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Expert Insights on the Side Effects of Paxil Use

Last Updated: February 21, 2024

Reviewed by David Levin

As a cornerstone of modern psychiatry, Paxil holds significant weight in the treatment of various mental health conditions.

Only in the United States, 2 million patients have reported using this medication for the treatment of depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in 2019.

Paxil efficacy in modulating serotonin levels in the brain contributes to its therapeutic success, yet navigating the complexities surrounding its applications and implications requires a comprehensive understanding. This article aims to shed light on the side effects of Paxil, its medical significance, and advice for responsible use.

What is Paxil?

Trade name: Paxil®

Generic name: Paxorine

Paxorine, known by its trade name Paxil® and approved by the FDA in 1992, is primarily utilized in the treatment of several psychiatric conditions, including major depressive disorder (MDD), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). It is also prescribed for social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

The therapeutic effects of Paxil are attributed to its ability to inhibit the reuptake of serotonin in the brain selectively. Doing so increases the serotonin concentration in the synaptic cleft, enhancing neurotransmission. This mechanism is thought to contribute to the alleviation of symptoms associated with mood disorders and anxiety.

Top 8 Side Effects of Paxil Use

  • Nausea

Nausea is a frequently encountered Paxil side effect, which tends to manifest primarily during the initial phases of treatment.

The sensation of sickness and the urge to vomit can be disconcerting for patients starting Paxil therapy. This side effect is intricately linked to the drug’s influence on serotonin levels within the gastrointestinal tract.

While nausea is a common side effect, it’s important to note that its intensity and duration can vary among individuals. Many people find this side effect diminishes over time as their bodies adjust to the medication.

If you present persistent or severe nausea, promptly communicate with your healthcare provider.

  • Insomnia

Insomnia is another one of the side effects of Paxil use.

Paxil, as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), modulates serotonin levels by inhibiting its reuptake, thus increasing its concentration in synaptic spaces. While this heightened serotonin activity is primarily associated with mood regulation, it also extends to areas that regulate sleep-wake cycles.

Since it takes 21-24 hours for this drug’s concentration to go down to 50%, healthcare professionals may consider adjusting the dosage, altering the timing of medication administration, or incorporating additional strategies to address insomnia and enhance overall sleep quality.

  • Sexual Dysfunction

As opposed to Bupropion, sexual dysfunction is a frequently reported side effect associated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) , i.e., Paxil.

This category of side effects of Paxil encompasses a range of issues, including decreased libido (sexual desire), difficulties with arousal, and delayed orgasm or anorgasmia.

Paxil exerts its therapeutic effects by modulating serotonin levels in the brain, which is a neurotransmitter that plays a complex role in the regulation of mood, emotions, and sexual functions. The impact of this balance of chemicals involved in the sexual response cycle can cause the above-mentioned side effects.

  • Weight Gain

Gaining weight is another of the side effects of Paxil.

Research indicates that paroxetine tends to result in more weight gain compared to other SSRIs. However, the extent of weight gain varies among individuals. The likelihood of weight gain increases with increased doses or prolonged use beyond 6 months.

If you have concerns about potential weight gain with paroxetine, it is advisable to discuss this with your healthcare provider. Monitoring lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise, in collaboration with a healthcare provider, can also contribute to a holistic approach to managing potential weight gain associated with Paxil use.

  • Dry Mouth

Paxil is linked to anticholinergic effects.

Anticholinergic effects are physiological responses that occur when the activity of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine is inhibited. This can reduce saliva production, causing the uncomfortable sensation of dryness within the oral cavity.

One of the side effects of Paxil use may also impact speech and the ability to chew and swallow food comfortably. It can contribute to oral health issues, such as an increased risk of dental cavities and gum problems. Drinking plenty of water, chewing sugar-free gum, or using saliva substitutes can provide relief.

  • Headaches

Patients taking Paxil may experience headaches, a common side effect associated with the medication, particularly during the initial stages of treatment.

While the precise mechanism triggering headaches is not fully understood, changes in serotonin levels are considered potential contributors to this phenomenon. These headaches, often side effects of Paxil use, are more prevalent during the first week of treatment.

A study reported Paroxetine headache frequency was reduced by 49.1% within 12 weeks of treatment.

  • Sweating

Excessive sweating has been linked to various classes of antidepressants, including tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and venlafaxine.

Excessive sweating is more notable during nighttime, impacting an individual’s comfort and quality of sleep. Management strategies for Paxil-induced sweating may involve adjusting the dosage of the medication or exploring alternative treatment options.

  • Tremors

The occurrence of fine tremors or shaking of the hands is a recognized side effect associated with Paxil use.

These tremors, as one of the side effects of Paxil use, are potentially linked to the drug’s modulation of neurotransmitters within the central nervous system.

Not everyone prescribed Paxil will experience tremors, and the severity of this side effect can vary among individuals. If fine tremors are observed and cause concern, individuals are advised to communicate promptly with their healthcare provider.

Signs and Symptoms of Paxil Addiction and Abuse

Paxil addiction and abuse can manifest in various physical signs and symptoms, often linked to withdrawal.

Patients may not experience intense cravings but may feel emptiness during the half-life gap, causing crashes with sluggishness, nervousness, and sleeplessness. If you or someone you know is experiencing the following symptoms after Paxil use, seek professional guidance:

  • Lethargy
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Reduced physical interactions with family members and friends
  • Frequent headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Sexual problems
  • Appetite changes causing severe weight fluctuations

Paxil addiction can be one of the side effects. Recovery treatment is not only possible but necessary. Seek safe recovery in drug rehabilitation centers across the United States.

People Also Ask

What is the most common side effect of Paxil?

Nausea, insomnia, stomach discomfort and urination problems are common side effects of Paxil. Among these, nausea is often reported as the most prevalent side effect.

Why is Paxil rarely prescribed?

Paxil is infrequently prescribed due to concerns about side effects, withdrawal issues and potential impact on personality. Sexual dysfunctions and extensive side effects contribute to its limited use. Similar effects are associated with other SSRIs like Prozac and Zoloft.

What to avoid while taking Paxil?

While taking Paxil, avoid alcohol, certain medications (MAOIs) and recreational drugs due to potential interactions. Be cautious with the side effects of Paxil use and activities requiring alertness. Consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

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Published on: May 23rd, 2019

Updated on: February 21st, 2024

María José Petit-Rodríguez

About Author

María José Petit-Rodríguez

Medically Reviewed by

David Levin