SPECIAL CAUTIONARY NOTE: The DSM V has recently revised and corrected errors in entries for several disorders for which Paxil, et. al, may not always have been accurately indicated or prescribed. More information on this is given below under the section entitled “Treatment”. (1)
SSRI drugs, such as Paxil or its generic drug name, paraoxetine, have become some of the most widely prescribed medications both in the US and across the world. Market research shows that what has been called the “depression drug market” is set to surge yet again, from $14 billion in 2014 to well over $16 billion in 2020 in the US alone.
For many reasons, it behooves anyone searching for remedies for depression or other undesired symptoms to be as diligent as possible in selecting those methods of treatment which are the least harmful, and optimally, non-addictive or not causing prescription drug dependence. Perhaps the best way to help the process of making such important decisions on health-related matters is to search out information from a wide variety of sources, ask questions, and satisfy all questions before embarking on a particular course of treatment. At the Alternative to Meds Center we offer treatment options that address natural mental health goals, without the use of prescription medications. We believe a person does not have to put at risk of Paxil addiction as the only route of treatment to address mental unease.
In addition, if one is already tangled up in dependence to Paxil or similar drugs, there are options at the Alternative to Meds Center that are safe and comfortable that provide Paxil withdrawal help AND are designed to ultimately address natural mental health goals without prescription drugs.
You may be presently looking for the very first time for natural mental health treatments, or perhaps seeking ways to safely walk back from treatments that did not produce the desired results. There may be unanswered questions as to why a condition like depression got worse on a prescription drug treatment, or why other symptoms began to present.
The information offered here may provide some starting points for an important health quest of acquiring more knowledge, such as finding out more about Paxil side effects, what occurs during Paxil withdrawal treatment, how to ensure a Paxil taper goes well, and other frequently asked questions.
Paxil (paraoxetine) 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, motions 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. (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 electric shock treatment or medications are prescribed, such as Paxil or other antidepressants. (3)
Paraoxetine, 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.
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 (paraoxetine) 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 paraoxetine 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 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 make 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 (paraoxetine) may experience some moderate to extremely severe withdrawal symptoms, such as:
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.
The most common reason people give for seeking Paxil withdrawal help is the feeling that they can no longer tolerate Paxil side effects. In 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.
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.
The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about Paxil (paraoxetine) which may help you as you gather the information you most need. Please request further information if your questions are not answered adequately here.
Dr Motl is currently certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Psychiatry, and Board eligible in Neurology and licensed in the state of Arizona. He holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree with a major in biology and minors in chemistry and philosophy. He graduated Creighton University School of Medicine with a Doctor of Medicine. Dr. Motl has studied Medical Acupuncture at the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine and at U.C.L.A.