Paxil Withdrawal: All You Need to Know

Published on: 28 Jun 2023
Clinically Reviewed by Meaghan Rice PsyD., LPC
Paxil Withdrawal

Paxil can be a very effective medication for treating depression, anxiety, and OCD. However, like many medications, there are side effects of Paxil while you are taking it and while you are getting off of it. The symptoms that occur when getting off the medication are known as Paxil withdrawal symptoms, and they can be challenging to deal with.

Research shows that up to 7% of people who stop taking Paxil experience withdrawal symptoms. Thus, it’s essential to understand the safest way to cease Paxil use and cope with withdrawal effects so you can stop taking this drug if needed. Read on to learn more about Paxil withdrawal. 

Can Paxil Be Stopped Cold Turkey?

Stopping Paxil cold turkey is strongly discouraged. Discontinuing Paxil abruptly can result in Paxil withdrawal syndrome, including nausea, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. 

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Withdrawal from Paxil is difficult to cope with in some cases, so medical supervision is recommended when discontinuing Paxil or any other SSRI antidepressant. To minimize the risk of Paxil withdrawal, a gradual tapering off of Paxil or other SSRIs is advised.

“Paxil, like all medications for mental health, should not be stopped “cold turkey.” In other words, stopping suddenly and abruptly could bring about side effects. Headaches, nausea, and dizziness are the main symptoms, and confusion has also been reported. It’s best to titrate down over time.”

Talkspace therapist Dr. Karmen Smith, LCSW, DD

Withdrawal Symptoms of Paxil

SSRIs like Paxil are associated with antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, ranging from a light sense of unease or anxiety to intense sleep disturbance. 

If you’ve taken Paxil for a long time, it can be challenging to stop without experiencing some of these or other symptoms. Do not abruptly stop taking your prescription without medical advice or supervision from your doctor. 

If you suddenly stop taking Paxil cold turkey, you may experience withdrawal symptoms, including:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Irritability
  • Vertigo 
  • Nightmares
  • Confusion

A more severe symptom includes “brain zaps,” which feel like electric shock-like sensations in the brain or body. 

While less common, it’s also possible to experience suicidal thoughts or behaviors in extreme cases of Paxil withdrawal. Coming off this medication can result in the worsening of existing mental health conditions such as depression. This is why it’s so crucial to speak with a doctor if any of these severe withdrawal symptoms occur after stopping the use of Paxil.

How Long Does Paxil Withdrawal Last?

The period for weaning off Paxil can differ significantly from person to person, contingent on things like individual physiology, dosage, how long you were on it, and how you plan to stop taking it. 

It’s not uncommon for the worst symptoms to last 2 – 3 weeks after halting the drug, but they can continue for quite a long time in certain circumstances.

Paxil withdrawal timeline

Again, the Paxil withdrawal timeline can differ for everyone, but because it has a short half-life of around 21 hours, typically you can start feeling Paxil withdrawal symptoms around 24 – 48 hours after your last dose. 

Over the following 5 days, your withdrawal side effects can increase, lasting about 2 – 3 weeks before ultimately resolving.

When does Paxil withdrawal peak? 

Paxil withdrawal typically peaks within the first 2 weeks after discontinuing use, but it can go on for several months beyond that. To help manage these symptoms and reduce discomfort, it’s essential to understand what can ease withdrawal from Paxil.

What Helps with Paxil Withdrawal?

If you understand what’s happening and why, you can reduce or prevent symptoms as you discontinue Paxil use.

The best way to manage Paxil withdrawal is to gradually decrease your dose over several weeks rather than quitting abruptly. This process helps minimize adverse effects associated with sudden cessation by allowing your body time to adjust.  

Other ways to cope with symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Practice self-care, where you do small things daily to care for yourself. Try yoga or meditation, for example. 
  • Getting enough rest every night is incredibly restorative. Making sure you’re prioritizing it can do wonders for your mental health. 
  • Working out has been proven to increase endorphins which can improve mood — try to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day to thwart the uncomfortable side effects of Paxil withdrawal. 
  • Eating well is good for the mind and the body — stick to a diet low in sugar and rich in healthy fats. 
  • Ask your doctor about over-the-counter medication that can help with symptoms you’re experiencing. 
  • Have a support system in place that you can turn to if things get really unbearable. 

How to Safely Come Off Paxil

When coming off Paxil, it’s best to do so slowly by reducing your dosage according to your doctor’s plan. Gradual weaning off Paxil lessens the severity of withdrawal signs, including lightheadedness, queasiness, migraine, insomnia, and tiredness regularly experienced when quitting an SSRI. 

Before making any adjustments to a Paxil dosage, it’s important to consult with healthcare professionals for advice. Discontinuation syndrome can be experienced by some individuals when coming off this type of drug and may include symptoms such as anxiety attacks, agitation, and even suicidal thoughts.

Take caution to avoid these discontinuation symptoms. Your doctor may need to adjust the daily dose or switch you to another antidepressant medication.

“While titrating down and off the medication, it is important to talk to a counselor. Your doctor may have prescribed the medication, but your therapist can also assess how the lower dose affects your mood, thoughts, actions, and physical health. This is why meditation is just one component of treatment. Having regular process sessions with your therapist is tremendously important.”

Talkspace therapist Dr. Karmen Smith, LCSW, DD

Talk with a Licensed Psychiatrist

Talk to a licensed psychiatrist if you need help. A psychiatrist is a doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and more. They’re equipped to provide prescriptions for Paxil online and medication management to help manage symptoms and improve your quality of life. They can also help you navigate side effects like Paxil weight gain or help you manage withdrawal from Paxil. 

If you’re considering ceasing Paxil, you should know that you may experience antidepressant withdrawal signs if you suddenly quit. The right mental health professional can help you get through this phase of your life and move on to a healthier, brighter future. 


  1. Tonks A. Withdrawal from paroxetine can be severe, warns FDA. BMJ. 2002;324(7332):260-260. doi:10.1136/bmj.324.7332.260. Accessed March 27, 2023. 
  2. Harber VJ, Sutton JR. Endorphins and exercise. Sports Medicine. 1984;1(2):154-171. doi:10.2165/00007256-198401020-00004. Accessed March 27, 2023. 

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

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