Zoloft back in the 90’s for severe anxiety. I had been a pretty normal drinker up until then (I was 30). I am very particular about the doctors i see so i had sought out a very reputable phychiatrist. The Zoloft did help with the anxiety but I noticed that I began drinking more frequently and consuming more than usual. I discussed this with my doctor who dismissed it as a side effect from the drug. We joked that maybe I was feeling better and just felt more like parting. He said the amount I was drinking was not a problem. That may have been true at the time, but i was definately still questioning why i was drinking so much more than I had in the past. And my cravings increased. And my drinking increased. I was passing out on the floor every night! I had never passed out from drinking ever before, not even in my college years. I was not only drinking more, but I became impulsive. Doing things I wouldn’t have ever done when not on the drug. It was crazy. Like I was a different person. Like my morals got flushed down the toilet while on this drug. I kept thinking “it’s got to be the Zoloft” but I kept being told it was not. For the next 15 years or so I was prescribed different antidepressants. My drinking continued. I gained weight. I could not continue that way so I quit drinking for about 4 years. I had a period of going off all antidepressants (weaning very very slowly and suffering lots of withdrawal) and was only taking Klonopin for my anxiety. I eventually weaned off the Klonopin , which was pure hell by the way and took me about a year to do. About 4 years ago my anxiety got so bad I started taking Cymbalta. I was told it was different from the other antidepressants I had taken. I am back to drinking a lot and really craving the alcohol. I can go from being “just fine ” to stumbling drunk in a snap. And I black out a lot. Not remembering what i ate for dinner, the movie i watched or sex with my husband. Up until Cymbalta, I had never blacked out. I have also gained 30 pounds. I have food cravings right along with the alcohol cravings. Its like i dont have an off switch. I am currently weaning myself off the Cybalta. I am only on the lowest dose of 20 mg so, at the advise of my primary care doctor, I am slowly opening the capsules and removing some of the beads. It may take me 6 months to get off of this drug because I am very prone to withdrawal symptoms. After all of these years that antidepressants have been prescribed I find it unacceptable that there have not been studies and warnings about these drugs. I understand that this doesn’t happen to everyone who takes these drugs, but for those of us that it does happen to, it is life changing (obviously not in a good way) and destructive.