Paroxetine: Uses & Side Effects

Paroxetine is an antidepressant in a group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Paroxetine affects chemicals in the brain that may be unbalanced in people with depression, anxiety, or other disorders.

Paroxetine is used to treat depression, anxiety disorders (including generealized anxiety, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and social anxiety disorder) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

The Brisdelle brand of paroxetine is used to treat hot flashes related to menopause. Brisdelle is not for treating any other conditions.

How should I take paroxetine?

Take paroxetine exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Do not crush, chew, or break an extended-release paroxetine tablet. Swallow it whole.

Shake the paroxetine oral suspension (liquid) well just before you measure a dose. Measure liquid medicine with the dosing syringe provided, or with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

It may take up to 4 weeks before your symptoms improve. Keep using the medication as directed and tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve.

Do not stop using paroxetine suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using paroxetine. Follow your doctor’s instructions about tapering your dose.

Store paroxetine at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.

Precautions

You should not use this medicine if you are allergic to paroxetine, or if you are also taking pimozide, thioridazine, or tryptophan.

Do not use an MAO inhibitor within 14 days before or 14 days after you take paroxetine. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine, and methylene blue injection. After you stop taking paroxetine you must wait at least 14 days before you start taking an MAO inhibitor.

To make sure paroxetine is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • heart disease, high blood pressure, history of stroke;
  • liver or kidney disease;
  • a bleeding or blood clotting disorder;
  • seizures or epilepsy;
  • migraine headaches;
  • bipolar disorder (manic depression), or a history of drug abuse or suicidal thoughts;
  • narrow-angle glaucoma;
  • low levels of sodium in your blood.

Some young people have thoughts about suicide when first taking an antidepressant. Your doctor should check your progress at regular visits. Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms.

Taking paroxetine during pregnancy may cause serious lung problems, a heart defect, or other complications in the baby. However, you may have a relapse of depression or other treated condition if you stop taking your antidepressant. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant. Do not start or stop taking paroxetine during pregnancy without your doctor’s advice.

Do not use Brisdelle if you are pregnant.

Paroxetine can pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in the nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.

Paroxetine is not approved for use by anyone younger than 18 years old.

Side Effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to paroxetine: skin rash or hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, or if you feel impulsive, irritable, agitated, hostile, aggressive, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), more depressed, or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • racing thoughts, decreased need for sleep, unusual risk-taking behavior, feelings of extreme happiness or sadness, being more talkative than usual;
  • blurred vision, tunnel vision, eye pain or swelling, or seeing halos around lights;
  • unusual bone pain or tenderness, swelling or bruising;
  • changes in weight or appetite;
  • easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), coughing up blood;
  • agitation, hallucinations, fever, fast heart rate, overactive reflexes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of coordination, fainting;
  • headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, loss of coordination, feeling unsteady;
  • very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, fainting;
  • fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.

Common paroxetine side effects may include:

  • vision changes;
  • weakness, drowsiness, dizziness;
  • sweating, anxiety, shaking;
  • sleep problems (insomnia);
  • loss of appetite, constipation;
  • dry mouth, yawning;
  • decreased sex drive, impotence, or difficulty having an orgasm.

Interactions

Taking paroxetine with other drugs that make you sleepy can worsen this effect. Ask your doctor before taking a sleeping pill, narcotic medication, muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety, depression, or seizures.

Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:

  • pimozide, thioridazine, or tryptophan;
  • isocarboxazid, linezolid, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine, methylene blue injection;
  • cimetidine (Tagamet), St. John’s wort, tamoxifen, tryptophan (sometimes called L-tryptophan), warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven);
  • heart rhythm medicine;
  • HIV or AIDS medications;
  • certain medicines to treat narcolepsy or ADHD – amphetamine, atomoxetine, dextroamphetamine, Adderall, Dexedrine, Evekeo, Vyvanse, and others;
  • narcotic pain medicine – fentanyl, tramadol;
  • medicine to treat anxiety, mood disorders, thought disorders, or mental illness – such as buspirone, lithium, other antidepressants, or antipsychotics;
  • migraine headache medicine – sumatriptan, rizatriptan, zolmitriptan, and others;
  • seizure medicine – phenobarbital, phenytoin.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Keywords: paroxetine; antidepressants; SSRIs.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.