September 21st, 2010
10:23 AM ET

How can I stop using Paxil without the side effects?

Every weekday, a CNNHealth expert doctor answers a viewer question. On Tuesdays, it's Dr. Charles Raison, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University, and an expert in the mind-body connection for health.

Question asked by Sharon Reynolds of Tampa, Florida: I have been taking 10 mg of Paxil for nine years. I would like to get off of it but have heard of the many side effects associated with stopping it. Brain "buzzes" and various other frightening possibilities.

How can I stop Paxil without those side effects? I started taking it after a complete hysterectomy that resulted in extreme anxiety.

Expert answer: Dear Sharon,

There is good news and bad news about your situation.

The good news is that only about 20 percent of patients who take antidepressants experience these type of withdrawal symptoms when they discontinue the medications, and when experienced, these symptoms are usually mild and resolve in a week or two.

The bad news is that you have two risk factors for experiencing an antidepressant withdrawal syndrome. First you have been on your antidepressant for an extended period. Second, you are taking Paxil (generic paroxetine) which - because of its short "half-life" in the body - is especially notorious for causing withdrawal problems.

There are two very important things you can do to reduce your risk of having the type of symptoms you describe.

First, you should work closely with your health care provider. Second, you should never just stop the medication.

Probably the all-time best way to experience antidepressant withdrawal is to just suddenly stop the medication. Doing this is a shock to the nervous system, which has adjusted its neurotransmitter release based on the presence of the antidepressant.

In the case of medications like Paxil that affect serotonin, we believe most of the withdrawal symptoms are related to a sudden increase in serotonin activity for which body and brain are not prepared.

The first thing a good clinician will do is closely examine whether stopping the Paxil is a good idea in the first place. If you have been on the medication for 10 years and are emotionally stable, it might be the right thing to do.

Even if it makes sense to do this, a good clinician will be carefully watching, not just for withdrawal symptoms, but also for any sign that the psychiatric condition that prompted you to take the medication in the first place isn't coming back.

The most common symptoms of a Paxil withdrawal syndrome are feeling like you have the flu, often in combination with dizziness, sensory disturbances (like the buzzing you describe) and anxiety/agitation.

The trick to lowering your chances of having these symptoms is to reduce the dose of the antidepressant as slowly as possible. For people who are really sensitive it can take months to get off an antidepressant slowly enough to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

But remember that most people can stop an antidepressant cold and won't have symptoms. Whether you would be similarly fortunate or more unlucky is probably not a question you should test out. Rather, I recommend starting to work with your clinician to slowly lower the dose. If you feel fine you might try lowering the dose more rapidly as it feels comfortable.

soundoff (1,620 Responses)
  1. Google Marketing Job


    May 11, 2021 at 17:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Digital Marketing Near Me

    You ought to take part in a contest for one of the highest quality websites on the net. I will recommend this blog!


    May 11, 2021 at 17:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Content Marketing Management


    May 11, 2021 at 17:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Ecu Repair Shop For Sprinter Van

    When I originally commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I get four emails with the exact same comment. Is there a means you can remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!


    May 11, 2021 at 19:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. RV Lighting Orange County

    Very good information. Lucky me I came across your blog by chance (stumbleupon). I've saved as a favorite for later!


    May 11, 2021 at 21:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. RV Parts Near Me


    May 11, 2021 at 21:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. RV Inspection Orange County

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this write-up and also the rest of the website is also very good.


    May 11, 2021 at 22:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. rv interior remodeling


    May 11, 2021 at 22:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. seats near me


    May 11, 2021 at 22:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. rv step repair parts

    This website truly has all of the information and facts I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.


    May 12, 2021 at 00:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Mercedes Sprinter Van Repair Near Me

    Spot on with this write-up, I actually believe this website needs far more attention. I’ll probably be returning to see more, thanks for the advice!


    May 12, 2021 at 00:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. rv restoration near me

    I truly love your website.. Very nice colors & theme. Did you make this web site yourself? Please reply back as I’m looking to create my own personal site and would like to find out where you got this from or just what the theme is named. Appreciate it!


    May 12, 2021 at 01:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. RV Interior Designer Los Angeles


    May 12, 2021 at 01:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. RV Mattresses Orange County

    I used to be able to find good info from your blog posts.


    May 12, 2021 at 02:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. semi truck shop near me


    May 12, 2021 at 04:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. couch repair near me

    Excellent post. I absolutely love this website. Thanks!


    May 12, 2021 at 05:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. RV Interior Remodeling Orange County

    An outstanding share! I have just forwarded this onto a co-worker who was doing a little homework on this. And he in fact ordered me dinner because I found it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending the time to discuss this topic here on your web page.


    May 12, 2021 at 05:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RV Mattresses California

    Spot on with this write-up, I really think this amazing site needs far more attention. I’ll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the info!


    May 12, 2021 at 07:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. rv leak detection


    May 12, 2021 at 08:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. orange county truck service

    You have made some really good points there. I looked on the net for more info about the issue and found most individuals will go along with your views on this web site.


    May 12, 2021 at 08:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. parts shop near me

    Hi there, I do think your blog could be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other than that, great blog!


    May 12, 2021 at 09:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. rv windshield replacement near me


    May 12, 2021 at 12:23 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. best auto body shop in orange county


    May 12, 2021 at 15:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. RV Mechanics California


    May 12, 2021 at 16:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Sprinter Heater Contol Repair

    I would like to thank you for the efforts you've put in penning this website. I am hoping to see the same high-grade content by you later on as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my very own blog now 😉


    May 12, 2021 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Mercedes Sprinter Brake Caliper Repair Kit


    May 12, 2021 at 19:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. mobile home supplies orange county ca

    Good write-up. I certainly love this website. Keep it up!


    May 12, 2021 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. rv fiberglass repair panels

    Everyone loves it when folks get together and share views. Great site, continue the good work!


    May 12, 2021 at 21:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. rv repair orange county california


    May 12, 2021 at 21:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. rv cabinets and furniture


    May 12, 2021 at 21:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. rv generator repair


    May 12, 2021 at 22:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Repair 2005 Sprinter Ecm


    May 12, 2021 at 22:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. international truck repair shop near me

    I blog frequently and I truly thank you for your information. This article has truly peaked my interest. I am going to take a note of your website and keep checking for new details about once per week. I opted in for your Feed too.


    May 13, 2021 at 00:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. RV Washing California


    May 13, 2021 at 00:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. good sam rv insurance phone number

    Very nice blog post. I certainly love this site. Stick with it!


    May 13, 2021 at 00:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. furniture repair stores near me

    Excellent post. I am dealing with a few of these issues as well..


    May 13, 2021 at 01:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. horse trailer air conditioner

    You are so cool! I don't think I've read something like this before. So nice to discover somebody with some genuine thoughts on this issue. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This site is one thing that is required on the internet, someone with a little originality!


    May 13, 2021 at 01:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. upholstery shop orange county


    May 13, 2021 at 02:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. RV Technician California


    May 13, 2021 at 03:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Sprinter Alignent Repair

    I truly love your website.. Excellent colors & theme. Did you make this website yourself? Please reply back as I’m hoping to create my own website and want to find out where you got this from or what the theme is named. Cheers!


    May 13, 2021 at 04:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. storno brzinol

    I simply could not leave your web site prior to suggesting that I extremely loved the standard information a person provide on your guests? Is gonna be back incessantly to investigate cross-check new posts


    May 13, 2021 at 05:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Sprinter Repair Mechanics

    There's definately a great deal to learn about this issue. I love all the points you have made.


    May 13, 2021 at 05:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. index of xvideos

    This is a really good tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Simple but very accurate information… Thank you for sharing this one. A must read post!


    May 13, 2021 at 07:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. oc fleet

    Saved as a favorite, I love your web site!


    May 13, 2021 at 09:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. RV Refrigerator Near Me

    Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be exciting to read content from other writers and practice something from their websites.


    May 13, 2021 at 10:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. couches orange county


    May 13, 2021 at 13:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. oc towing company

    I want to to thank you for this good read!! I definitely loved every bit of it. I have got you book-marked to look at new stuff you post…


    May 13, 2021 at 16:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Mercedes Sprinter Service Near Me

    You ought to be a part of a contest for one of the finest websites on the net. I will highly recommend this blog!


    May 13, 2021 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. orange county rv dealers

    Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Taking the time and actual effort to make a really good article… but what can I say… I put things off a whole lot and don't seem to get anything done.


    May 13, 2021 at 16:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. RV AC Orange County

    That is a great tip especially to those new to the blogosphere. Brief but very precise info… Many thanks for sharing this one. A must read post!


    May 13, 2021 at 19:36 | Report abuse | Reply
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32

Leave a Reply to Matt


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.