Paroxetine is a treatment for depression, anxiety and other anxiety-related mental health disorders.
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What is Paroxetine and how does it work?
Paroxetine belongs to a family of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRIs). Similar treatments include Escitalopram and Sertraline.
To understand how these treatments work, it’s important to understand what serotonin is. Serotonin is an important chemical which plays many key roles and functions in the body. It’s thought to be responsible for regulating mood. There is a connection between people with low serotonin levels and those who experience mental health difficulties, such as depression and anxiety.
Paroxetine works by increasing serotonin levels in the brain, which can boost mood and alleviate symptoms of mental illness.
The treatment can help people who experience clinical depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
It’s natural to feel low once in a while, but symptoms such as feeling persistently low for longer than normal periods of time may be signs of depression. Depression is characterised as feeling continually down. It can be caused by stressful experiences, such as the loss of a loved one, or being served an eviction notice, for example - although it can be triggered by many things.
Physiological symptoms of depression
Symptoms can take many forms, and you may not find your specific symptoms listed here. Severe symptoms may consist of suicidal thoughts, or thoughts of self-harm, and people suffering in severe cases may have acted on these intrusive thoughts. Other common symptoms include recurring anxiety, perhaps in social situations, not feeling fulfilled, having difficulty making decisions, feeling guilty, feeling tearful, feeling empty inside and feeling as if you may have lost your sense of self or identity.
Physical symptoms of depression
Depression can manifest as physical symptoms, as well as mental or psychological. Physical symptoms can include insomnia, or sleeping too much and having difficulty getting out of bed. In women, changes to the menstrual cycle can occur. In both men and women, depression can bring about a loss in sex drive or a lack of energy. Other symptoms include aches and pains seemingly caused by nothing, constipation, weight gain or loss, eating too much or too little and slowed or slurred speech.
Social symptoms of depression
Depression can have an impact on peoples’ social lives, and it may result in struggles at work and avoiding friends and social occasions, neglecting activities and hobbies and difficulty seeing or communicating with family. Often, these symptoms can contribute toward the sense of being on a ‘downward spiral’ that is associated with depression.
Because depression can take several forms, there are different treatment options available for specific manifestations of the condition. Generally, however, treatment may consist of the following (one or a combination of these treatments may help people live relatively normal lives):
- Therapy. Talking through your problems with a therapist can help eradicate symptoms of depression. There are several different types, and your doctor can help recommend the most suitable one for you. An example of a specific type of therapy is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
- Lifestyle changes. Making small changes to your lifestyle can help with depression. Examples of this may include not consuming alcohol, dietary changes and making more time for friends and family.
- Medication. There are several types of antidepressant medication that doctors may prescribe. One form of medication is selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which help to increase serotonin levels in the body.
What else does Paroxetine treat?
Paroxetine is also used as a treatment for anxiety and anxiety related disorders, such as panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Panic disorder is closely related to anxiety and is often accompanied by panic attacks. A panic attack may occur suddenly without cause, or it may be triggered by something specific. They may happen frequently or infrequently and can last for around 5-15 minutes, although certain panic attacks have been known to persist for hours at a time. Symptoms of panic attacks include breathlessness, sweating, a dry mouth, feeling faint, or dizzy, feeling frozen or helpless, tightness in the chest or throat, trembling or shaking and/or a feeling of impending fear or dread. They can be triggered when the body experiences tense feelings of anxiety, which causes both physical and mental symptoms.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is also linked to anxiety. It’s characterised as a compulsive process of attempting to relieve obsessive symptoms of anxiety. People with OCD may think obsessively about something, to an extent that causes them to feel anxious. They then compulsively try to diminish the obsessive thought in an attempt to relieve the anxiety. OCD can often feel like an endless cycle, and can be both unpleasant and detrimental to those suffering.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is also linked to anxiety. People who experience the condition relive traumatic events in the form of flashbacks, dreams or nightmares, and it can greatly diminish their quality of life. An example of a traumatic event is physical harm being inflicted, through a mugging or a rape, for example. People can live with PTSD for several years, sometimes unknowingly.
Can Paroxetine help with any of the above?
Paroxetine is a treatment used to help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD and panic disorder. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may not be suitable for everyone, but they are an option that should be discussed with your doctor.
If you think you may be suffering with any of the above, and you haven’t sought help in the past, we highly recommend that you make an appointment with your doctor or a mental health specialist. This will allow for a diagnosis to be made and treatment options to be properly discussed.
Paroxetine is available to buy online, but can only be obtained with a prescription. Our online video consultation service allows patients to speak with GMC-registered doctors who can offer advice, referral to specialists and prescriptions, from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
It is important you take Paroxetine exactly as prescribed. Never exceed the dosage you have been instructed to take daily.
- 10mg of Paroxetine is the starting dose.
- For certain conditions, a reduced dose of 5mg a day may be prescribed.
- You may not begin to feel better for a couple of weeks.
- If your symptoms do not improve, your prescriber may increase your dosage to 20mg.
- Never exceed your prescribed dosage.
- Swallow whole, with water. Tablets may be broken, but not chewed.
- If you take too much Paroxetine, or fear you have overdosed, seek urgent medical attention.
Continue taking Paroxetine for as long as it has been prescribed. Do not stop taking it if symptoms do not improve straight away.
All medication can cause side effects in patients, but won’t in all cases. It is important that people who take Paroxetine are aware of what the potential side effects may look like.
You must make an appointment with your doctor if you encounter irregular bleeding, including that which is visible in the vomit, urine or stools, or if you are unable to urinate at all after some time, if you experience seizures or fits, feel restless or have an inability to remain still, if you feel tired, weak or confused or feel achy, weak or fatigued. Especially see a doctor if you have an allergic reaction or any symptoms thereof, such as a rash on the skin, swelling in the mouth or throat, lumpy skin, swollen eyelids, respiratory problems such as breathlessness or lightheadedness. If you encounter any sweating, shaking, restlessness or hallucinations, you may be suffering with serotonin syndrome - see a doctor immediately in these instances. Also seek attention if you develop glaucoma, aggressive episodes, manic episodes and finally, thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
Other symptoms include:
Very common side effects (more than 1 in 10 people)
Nausea or a reduced sex drive or loss of libido.
Common side effects (1 in 10 people)
Raised cholesterol levels, lack of appetite, insomnia, abnormal dreams including vivid nightmares, feeling dizzy, faint or trembling, headache, problems focusing, feelings of agitation, feeling unusually weak, impaired or blurred vision, dry mouth, frequent yawning, diarrhoea or constipation, vomiting, weight gain, weight loss or increased perspiration.
Uncommon side effects (1 in every 100 people)
A brief increase or decrease in the blood pressure that may make you feel faint or dizzy, particularly when standing, increased heart rate, lack of movement, feeling rigid, convulsions, gurning or grinding of the teeth, dilated pupils, rashes on the skin, feeling dazed or confused, hallucinating, an inability to urinate, passing urine involuntarily, loss of control of blood sugar levels in those who are diabetic.
Rare side effects ( 1 in every 1000 people)
Lactation in men and women, reduced heart beat, effects on the liver reflective in function tests, panic attacks, manic episodes, feeling detached from yourself, loss of identity or sense of self, anxiety, irresistible urge to move the legs, pain in the muscles or joints.
Very rare side effects (1 in every 10,000 people)
Skin rash or blisters, rashes that look similar to a target, widespread rash, yellow skin or eyes which may be indicative of liver failure, sensitivity to the sun, painful erections, irregular or unprotected bleeding.
Conditions to look out for
Before using this treatment, it is important you share any relevant medical condition you may have with your doctor.
For further advice, consult with the patient information leaflet found in each package.
Taking it with other medication
You must also make your doctor aware of any medication you take or have recently taken; this includes non-prescription and recreational drugs.
You should inform your doctor if you take any of the following: monoamine oxidase inhibitors, antipsychotic medication, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, pain relief medication, painkillers such as tramadol, any medicines called triptans, or migraine relief medication, antidepressant medication, any other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, medication, tricyclic antidepressants, a dietary supplement called tryptophan, medication such as lithium, perphenazine or any other antipsychotic treatment for psychiatric conditions, any treatment for chronic pain or anaesthesia, amy HIV treatment, St. John’s Wort which is an herbal remedy for depression, any treatment for epilepsy, any blood-thinning medication, any form of beta-blocker, any treatment for blood pressure or heart problems, high cholesterol medication, tuberculosis treatment, leprosy treatment and any treatment for cancer or fertility problems.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
Do not take this treatment if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. If you become pregnant whilst taking Paroxetine, make an immediate appointment with your doctor.
Food, drink and alcohol
To reduce the risk of side effects, Paroxetine should be taken in the morning with food. You should not drink alcohol whilst you are taking this treatment.
Driving and machinery
Paroxetine can cause tiredness and dizziness. If you experience these side effects, you should not drive.
Paroxetine has been shown to reduce the sperm count in animals. No tests have been conducted on humans, and reduced sperm count in humans has not been observed.
Can I still drink alcohol?
No. You should not drink alcohol if you are taking this medication as it can increase the likelihood of certain side effects.
Will I still be able to drive?
If you experience tiredness, dizziness or any side effect that affects you physically or mentally, you should not drive.
Can I take the medicine while pregnant?
No. This treatment should not be taken while you are pregnant.
How should I store it?
There are no special storage requirements. We recommend that you keep this treatment away from children and in a dry place.
Am I allergic to anything in the medicine?
The active substance is Paroxetine. This treatment also contains calcium hydrogen phosphate, dihydrate calcium hydrogen phosphate, anhydrous lactose monohydrate sodium starch glycolate (Type A) magnesium stearate (E470b). 20 mg tablets contain titanium dioxide (E171) hypromellose (E464) macrogol 400 polysorbate 80 (E433) and 30mg treatments contain titanium dioxide (E171) hypromellose (E464) macrogol 400 indigo carmine aluminum lake (E 132) polysorbate 80 (E433).
Is it available over the counter?
This is a prescription-only medication.
Can I buy Paroxetine online?
Paroxetine can be purchased online if a prescription has been issued. If you are encountering mental health difficulties for the first time, we highly recommend that you make an appointment with your doctor or a mental health specialist.
Our video consultation service provides patients with access to GMC-registered UK doctors. They are available between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. They can offer specific advice relevant to your condition, refer you to specialists or prescribe treatment where appropriate.
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