Paxil (paroxetine) is an antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). This drug is often prescribed to those suffering from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. As an SSRI, Paxil works by helping to maintain balanced levels of serotonin in the brain, which are responsible for overall wellbeing.
What to Expect
When taking Paxil, it is always a good idea to be aware of some of the potential issues and health concerns that this drug can cause. Like most antidepressants, Paxil carries a black box warning mandated by the FDA due to its increased risk of causing suicidal thoughts and actions in people under the age of 24. Most patients who are prescribed Paxil will not notice much improvement in their condition right away, as it takes up to one month for the drug to become effective. Patients are also advised to maintain all appointments and checkups with their physician for a minimum of three months after starting Paxil to ensure proper monitoring of symptoms.
When beginning treatment with Paxil, it is always important that you discuss any and all medications with your doctor. There are numerous drug interactions that can occur with Paxil, and the results can be life threatening. You should also avoid any medications that cause drowsiness or sleepiness when taking Paxil. You should also discuss your treatment options if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant as Paxil crosses the placenta and can seep into breast milk.
You should never stop taking this antidepressant or increase your dosage without the supervision of your doctor. Stopping the medication suddenly can result in withdrawal symptoms and a relapse of your depression and anxiety symptoms.
When to Contact Your Doctor
There are a number of side effects associated with Paxil, and while some of them resolve on their own, others should be reported to your doctor immediately. These include:
- Sharp increase in anxiety or panic attacks
- Severe irritability or agitation
- Increased aggressiveness or hostility
- Hyperactivity or restlessness
- Increased depression
- Suicidal thoughts
- Coordination problems
- Racing or erratic heartbeat
- Hives, itching or swelling of the face, nose or throat
These effects can be life threatening and may require immediate medical attention, so make sure to contact your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms listed above.
Common Side Effects
Paxil is also linked to a number of common side effects that generally resolve on their own:
- Dry mouth
Additionally, symptoms of sexual dysfunction have also been reported with Paxil. These symptoms typically continue throughout the treatment period.
Paxil and Pregnancy
Paxil is listed as a Class D drug for safety in pregnant women, which means that there is known risk to the baby when the medication is taken during pregnancy. There are several birth defects that are associated with taking Paxil during pregnancy, including:
- Miscarriage and spontaneous abortion
- Premature birth and low birth weight
- Heart defects including holes in the walls of the heart
- Defects in the brain and skull
- Spina Bifida
- Hypoplastic Left/Right Heart Syndrome
- Delayed development
- Cleft palate or cleft lip
- Club feet
- Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension
All of these birth defects are life altering, and care should be taken if you become pregnant while taking Paxil. However, do not stop taking the drug until you speak to your doctor.
If you have been injured as a result of taking Paxil, or your baby suffered from birth defects after taking this antidepressant during pregnancy, you should contact an attorney to determine if you are eligible for compensation in your case.