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Paxil, an FDA-approved selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), is used in the treatment of several mental health issues, such as major depressive disorder, various anxiety disorders, PTSD, and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Available in immediate-release and extended-release forms, with dosages ranging from 10 mg to 40 mg, Paxil enhances serotonin levels in the brain, aiding in mood regulation and reducing anxiety. It’s generally taken once daily and is suitable for adults, though not approved for children under 18. Common side effects consist of nausea, dizziness, and insomnia. Paxil may also interact with other medications and alcohol, requiring careful management by a healthcare provider. Always follow the doctor’s instructions regarding dosages and report any severe reactions. Store Paxil at room temperature and keep it out of reach of children.

Paxil Overview

Paxil, known generically as paroxetine, is a potent selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) effective in treating a variety of mental health conditions. As an FDA-approved medication, Paxil is effective in managing major depressive disorder (MDD), panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) & vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause. The active ingredient, paroxetine, helps increase serotonin levels in the brain, which is essential in mood regulation and anxiety reduction.

Paxil is available in various forms, including immediate-release tablets, extended-release tablets, and oral suspension, with strengths ranging from 10 mg to 40 mg for immediate-release formulations and 12.5 mg to 37.5 mg for extended-release tablets. It’s generally taken once daily, in the morning, with or without food. Paxil is suitable for adults across a broad age range but is not approved for use in children under 18. The medication functions by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin in the brain, which improves mood & alleviates symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Users of Paxil may experience side effects like nausea, dizziness, insomnia, or dry mouth. It’s essential to adhere to prescribed dosages to avoid severe side effects such as serotonin syndrome or increased suicidal thoughts, particularly in younger adults. If a dose is missed, it should be taken as soon as possible unless it’s near the time for the next dose. In the case of an overdose, immediate medical attention is crucial. Paxil should be stored at room temperature protected from moisture and heat. Given its potential interactions with other medications and alcohol, patients are advised to discuss their entire medical history and current medication list with their healthcare provider to ensure Paxil is safe for their use.

Uses of Paxil 

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder with or without agoraphobia
  • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Management of vasomotor symptoms associated with menopause, such as hot flashes and night sweats

Paxil Dosage

Paroxetine is available in several oral dosage forms, including:

  • 7.5 mg capsules
  • Extended-release tablets in 12.5 mg, 25 mg, and 37.5 mg
  • 10 mg/5mL oral suspension
  • Tablets in 10 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg, and 40 mg strengths

Recommended Dosage of Paxil for Different Patients

Paxil CR Extended-Release Tablet Dosage:

  • Depression: Typically, the dose is 25 mg to 62.5 mg, taken orally once daily.
  • Panic Disorder (PD): The usual dosage ranges from 12.5 mg to 75 mg, taken orally once daily.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD): Doses typically range from 12.5 mg to 37.5 mg, taken orally once daily.
  • Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD): The standard dosage is 12.5 mg to 25 mg per day, taken orally. It can be administered daily throughout the menstrual cycle or starting two weeks before the onset of your period and continuing through the first full day of your period.

Paxil Immediate-Release (IR) Tablet and Suspension Dosage:

  • Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), and PTSD: The typical dose ranges from 20 mg to 50 mg, taken orally once daily.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder and OCD: Doses typically range from 20 mg to 60 mg, taken orally once daily.
  • Panic Disorder (PD): The usual dosage ranges from 10 mg to 60 mg, taken orally once daily.

[Note: These recommendations may vary from person to person. Consult your doctor, who can customize your dosage based on your needs.]

How to Take Paxil?

  • The dose varies depending on the condition being treated and individual factors. Always follow your doctor’s instructions.
  • It is usually taken once daily, often in the morning. It can be taken with or without food.
  • Take Paxil at the same time each day to maintain consistent blood levels.
  • Swallow the tablet or capsule whole with water. Do not crush, chew, or break the Paxil tablet unless specifically instructed by your doctor.
  • It may take several weeks to feel the full benefits. Continue taking Paxil even if you feel better unless directed otherwise by your doctor.
  • Do not stop taking Paxil abruptly without consulting your doctor. A gradual dose reduction is typically recommended to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
  • Avoid alcohol while taking Paxil, as it can increase side effects.
  • Inform your medical professional if you are expecting, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.

[Note: The appropriate dosage of Paxil for you will be determined by your medical expert, based on your health condition, and by guidelines and research on the medication. They will adjust the dosage as necessary over time.]

How Does Paxil Work?

Paxil, known generically as paroxetine, is an antidepressant that belongs to a class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It increases serotonin levels, a natural substance in the brain that helps maintain mental balance. This increase in serotonin improves mood, reduces anxiety, and helps alleviate symptoms of depression. Paxil is commonly prescribed to treat major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, and other mental health conditions.

Important Safety Information

Paxil Side Effects

Common side effects of Paxil may include:

  • Nausea
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sweating
  • Blurred vision
  • Yawning
  • Sexual side effects (for example, decreased libido, delayed ejaculation, or difficulty achieving orgasm)
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Weight changes
  • Weakness or fatigue

Serious side effects of Paxil may include:

  • Severe allergic reactions (e.g., rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, trouble breathing)
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior (especially in young adults, adolescents, and children)
  • Serotonin syndrome (symptoms include hallucinations, agitation, coma, coordination problems, muscle twitching, racing heartbeat, changes in blood pressure, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)
  • Low sodium levels in the blood (symptoms consist of headache, confusion, trouble concentrating, memory problems, weakness, unsteadiness, and seizures)
  • Abnormal bleeding (e.g., blood in your urine or stools, bruising, coughing up blood, and red or purple spots on your skin.)
  • Eye pain, swelling, or redness, or vision changes
  • Seizures
  • Manic episodes (symptoms include racing thoughts, exaggerated self-esteem, excessive happiness, decreased need for sleep, unusual talkativeness)
  • Irregular heartbeat or palpitations
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle stiffness or tremors

[Note: This list may not encompass all potential side effects. Always consult your healthcare expert for medical advice regarding side effects when using Paxil.]

Paxil Warnings

  • Mental Health Risks: While paroxetine (Paxil) is effective in managing depression, it may worsen symptoms in some cases, particularly in individuals under 24 years old or during initial treatment phases. Symptoms like increased suicidal thoughts, restlessness, or unusual changes in behavior warrant immediate medical attention.
  • Serotonin Syndrome: This rare but severe condition can occur due to excessive serotonin levels, especially when paroxetine is combined with other drugs that increase serotonin. Symptoms such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, muscle stiffness, and confusion require urgent medical care.
  • Pregnancy Risks: Paroxetine is not recommended during pregnancy due to potential risks to the fetus, such as heart defects or other developmental issues. If you are pregnant or planning to conceive, seek advice from your healthcare specialist on alternative treatments to Paxil.
  • Sexual Dysfunction: Some individuals may experience reduced sexual desire or performance issues while on paroxetine. If these occur, consult your provider about possible treatment adjustments or alternatives.
  • Withdrawal Symptoms: Gradual tapering is necessary when discontinuing paroxetine to avoid withdrawal symptoms like nausea, anxiety, and dizziness. Always follow your healthcare provider’s guidance when stopping the medication.
  • Increased Bleeding Risk: Paroxetine can increase the likelihood of bleeding or bruising, particularly when taken with blood thinners like aspirin or warfarin. Monitor for signs of unusual bleeding and seek medical advice if they occur.
  • Bipolar Disorder Caution: If you have bipolar disorder, taking paroxetine alone may trigger a manic episode. Your healthcare specialist will assess your risk for bipolar disorder before prescribing paroxetine.
  • Glaucoma Concerns: Regular eye exams are recommended, as paroxetine can exacerbate angle-closure glaucoma. Report any changes in vision to your healthcare expert promptly.
  • Low Sodium Levels: Monitor for symptoms of low blood sodium, such as weakness, confusion, and headaches, as paroxetine can decrease sodium levels. This condition is serious & requires immediate medical intervention.
  • Seizure Risk: Inform your healthcare provider if you have a seizure history, as paroxetine’s suitability needs to be carefully considered.
  • Drug Interactions and Heart Rhythm: Avoid using paroxetine with thioridazine or pimozide due to the risk of abnormal heart rhythms from elevated drug levels in your body.

Paxil Boxed Warning 

Paxil comes with a boxed warning, which is the most severe warning from the FDA. This warning highlights the increased chances of having suicidal thoughts & behaviors in children, adolescents, and young adults, particularly during the initial treatment phases or when doses are changed. 

  •  The risk is more significant in individuals under the age of 24.
  • Monitoring Requirements: It is crucial to monitor for signs of worsening depression and suicidal tendencies, especially early in treatment and during any dose changes.
  • Use with Caution: Paxil should be used cautiously in younger age groups and only after other treatment options have been evaluated and deemed less suitable.

Paxil Precautions

  • Avoid using Paxil if you have an allergy to paroxetine or if you are currently taking pimozide or thioridazine.
  • Avoid using an MAO inhibitor within 14 days before or after taking paroxetine, as a hazardous drug interaction may occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, and tranylcypromine. Additionally, after discontinuing Paxil, you must wait at least 14 days before starting any MAO inhibitors.
  • Before starting Paxil, ensure it is safe for you by informing your doctor if you have the following:
    • Heart disease, high blood pressure, or history of stroke;
    • Liver or kidney disease;
    • Any bleeding or blood clotting disorder;
    • Seizures or epilepsy;
    • Bipolar disorder (manic depression), a history of drug addiction, or suicidal thoughts;
    • Sexual dysfunction;
    • Narrow-angle glaucoma;
    • Low sodium levels in your blood.
  • It is also important to let your doctor know if you are taking stimulants, opioids, herbal products, or medications for depression, mental illness, Parkinson’s disease, migraines, serious infections, or prevention of nausea and vomiting, as these can interact with paroxetine and potentially lead to a serious condition known as serotonin syndrome.
  • Be aware that some younger individuals may experience suicidal thoughts when starting an antidepressant. Your doctor should monitor your progress regularly, and your family or other caregivers should observe changes in your mood or symptoms.
  • Using an SSRI antidepressant like Paxil during pregnancy could cause serious lung problems or other complications in the baby. However, discontinuing the antidepressant might trigger a relapse of depression. In case of pregnancy, inform your doctor without delay.
  • Always follow your doctor’s guidance before starting or stopping this medication.
  • Breastfeeding while taking Paxil is not recommended.
  • Paxil is not approved for anyone under the age of 18.

Paxil Contraindications 

Contraindications are specific medical conditions or situations that make it unsafe to use a particular medication. If any of the following conditions apply to you, it’s crucial to inform your healthcare provider, as Paxil may not be safe for you:

  • If you are taking or have recently taken an MAOI, linezolid (Zyvox), or methylene blue (ProvayBlue) within the last 14 days.
  • If you are taking thioridazine (Mellaril).
  • If you are taking pimozide (Orap).

Paxil Missed Dose

If you miss a dose of Paxil, take it as soon as you remember unless it’s close to the time for your next dose. In that case, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular schedule. Do not double up doses of Paxil to compensate for the missed one. Always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for missed doses.

[Note: If you miss a dose of Paxil and are unsure when to take the next one, consult your doctor or pharmacist immediately.]

Paxil Overdose 

If you suspect an overdose of Paxil, seek emergency medical attention immediately. Symptoms of an overdose comprise nausea, vomiting, tremors, drowsiness, confusion, rapid heartbeat, seizures, and fainting. Overdosing on Paxil can be life-threatening, so prompt medical intervention is crucial. It’s important to follow dosage instructions carefully and keep the medication out of reach of others to prevent accidental overdose.


[Note: If you have taken more than the prescribed dose of Paxil, seek immediate medical assistance or contact the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.]

Paxil Storage

  • Store Paxil at room temperature, typically between 68°F to 77°F.
  • Do not expose Paxil to extreme temperatures, such as freezing conditions or excessive heat.
  • Store the medication in a place away from direct sunlight to prevent degradation.
  • Keep Paxil in its original packaging until it is time to use it to protect it from moisture and to keep track of expiration dates.
  • Ensure the storage area is dry; avoid areas like bathrooms with high humidity.
  • Store Paxil out of reach and sight of children to prevent accidental ingestion.
  • Regularly check the expiration date and do not use the medication past this date.
  • Dispose of any expired or unused medication safely, following pharmacy guidelines or recommendations from your healthcare provider.

[Note: Consult your healthcare provider about the correct disposal of any unused medication and for any questions you have about its storage.]

Paxil Interactions

  • MAO Inhibitors: Combining Paxil with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) can lead to serious, sometimes fatal, reactions, including serotonin syndrome. A washout period of at least 14 days should be observed between stopping MAOIs and starting Paxil.
  • Serotonergic Drugs: Other drugs that increase serotonin levels, such as other SSRIs, SNRIs, tricyclic antidepressants, and triptans, can lead to an elevated risk of serotonin syndrome when taken with Paxil.
  • Blood Thinners: Paxil can enhance the effects of anticoagulant drugs like warfarin, increasing the risk of bleeding.
  • CYP2D6 Inhibitors: Paxil is metabolized by the enzyme CYP2D6. Drugs that inhibit CYP2D6, such as some beta blockers, antipsychotics, and type 1C antiarrhythmics, can increase Paxil levels in the blood and lead to increased side effects.
  • NSAIDs and Aspirin: These can increase bleeding risks when taken with Paxil due to their effect on platelets and the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol can spike the sedative effects of Paxil, impairing cognitive and motor skills. It is generally advised to avoid alcohol while taking Paxil.
  • St. John’s Wort: This herbal supplement can reduce the effectiveness of Paxil and increase the risk of side effects.

[Note: This list is not exhaustive; other medications may also interact with Paxil. Be sure to inform your doctor about all prescription, over-the-counter drugs & herbal supplements you are using.]

Paxil Alternatives

[Note: Your doctor will determine the best treatment option for you. Do not use any alternative medications without consulting your healthcare provider, as self-medicating could lead to serious side effects.]

Frequently Asked Questions

Can taking Paxil lead to weight gain?

Yes, Paxil can lead to weight gain in some individuals, although the extent varies from person to person. To minimize the risk of weight gain, it is advisable to maintain a balanced diet and a regular exercise routine. If you are concerned about significant weight gain while taking paroxetine, consult your healthcare provider. They may suggest treatments to manage the weight gain or consider switching you to an alternative medication.

How long does it take for Paxil to start working?

The time it takes for Paxil to show effects depends on the condition it’s being used to treat. For depression, you may begin to notice improvements in mood as early as two weeks after starting the medication. However, it generally takes about one to two months to experience the full benefits. Initially, you might encounter side effects such as nausea, sleepiness, and weight gain before noticing an improvement in your symptoms. If you are uncertain about the effectiveness of Paxil, it’s essential to consult your healthcare provider. Do not discontinue the medication without guidance from your provider, as stopping abruptly can lead to withdrawal symptoms like headaches, insomnia, and anxiety.

Is it safe to take Paxil while breastfeeding?

Studies indicate that small amounts of Paxil can be transferred into breastmilk. This might lead to minor side effects in breastfed infants, including increased restlessness and crying. However, paroxetine is generally regarded as one of the safer antidepressants for use during breastfeeding. If you have concerns, it’s essential to discuss the potential benefits and risks of taking paroxetine while breastfeeding with your healthcare provider.

Is Paxil effective for treating premature ejaculation?

The FDA does not officially approve Paxil for treating premature ejaculation, but research, including findings from the American Urological Association, suggests it is effective for this condition. A comprehensive review, which represents the highest level of evidence, also indicates that paroxetine performs well in managing premature ejaculation, even when compared to other SSRIs. For further information on treatment options for premature ejaculation, it’s best to consult with your healthcare provider.

Can Paxil cause drowsiness?

Yes, drowsiness is a common side effect of Paxil, though it often diminishes after a few weeks. Conversely, some individuals may experience insomnia while on paroxetine. Monitoring how your body reacts to the medication and adjusting the dosing schedule as needed is essential. If you find that paroxetine makes you sleepy, consider taking it at bedtime. Conversely, taking it in the morning might be more effective if it disrupts sleep.

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