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What Is Paroxetine HCl?

By Helga George
Updated May 17, 2024
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Paroxetine HCl is a psychiatric drug used to treat depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social phobia. The drug is part of the selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) class. These compounds act by limiting the uptake of the chemical transmitter serotonin, which acts as a mood regulator. Also known as paroxetine hydrochloride, this compound has been found to be highly effective at treating severe depression, but its ability to treat lower grades of depression is in question. The drug should be prescribed for people age 24 or under with caution, since there is concern that it may lead to increased rates of suicide and aggression.

Paroxetine HCl has been shown to be highly effective at treating severe depression. In low doses, it can be used to treat the depression associated with bipolar disorder. Such treatment must be closely regulated because high doses of this drug can trigger manic phases in bipolar patients. One problem with this compound is that it can take several weeks to start to manifest its effects.

The effectiveness of paroxetine HCl for low and moderate grades of depression is in dispute. Some studies have found it to be no more effective than a placebo. The United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also put a black box warning for prescribing the drug to children, teenagers, and young adults. There is some evidence that people under age 24 can become more suicidal or aggressive when treated with this drug. This type of study is confounded by the fact that depression itself leads to an increased risk of suicide.

Paroxetine HCl can interact with a number of other prescription drugs, supplements, and alcohol. An older class of antidepressants is the monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MOI). SSRIs should not be mixed with this type of drug. It is important to inform one’s doctor about any other drugs and supplements being taken. Of particular importance is St. Johns wort, which many people take as a natural cure for depression, but it can have toxic interactions with paroxetine HCl.

If pregnant, one should consult with a doctor if taking any SSRI. Generally, their use during pregnancy is not advised. Paroxetine HCl is considered a safer drug for pregnant women to take than the other drugs in this class. It is also important to not suddenly stop taking this prescription because there can be withdrawal symptoms. If it is necessary to cease taking this drug, a doctor will gradually reduce the dosage to minimize this effect.

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Discussion Comments

By bluedolphin — On Apr 07, 2013
I took paroxetine hcl 20mg for about three months. It was working in the beginning but I built up tolerance for it and my doctor had to keep increasing the dose. Finally, he switched me to something else. I was up to 50mg when I quit. I still think it's a good drug, it just didn't work for me in the long-term.
By SteamLouis — On Apr 06, 2013

@fify-- SSRIs are not addictive like psychotic drugs. They don't cause changes in the brain, however, you will still experience some symptoms of paroxetine withdrawal when you quit the medication.

So don't ever try to quit paroxetine on your own. You have to quit under the supervision of your doctor and by tapering down the drug dose slowly over weeks and maybe even months. If you taper down slowly, you won't have any problems.

I used paroxetine for depression for two years. I quit very slowly. I was taking 10mg, I tapered down to 7.5mg (approximately), then to 5mg, then to 2.5mg and then I finally quit. I reduced the dose every three weeks. I still experienced some migraines the first several days of reducing the dose, but thankfully, I didn't experience any depression or anxiety.

If you quit suddenly, you can have mood changes, anger, depression, anxiety attacks, heart palpitations, migraines and lots of other problems.

By fify — On Apr 05, 2013

I recently started taking paroxetine HCl for anxiety. My doctor said that I need to take it for at least six months. I do feel better since I started taking it, I think it's working but I'm worried about addiction. Does paroxetine cause addiction?

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