Paxil is a type of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that balances out levels of serotonin in the brain. Although Paxil may be used for other unspecified reasons, its primary purpose is to treat depression, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

Before Taking Paxil

Before taking Paxil, you should discuss your pertinent medical history and other current prescriptions. Paxil should not be taken if you are currently taking any of the following: thioridazine (Mellaril), pimozide (Orap), or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), including isocarboxazid (Marplan), phenelzine (Nardil), rasagiline (Azilect), selegiline (Eldepryl or Emsam), and tranylcypromine (Parnate). Paxil should not be taken within fourteen days of taking any MAOI, and any MAOI should not be taken within fourteen days of ceasing depression treatment via Paxil. Alert your doctor if you are prone to seizures or epilepsy, or if you have liver disease, kidney disease, a bleeding/blood clot disorder, bipolar disorder, reoccurring suicidal thoughts, or a history of drug abuse. These conditions require clinical adjustments to be made to dose sizes and prescription information for Paxil.

Things to Discuss with Your Physician

Within the first few months of treatment, Paxil may induce certain mood and behavior-related symptoms, such as elevated likelihood of suicidal thoughts, particularly if you are under the age of 24 years. Paxil can take up to a month to become effective and alleviate symptoms. It is important to communicate all side effects of Paxil to your doctor and to keep a regular schedule of checkups for at least the first three months of taking the medication. It is especially crucial to inform your doctor if you experience severe worsening of symptoms, such as: panic attacks, anxiety, elevated levels of irritability, agitation, aggressiveness, hostility, restlessness, hyperactivity, or depressed behavior, or suicidal thoughts. Because Paxil can cause birth defects and seep into breast milk, your doctor should be informed if you are trying to conceive; however, you should not remove yourself from the medication if you do become pregnant, as this could cause a serious relapse of depression symptoms.

When Taking Paxil

Remember to directly follow your doctor's orders when taking Paxil. Paxil must be swallowed whole (in pill form) or measures and swallowed from the appropriate medicine cup (in liquid form) at the same time each day. Do not attempt to alter the pill or liquid, as this changes the way the medication is absorbed by your body and could potentially cause harm. Do not administer a dose other than what was prescribed by your doctor. If you discover that you have missed a dose the same day you were supposed to take it, you may take the dose immediately; however, if you remember the day after you missed the dose, do not take a double dose to compensate. Do not stop taking Paxil unless directed by your doctor, as it can induce agitation, numbness, tingling, ringing in the ears, dizziness, confusion, and other withdrawal symptoms.

Medications to Avoid

Alcohol, muscle relaxers, and medicines for colds, allergies, seizures, anxiety, and sleep disorders should be avoided while taking Paxil, as these medications may cause drowsiness and impairment of judgment. As with any medication, you should be extremely cautious and maintain self-awareness if driving and the operation of machinery is necessary while on Paxil.