Home Anxiety Medications About Paroxetine (Paxil): A Patient’s Guide

About Paroxetine (Paxil): A Patient’s Guide

by BidRx Team
woman who took a mood booster


  • Paroxetine is a common SSRI used to treat depression, anxiety, and other mood-related disorders.
  • Many people can safely take paroxetine, but like all medications, it does have some side effects and precautions.
  • You can find the lowest price for paroxetine with BidRx.

If you’re suffering from consistently low mood, panic attacks, anxiety, or PTSD, you’re not alone. An estimated one in five American adults lives with mental illness. These conditions can have a significant impact on your daily life, so to boost your mood, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants. One of the most common modern antidepressants is paroxetine — better known as Paxil. 

What Is Paroxetine (Paxil) and What Is It Used For?

Paroxetine is an antidepressant and anxiety medication that belongs to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) class of drugs. These drugs work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain and lifting mood.

Paroxetine was developed by GlaxoSmithKline and approved by the FDA in the early 1990s. This drug was originally developed as a treatment for major depressive disorder and was later extended to treat conditions like generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and more.  

Paroxetine helps regulate mood, so it may also be prescribed for off-label uses like premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and menopausal symptoms. “Off-label use” means using a medication in a way that hasn’t been fully tested and approved by the FDA. While sometimes necessary, it’s important to discuss this with your doctor and understand the potential risks involved.

How Does Paroxetine Work?

As an SSRI, paroxetine works by targeting the reabsorption of serotonin in the brain. 

Normally, the body releases a certain amount of this chemical that helps control mood, memory, metabolism, and more. After it triggers nerve cells in the brain, the serotonin is reabsorbed in a process called reuptake. This recycling prevents an excess accumulation of serotonin.

However, for people experiencing mood disorders like depression or anxiety, their normal serotonin levels may not be sufficient. SSRIs like paroxetine block the reuptake process, allowing more serotonin to remain in the brain, helping improve and balance mood.

mental health

What Formulas Are Available for Paroxetine?

Paroxetine is primarily available under the brand name Paxil, which is the immediate-release formulation of the drug. With this formula, the medication goes to work right away, but it may still take a few weeks to experience the full effects of paroxetine. 

It is also available as an extended-release formula known as Paxil CR (controlled-release). This version is designed to deliver the medication gradually over a longer period, which allows for once-daily dosing. 

Some people may have fewer side effects with extended-release formulas.

Your doctor can tell you more about Paxil and help you understand which formula works better for your condition.

Paroxetine Dosage and Administration

Paroxetine is available in various dose strengths to meet your individual needs. The frequency of administration may vary depending on your specific diagnosis and the formula of your prescription. Your doctor may suggest different dosing instructions based on your age, diagnosis, health conditions, and other factors. 

Most people with depression or anxiety take paroxetine once per day. Some people use paroxetine for only a short time, while others might benefit from long-term maintenance therapy.

Note that the dosage regimens above are general guidelines; only a healthcare provider can determine the appropriate dosage for an individual. 

How Should I Take Paroxetine?

Always take your medications as prescribed by your doctor. Paroxetine is most often available in pill form, and you can either take it with or without food.

Paroxetine impacts the chemicals in your brain, so it’s recommended to establish a consistent routine by taking it at the same time(s) every day. This helps maintain a steady level of the medication in your system. Don’t take extra paroxetine to “catch up” on a missed dose.

What Are the Potential Side Effects of Paroxetine?

All drugs have the potential to cause side effects. Your doctor can provide a more detailed guide to paroxetine and help you balance the benefits and side effects.

Common Side Effects

  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache 
  • Dizziness 
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia or drowsiness
  • Nervousness or restlessness
  • Changes in sexual desire or ability
  • Weight changes

Less Common but More Serious Side Effects

  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior (particularly in young adults)
  • Serotonin syndrome (symptoms may include hallucinations, rapid heartbeat, fever, muscle stiffness), a potentially serious medical condition that requires immediate medical attention
  • Allergic reactions (rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, difficulty breathing)
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Signs of liver problems (yellowing of eyes or skin, dark urine, persistent nausea)

This list is not exhaustive, and your individual reactions may vary. Always talk to your doctor about all your medications and any side effects you may experience.

woman in therapy

What Should I Avoid When Taking Paroxetine?

When taking SSRIs, you should limit or avoid alcohol because it can worsen side effects (especially drowsiness and dizziness) and make your medication less effective. Because paroxetine can cause drowsiness, be careful when driving or operating machinery until you know how the medication affects you. 

What Should I Do If I Miss a Dose of Paroxetine?

If you miss a dose of paroxetine, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s almost time for your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not double up on doses to make up for the missed one. It’s important to maintain a consistent medication schedule. 

What Should I Do If I Overdose on Paroxetine?

If you suspect an overdose of paroxetine or Paxil, seek emergency medical attention or contact your local poison control center immediately. Overdose symptoms can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors
  • Sweating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Unusual drowsiness or dizziness
  • Seizures

What Precautions Should I Take With Paroxetine?

Before taking paroxetine or Paxil, follow these special precautions:

  • Allergies. Inform your doctor if you are allergic to paroxetine, any other medications, or any ingredients in paroxetine formulations.
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Disclose the use of MAOIs or if you have stopped them within the past 2 weeks. Paroxetine should not be taken at the same time as MAOIs, or within two weeks of stopping MAOIs.
  • Medication interactions. Inform your healthcare provider about all prescription, nonprescription medications, and vitamins you are taking. This includes anticoagulants, antidepressants, antihistamines, NSAIDs, and other medications that may interact with paroxetine.
  • Different brand names. Be careful not to take more than one product containing paroxetine simultaneously. Products with different brand names are designed to treat different conditions.
  • Herbal products and supplements. Disclose the use of herbal products and nutritional supplements, especially St. John’s wort and tryptophan.
  • Medical conditions. Notify your doctor if you have a history of heart attack, low sodium levels, seizures, glaucoma, bleeding problems, bone problems, or liver, kidney, or heart disease.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding. Before taking paroxetine, inform your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. Paroxetine may cause complications during pregnancy and affect newborns. If you become pregnant while taking paroxetine or Paxil, inform your doctor right away.
  • Age consideration. If you are 65 years or older, discuss with your doctor the risks and benefits of taking paroxetine because it may not be as safe or effective as alternative medications for older adults.
  • Surgery. If you are undergoing surgery, including dental procedures, inform your healthcare professionals about your paroxetine use.
  • Glaucoma risk. Paroxetine may increase the risk of angle-closure glaucoma. Consider having an eye exam before starting this medication. Seek medical attention if you experience symptoms such as nausea, eye pain, changes in vision, or eye swelling.

Contraindications of Paroxetine

Some people should not take paroxetine. Others should use it with caution under close medical supervision. 

Keep in mind that these lists are general guidelines. In special cases, doctors may feel the benefits of taking a particular medication outweigh the risks, so if you are in one of these groups, talk to your doctor about your personal situation. 

Who Should Not Take Paroxetine?

  • People with known allergies to paroxetine or any of its components.
  • People currently taking or having taken MAOIs, including specific medications like isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue, phenelzine, selegiline, and tranylcypromine, within the past 2 weeks.
  • People using thioridazine or pimozide.

Who Should Take Paroxetine With Caution?

  • People with a history of heart attack, low sodium levels, seizures, glaucoma, bleeding problems, bone problems, or liver, kidney, or heart disease.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding individuals; paroxetine may have potential risks to the fetus and newborn.
  • Those 65 years of age or older, as alternative medications may be safer and more effective for older adults.
  • Individuals undergoing surgery, including dental procedures, should exercise caution and inform healthcare professionals about their paroxetine use.
  • People experiencing drowsiness or impaired judgment while taking paroxetine should avoid activities requiring mental alertness, such as driving or operating machinery.
  • Anyone with a history of alcohol misuse or dependence, as paroxetine may interact with alcohol.
  • Individuals at risk of angle-closure glaucoma, as paroxetine may increase this risk. Regular eye examinations are recommended, and any symptoms should be reported promptly to a healthcare provider.

moody person in the outdoors

Are There Any Other Potential Drug Interactions With Paroxetine?

According to Drugs.com, a total of 490 drugs and supplements can interact with this medication. Of these, 103 are considered major.

There are 371 moderate and 16 minor potential interactions also reported for this medication. For the complete interactions list, visit the Drugs.com Drug Interactions Checker.

No list of potential drug interactions is complete, so let your provider know if you experience any new or unusual symptoms after taking this medication. 

Learn About Paroxetine (Paxil) and How to Support Your Mental Health

For many people, paroxetine can provide a lifeline. Treating mood and anxiety disorders through a combination of medication and therapy can have a tremendous impact on daily life. 

However, it’s important to understand the potential drug interactions, special considerations, and possible side effects before taking any medication. This guide should help you get a better understanding of the pros and cons of adding paroxetine or Paxil to your treatment journey. 

Keep in mind that individual experiences with medications like paroxetine can vary significantly. Mental health treatment is not just about managing conditions; it’s about making informed decisions and creating the treatment plan that works best for you. Good communication with your healthcare provider is the key. 

Get the Lowest Price for Paroxetine With BidRx

If your doctor has prescribed paroxetine or Paxil, you can get the lowest price for your medications with BidRx. Compare pharmacies, find the best price, then have your prescriptions delivered or available for pickup. Learn how to get started and create your bid today!

This information is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or medication.

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