paroxetine, Paxil, Paxil CR, Pexeva

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is paroxetine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Paroxetine is an oral drug that is used for treating depression. It is in a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a class that also contains fluoxetine (Prozac), citalopram (Celexa), and sertraline (Zoloft). Paroxetine affects neurotransmitters, the chemicals that nerves within the brain use to communicate with each other. Neurotransmitters are manufactured and released by nerves and then travel and attach to nearby nerves. Thus, neurotransmitters can be thought of as the communication system of the brain. Serotonin is one neurotransmitter that is released by nerves in the brain. The serotonin either travels across the space that lies between nerves and attaches to receptors on the surface of nearby nerves or it attaches to receptors on the surface of the nerve that produced it, to be taken up by the nerve and released again (a process referred to as re-uptake).

Many experts believe that an imbalance among neurotransmitters is the cause of depression. Paroxetine works by preventing the reuptake of one neurotransmitter, serotonin, by nerve cells after it has been released. Since reuptake is an important mechanism for removing released neurotransmitters and terminating their actions on adjacent nerves, the reduced uptake caused by paroxetine increases free serotonin that stimulates nerve cells in the brain. The FDA approved paroxetine in December 1992.

What brand names are available for paroxetine?

Paxil, Paxil CR, Pexeva

Is paroxetine available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

Do I need a prescription for paroxetine?

Yes

What are the side effects of paroxetine?

Common side effects of paroxetine are:

Other important side effects include:

Some patients may experience withdrawal reactions upon stopping paroxetine. Symptoms of withdrawal include:

The dose of paroxetine should be gradually reduced when therapy is discontinued.

Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in short-term studies in children and adolescents with depression and other psychiatric disorders. Anyone considering the use of paroxetine or any other antidepressant in a child or adolescent must balance this risk with the clinical need. Patients who are started on therapy should be closely observed for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior.

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