How to Wean Off Paxil

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Things You'll Need

  • Paxil prescription
  • Glass of water or juice
  • Pill cutter (optional)
Weaning off Paxil must be done slowly with decreased doses.
Weaning off Paxil must be done slowly with decreased doses. (Image: pills image by Maria Brzostowska from Fotolia.com)

Paxil is a type of antidepressant in the pharmacological class called Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). These types of antidepressants are prescribed to treat various anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). SSRIs are notorious for being addictive and are hard to stop taking. However, if done with a doctor’s supervision, planning and patience, weaning off Paxil can be done with minimal withdrawal symptoms.

Talk with your doctor about weaning off Paxil. Discuss your level of sensitivity to the drug, confirming if it is high, average or tolerant. Ask for the liquid form of Paxil or if tablets are prescribed for easy cutting instead of the capsule.

Fill the prescription. If the prescription is in liquid form, follow the directions on the bottle for proper dosing and dilution in a glass of water or juice. If the prescription is in tablets, cut a few pills to adjust dosages if needed (see Tips for guidelines on cutting pills).

Decrease your former dose by 1 mg if you are highly sensitive, by 2.5 mg if you have average sensitivity or 5 mg if you are tolerant of Paxil. Continue this dose for one week if you are tolerant or two weeks if you have average to high sensitivity to the drug.

If you are tolerant, after one week, decrease the dose by 5 mg once more. After two weeks, if you have average to high sensitivity, decrease the dose by 2.5 mg and 1 mg, respectively.

Repeat Step 4 until you are off Paxil. This process can take anywhere from two weeks to one year.

Tips & Warnings

  • Liquid Paxil allows for greater accuracy in dosing for easier weaning.
  • If using tablets and decreasing by only 1 mg, chip a bit of the tablet off; 1 mg is too small to accurately cut off, but chipping it will suffice. For 2.5 mg decreases, cut 10-mg tablets into quarters as best you can.
  • Do not stop taking Paxil without a doctor's oversight.
  • Do not stop taking Paxil cold turkey, as it will cause withdrawal symptoms, including "agitation, breathing problems, chest pain, confusion, diarrhea, dizziness or lightheadedness, fast heartbeat, headache, increased sweating, muscle pain, nausea, restlessness, runny nose, trouble sleeping, trembling or shaking, unusual tiredness or weakness, vision changes, or vomiting," according to the medication information insert given when prescribed. Symptoms can often last for a few weeks.
  • Do not drink grapefruit juice with Paxil; it will increase its potency in your system and can cause new symptoms or other medical problems.
  • Do not decrease your doses too quickly; it will cause withdrawal symptoms.

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