What Is Paxil?
One of the most frequently prescribed antidepressants in the US, Paxil is the trade name of the generic drug paroxetine. It is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that increases the level of serotonin in certain parts of the body. SSRIs are preferred over older antidepressant formulas because users typically have fewer side effects.
Other SSRIs inlcude others being Citalopram (Celexa), Escitalopram (Lexapro), Fluoxetine (Prozac), Sertraline (Zoloft), and Fluoxetine plus olanzapine (Symbyax). Paxil, however, is one of the strongest SSRI antidepressants and poses a greater risk for weight gain and withdrawals symptoms than other SSRIs.
Paroxetine was first approved by the FDA in December 1992 as a prescription medicine for depression. It is marketed both as a generic drug and as a brand name drug.
Paxil, one of the more popular brands of paroxetine, is manufactured and produced by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline. Paxil is supplied as immediate release tablet with the following drug strengths: 10, 20, 30 and 40 mg. It is also available as controlled-release tablet formulation, Paxil CR, with the following drug strengths: 12.5, 25, and 37.5 mg.
The primary function of Paxil is to alter serotonin levels in the brain to balance moods and mental state so it is most often prescribed to patients with mental disorders. It is an effective treatment for depression, panic attacks, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), as well as various anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety and social phobias.
Paxil is also used in the treatment of post traumatic stress and premenstrual dysphoric disorder, and may be effective in treating premature ejaculation, diabetic neuropathy, chronic headaches, hot flashes, and compulsive gambling.
It works by restoring the balance of certain brain chemicals thereby helping improve appetite, sleep, mood, and energy level; and restoring interest in daily life. For patients with anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders, it may lessen symptoms of these conditions.
Paxil may also be prescribed for other medical purposes not listed in this medication guide.
How Paxil Works
Like other SSRIs, Paxil works by restoring the balance of certain brain chemicals or neurotransmitters which is used by brain cells to communicate with each other. Specifically, SSRIs affect the neurotransmitter serotonin. This neurotransmitter travels from one brain cell to another by attaching to the surface of the nerve. It is then taken up (a process called serotonin re-uptake) and eventually released again.
Many health experts believe that depression is caused by an imbalance among neurotransmitters. Paxil prevents the reuptake of serotonin after it is released by nerve cells resulting in increased levels of serotonin in the brain. Free serotonin stimulates the brain and helps reduce symptoms of depression and other psychological conditions.
How to Take Paxil
Read your prescription label or medication guide carefully before initiating treatment, and at every refill. If you do not understand your prescription or have any questions, ask your healthcare provider.
Paxil is taken orally with or without foods as instructed by your healthcare provider. Usually, this medication is taken once a day in the morning. If you experience nausea with Paxil, you can try taking it with food. If it makes you feel drowsy or sleepy during the day, you can ask your doctor whether you can take it in the evening, instead. The tablet should be swallowed whole. Do not crush or chew the tablet.
Your dose of Paxil may vary depending on several factors such as the medical condition being treated, body weight, and overall medical condition. It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
Do not discontinue taking this medication even if you feel better. Abruptly discontinuing this medication may worsen your condition or may result in withdrawal symptoms. Usually, healthcare providers recommend gradually withdrawing the drug before completely stopping it.
It may take several weeks to get the full benefits of this medication. Contact your healthcare provider, if your symptoms persist or worsen after initiating treatment.
Important Things To Remember When Using Paxil
- Paxil is not indicated for use in adolescents and children.
- Paxil may increase the risk of suicidal ideation and behavior in patients. Individuals taking this medication should be monitored closely for signs of clinical worsening, unusual behavior, or suicidal thinking. Patients and their significant others should contact the healthcare provider if suicidal ideation or new symptoms develop.
- Paxil may cause potentially serious drug reactions known as neuroleptic malignant syndrome or serotonin symptoms. Watch out for symptoms that may include poor coordination, fast heart beat, increase in temperature, confusion, uncontrolled body movements, muscle rigidity, diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if any of these symptoms occur.
- Paxil should not be used along with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). It is recommended that patients avoid Paxil 14 days or 5 weeks before or after treatment with MAOIs. MAOIs are a group of medications indicated for treatment of certain emotional or psychiatric conditions, and Parkinson’s disease.
- Paxil is known to interact with a number of medications. It is important to discuss with your healthcare provider all medications you use, both prescription and nonprescription drugs including vitamin and herbal products.
- Paxil may cause harm on the developing child. Inform your healthcare provider if you become pregnant or plan to be pregnant while taking Paxil.
- Older adults may be sensitive to the effects of this medication. Caution should be taken when used in elderly.