Paroxetine is a prescription medicine that belongs to a classification of drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Although prescribed for other conditions, it primarily is used to treat problems caused by an imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain that might lead to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder in some individuals. As with other anti-depressant drugs, there are some side effects of paroxetine that are associated with taking it. The most common side effects of paroxetine are ones affecting the central nervous system, sleep and energy, as well as potential effects on the gastrointestinal system, the sex drive and body weight.
In spite of being developed for the central nervous system, some of the side effects of paroxetine potentially can worsen an existing condition or cause new symptoms. Milder side effects might include a light-headed feeling, increased feelings of anxiety or depression, headaches and forgetfulness. The potential also exists for paroxetine to increase a susceptible individual’s feelings of nervousness, anxiety, depression and, sometimes, agitation or irritability.
Sleep and energy difficulties might also be side effects of paroxetine. Problems with one's energy level, such as general feelings of tiredness or fatigue, might occur. Sleep might become disrupted by unusually vivid dreams or nightmares. It is not uncommon for insomnia to be one of the side effects of paroxetine as well.
Many of the most common side effects of paroxetine are felt in the gastrointestinal system. Nausea is the digestive problem most often encountered, along with diarrhea and sometimes a loss of appetite. Constipation and gas pains might be side effects for some. As might be expected from its possible effects on the digestive system, paroxetine has been linked to both weight loss and weight gain. Disruption in the sex drive is not uncommon when taking this drug; both sexes might experience a lack of interest in sex, problems with becoming aroused and difficulty reaching orgasm.
A less common but important side effect is paroxetine’s link to increased suicidal thoughts and behaviors in some individuals. Young adults, teenagers, and children might be more susceptible to this. It would be advisable for one to consult a doctor if he or she experiences an increase in such thoughts while on paroxetine.
Individuals taking paroxetine might experience many, few or no side effects. With lower dosages, side effects are less common. Many of the side effects might lessen or disappear after a few weeks, when a tolerance has developed.