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. Sprinter Repair Near Me

    Itís hard to find well-informed people on this subject, however, you sound like you know what youíre talking about! Thanks


    June 21, 2021 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Mercedes Sprinter Van Service Near Me


    June 21, 2021 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. RV And Camper Repair Near Me


    June 21, 2021 at 19:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Sacha Lothridge



    June 21, 2021 at 20:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Sprinter Repair Shop Near Me


    June 21, 2021 at 20:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Sprinter Repair Near Me


    June 21, 2021 at 22:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Luxury Van Shop Near Me


    June 21, 2021 at 22:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. RV Repair Nearby


    June 21, 2021 at 22:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. RV Repair Shops Near Me Now


    June 21, 2021 at 23:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. success group


    June 22, 2021 at 01:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Nearby RV Repairs

    This blog was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something that helped me. Many thanks!


    June 22, 2021 at 01:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Van Frame Repair Shop Near Me


    June 22, 2021 at 05:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. RV Suspension Repair Near Me

    After going over a handful of the blog posts on your site, I truly appreciate your technique of blogging. I saved it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back soon. Please check out my website as well and tell me what you think.


    June 22, 2021 at 09:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Custom Van Repair

    bookmarked!!, I love your website!


    June 22, 2021 at 11:03 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Milan Nehls

    I was able to find good advice from your blog articles.


    June 22, 2021 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Sprinter By Keystone Slide Repair


    June 22, 2021 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Rv Repair Shop

    Very nice blog post. I absolutely appreciate this site. Stick with it!


    June 22, 2021 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. RV Brake Repair Near Me


    June 22, 2021 at 17:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Digital Marketing Experts

    Hi there! This post could not be written any better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I'll forward this post to him. Pretty sure he's going to have a great read. Thank you for sharing!


    June 22, 2021 at 17:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Content Marketing Firms

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post! It is the little changes which will make the most significant changes. Thanks for sharing!


    June 22, 2021 at 17:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. RV Roof Repair Service Near Me


    June 22, 2021 at 20:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Internet Marketing Mechanics


    June 22, 2021 at 22:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Social Media Marketing Consultant


    June 22, 2021 at 22:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. the rewatchables podcast

    There is certainly a great deal to learn about this subject. I love all of the points you've made.


    June 22, 2021 at 23:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. RV Service And Repair Near Me


    June 23, 2021 at 00:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Freebies

    I've been browsing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my opinion, if all website owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before.


    June 23, 2021 at 01:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. SEO Marketing Firms

    I need to to thank you for this wonderful read!! I absolutely loved every little bit of it. I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you postÖ


    June 23, 2021 at 02:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Social Media Marketing Market


    June 23, 2021 at 02:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. ric edelman podcast

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


    June 23, 2021 at 03:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Emergency RV Repair Near Me

    When I initially commented I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I recieve 4 emails with the exact same comment. There has to be a way you are able to remove me from that service? Thanks a lot!


    June 23, 2021 at 03:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. Google Marketing Specialists

    Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Taking the time and actual effort to produce a superb articleÖ but what can I sayÖ I put things off a lot and don't manage to get anything done.


    June 23, 2021 at 03:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Social Media Marketing Service


    June 23, 2021 at 03:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Kayswell

    I've observed that in the world nowadays, video games are classified as the latest phenomenon with kids of all ages. Periodically it may be extremely hard to drag your children away from the activities. If you want the very best of both worlds, there are many educational video games for kids. Good post.


    June 23, 2021 at 04:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Google Marketing Specialists

    This blog was... how do I say it? Relevant!! Finally I've found something which helped me. Appreciate it!


    June 23, 2021 at 04:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. mia khalifa sports podcast

    Everything is very open with a very clear explanation of the challenges. It was truly informative. Your site is useful. Many thanks for sharing!


    June 23, 2021 at 05:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Cristopher Pham

    This is a very good tips especially to those new to blogosphere, brief and accurate information... Thanks for sharing this one. A must read article.


    June 23, 2021 at 08:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. duolingo spanish podcast


    June 23, 2021 at 08:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. Freebies

    Hey there this is somewhat of off topic but I was wanting to know if blogs use WYSIWYG editors or if you have to manually code with HTML. I'm starting a blog soon but have no coding knowledge so I wanted to get guidance from someone with experience. Any help would be greatly appreciated!


    June 23, 2021 at 09:58 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. the dick show podcast

    Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day. It's always exciting to read content from other writers and use something from their websites.


    June 23, 2021 at 10:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. sword and scale podcast


    June 23, 2021 at 11:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Social Media Marketing Agencies Near Me

    An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a co-worker who was conducting a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me lunch because I discovered it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanx for spending some time to talk about this issue here on your web site.


    June 23, 2021 at 11:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Social Media Marketing Consultants

    After exploring a handful of the articles on your web page, I seriously appreciate your way of writing a blog. I book-marked it to my bookmark site list and will be checking back in the near future. Please visit my website as well and let me know what you think.


    June 23, 2021 at 12:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Google Marketing Agency

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this article plus the rest of the website is also really good.


    June 23, 2021 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. dentists near me

    Iím impressed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog thatís both educative and entertaining, and without a doubt, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is an issue that too few folks are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I stumbled across this during my search for something regarding this.


    June 23, 2021 at 15:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. 15 minute covid test near me

    Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you writing this article plus the rest of the website is very good.


    June 23, 2021 at 15:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. shoe stores near me


    June 23, 2021 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. indian restaurants near me

    An interesting discussion is worth comment. There's no doubt that that you need to write more on this subject matter, it may not be a taboo subject but generally people don't speak about such subjects. To the next! All the best!!


    June 23, 2021 at 16:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. cheapest gas near me

    I'd like to thank you for the efforts you've put in writing this blog. I am hoping to view the same high-grade blog posts by you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my own blog now 😉


    June 23, 2021 at 16:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Internet Marketing Services

    Can I simply say what a comfort to uncover someone who really knows what they are discussing online. You certainly realize how to bring a problem to light and make it important. A lot more people ought to check this out and understand this side of your story. I was surprised that you are not more popular given that you surely possess the gift.


    June 23, 2021 at 17:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. RV Brake Repair Near Me


    June 23, 2021 at 20:26 | 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 Zounds


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.