How is Paxil used to treat bipolar disorder?

Treating bipolar disorder with Paxil (paroxetine) is considered an "off label" use of the drug, but doctors do prescribe it sometimes for this purpose. Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition that causes people to experience periods of mania (racing and grandiose thoughts, increased physical and mental energy, minimal sleep and feelings of euphoria) alternating with periods of depression (prolonged sadness, reduced physical and mental energy, thoughts of suicide and feelings of worry, anxiety, and/or hopelessness).

Paxil is an antidepressant medication that works by adjusting the level of the chemical serotonin in the brain. One function of serotonin is to help regulate mood, and raising the level of serotonin in the brain can bring feelings of well-being. For this reason, doctors sometimes prescribe Paxil for treating the depression associated with bipolar disorder. However, people with bipolar disorder should not take Paxil by itself, because doing so might switch them from depression into mania, a potentially dangerous change. To prevent this problem, doctors treating bipolar disorder may prescribe a mood stabilizer or antipsychotic drug along with Paxil.

Research is ongoing to determine how effective Paxil and other antidepressant medications are in treating bipolar disorder.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.