Paxil (or paroxetine) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), used to treat a variety of conditions such as depression, panic attacks, anxiety, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. This medication works by helping to restore an imbalance of serotonin in the brain and, in turn, improving mood, sleep, energy level, and appetite. Paxil may also decrease fear, panic attacks, anxiety, and unwanted harmful thoughts.

Use and Dosage

Your doctor will give you direct instructions on how and when to take Paxil, but it is typically taken by mouth once daily, with or without food. Exact dosage will depend on your underlying condition, initial response to treatment, age, and other medications you may be taking that could potentially affect the usage of Paxil. To reduce the chance of developing unwanted side effects, your doctor will likely start you out at a low dosage and then gradually increase it as needed. It is important that you follow your doctor’s instructions very carefully and do not increase your dose, decrease your dose, or take it more often than directed.

It is also important that you continue taking Paxil, even if you start to feel well or your symptoms weaken, as this may worsen certain conditions and trigger harmful side effects such as mood swings, tiredness, and sleep changes. If you do decide that you want to go off of Paxil, talk to your doctor, who will carefully ween you off of the medication.

Side Effects

As with the start of most new medications, Paxil may produce some unwanted side effects, which range in severity. These side effects, however, do not typically outweigh the benefits of the medication. If they persist or worsen, however, a simple discussion with your doctor may lead to a simple solution so you can continue to reap the benefits of Paxil. Still, it is important you’re aware of possible mild, serious, and severe effects this medication may cause:

1. Mild Effects

  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dry mouth
  • Blurred vision
  • Sweating

2. Serious Effects

  • Restlessness
  • Shaking or tremors
  • Decreased interest in sex
  • Changes in sexual ability
  • Inability to keep still
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Muscle weakness or spasm
  • Seizures

3. Severe Effects

  • Eye pain, swelling, or redness
  • Widened pupils or other vision changes
  • Black stools
  • Coffee ground-like vomit

If you experience any of the above mild side effects, which persist or worsen over time, simply talk to your doctor promptly. If you experience more serious effects, however, tell your doctor right away and if you experience severe effects, seek medical attention immediately. In addition to these side effects, Paxil may also (though rarely) cause a very serious condition called serotonin syndrome/toxicity, which results from an increase in serotonin. Symptoms include a fast heartbeat, hallucinations, severe dizziness, unexplained fever, and loss of coordination, all of which demand you seek medical help immediately.

You can also have a very serious allergic reaction to this drug—though this seldom occurs, you should be aware of the symptoms, which include a rash, itching, swelling, difficulty breathing, and severe dizziness. If you do experience any of these symptoms, you should again seek medical help right away.

Before Taking Paxil…

It is vital you take precautionary measures anytime you’re considering a new medication, as they have very real and direct effects on your everyday life. Before you start taking Paxil, it is vital you first…

  • Talk to your doctor about existing allergies, as this product may contain inactive ingredients that can cause allergic reactions or other issues.
  • Discuss your medical history with your doctor, especially a personal or family history of bipolar disorder, suicide attempts, liver or kidney problems, seizures, peptic ulcer disease, bleeding problems, or glaucoma.
  • Understand all of Paxil’s possible side effects and risks, as dizziness or drowsiness may occur, which will affect your ability to drive, use machinery, or perform any other activity that requires alertness and clear vision. Certain ages may also be more sensitive to certain side effects, such that older adults may be more sensitive to bleeding or loss of coordination and children to loss of appetite and weight loss.