What is Paxil (paroxetine) used for?
Paxil (paroxetine) is used in the treatment of various conditions, some of which are listed below. Over the years since its arrival to market, some decades ago, this SSRI antidepressant drug has received FDA approval for treating multiple conditions or disorders.
A cautionary note: The specific criteria for certain of these conditions has been recently corrected or revised, for which SSRI’s have been one of the medications routinely prescribed. If you have questions about your prescription or your diagnosis, be sure to ask your primary caregiver or physician for more information. (1)
Panic Disorder: a condition that affects twice as many women as men, most often beginning in the teen years or early twenties, although panic attacks can occur in adult and older populations as well. Panic disorder is characterized by recurring episodes called panic attacks. During a panic attack, a person may experience rapid or pounding heartbeat, a choking sensation, fear of dying, fear of losing control, a breathless sensation, and chest pain. There can be a high level of anxiety that develops and sustains, because of their unpredictable precipitation, i.e., not knowing when or where another attack may occur.
OCD: or obsessive-compulsive disorder. This condition is diagnosed where a person experiences or carries out repeating thoughts, emotions or actions, which are beyond their ability to control without significant consequential concern. Some persons describe this as being haunted by thoughts that won’t go away. A nagging compulsion to repeatedly check the locks will produce anxiety or distress if the action is not carried out. Other examples are compulsive excessive hand-washing for fear of germs, counting things like stairs or objects for no apparent reason except to reduce the anxiety that is felt if the counting is not carried out, checking and re-checking the stove was shut off, yet still doubting one did it correctly, intrusive repeating thoughts, etc.
MDD: major depressive disorder, described as a period of time where a person suffers low mood, lethargy, and other symptoms for a majority of the time.
PTSD: post-traumatic stress disorder, usually diagnosed after exposure to traumatic events has left lingering unwanted symptoms such as hypersensitivity to external stimuli, recurring vivid nightmares, flashbacks, fears, etc.
GAD: generalized anxiety disorder, diagnosed where an unusually exaggerated or severe sense of anxiety and tension has been suffered for six months or more, yet can not be reasonably accounted for.
SAD: can mean Social Anxiety Disorder or Seasonal Affective Disorder. Social anxiety disorder resembles extreme shyness or unease, awkwardness, or fear of being negatively perceived by others in social situations. Symptoms include reclusiveness, blushing excessively, nervousness about meeting or interacting with people, etc. The condition is reportedly the third most often diagnosed condition in psychiatric practice. Paxil is often prescribed to persons who are diagnosed with “social anxiety”, including those addicted to alcohol. Taking two (or multiple) agents that affect the CNS simultaneously could be disastrous. (2)
SAD: Seasonal affective disorder is described as low mood or sadness that begins and ends with a particular season. Some linking factors have been established, such as lack of outdoor activity or decreased hours of sunshine, lack of Vit D, reduced exercise, inadequate diet, and other environmental factors. The condition is most prevalent in geographic areas that are far north or south of the equator. Light Therapy is considered one of the most effective treatments for this set of symptoms. Despite the known causes of seasonal affective disorder, sometimes aggressive and invasive treatments such as electric shock or neurotoxic medications are prescribed, such as Paxil or other antidepressants. (3)
Paxil (paroxetine) Alternative Names and Slang
Paroxetine, the generic name for Paxil, is also sold under various trade names such as Pexeva, Aropax, Seroxat, Sereupin, Brisdelle.
Paxil is not known as a popularized street drug. However, illegal labs and diversion could be possible sources that could end up on the street. Many prescription drugs have been found when analyzing illicit concoctions, designer type drugs, drugs sold as “ecstasy”, etc.
Paxil Side Effects
Not every person experiences exactly the same set of side effects, nor does each person experience the same intensity of symptoms. However, a significant percentage of those taking Paxil do come to the decision to stop taking Paxil due to, at least in part, the side effects that become problematic. Before beginning a prescription of Paxil (paroxetine) it would be advisable to discuss the most common and other Paxil side effects with your prescribing physician. Here are some important points to consider in regards to Paxil side effects that could be encountered:
BREAST CANCER: There has been much reporting on the adverse effects associated with Paxil. Two Canadian studies showed a significant rise in breast cancer and also an increased risk of dying from breast cancer in women who took Paxil over one four year study, and a second five-year study. The ways in which paroxetine interacted with certain genetic factors, and how it interacted with certain cancer drugs was also found to be significant in these findings. (4)
BIRTH DEFECTS: Prolonged QT interval in infants is linked to various congenital heart defects in newborns whose mothers took Paxil during the first trimester of pregnancy. This results in malformed ventricular tissue, and other defects. If taken during later stages of pregnancy, Paxil is linked to neonatal withdrawal syndrome in the infant. Such symptoms present as respiratory impairment, lethargy, jitteriness, poor feeding, etc. (4)
SUICIDALITY: Paxil is not prescribed to the pediatric population due to a doubling of suicidality in trials.
SEROTONIN SYNDROME: Paxil contains one of the most aggressive and potent serotonergic agents of all the drugs in its class. When too much serotonin becomes activated in the body, this can result in a life-threatening reaction called serotonin syndrome. Symptoms to watch for are sudden fever, depressed respiration, confusion, dilated pupils, rash, difficulty speaking or thinking clearly, hallucinations, muscle rigidity, etc. Immediate medical attention, by ambulance, is recommended for the best chance of survival, to the closest medical facility or ICU.
OTHER SIDE EFFECTS: There is a very wide range of side effects which include adverse effects on male fertility, cognitive impairment in the elderly, sexual side effects, weight gain, aggression, akathisia in children, and adolescents.
SSRI drugs like Paxil may have many adverse reactions. Be sure to ask your primary caregiver if you are experiencing unusual physical or mental changes while taking Paxil which makes you feel uncomfortable. Be sure to let your doctor know if you are or are planning to become pregnant, and whether you have a family history of breast cancer while considering and discussing starting a prescription of Paxil or any psychiatric medication.
Those coming off Paxil (paroxetine) may experience some moderate to extremely severe withdrawal symptoms, such as:
- Brain zaps
- Suicidal thoughts
- Thoughts of harming self
- Rebound depression
- Panic attacks
- Vivid dreams
- Paresthesia (tingling/prickling sensation on the skin)
Paxil is an SSRI with a relatively short half-life, meaning that Paxil withdrawal symptoms can onset or escalate more quickly, and can be more severe than certain other drugs with a longer half-life.
The length of time Paxil was taken can also affect the duration of withdrawal or Paxil discontinuation syndrome. Many people opt for residential inpatient Paxil withdrawal treatment to make sure the experience is as tolerable and comfortable as possible, and to ensure there will be no relapse due to emerging symptoms that otherwise could be all but impossible to tolerate.
Discontinuing/Quitting Paxil (paroxetine)
The most common reason people give for wanting Paxil withdrawal treatment is the overwhelming drug side effects. At the beginning of a treatment phase, certain side effects might be temporarily acceptable, such as sexual side effects or headaches. But there commonly comes a time when it becomes decidedly undesirable to continue taking Paxil, as the negative effects begin to outweigh any benefits.
However, as stated above, withdrawal from the drug may introduce its own set of adverse feelings and reactions which can be severe.
Please be careful to never abruptly stop taking Paxil, or try to taper the drug too quickly. The safest approach is to seek medical guidance and direction for a slow cessation with adequate support as you go through the process of Paxil withdrawal.
Paxil Alternative Therapies
The Alternative to Meds Center has developed an arsenal of Paxil alternative modalities and treatments over a decade and a half of providing safe and effective treatments to help clients successfully achieve natural mental health. Along with helping clients complete their Paxil taper program, other supporting segments of the programs address specific health issues relating to sleep, mood, energy level, and much more. Stopping Paxil is an important part of the picture, but there is much more that can be addressed and improved while in the program for health improvements.