Paroxetine (Seroxat)

Non branded versions are available.

Paroxetine is an antidepressant drug, one of a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) which increase serotonin levels in the brain. It is normally prescribed for depression, particularly accompanied by anxiety.

How does paroxetine work?

Paroxetine works by increasing the amount of serotonin that is circulating in your body. Serotonin is a chemical that acts as a messenger between nerve cells to regulate your mood and emotions. 

How do I take paroxetine?

You take paroxetine as a tablet once a day. A liquid version is also available.

Paroxetine is a long-term treatment. Your doctor might start you on a small dose and gradually increase it until you find a dose that suits you. It may take up to four weeks to feel any benefits and some people can feel worse before they feel better.

Paroxetine remains in the body for some weeks after you have stopped taking it. Your doctor may advise you to taper, or reduce the dose you take over several weeks before stopping taking paroxetine altogether. This is to prevent withdrawal side effects.

Side effects

Paroxetine can cause side effects in some people. Serious side effects are rare, and affect less than 1 in 1000 people taking paroxetine. For most people, paroxetine is safe to take for a long period.

More than 1 in 100 people taking paroxetine notice a headache, nausea, problems urinating, change in appetite, constipation, unusual tiredness or weakness, tremor, trouble sleeping, anxiety, agitation, nervousness, changes in vision, fast or irregular heartbeat, burning or prickly sensations, a decrease in sexual drive or ability, or vomiting.

Most of these side effects are transitory and should wear off as you adjust to the drug. You can see a complete list of side effects, including rare and serious side effects on the leaflet inside your medicine packet.

Who can take paroxetine?

Paroxetine is not advised for people with reduced kidney or liver function, or history of some types of mental health problems. 

Paroxetine can interact with other medications that affect the central nervous system, heart or mood. You should tell your doctor if you are taking any other medications, supplements or herbal remedies.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits for you and your baby. Paroxetine is considered safe to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding if your baby is healthy. There may be some short-term side effects for your baby, and some increased risks around bleeding after you give birth. However, these can be managed, and are rare.

Mental health problems can worsen during and after pregnancy, so it is important that your mental health is well treated, for you and your baby's wellbeing.

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