Did you know this version of Internet Explorer is out of date?

To get the latest experience from our website, please upgrade your browser.

Have a drug or medical device concern?

call 888-646-1884


Paxil is a popular SSRI antidepressant used to treat MDD, OCD, GAD and other indications. The drug works by blocking nerve cells which, as a result, causes serotonin levels to increase.

Jump To Topic

PAXIL (paroxetine hydrochloride) is an oral prescription medication used to treat a number of psychiatric disorders or mental illnesses. These include Major Depressive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

People with these mental disorders may have decreased levels or activity of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, or chemical, found in the brain, digestive tract, and in platelets (blood cells responsible or clotting and wound healing). In the brain, serotonin contributes to a general happiness, pleasure, and elevated mood. When the levels of serotonin in the brain are low, a person may develop depression, anxiety, or other mental illness.

Paxil and Other SSRIs

Paxil (paroxetine) is an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) which is used to treat Major Depressive Disorder and other mental illnesses. Normally, serotonin is released by neurons (nerve cells) and binds to places on other nerve cells which leads to feelings of well-being and happiness. Once released from nerve cells, the serotonin is picked back up and is no longer available to bind to neurons, thereby ending the “happy” effects of serotonin. 

Paxil and other SSRIs prevent this serotonin from being taken back up by the nerve cells so that the serotonin stays active longer and levels are, in essence, increased. This contributes to the antidepressant effect of Paxil. Other SSRIs include Prozac (fluoxetine), Luvox (fluvoxamine), Zoloft (sertraline), Celexa (citalopram), and Lexapro (escitalopram).

Paxil Active Ingredient

Paxil may be taken as a tablet or oral suspension. Similar medications also available are a long-acting form of Paxil under the brand name of Paxil CR®. Another medication containing the same active ingredient in Paxil is Brisdelle (paroxetine mesylate, Noven Therapeutics, LLC). Although approved by the FDA for different indications (Brisdelle is approved for use to treat hot flashes associated with menopause), they have the same active ingredient and likewise you should take the same precautions. Please talk to your doctor to make sure you are taking the proper medication in the right way.

Antidepressant Treatment and MAOI Risk

Paxil is indicated for the treatment of Major Depressive Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety
Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Paxil should NOT be used with MAOIs to treat a psychiatric illness, such as linezolid or intravenous methylene blue, due to an increased risk of serotonin syndrome. Paxil should NOT be given within 14 days of stopping an MAOI; likewise, an MAOI should not be used within 14 days of stopping Paxil. 

Other drugs that cannot be used together with Paxil include thioridazine and pimozide. Paxil should not be taken by any person with an allergy (hypersensitivity) to paroxetine or to any of the inactive ingredients in Paxil.