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. box truck installation


    May 6, 2021 at 02:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. RV Camera California

    It’s nearly impossible to find well-informed people for this subject, but you sound like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    May 6, 2021 at 06:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Optician Near Me

    I was very happy to discover this web site. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly wonderful read!! I definitely savored every little bit of it and I have you book-marked to see new information in your blog.


    May 6, 2021 at 08:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. mobile truck tire repair near me

    I’m amazed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and interesting, and let me tell you, you've hit the nail on the head. The problem is something that too few men and women are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy that I came across this in my hunt for something regarding this.


    May 6, 2021 at 09:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. eye doctors near me


    May 6, 2021 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. New Forklifts


    May 6, 2021 at 16:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. burgers near me


    May 6, 2021 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Forklift Service Shop Near Me


    May 6, 2021 at 17:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. advance auto parts near me


    May 6, 2021 at 17:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. rv repair fort bragg ca

    Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post! It is the little changes that make the biggest changes. Many thanks for sharing!


    May 6, 2021 at 17:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. repair shops near me

    Everything is very open with a really clear explanation of the issues. It was truly informative. Your site is very useful. Thank you for sharing!


    May 6, 2021 at 17:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Forklift Maintenance

    Pretty! This has been a really wonderful post. Many thanks for supplying this information.


    May 6, 2021 at 17:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Forklifts

    Good blog you've got here.. It’s difficult to find quality writing like yours these days. I truly appreciate people like you! Take care!!


    May 6, 2021 at 18:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Saison Beer

    Spot on with this write-up, I seriously believe that this site needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be back again to read through more, thanks for the information!


    May 6, 2021 at 18:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Forklift Maintenance Shop

    Everything is very open with a precise explanation of the issues. It was really informative. Your website is extremely helpful. Thanks for sharing!


    May 6, 2021 at 18:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Kosher Wine

    Greetings! Very useful advice within this article! It's the little changes that will make the biggest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!


    May 6, 2021 at 18:18 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Forklift Service Los Angeles

    Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Finding the time and actual effort to produce a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.


    May 6, 2021 at 23:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Forklift Parts California


    May 6, 2021 at 23:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Forklift Extensions California


    May 7, 2021 at 02:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. studio apartments near me

    I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head. The problem is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. Now i'm very happy I found this during my search for something concerning this.


    May 7, 2021 at 04:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. library near me

    It’s hard to come by knowledgeable people on this topic, however, you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks


    May 7, 2021 at 04:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. rv and trailer repair


    May 7, 2021 at 06:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. fiberglass near me


    May 7, 2021 at 06:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. Used Forklift Cylinders California

    You're so awesome! I don't believe I've read a single thing like this before. So good to discover another person with genuine thoughts on this issue. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This website is one thing that is needed on the internet, someone with some originality!


    May 7, 2021 at 07:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Forklift Tires Orange County


    May 7, 2021 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Good Wine Stores Near Me


    May 7, 2021 at 08:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. Forklift Parts California


    May 7, 2021 at 09:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. Imperial Ipa Beer


    May 7, 2021 at 09:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. Forklift Maintenance Shop Los Angeles


    May 7, 2021 at 10:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Forklift Tires


    May 7, 2021 at 15:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. cabela's near me

    This is a topic that's near to my heart... Best wishes! Where are your contact details though?


    May 7, 2021 at 15:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. New Forklift Tires California


    May 7, 2021 at 16:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. Forklift Cylinders Near Me

    Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I appreciate you penning this article and the rest of the site is extremely good.


    May 7, 2021 at 16:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. rv restore and repair


    May 7, 2021 at 20:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. oc ac repair


    May 7, 2021 at 20:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Content Marketing Studio


    May 7, 2021 at 23:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Video Marketing Pro


    May 7, 2021 at 23:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. trailer maintenance near me

    Hi there, I think your website could be having browser compatibility issues. Whenever I take a look at your web site in Safari, it looks fine but when opening in I.E., it has some overlapping issues. I merely wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Aside from that, great site!


    May 7, 2021 at 23:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Video Marketing Orange County

    Oh my goodness! Amazing article dude! Many thanks, However I am having problems with your RSS. I don’t know the reason why I am unable to join it. Is there anybody else getting identical RSS issues? Anyone who knows the solution can you kindly respond? Thanks!!


    May 8, 2021 at 02:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Seo Marketing Agencies

    I blog frequently and I really thank you for your information. Your article has truly peaked my interest. I'm going to bookmark your site and keep checking for new information about once per week. I subscribed to your RSS feed as well.


    May 8, 2021 at 02:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. Social Media Marketing Mentors

    I must thank you for the efforts you've put in writing this website. I really hope to check out the same high-grade content by you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my very own site now 😉


    May 8, 2021 at 02:54 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Digital Marketing Firms Orange County

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


    May 8, 2021 at 03:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Digital Marketing Agencies Near Me

    Hey there! I simply want to give you a big thumbs up for the excellent info you have here on this post. I'll be coming back to your website for more soon.


    May 8, 2021 at 03:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Local Marketing Program

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


    May 8, 2021 at 03:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Digital Marketing Events Near Me

    Good blog you have got here.. It’s difficult to find high-quality writing like yours these days. I honestly appreciate people like you! Take care!!


    May 8, 2021 at 08:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. Social Media Marketing Businesses Near Me

    I'm pretty pleased to find this website. I wanted to thank you for your time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely savored every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to check out new stuff on your web site.


    May 8, 2021 at 08:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. Video Marketing Companies California

    Spot on with this write-up, I truly feel this web site needs a lot more attention. I’ll probably be returning to read more, thanks for the info!


    May 8, 2021 at 09:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. Social Media Marketing Specialist Near Me

    Your style is so unique in comparison to other people I've read stuff from. Thanks for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I'll just bookmark this blog.


    May 8, 2021 at 13:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Digital Marketing Agency Near Me

    I was extremely pleased to uncover this site. I wanted to thank you for your time for this wonderful read!! I definitely appreciated every bit of it and i also have you saved as a favorite to see new things in your blog.


    May 8, 2021 at 13:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. rv body shop


    May 8, 2021 at 14:24 | 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 Dan


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.