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Paxil® (paroxetine HCl)

Paxil (paroxetine HCl) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressant. It was released in 1992 by GlaxoSmithKline and has since become one of the most prescribed antidepressants on the market due to its apparent efficacy in treating a spectrum of anxiety disorders ranging from depression to panic attacks to phobias. Paxil works by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin by the nerves that release it–an action which allows more serotonin to be available to be taken up by other nerves.

Why is Paxil prescribed?

Paxil is an oral medication prescribed for the treatment of depression, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder in adults.

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What are the FDA approved uses for Paxil?

In 1992, the FDA approved Paxil to treat the symptoms of depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social phobia/social anxiety disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

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What are the side effects of Paxil?

Side effects that are commonly associated with Paxil include infection, injury, nausea, diarrhea, dry mouth, constipation, decreased appetite, sleepiness, dizziness, sexual side effects, nervousness, tremor, yawning, sweating, abnormal vision, weakness, and insomnia.

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Paxil warnings and alerts

In March 2004, the FDA placed a black box warning on SSRI and other antidepressants, including Paxil, warning of the risk of potential suicidal thinking. It has been suggested that Paxil may cause depression to worsen and even lead to suicide in a small number of patients. These potential side effects are difficult to evaluate in depressed patients because depression can progress with or without treatment, and suicide is itself a consequence of depression. For pregnant women, there is also a potential risk to the fetus when taking Paxil (paroxetine). Some studies of paroxetine in pregnant women have suggested an increased risk of heart malformations.

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Paxil drug contradictions

Paxil in contraindicated in patients who take other drugs that treat depression, i.e. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAOI). Taking these two drugs close in time can result in serious (and sometimes fatal) reactions including high body temperature, coma, and seizures (convulsions). Paxil should also never be taken with Mellaril (thioridazine), a drug used to treat schizophrenia. Taking Paxil and Mellaril together can cause heartbeat problems.

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Paxil FAQs

What is Serotonin Syndrome?

In July 2006, the FDA issued an alert stating that a life-threatening condition called Serotonin Syndrome can occur when medicines called Serotonin and Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs, such as Paxil) and medicines used to treat migraine headaches known as 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor agonists (triptans), are taken together. Signs and symptoms of Serotonin Syndrome include:

  • restlessness
  • hallucinations
  • loss of coordination
  • fast heartbeat
  • increased body temperature
  • fast changes in blood pressure
  • overactive reflexes
  • diarrhea
  • coma
  • nausea
  • vomiting

Serotonin Syndrome may be more likely to occur when starting or increasing the dose of an SNRI or a triptan.

Are there other uses for Paxil?

Paxil (paroxetine) is also used to treat chronic headaches, tingling in the hands and feet caused by diabetes, and certain male sexual problems. And Paxil can be used with other medications to treat bipolar disorder (mood that changes from depressed to abnormally excited).

Are there withdrawal side effects when stopping the use of Paxil?

The withdrawal of treatment with many anti-depressants has been associated with troublesome symptoms. Symptoms have been particularly frequent with anti-depressants, like paroxetine, classified as SSRI’s. The most common symptoms of withdrawal have been dizziness, tiredness, tingling of the extremities, nausea, vivid dreams, irritability, and poor mood. Other symptoms have included visual disturbances and headaches.

How soon do these withdrawal symptoms occur?

Although most authorities have recommended that treatment be discontinued by tapering the SSRI (by gradually reducing the dose), symptoms have occurred despite tapering. Symptoms generally appear within a few days of discontinuing Paxil and persist for an average of 12 days (up to 21 days). They are relieved within 24 hours by re-administering the medication that was discontinued.

Can I file a lawsuit if I have suffered damages from taking Paxil?

Possibly. While all medications have certain, anticipated side effects, a drug manufacturer has a duty to inform physicians adequately regarding the known risks associated with its drugs. If a manufacturer fails to do so, it can be held responsible to patients who are injured as the result of inadequate warnings, under a legal theory known as “product liability.” Depending upon the particular circumstances of your case, damages may include recovery for any of the following:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning capacity
  • Emotional distress

If you or a loved one has experienced any health problems while taking Paxil, you should contact your doctor immediately. You may also wish to contact an experienced Paxil lawyer to discuss your legal options. As all legal claims are subject to time limits, however, you may risk forfeiture of your right to financial compensation if you delay.

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