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Psychiatry & Medication

Paxil for Anxiety

 April 27, 2020

By  Natalie Kirilova

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The Bottom Line

  • Paxil is a generic medication used for anxiety.
  • It is approved by the FDA for anxiety.
  • Available in oral tablets, oral suspension.

What is Paxil?

Paxil is a trade name for Paroxetine, a psychotropic medication used for anxiety. Off-label use of Paxil is linked to depression, panic attacks, social anxiety treatments. Is Paxil for anxiety or depression? The indication for use involves both health conditions where Paxil can help moderate symptoms.

How does Paxil work for anxiety? Paxil belongs to the family of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It works by balancing optimal levels of serotonin in the brain, and thus, reducing anxiety and depressive symptoms. Still, the mechanism of action is not clearly understood. 

Commonly, it is prescribed for adults, however, a doctor may use it in young patients to manage social anxiety disorder (SAD). Paxil for anxiety comes in tablets and oral suspension.

Is Paxil good for anxiety? As far as this medication has many contraindications, side effects, and is intended for use in exclusive situations prescribed by a doctor, it cannot be safely considered good or bad. Please, speak to your doctor about the benefits of Paroxetine for your particular case.

Can Paxil be taken for Anxiety?

Paxil is a generic medication that is occasionally prescribed to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Does Paxil work right away for anxiety? It takes several days for the medication to start working, however, the full improvement can be averagely linked to 2 months time frame. Anxiety symptoms that occurred due to the stress in daily life do not require treatment with this anxiolytic.

Is Paxil FDA approved for anxiety?

Paxil was first approved for social anxiety disorder (SAD) in 1999. In 2001, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved its use for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). FDA marked the medication with a black box warning, as it may increase suicidal thoughts in adults and children. Does Paxil work for anxiety? Based on clinical trials, research and studies, Paxil has shown efficacy in GAD and SAD, however, doctors should prescribe it for anxiety with caution.

What research supports Paxil for anxiety?

A few studies have been conducted to reveal the efficacy of Paxil for anxiety.

  • Paroxetine and placebo were researched on efficacy for GAD and SAD treatment involving 91 people. In one month of treatment, Paroxetine has reported a significant effect over the placebo. The results of the research also demonstrated that Paroxetine reduced the anxiety symptoms, and suppressed the onset of generalized social phobia. 
  • People with SAD were randomly selected to investigate the usefulness of Paxil on social anxiety treatment. They took 20-50mg doses of Paroxetine daily alongside a placebo for longer than one month. The results demonstrated that Paroxetine in 44 subjects was efficient enough to alleviate anxiety symptoms of SAD. 
  • A controlled-release anxiety pill Paxil was studied on tolerability and efficacy in patients with SAD. 186 patients were assigned to Paroxetine, 184 to placebo. In 3 months, they were assessed, and Paroxetine has reported a significant reduction of symptoms associated with SAD, and great tolerance in adults.

What do experts say about Paxil for anxiety?

Paxil for Anxiety-1

MD is an Assistant Professor in Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine says

"Paxil is one one of the top five prescribed SSRIs, according to a 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), but there's no particular reason your doctor would prescribe Paxil over a different SSRI. You actually may need to try a number of different SSRIs before you find the one that works the best for you as an individual."

What are the possible side effects? 

Paxil for anxiety has different side effects that occur while taken for SAD and GAD.

The possible side effects of Paroxetine in treatment of SAD:

  • sweating;

  • vomiting;

  • low libido;

  • tremor;

  • impotence.

The possible side effects of Paroxetine in treatment of GAD:

  • asthenia;

  • infection;

  • nausea;

  • abnormal ejaculation;

  • low appetite.

Priapism may rarely occur in males. Severe allergic reactions are also rare. Please, inform your doctor about adverse events while taking Paxil for anxiety, as it is not a full list of possible side effects.

There is no known evidence about possibility of abuse or dependence events with Paxil. 

Overdose is likely to occur when taken not as directed. In case of an overdose, please seek emergency assistance immediately (call 911).

Does Paxil have interactions with other medications?

Any interactions may change the way Paxil for anxiety works. Please, abstain from combining Paroxetine with other medications without consulting your doctor. Also, inform your doctor if you already take medications, herbs and health supplements.

These interactions with Paxil for anxiety may cause bleeding:

  • Ibuprofen;

  • Warfarin;

  • Aspirin;

  • Clopidogrel.

These interactions with Paxil for anxiety may slow down the removal from the body of other medications prescribed by a doctor:

  • Tamoxifen;

  • Desipramine;

  • Flecainide;

  • Pimozide.

These interactions with Paxil for anxiety may cause severe side effects or result in fatal consequence:

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO).

Do not take medications that may cause drowsiness such as antihistamines, narcotic pain killers, anxiety medications alongside Paxil.

How long does it take for Paxil to work for anxiety alongside alcohol? Patients are advised to abstain from alcohol and grapefruit juice while taking Paroxetine. It may alter the effect of medication or slow down its removal from the body.

Can you take Paxil while pregnant or breastfeeding?

Findings from epidemiological studies have demonstrated that a fetus whose mother took Paroxetine during the pregnancy is at great risk of having cardiovascular malformations, and abnormalities. It is important to inform your doctor about pregnancy or intentions to become pregnant.

Paroxetine has a potentiality to be secreted in human milk. It is not recommended to prescribe it during breastfeeding.

How to take Paxil?

Patients prescribed Paxil for SAD treatment usually start with the initial dosage of 20mg daily. A doctor may safely increase it up to 60mg after assessing the initial response.

Patients with GAD are prescribed with 20-50mg daily depending on the severity of symptoms. 

How long does Paxil take to work for anxiety? It can be understood individually. A doctor prescribes Paroxetine based on age, health condition, and anxiety symptoms. Speak to your doctor about the expected time frame.

Paxil 20 mg for anxiety should be taken with or without food. Usually, doctors recommend taking this medication in the morning.

Paxil is not approved for pediatric use.

Are there alternatives to Paxil? 

Prescription medications as Alternatives to Paxil for Anxiety

Paxil is not a controlled substance. It is approved for anxiety treatment and has sufficient evidence of its efficacy. However, it may not be fit for your health condition. Speak to your doctor about the possibility of taking other prescription medications for anxiety.

  • Klonopin

  • Valium

  • Lexapro

  • Prozac

  • Buspirone

  • Xanax

  • Inderal

  • Cymbalta

  • Tofranil

  • Hydroxyzine

  • Zoloft

There are various alternatives. If you’d like to learn more about whether Paxil, another medication or treatment modality is right for you, we recommend that you speak with a licensed psychiatrist. Here are the best online psychiatry platforms so you can speak with someone right away!

Therapy as an Alternative to Paxil 

Learn more about different therapy options for anxiety here

Energy & Holistic Modalities as an Alternative to Paxil 

Learn more about different energy & holistics modalities for anxiety here

Tech & Devices as Alternative Treatments to Paxil

Learn more about tech & devices for anxiety  here

Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.


Natalie is a writer with a focus in medical research with over 10 years of experience

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