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Paroxetine (Paxil): 8 Answers Inc. How It Works, Side Effects, and Withdrawal

Answers to the most frequently asked questions about paroxetine

Paroxetine, an antidepressant of the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) class, is sold under the brand name Paxil and Seroxat. It’s most commonly used to treat depression, OCD, anxiety, and PTSD, although it may also sometimes be used to treat premenstrual dysphoric disorder and premature ejaculation.

The content on this page is provided for informational purposes only. If you have any questions or concerns about your treatment, you should talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or healthcare professional. This is particularly important if you are taking multiple medications or have any existing medical conditions.

  1. How does paroxetine work?
  2. How long does paroxetine take to work?
  3. What are the side effects of paroxetine?
  4. How do you stop taking paroxetine?
  5. What are the brand names of paroxetine?
  6. Can you drink alcohol while taking paroxetine?
  7. Does paroxetine cause weight gain?
  8. Paroxetine vs fluoxetine: What’s the difference?

1. How does paroxetine work?

While paroxetine is used to treat a wide array of conditions, the mechanism it uses to treat them remains the same. The goal of paroxetine treatment is to restore a natural balance of chemicals within the brain, specifically serotonin. Like other SSRIs, paroxetine helps restore serotonin to healthy levels, which in turn improves overall mood and reduces unwanted thoughts and stress. It also reduces unwanted compulsions to repeat unnecessary tasks, a symptom often associated with OCD.

2. How long does paroxetine take to work?

Patients are often eager to see immediate results when taking paroxetine. Unfortunately, signs that the treatment is effective will take at least 4 to 6 weeks typically. Patients may notice small improvements after just a few days, but it’s very rare that significant improvement occurs so quickly.

3. What are the side effects of paroxetine?

Paroxetine can potentially cause side effects ranging from mild to severe. The list below includes some of the most common side effects but is not a complete list. Mild side effects may go away after a few days or weeks of consistent medication-taking, but if they persist or worsen you should speak with your doctor.

Common side effects:

Serious side effects:

  • New or worsened depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Dangerous impulses
  • Increased aggression
  • Hallucinations
  • Increased or decreased blood pressure
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Changes in vision
  • Seizures
  • Manic episodes
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Bone fracture

In some rare cases, patients can experience allergic reactions. Seek emergency medical care if you experience any of the following symptoms after taking paroxetine.

  • Skin rash
  • Wheezing
  • Tightness in the throat or chest
  • Difficulty talking or breathing
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat

4. How do you stop taking paroxetine?

If you’ve been taking paroxetine for a while, specifically if you’ve been feeling better for 6 consecutive months or more, your doctor may suggest stopping treatment. Stopping treatment abruptly can lead to adverse side effects, so typically your doctor will create a plan to gradually reduce your dose over weeks or months. Regardless of why you are stopping paroxetine, you need to work with your doctor to create a plan for safely stopping the medication.

5. What are the brand names of paroxetine?

Paroxetine is sold under the brand names Paxil, Pexeva, Brisdelle, and Seroxat.

6. Can you drink alcohol while taking paroxetine?

Drinking alcohol while taking paroxetine is not advised. Alcohol affects the Central Nervous System (CNS). Paroxetine may alter your ability to react quickly or think clearly. Taking this drug with alcohol may affect your ability to concentrate or cause excessive dizziness and drowsiness. If you do drink, it’s critical that you drink in moderation and speak with your doctor beforehand.

7. Does paroxetine cause weight gain?

Of all the drugs in the SSRI class, paroxetine is most commonly associated with weight gain. Premarketing studies revealed weight gain as a side effect. In some patients, weight loss was an indication of depression and improvement manifested as weight gain. Other patients experienced an increase in appetite while taking paroxetine. Either way, this can be a frustrating side effect. The best way to avoid this side effect is to express your concern to your doctor before beginning treatment. You can work together to include exercise and meal planning that works for you to prevent weight gain, and increase your overall wellbeing.

8. Paroxetine vs fluoxetine: What’s the difference?

Both paroxetine and fluoxetine work very similarly as SSRIs and are used to treat the same conditions, so it’s common to wonder what really sets them apart. There are only a few key differences that set them apart, and they have both been shown to have similar effectiveness. Paroxetine is used to treat depression in adults 18 years and older, fluoxetine is used in children 8 years and older. Paroxetine is available as a tablet or suspension and fluoxetine is available in a capsule. Fluoxetine can be taken with another drug called olanzapine to treat depressive symptoms from Bipolar I and also used to treat Bulimia, paroxetine is not used for these indications.


The content on this page is provided for informational purposes only. If you have any questions or concerns about your treatment, you should talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or healthcare professional. This is particularly important if you are taking multiple medications or have any existing medical conditions.

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