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What should I know about Paxil before taking it?

Before taking Paxil (paroxetine), you should know what it is, why it is being prescribed to you, and what you can expect from taking it. Paxil is an antidepressant that belongs to a category of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs. It relieves depression by adjusting the level of the chemical serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is involved in regulating mood, appetite, sleep and levels of pain.

Paxil is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating depression in adults. It is also used to treat obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and anxiety disorders. Some doctors also prescribe Paxil "off label" for a variety of ailments, including postmenopausal hot flashes, headaches, and premature ejaculation in men.

Paxil can interact with numerous medications, so before you start taking it, give your doctor a list of all medicines (prescription and over-the-counter) and supplements that you take. You should also give your doctor a detailed medical history of your mental and physical health. Talk to your doctor about Paxil's potential side effects and whether your medical history or use of any substances puts you at increased risk for experiencing any of them. You should also know that if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, you should discuss with your doctor whether an antidepressant is the best treatment choice for you.

Your doctor may start you on a low dose of Paxil to see how you respond to the drug and may gradually increase your dose to maximize benefits with minimal side effects. Paxil may cause drowsiness and affect your judgment, especially when you are first taking it, so your doctor may advise you not to operate machinery or drive until you know how the drug will affect you. Once you start taking Paxil, you shouldn't stop taking it without talking with your doctor. Stopping suddenly may cause unpleasant symptoms, so your doctor may gradually decrease your dose.

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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.