What is Paxil?
Paxil (paroxetine) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant that is used for treatment of anxiety disorders and depression. Other SSRIs include citalopram (Celexa), fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), fluvoxamine (Luvox), vilazodone (Viibryd) and escitalopram (Lexapro).
- Paxil immediate release Tablet: 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, 40 mg
- Paxil suspension: 10 mg/5 ml
- Controlled release Paxil tablet: 12.5 mg, 25 mg, 37.5 mg
Other common brand names include Pexeva and Brisdelle (used for vasomotor symptoms experienced at menopause). Vasomotor symptoms include sweating a lot at night, flushe, hot flashes among others.
SSRIs target the neurotransmitters that are involved in anxiety disorders. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers in our bodies.
SSRIs target the neurotransmitter serotonin, and they prevent the reuptake of the neurotransmitter. Without reuptake, the amount of serotonin in the brain increases, thus there is an increase in serotonin binding to receptors.
In depression, it is believed that there is an imbalance in neurotransmitters production, regulation, breakdown and use.
SSRIs are the first line medication for anxiety disorders; panic disorders, generalized anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder.
In addition to anxiety disorders and depression, Paxil is also prescribed for a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (premenstrual dysphoric disorder).
How long does Paxil take to work for anxiety?
Paxil improves sleep, energy and appetite within 1-2 weeks. These should be reinforcements for you to continue taking Paxil.
For anxiety, SSRIs take about 4-6 weeks to work. For
anxiety however, having improvements in sleep, energy and appetite is how to tell if Paxil is working.
For depression and lack of interest in doing activities,
Paxil takes an average of 6-8 weeks for improvements to be seen.
It may take several months before the full effects of Paxil are felt. However, even if people respond differently to SSRIs, if no improvement is felt within 6-8 weeks then consult your doctor. The doctor may change the anxiety/ depression regimen with another medication. The doctor may also increase the dose of Paxil that you are taking.
What are the most common side effects of Paxil?
Most of the SSRIs have similar side effects. The most common side effects of Paxil include:
- Dizziness and drowsiness
- Nasal irritation
- Restlessness or agitation
- Sleeping problems (insomnia)
- Ringing sounds in the ears.
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Weight increase or decrease
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Sexual problems like Impotence, having a decreased sex drive or struggles in getting an orgasm
- Dry mouth
In some people, use of antidepressants like Paxil may lead to suicidal thoughts especially in children and adolescents. This is a serious side effect and a doctor should be consulted immediately.
In addition to suicidal thoughts, use of Paxil may also lead to serious side effects including:
- Serotonin syndrome
- Abnormal bleeding
- Manic episode
- Muscle rigidity
- Low sodium
- Angle closure glaucoma
How long can you take Paxil?
Antidepressants will take at least a year before full benefits for depression and anxiety disorders are felt. For this reason, Paxil should be taken until you get relief and after that for as long as you feel it is necessary.
However, you should make serious considerations before deciding on whether to quit taking Paxil or not. Considerations include the severity of symptoms, duration between appearance of the symptoms, side effects that you feel while taking Paxil and how well Paxil works for you.
This should always be advised by your psychiatrist and the symptoms of anxiety disorders that you have currently. A doctor will give a Paxil treatment plan to ensure you get the full benefits.
Up to now, research has not uncovered any problems to prevent the long-term use of Paxil (paroxetine). This is however true if you are taking the medication as directed by your doctor.
For people quitting Paxil and they still have anxiety symptoms, it is recommended that they seek alternative therapy. Such therapies may include psychotherapy.
Psychotherapy, or the talk therapy, reduces the chances of relapse in anxiety and depression according to recent
How will Paxil make me feel?
In a few weeks, antidepressants like Paxil helps to improve your mood. The results are better sleep, less anxiety, increased energy and appetite.
These results however in most people do not occur immediately. The short-term effects of taking Paxil is that it may make the conditions worse.
Due to this reason, it is important to understand that it takes some time before the full benefits of Paxil are felt.
Paxil does not change the personality of an individual. It also does not make you excessively happy or euphoric. The result is that it makes you feel whole again after the results start kicking in.
Paxil withdrawal symptoms
Withdrawal of Paxil and other antidepressants come with effects in the body. This is because the use of Paxil alters the levels of neurotransmitter Serotonin in the body.
Paxil is not addictive even though in the long-term use, certain doses of the SSRI may become ineffective. Withdrawal of Paxil should be done gradually with progressive reduction in doses to prevent serious withdrawal
symptoms. This should be done by following the advice from your doctor.
Paxil, having one of the shortest half lives for a SSRI at 4.4 days is one that has more worrying symptoms. During the withdrawal process, it may be replaced by a longer acting SSRI or by a slow release capsule formation. Therefore, Paxil may be replaced by fluoxetine which has less symptoms.
With gradual reduction in doses for example in two or more weeks, the withdrawal symptoms are mild and easily manageable. Some of the common Paxil withdrawal symptoms include:
- Sleep problems (Insomnia) and having nightmares or excessive dreaming
- Problems in the digestive system including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps or decreased appetite
- Vertigo, dizziness or lightheadedness
- Confusion, mood swings, irritability and anxiety
- Tremors, restless legs and mumbling. There also may be difficulty in coordination.
- Ringing noises in the ears
- Flu-like symptoms like sweating, flush among others
- Suicidal thoughts.
Suicidal thoughts, according to several studies increase in people who stop taking antidepressants. If you feel any suicidal thoughts kindly talk to your doctor.
Benefits of quitting Paxil
Paxil like other antidepressants work in changing the levels of neurotransmitters. The increase or decrease of neurotransmitters like serotonin becomes the new adapted level of neurotransmitter by neurons in the brain.
Any drastic change from the new adapted level of neurotransmitter is uncomfortable to your body. The change may be due to withdrawal of the antidepressant or a sudden increase in dosage.
Therefore, one of the benefits of quitting Paxil is prevention of withdrawal symptoms of Paxil. The effects of withdrawal can feel like the actual condition that was being treated like depression and anxiety disorders.
It also reduces the risk of a certain dose of SRI not working necessitating an increase in dosage or combining an SRI with another medication.
Therefore, because of the benefits of quitting Paxil above, people will always wonder ‘how long do antidepressants like Paxil withdrawal last?’
How long do antidepressants like Paxil withdrawal symptoms last?
The severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms of Paxil vary from individual to individual. The symptoms also depend on:
- Dosage of Paxil being taken
- Frequency of taking the medication before the withdrawal
- The duration you have been on the medication
- The speed of the withdrawal.
The Paxil withdrawal symptoms start within 24-48 hours after stopping taking the medication or reducing the dose. The full effects of the withdrawal are felt after 4- 5 days.
The withdrawal symptoms in most people reduce markedly or cease after around 2- 3 weeks. Some new studies show that paroxetine withdrawal effects in the brain may take up to 90 days to return to non-Paxil levels.
Since some of the withdrawal symptoms feel like depression, it is important to know the difference. Withdrawal symptoms go away quickly when a dose of Paxil is taken while depression relapse symptoms take up to several weeks to disappear.
Also, discontinuation symptoms reduce in severity or cease when the body readjusts to the lower dose or not taking the medication, but depression and anxiety disorder symptoms do not.
For the 90 days, the psychiatrist and the patient should look out for symptom changes. This is because some symptoms like suicidal thought may have devastating effects.
It should be noted that anxiety disorder/ depression relapse symptoms may also re-occur after reducing the dosage or discontinuation of Paxil. These symptoms occur gradually but should be monitored closely. If the symptoms last for more than a month or are worsening, it would be wise to consult your doctor to check whether there is a relapse.
Home remedies for Paxil withdrawal
Withdrawal of Paxil can cause withdrawal symptoms. The withdrawal should be done in a progressive manner. The following are the natural/ home remedies for antidepressant like Paxil withdrawal:
Being active helps to distract your brain from the withdrawal symptoms. This can be done by having something to do and trying not to stay idle. If you have no work, it’s also important to volunteer.
Being active has both anti-anxiety and antidepressant effect. For people who exercise at least 3 times a week, chances of relapse of
depression and anxiety disorders are reduced.
Exercise increases availability of serotonin to bind with receptors. This ensures a more balanced serotonin levels in the brain almost sustaining the levels available when the SSRIs are in use. Exercise also helps to normalize the body’s metabolism and reduce cortisol(stress hormone) levels.
Get social support from friends and your doctor
There are some withdrawal symptoms that can either cause conflicts or worse effects like suicide. Informing your close friends, family and being in constant communication with your doctor can really help in mitigating the effects.
Some people experience withdrawal symptoms like agitation, restlessness, or even physical disease symptoms that can be hard on your close friends. Without your close friends knowledge of the cause of these symptoms
may lead to conflicts.
Also, since the risk of suicide is increased, it is good to have your friends on the lookout to support you incase you get suicidal thoughts.
Several relaxation techniques can help in improving moods and balance the brain activity. Such relaxation techniques include yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, relaxing music, massage among others.
It is also important to be able to paint a picture of a calm relaxing place in your mind. Thus, when the mood changes due to withdrawal you can calm the brain with the picture.
Having a low-inflammation diet can help to cope with the withdrawal symptoms. The diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains ensures enough energy through out the day as you battle the withdrawal symptoms.
A balanced meal is always recommended in this period to enable the body to perform all the functions optimally. The meal should have carbohydrates from whole grains, proteins, vitamins, fats, minerals and vitamins. It is also important to take a lot of water.
Green leafy vegetables will enable the gut to be colonized by healthy bacteria that might have been cleared by the antidepressants. This way the gut lining will be healed thus reducing anxiety.
Accepting that you are getting antidepressant withdrawal symptoms is the first steps in going through them. After accepting, it is recommended that you understand that the withdrawal symptoms are temporary and
will pass away.
Also, it is important to know that with management methods described here the symptoms can be reduced in severity and frequency.
Take your time
In order to succeed in quitting Paxil intake, it is important to know that it will take time. The time for progressive reduction of the dose is very important.
The time will help you adapt to life without antidepressants while also helping you to finetune ways on how to cope incase of symptoms of withdrawal or anxiety disorder symptoms.
Other withdrawal symptoms relief methods
In addition to the natural remedies for antidepressant withdrawal discussed above you may consider other remedies below:
- Sleep aids– These medications for insomnia can help in giving you a good night sleep incase you have insomnia as one of the withdrawal symptoms. The sleep aids may be natural, prescription or over the
counter (OTC) medications.
- Over the counter (OTC) medications: Incase of acute symptoms like pain (headaches), OTC pain relievers may be used to relieve the symptoms. This also applies to other symptoms like nausea, constipation and others where OTC medications are available.
Interaction of Paxil with other medications
There are some drugs including herbal medications that may affect the action of Paroxetine or potentiate the side effects. It is important to notify your doctor when you are taking the following drugs:
- Drugs affecting your heartbeat
- Other drugs for depression
- Medication for Schizophrenia
- St John’s Wort
Facts About Paxil
The following are important facts about Paxil.
- You can take Paxil with or without food. Also, Paxil can be taken at any time of the day.
- Paxil effects can interact with the effects of alcohol and drugs. Therefore, avoid them because they may lead to adverse reactions like sedation or reduce the effectiveness of Paxil.
- In case you skip a dose, kindly take the dose as soon as you remember. However, it should not be taken too close to the next dose (double dose). Discuss with your doctor where possible.
- The prescription of Paxil always starts with a lower dose and is increased when needed by your doctor. Doses available range from 10mg to 40mg/ 50mg for controlled release capsules.
- There are no proven long-term risks for taking Paxil if it is taken as directed by the doctor.
- Paxil can interact with other medications. It is therefore very important to inform your doctor if you are taking other medications.
- Paxil if withdrawn very fast can have some serious side effects. It is therefore advisable to withdraw the medication by reducing the dose progressively.
- In case of Paxil overdose, urgently call your doctor or dial 911. There are no specific drugs that are available to reverse the effect of Paroxetine.