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Paxil (paroxetine hydrochloride) is an antidepressant in the class of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It is used to treat the symptoms of depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, premenstrual dysphoric disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It also became the first antidepressant formally approved in the United States for the treatment of social anxiety disorder and is used on an “off label” or unapproved basis for premature ejaculation, chronic headache, and bipolar disorder.
SSRIs treat depression by correcting a chemical imbalance in the brain by blocking the reabsorption of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that maintains positive emotions. Paxil, which is one of the most potent of the SSRIs, became available in the US in 1993 and is used by millions of Americans. It is made by GlaxoSmithKline.
In July, 2005, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning and recommended that “all patients being treated with any type of antidepressant for any indication should be observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, and unusual changes in behavior, especially during the initial few months of a course of drug therapy, or at times of dose changes...”
Another FDA alert was then issued in July, 2006, concerning increases in the risk of congenital malformations, primarily cardiovascular malformations, this time specifically connected with the use of paroxetine during pregnancy. This was followed by yet more alerts concerning the potential for the development of persistent pulmonary hypertension in newborns and of a condition called serotonin syndrome that can develop when SSRIs are taken in combination with migraine headache medications known as triptans.
Other medications that should be avoided when taking Paxil include monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) such as Aurorex, Eldepryl, Marplan, Nardil, and Parnate.
Paxil should also not be taken while undergoing treatment with tryptophan. A physician should be consulted before taking Lithium, Sumatriptan, Warfarin, or Tricyclic Antidepressants (TCAs) in combination with Paxil, and alcohol should also be avoided.
In addition to the potential for dangerous drug interactions, serious withdrawal symptoms may occur when a patient stops using Paxil after an extended period of taking the drug. The symptoms include depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and nausea.
Since their introduction, a whole host of symptoms and side effects have been associated with Paxil and other SSRIs. Some of the more serious ones in addition to those discussed above include:
- Changes in weight and appetite
- Decreased sexual interest in men
- Increased sexual interest in women
- Menstrual changes
- Mild mania
- Muscle ache
- Muscle weakness
- Suicidal ideation and Suicide
- Uncharacteristic levels of risk taking and aggression (especially in children and teens)
If you or a loved one take or have taken Paxil and developed valvular heart disease or other serious side effects, should contact a pharmaceutical injury attorney today as you may be entitled to compensation.