Medications for Bipolar - Paxil (Paroxetine)

Patient Expert

Paxil - generic paroxetine - is an antidepressant that works by increasing the amount of serotonin between nerve cells in the brain, which has been shown to improve depression. There is a controlled-release version called Paxil CR.

Paxil is generally a safe medication, but there are some important cautions and some possible rare but serious side effects.

One of the most serious cautions is that increased bleeding can be caused in people who take paroxetine with Coumadin (generic warfarin), which is a drug used to help prevent blood clots. For a more complete list, see Paroxetine under "What special precautions should I follow?"

Rarely, Paxil use may lead to mania or hypomania. Sometimes this happens in people who already have bipolar disorder; it can also happen to people who seem to have depression, since bipolar disorder is frequently not recognized at first.

Some of the common side effects of Paxil and paroxetine are:

  • anxiety
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • sexual dysfunction
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • trouble sleeping
  • numbness or tingling

More serious side effects, which are much less common, include severe allergic reactions, significant mental, mood or behavior changes, flu-like symptoms, heartbeat changes, persistent and painful erection, suicidal thoughts or actions, depression getting worse, and others.

If you're taking Paxil or paroxetine and notice any new sensations, symptoms or behaviors, contact your doctor or get immediate medical attention if they're severe.

For more on cautions and side effects, see Paxil CR Oral on HealthCentral.

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be all-inclusive or to replace information provided by your doctor or with the prescription from the manufacturer.