Free Consultation
1 (800) 301-3753

Paxil (Paraoxetine) Side Effects, Withdrawal and FAQs

Paxil is an antidepressant belonging to the SSRI class of prescription drugs, used in treating various mood disorders as recommended by the APA.
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 prescribed.

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 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.

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 withdrawal, and other frequently asked questions.

What is Paxil (Paraoxetine) Used For?

Paxil (paraoxetine) is used in the treatment of various conditions, as shown 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.

  • 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)

 

Paxil (Paraoxetine) Alternative Names and Slang

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.

Paxil (Paraoxetine) Side Effects

Before beginning a prescription of Paxil (paraoxetine) it would be advisable to discuss side effects with your prescribing physician. Here are some important points to consider in regards to 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 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.

 

Paxil (Paraoxetine) Withdrawal Symptoms

Those coming off Paxil (paraoxetine) may experience some moderate to extremely severe withdrawal symptoms, such as:

  • Brain zaps
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Thoughts of harming self
  • Tremors
  • Rebound depression
  • Nausea
  • Fever
  • Panic attacks
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Vivid dreams
  • Insomnia
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability
  • Headache
  • Paresthesia (tingling/prickling sensation on the skin)
  • Nightmares

Paxil is an SSRI with a relatively short half-life, meaning that 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 the drug was taken can also affect the duration of withdrawal or discontinuation syndrome. Many people opt for residential inpatient care 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 impossible to tolerate.

Discontinuing/Quitting Paxil (Paraoxetine)

The most common reason people give for wanting to discontinue Paxil is the feeling that they can no longer tolerate the 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 clearly 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.

Paxil (Paraoxetine) FAQs

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.

Can you OD on paroxetine?

Yes, like all drugs, an SSRI can be deadly if taken in too great a quantity, and also if mixed with other drugs or alcohol because of their synergistic effects.

Because of the suicide risk associated with SSRI drugs, overdose is of special concern where suicidality emerges or seems to intensify during treatment. However, if medical attention is provided swiftly, there is a good chance for recovery after a person experiences OD on paraoxetine.

How long does it take to get over Paxil withdrawal?

With a proper regimen of adjunctive therapies, slow tapering is the best way to achieve safe cessation. Some factors that might lengthen the process are trying to go too fast on the taper, especially if the medication was taken for a very long time. It is possible to recover from Paxil withdrawal with proper protocols, guidance and adequate support in place.

Clients in our program are individually programmed for the best and most comfortable withdrawal experience possible for their unique situation.

Is Paxil Addictive?

We can imagine that someone going through alcohol withdrawal may be “addicted” because they do not want to suffer the headaches, anxiety, and other symptoms that manifest from withdrawal, and so therefore, continue using alcohol. The same could be said about heroin.

Realistically, there are many known uncomfortable side effects of withdrawal from Paxil that may deter a person from being able to endure and may therefore opt for continuing to use the drug. This could arguably be labelled addiction if a person was taking an antidepressant, but actually had an original thyroid problem, yet now is suffering from painful withdrawal even after correcting the medical contributor.  And so therefore, if someone continues using the antidepressant despite unwanted side effects and a demonstrable negative effect on quality of life, we would call that addicted.

And based upon the number of patients we have seen who have successfully confronted these withdrawal side effects and come out the other side with a higher quality of life ongoing, it would be a reasonable argument to conclude that there is a population of Paxil users that would define themselves as addicted.

Will I Get Brain Zaps if I Stop Taking Paxil?

Brain zaps are reportedly a problem that is not uncommon when a person stops taking Paxil, especially if done too abruptly and without nutritional and other support. Brain zaps feel like a jolt of electricity, resulting in a feeling of electric shock through the head and sometimes neck. The phenomena can be painful and distressing in the extreme, especially if it goes on for a long time or repeatedly.

This startling phenomenon can produce a level of anxiety and discomfort that can be hard to tolerate, and sometimes even occurs when tapering at what seems like a slow pace. Be sure to speak to your caregiver if you are experiencing brain zaps.

You can also request more information from the center if you find yourself struggling with this situation.

Treatment for Paxil (Paraoxetine) Abuse and Addiction?

SSRI medications can produce significant negative impacts on health. Mental health treatment need not be confused with addiction programs which may be strongly focused on morality or philosophical teaching. Thankfully, there are multitudes of effective, easy to tolerate, physical therapies and procedures which can be profoundly useful in making withdrawal easier and recovery more comfortable than expected.

Dealing with the challenges of cessation and other factors while health in general is compromised may suggest that inpatient care would provide the safest and most comfortable treatment choice.

Recent DSM revisions had to do with diagnosing psychiatric disorders.  A distinct change was pointing out the importance of discerning whether a set of symptoms is caused by a physical or medical condition. Physical causation here can include ingesting a street drug.  Medical causation might include low sodium. This is profoundly important information for caregivers and physicians so that a patient can request that their primary caregiver or physician rule out such causes of symptoms before mechanically diagnosing a psychiatric illness, followed by mechanically prescribing Paxil or any psychiatric medication, perhaps unnecessarily. (1)

This parallels the methodologies used in our treatment facility. For example, the practice of using diagnostic lab testing is one of the most helpful features of our withdrawal program. Where deficiencies exist in vitamins, i.e., vitamin D or minerals, the lack of exercise, or the presence of neurotoxins, these can be corrected directly. The effectiveness of these corrective methods is well-documented. One of the processes we offer is called holistic neurotransmitter replacement therapy. This is where we support the normal biophysical synthesis of neurotransmitters without the use of drugs.

Even some genetic factors, if tested for and discovered, can be mitigated to successfully aid in the withdrawal process. Our goal is to enable those recovering after medication withdrawal to regain natural mental health. Prescription drugs typically cannot fix but only mask the problem temporarily. We have much more information we can share with you on request on our non-harmful and drug-free therapies, safe taper programs, and methods designed for achieving mental health naturally.


This content has been reviewed, and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. John Motl, M.D.

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.

View Bio

Holistic Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Articles

News, media and up to date information on medications, symptoms and side effect, addiction and treatment for substance abuse from our expert staff.