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Paxil is an antidepressant medication used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and social phobia. The medication can also help treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and chronic headaches.

Paroxetine is a potent selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) derived from phenylpiperidine. The antidepressant prevents serotonin from being reabsorbed by presynaptic neurons allowing for higher quantities of serotonin. Paroxetine is the most potent and selective SSRI that also inhibits some norepinephrine uptake.

Paxil helps balance and improve levels of serotonin in the brain to help treat multiple depressive and anxiety disorders. While the medication is a potent inhibitor, it is generally well-tolerated and easily absorbed with a low incidence of adverse side effects.

Uses and Dosage

The dose of Paxil prescribed will vary depending on the individual and condition being treated. Follow your doctor’s instructions and read your prescription labels carefully.

  • Take with or without food
  • Take single daily doses in the morning
  • Swallow tablet whole
  • For MDD, adults usually start by taking 25mg once daily
  • For anxiety disorders, adults usually start with 12.5mg daily
  • For PMDD, women can take 12.5 to 25mg daily
  • Do not double dose
  • Paxil may take up to 4 weeks to improve symptoms
  • Do not stop taking Paxil without asking your doctor
  • Tell your doctor if you experience changes in sexual function
  • Store at room temperature away from moisture and light

Side Effects

Paxil may cause some side effects while it works to increase the availability of serotonin in your brain. Speak with your doctor for more information and advice regarding any symptoms you may encounter while taking paroxetine.

Tell your doctor about any new or worsening symptoms, especially mood or behavioural changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, aggressive, restless, more depressed, or have suicidal thoughts.

Common Paxil side effects:

  • Changes in vision
  • Weakness, drowsiness, dizziness, tiredness
  • Sweating, shaking
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Diarrhea, constipation
  • Dry mouth, yawning
  • Infection
  • Headache
  • Decreased sex drive, impotence, abnormal ejaculation, difficulty having an orgasm

Serious Side Effects

Though less common, some more serious side effects may occur when taking Paxil. Stop using this antidepressant and call your doctor immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Manic episode (acing thoughts, decreased need for sleep, unusual risk-taking behaviour, feelings of extreme happiness or sadness, more talkative)
  • Changes in vision, blurred or tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, seeing halos around lights
  • Unusual bone pain
  • Tenderness, swelling, or bruising
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vaginal, rectum)
  • Coughing up blood
  • Severe nervous system reaction (stiff muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, fainting)
  • Low sodium levels (headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady)

Seek immediate medical attention if you develop symptoms of serotonin syndrome. These include agitation, hallucinations, fever, sweating, shivering, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, twitching, loss of coordination, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Allergic Reactions

Do not use Paxil if you are allergic to paroxetine. If you notice signs of an allergic reaction, stop taking this medication and seek medical attention right away.

Paxil allergy symptoms may include:

  • Hives
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling in face or throat
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Burning eyes
  • Skin pain
  • Red or purple skin rash
  • Blistering or peeling skin


Do not use Paxil if you also take pimozide or thioridazine; these may interact with paroxetine and cause unwanted side effects.

Do not take Paxil 14 days before or after using an MAO inhibitor such as isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, or tranylcypromine.

Avoid driving or performing activities that require alertness until you know how paroxetine affects you; Paxil could impair your reactions.

Consult with your doctor before taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Taking these at the same time as paroxetine could cause you to bruise or bleed easily.

Drinking alcohol while taking Paxil can cause unwanted side effects.

Some young people may experience an increase in suicidal thoughts when they start taking an antidepressant. Monitor your changes in mood and symptoms; stay in contact with your doctor.

To ensure your safety while taking Paxil, tell your doctor if you have or have ever had any of the following:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Bleeding or blood clotting disorder
  • Seizures or epilepsy
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Drug addiction
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Sexual problems
  • Narrow-angle glaucoma
  • Low sodium levels in your blood

Make sure you tell your doctor if you also take stimulant medication, opioid medicine, or medication for depression, mental illness, Parkinson’s disease, migraine headaches, infections, or for preventing nausea and vomiting. These may interact with paroxetine to cause serotonin syndrome.

Some medications that make you drowsy can worsen this affect when taking with Paxil. Ask your doctor before using opioid medication, a sleeping pill, a muscle relaxant, or medicine for anxiety or seizures.

Tell your doctor about all the medications you take because they can interact with paroxetine and cause unwanted side effects, especially the following:

  • Cimetidine, digoxin, St. John’s wort, tamoxifen, theophylline, tryptophan, warfarin
  • Diuretic water pill
  • Heart rhythm medicine
  • HIV or AIDS medications
  • Medicines to treat narcolepsy or ADHD
  • Narcotic pain medicine such as fentanyl or tramadol
  • Medicine for anxiety, mood disorders, thought disorders, or mental illness (buspirone, lithium, antidepressants, antipsychotics)
  • Migraine headache medicine
  • Seizure medication

Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking Paxil. SSRI antidepressants including Paxil could cause serious complications such as lung problems in the baby. Do not start or stop taking this antidepressant without your doctor’s advice. Avoid breastfeeding while using Paxil.

Paxil is not approved for the use in anyone under 18 years of age.

Form and Strength

This medication is available in tablet form.

Paxil tablet strengths:

  • 10mg
  • 20mg
  • 30mg
  • 40mg

The 10mg and 30mg tablets are available in quantities of 30 and 90; the 20mg tablets come in quantities of 60 and 84; and the 40mg tablets are available in groups of 100.


How long does it take for Paxil to work?

Paxil may take 6 to 8 weeks to provide its full effect and improve mood symptoms. However, within 4 weeks you should notice an improvement in your sleep, energy, or appetite. Paroxetine is easily absorbed into your body and stays for up to 21 hours. Make sure you continue to use this medication as directed by your doctor.

Does Paxil cause weight gain?

Paxil affects each person differently, but there have been links between some antidepressants and weight gain. Paroxetine may cause fluctuations in appetite as part of its side effects, this can in turn cause fluctuations in your weight. These tend to be treatable; speak with your doctor for a treatment plan.

Why should I take Paxil?

Paxil is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that is more potent and selective than other SSRI antidepressants. While it is a strong antidepressant, this medication has been found to be safe for long-term use and tend to cause fewer side effects than other antidepressants.



Additional information

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Scientific Name:


Other Names:

Paroxetine, Paxil, Pexep, Seroxat


10mg, 20mg, 30mg, 40mg

Quantities Available:

30, 60, 84, 90, 100