Paxil (Paroxetine): The Ultimate Depression Medication?

Paxil (Paroxetine): The Ultimate Depression Medication?

Generic name: Paroxetine

Paxil is a depression medication used to treat major depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder (sometimes referred to as social phobia) premenstrual disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. This depression medication belongs to a group of medicines referred to as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s). These medicines are believed to work by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain.

Paxil is available only with your doctor’s prescription in the following dosage forms:

• Extended-release tablets (U.S.)
• Oral suspension (U.S.)
• Tablets (U.S. and Canada)

Paxil: Important information about this depression medication

Before deciding to use this depression medication, the risk of taking this drug must be weighed against the good it could possibly do. This is a decision you and your physician will need to make. For Paxil, the following should be considered:

Allergies– Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reactions to Paxil or similar depression medications. Also, you should tell your health care professional if you’re allergic to any other substances including foods, preservatives or dyes.

Pregnancy– Paxil has not been well studied in pregnant women. It should only be used during pregnancy if the potential benefits significantly outweigh the potential risks to the baby. Before taking this depression medication make sure your doctor knows if you’re pregnant (especially at if it is in the third trimester) or if you may become pregnant.

Breast-feeding– Paxil passes into the breast milk. However, the effects of this medicine in nursing babies has not been established. Caution should be used if you’re breast-feeding.

Children– This depression medication should be used with caution in children who are experiencing depression. Studies have shown occurrences of children thinking about suicide or attempting suicide in clinical trials of this drug. More studies need to be done to be sure that Paxil is safe and effective in children.

Older adults – In studies including older people, Paxil has not caused any different side effects or problems in older adults than it did in younger people. However, Paxil may be removed from the body much more slowly in elderly people. An older adult may need a lower dose than younger individuals.

Other medicines -When you’re taking Paxil or similar depression medications, you should be very concerned about mixing this medication with others. You should always tell your doctor about any medications taken before you consider taking Paxil.

Paxil: Proper use of this antidepressant

You should take Paxil and similar antidepressants only as prescribed by your doctor to benefit your condition as much as possible. You should not take more of it, more often or take it for a longer period of time than your doctor has ordered. Paxil may be taken with or without food or on a full or empty stomach. However, if your doctor tells you to take this antidepressant in a certain way you should take it exactly as directed.

You may have to take Paxil for several weeks before you begin to feel better. Your doctor should check your progress at regular visits during this time to determine if this antidepressant is working effectively. Also, if you’re taking Paxil for depression, you’ll probably need to continue taking it for at least six months to help prevent the depression from returning. If you’re taking the oral suspension form of Paxil, you should shake the bottle well before measuring each dose. Use a small measuring cup or measuring spoon to measure each dose. The teaspoons and tablespoons that are used for serving and eating food do not usually measure exact amounts.

If you’re taking the extended release tablet form of this antidepressant, you should swallow the tablet whole. Do not crush, break or chew before swallowing Paxil.

Storage-How do you store this antidepressant?

You should keep Paxil out of the reach of children. You should store it away from the heat and direct light. Do not store the tablet form of this antidepressant in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down. Keep the oral suspension form of this depression medicine from freezing. You should not keep outdated medicine or medicine which is no longer needed. Be sure that any discarded Paxil is out of the reach of children.

Paxil side effects:

Paxil side effects cannot be anticipated but may arise while on this antidepressant medication. Some rare but serious unwanted Paxil side effects may occur with the use of this antidepressant and have been referred to as the serotonin syndrome. This syndrome (or group of symptoms) is more likely to occur shortly after the dose of Paxil has been increased. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur, you need to contact your doctor immediately. Check with your physician as soon as possible if any of the following Paxil side effects occur:

Less common Paxil side effects:

Agitation; chest congestion; chest pain; chills; cold sweats; confusion; difficulty breathing; dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up from a lying down or sitting position; fast, pounding, irregular heartbeat or pulse; muscle pain or weakness; skin rash

Rare Paxil side effects:

Absence of or decrease in body movements; bigger, dilated, or enlarged pupils (black part of the eye); difficulty in speaking; inability to move eyes; incomplete, sudden, or unusual body or facial movements; increased sensitivity of eyes to light; low blood sodium (confusion, convulsions, drowsiness, dryness of mouth, increased thirst, lack of energy); red or purple patches on skin; serotonin syndrome (confusion, diarrhea, fever, poor coordination, restlessness, shivering, sweating, talking and acting with excitement you cannot control, trembling or shaking, twitching); talking, feeling, and acting with excitement and activity you cannot control

Other Paxil side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to this antidepressant. However, you should check with your doctor if the following side effects continue or are bothersome.

More common Paxil side effects:

Acid or sour stomach; belching; decreased appetite; decreased sexual ability or desire ; excess air or gas in the stomach or intestines; heartburn; nervousness; pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones; passing gas; problems in urinating; running or stuffy nose; sexual problems, especially ejaculatory disturbances; sleepiness or unusual drowsiness; stomach discomfort, upset, or pain; sweating; trauma; trembling or shaking; trouble in sleeping

After you stop taking this antidepressant medicine, your body may need time to adjust. The length of time this takes depends upon the amount of the medicine you are using and how long you have been using it. You should check with your doctor immediately if you notice any of the previously mentioned Paxil side effects.

Medical problems and Paxil:

The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of Paxil. Make sure to tell your doctor if you have any of the following medical problems, especially:

• Bipolar disorder (mood disorder with alternating episodes between mania and depression) or risk of – may make the condition worse. Your doctor should check you for this condition.
• Brain disease or damage
• Mental retardation
• Epilepsy or seizures (or history of) – The risk of seizures may be increased with Paxil.
• Glaucoma, narrow angle – Patients with this condition should use Paxil and similar antidepressants with caution.
• Heart disease
• Heart attack, recent – Use must be determined by your doctor.
• Kidney disease, severe
• Liver disease, severe – Higher blood levels of Paxil may occur, increasing the chance of side effects
• Mania (history of) – The condition may be activated by Paxil.

Some Information from The PDR Pocket Guide to Prescription Drugs Additional information by Paul Susic Ph.D. Licensed Psychologist (Health and Geriatric Psychologist)

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