- What is paroxetine, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for paroxetine?
- Is paroxetine available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for paroxetine?
- What are the side effects of paroxetine?
- What is the dosage for paroxetine?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with paroxetine?
- Is paroxetine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about paroxetine?
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 are the side effects of paroxetine?
Common side effects of paroxetine are:
- dry mouth,
- diarrhea and
- loss of appetite.
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.
What is the dosage for paroxetine?
The recommended dose is 20-60 mg daily of immediate release tablets or 12.5-75 mg daily using controlled release tablets. Paroxetine is given as a single daily dose, usually in the morning. As with all anti-depressants, the full effect may not occur until after a few weeks of therapy.
Elderly patients, debilitated persons, and patients with certain kidney or liver diseases may need lower doses because they metabolize and eliminate paroxetine more slowly and, therefore, are prone to develop high blood levels and toxicity.
Which drugs or supplements interact with paroxetine?
All SSRIs, including paroxetine, should not be taken with any of the monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) class of antidepressants, for example, isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), tranylcypromine (Parnate), selegiline (Eldepryl, Carbex), and procarbazine (Matulane) or other drugs that inhibit monoamine oxidase such as linezolid (Zyvox) and intravenous methylene blue.
Such combinations may lead to confusion, high blood pressure, tremor, hyperactivity, coma, and death. (A period of 14 days without treatment should lapse when switching between paroxetine and MAOIs.) Similar reactions occur when paroxetine is combined with other drugs for example, tryptophan, St. John's wort, meperidine (Demerol), tramadol (Ultram) that increase serotonin in the brain.
Paroxetine may increase the effect of the blood thinner, warfarin (Coumadin), leading to excessive bleeding. Therefore, warfarin therapy should be monitored more frequently in patients who are also taking paroxetine. Combining SSRIs such as paroxetine with aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or other drugs that affect bleeding may increase the likelihood of upper gastrointestinal bleeding. Phenytoin (Dilantin) and phenobarbital may decrease the amount of paroxetine in the body and possibly reduce its effectiveness.
Latest Depression News
Daily Health News
Is paroxetine safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
What else should I know about paroxetine?
What preparations of paroxetine are available?
Tablets: 10, 20, 30, and 40 mg; Paxil CR Tablets: 12.5, 25, and 37.5 mg; Suspension: 10 mg/5ml
How should I keep paroxetine stored?
Tablets should be kept at room temperature, 59 F - 86 F (15 C - 30 C). The suspension and controlled release tablets should be stored at or below 77 F (25 C).
Paroxetine Paxil, Paxil CR, Paxeva is a drug used to treat depression, OCD, PTSD, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and social anxiety disorder. Paroxetine is an SSRI and should not be taken with MAOIs, and some blood thinners. Common side effects include nausea, headache, anxiety, constipation, and more. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed prior to taking any medication.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Stress Quiz: Test Your Emotional IQ
Stress creeps into everyone's life at one time or another, while some people will suffer from poorly managed chronic stress. If...
PTSD Quiz: Test your IQ of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Can you have PTSD even if you've never been to war? Take the Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Quiz to learn about PTSD, who gets it,...
Panic Attacks (Panic Disorder) Quiz: Test Your Mental Health IQ
Could you suffer a panic attack? Take this Panic Attacks Quiz to learn causes, symptoms, and treatments for panic disorder. Use...
What's Your Biggest Fear? Phobias
Learn about phobias such as agoraphobia, claustrophobia, arachnophobia, zoophobia, and more. Discover some of the symptoms and...
Schizophrenia: Symptoms, Types, Causes, Treatment
What is schizophrenia? Learn about schizophrenia symptoms, signs, and treatment. Read about schizophrenia types such as paranoid...
Tinnitus: Why Are My Ears Ringing?
What is tinnitus? Explore tinnitus (ringing in the ears) causes, symptoms, relief remedies, treatments and prevention tips. Learn...
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS): Track and Prevent Symptoms
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) can cause from mood swings, munchies, and more. Learn about the symptoms, causes and treatments of...
Anxiety Disorder Pictures: Symptoms, Panic Attacks, and More with Pictures
Learn about generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). See if your worries are normal or something more by learning about symptoms,...
Related Disease Conditions
Anorexia is an eating disorder characterized by markedly reduced appetite or total aversion to food. Anorexia is a serious psychological disorder and is a condition that goes well beyond out-of-control dieting. With anorexia, the drive to become thinner is actually secondary to concerns about control and/or fears relating to one's body. There are psychological and behavioral symptoms as well as physical symptoms of anorexia including: depression, social withdrawal, fatigue, food obsession, heart and gastrointestinal complications, kidney function, flaky skin, brittle nails, and tooth loss (this list is not exhaustive).
People with bulimia nervosa, an eating disorder that involves episodes of bingeing and purging, experience symptoms and signs such as deteriorating teeth, sore throat, constipation, thinning hair, and dehydration. Treatment of bulimia may involve cognitive behavior therapy, family therapy, nutritional counseling, and medication.
Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. The principal types of depression are major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disease (also called manic-depressive disease).
Panic attacks are sudden feelings of terror that strike without warning. These episodes can occur at any time, even during sleep. A person experiencing a panic attack may believe that he or she is having a heart attack or that death is imminent. The fear and terror that a person experiences during a panic attack are not in proportion to the true situation and may be unrelated to what is happening around them. Most people with panic attacks experience several of the following symptoms: racing heartbeat, faintness, dizziness, numbness or tingling in the hands and fingers, chills, chest pains, difficulty breathing, and a feeling of loss or control. There are several treatments for panic attacks.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a combination of physical and emotional disturbances that occur after a woman ovulates and ends with menstruation. Common PMS symptoms include; depression, irritability, crying, oversensitivity, and mood swings. For some women PMS symptoms can be controlled with natural and home remedies, medications, and lifestyle changes such as exercise, nutrition, and a family and friend support system.
Low Blood Pressure (Hypotension)
Low blood pressure, also referred to as hypotension, is blood pressure that is so low that it causes symptoms or signs due to the low flow of blood through the arteries and veins. Some of the symptoms of low blood pressure include light-headedness, dizziness, and fainting if not enough blood is getting to the brain. Diseases and medications can also cause low blood pressure. When the flow of blood is too low to deliver enough oxygen and nutrients to vital organs such as the brain, heart, and kidneys; the organs do not function normally and may be permanently damaged.
Tourette syndrome is disorder, which symptoms include involuntary facial tics, motor tics, and vocal tics. The cause of Tourette syndrome is not known. ADHD is associated with Tourette syndrome. Treatment includes medication, psychotherapy, and in severe cases surgery.
Menstrual Cramps and Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Medication Guide
Menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms include abdominal cramping, bloating, a feeling of fullness, abdominal pain, mood swings, anxiety and more. Treatment for menstrual cramps and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms include regular sleep, exercise, smoking cessation, diet changes, and OTC or prescription medication depending on the severity of the condition.
Holiday Depression, Anxiety, and Stress
Though the holidays are a fun time for most, for others, they're a sad, lonely and anxiety-filled time. Get tips on how to avoid depression and stress during the holiday season.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that tends to occur as the days grow shorter in the fall and winter. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include tiredness, fatigue, depression, irritability, body aches, poor sleep, and overeating.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a psychiatric condition, can develop after any catastrophic life event. Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, sweating, rapid heart rate, detachment, amnesia, sleep problems, irritability, and exaggerated startle response. Treatment may involve psychotherapy, group support, and medication.
Narcolepsy (Definition, Symptoms, Treatment, Medication)
Causes of narcolepsy, a chronic disease of the central nervous system, have not been fully determined. Some theories include abnormalities in hypocretin neurons in the brain or an autoimmune disorder. Symptoms of narcolepsy include: excessive daytime sleepiness, cataplexy, hypnagogic hallucinations, sleep paralysis, disturbed nocturnal sleep, and automatic behavior. Diagnosis of narcolepsy is based on a clinical evaluation, specific questionnaires, sleep logs or diaries, and the results of sleep laboratory tests. Treatments of narcolepsy symptoms include medication and lifestyle changes.
Bipolar disorder (or manic depression) is a mental illness characterized by depression, mania, and severe mood swings. Treatment may incorporate mood-stabilizer medications, antidepressants, and psychotherapy.
Suicide is the process of intentionally ending one's own life. Approximately 1 million people worldwide commit suicide each year, and 10 million to 20 million attempt suicide annually.
Agoraphobia is a fear of being outside or of being in a situation from which escape would be impossible. Symptoms include anxiety, fear, disorientation, rapid heartbeat, diarrhea, or dizziness. Treatment may incorporate psychotherapy, self-exposure to the anxiety-causing situation, and medications such as SSRIs, benzodiazepines, and beta-blockers.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that causes a person to suffer repeated obsessions and compulsions. Symptoms include irresistible impulses despite a person's realization that the thoughts are irrational, excessive hand washing, skin picking, lock checking, or repeatedly rearranging items. People with OCD are more likely to develop trichotillomania, muscle or vocal tics, or an eating disorder. Treatment for OCD includes psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, and medication.
Separation anxiety disorder is a common childhood anxiety disorder that has many causes. Infants, children, older kids and adults can suffer from symptoms of separation anxiety disorder. Common separation anxiety treatment methods include therapy and medications. Factors that contribute to how quickly or successfully a child moves past separation anxiety by preschool age include: how well the parent and child reunite, the skills the child and adult have at coping with the separation, and how well the adult responds to the infant's separation issues. For example, children of anxious parents tend to be anxious children.
Postpartum depression is a form of depression that occurs within a year after delivery. It is thought that rapid hormone changes after childbirth may lead to depression. Symptoms of postpartum depression include crying a lot, headaches, chest pains, eating too little or too much, sleeping too little or too much, withdrawal from friends and family, and feeling irritable, sad, hopeless, worthless, guilty, and overwhelmed. Treatment typically involves talk therapy and medication.
Mental health is an optimal way of thinking, relating to others, and feeling. All of the diagnosable mental disorders fall under the umbrella of mental illness. Depression, anxiety, and substance-abuse disorders are common types of mental illness. Symptoms and signs of mental illness include irritability, moodiness, insomnia, headaches, and sadness. Treatment may involve psychotherapy and medication.
Emotional eating can be detrimental to one's efforts at weight loss. Learning to identify the situations and emotions that trigger overeating can help to break the habit and prevent future instances of compulsive eating.
The term sex addiction describes the behavior of someone who has an unusually strong sex drive or sexual obsession. Sex and thoughts of sex dominate a sex addict's thinking, making it difficult to work or engage in healthy personal relationships. Sex addicts may engage in exhibitionism, voyeurism, prostitution, compulsive masturbation, or cybersex. Treatment for sex addiction includes individual counseling, marital and/or family therapy, support groups, 12-step recovery programs, and in some cases, medications.
Paraphilias are characterized by sexual fantasies, urges, and behaviors involving unusual objects or activities. Exhibitionism, fetishism, frotteurism, pedophilia, sadism, transvestitism, voyeurism, and sexual masochism are examples of paraphilias. Counseling, therapy, and medications are used in the treatment of paraphilias.
Psychotic disorders are a group of serious illnesses that affect the mind. Different types of psychotic disorders include schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform disorder, brief psychotic disorder, shared psychotic disorder, delusional disorder, substance-induced psychotic disorder, paraphrenia, and psychotic disorders due to medical conditions.
Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by symptoms such as trouble concentrating, headaches, sleep problems, and irritability. Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 19 million American adults. Treatment for anxiety may incorporate medications and psychotherapy.
Sick Building Syndrome
Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) or also referred to as sick building syndrome or environmental illness is the name given by some to a condition in which various symptoms reportedly appear after a person has been exposed to any of a wide range of chemicals. The exposure may occur as a major event, such as a chemical spill, or from long-term contact with low-levels of chemicals, such as in an office with poor ventilation. As a result of exposure, people with MCS (Si ck Building Syndrome) develop sensitivity and have reactions to the chemicals even at levels most people can tolerate.
Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is an illness where a person is overly preoccupied with some minor or imaginary flaw. People with BDD tend to have cosmetic surgery. BDD can be treated with SSRIs and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Dysthymia is a less severe form of chronic depression. Symptoms and signs include insomnia, suicidal thoughts, guilt, empty feeling, loss of energy, helplessness, sluggishness, and persistent aches and pains. Treatment may involve psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy, and antidepressants.
Phobias are unrelenting fears of activities (social phobias), situations (agoraphobia), and specific items (arachnophobia). There is thought to be a hereditary component to phobias, though there may be a cultural influence or they may be triggered by life events. Symptoms and signs of phobias include having a panic attack, shaking, breathing troubles, rapid heartbeat, and a strong desire to escape the situation. Treatment of phobias typically involves desensitization, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and beta-blockers.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is considered a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMDD has also been referred to as late luteal phase dysphoric disorder. The cause of PMDD is unknown. Some of the common symptoms of PMDD (not an inclusive list) include mood swings, bloating, fatigue, headache, irritability, headache, breast tenderness, acne, and hot flashes. Treatment for PMDD is with medication to treat the symptoms of PMDD.
Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens
Bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive illness, is a disorder that causes unusual and extreme mood changes. Symptoms of bipolar disorder in children and teens include having trouble concentrating, behaving in risky ways, and losing interest in activities they once enjoyed. Treatment for bipolar disorder in children and teenagers incorporates psychotherapy and medications.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Schizotypal personality disorder is characterized by odd behaviors, feelings, perceptions, and ways of relating to others that interfere with one's ability to function. Medication and psychotherapy can help the sufferer to manage their symptoms.
Bipolar Disorder vs. Schizophrenia
Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are mental illnesses that share some risk factors and treatments. Symptoms of bipolar disorder include mood changes and manic and depressive episodes. Symptoms of schizophrenia include unusual behavior, delusions, and hallucinations.
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Indigestion (Dyspepsia, Upset Stomach)
- Doctor: Checklist to Take To Your Doctor's Appointment
- Panic Attack
- PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)
- Bipolar Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Poor Hygiene
- Unusual Behavior
- Inability to Regulate Emotions
- Mood Swings
- Postpartum Depression
- Illness Anxiety Disorder (Hypochondria)
- Anorexia Nervosa
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Teen Depression
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder FAQs
- Stress FAQs
- Panic Attacks Disorder FAQs
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - Treatment
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Paxil & Pregnancy, Possibilty of Birth Defect
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), More Common Than You Think
- Herbs: Toxicities and Drug Interactions
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
Medications & Supplements
- fluvoxamine (Luvox)
- fluoxetine (Prozac, Sarafem, Prozac Weekly)
- Zoloft (sertraline)
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- Drugs: Questions to Ask Your Doctor or Pharmacist about Your Drugs
- Drug Interactions
- Lexapro (escitalopram)
- Antidepressants (Depression Medications)
- Anxiolytics (for Anxiety) Drug Class Side Effects
- Buspar vs. Zoloft (Differences between Side Effects and Uses)
- Lexapro vs. Wellbutrin: Differences between Side Effects and Uses
Prevention & Wellness
- Antidepressant Paxil Isn't Safe for Teens, New Analysis Says
- More Than Half of Women Have Hot Flashes for at Least 7 Years
- Study Questions Link Between Antidepressants, Miscarriage
- Antidepressants in Pregnancy Won't Harm Baby's Heart, Study Suggests
- Weight Gain From Antidepressants Is Minimal, Study Suggests
- Antidepressants in Pregnancy Tied to Slight Risk of Lung Disorder in Babies
- Experts Lay Out Options for Menopause Symptoms
- Antidepressant Use During Pregnancy Not Linked to Autism
- Taking Antidepressants During Pregnancy May Not Raise Autism Risk
- First Non-Hormonal Remedy Approved for Menopausal Hot Flashes
- Some Antidepressants Linked to Bleeding Risk With Surgery
- Internet Search History May Reveal Unknown Drug Side Effects
- Common Antidepressants Too Risky During Pregnancy, Researchers Say
- Some Antidepressants May Raise Stroke Risk
- Antidepressants Aid Depressed Parkinson's Patients
- Antidepressants May Raise Risk for Pregnancy Complication
- Prescription Meds Can Put on Unwanted Pounds
- Newer Antidepressants Work Equally Well, Study Finds
- Treatment Shows Promise for Premature Ejaculation
- Study: Antipsychotic Drug Does Not Help Veterans With PTSD
- Antidepressant Use in Pregnancy: Autism Risk?
- Depression Rising, but Psychotherapy Declines
- Cataracts From Antidepressants?
- Depression: The Link Between Depression and Other Mental Illnesses
- Depression: Major Depression
- Psychotic Depression
- Depression Caused by Chronic Illnesses
- Diagnosing Depression
- Drug Name Confusion: Preventing Medication Errors
- Sleep and Depression
- Paxil CR and Avandamet, FDA Seizes Product
- Kids on Antidepressants Suicide Alert
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
FDA Prescribing Information