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How To Taper Off of Paxil (Paroxetine) Properly

If you are taking Paxil (Paroxetine) and plan on discontinuing treatment, it is important to be informed as to how you should taper off it. Back when I had originally taken Paxil in 2003, my doctor was completely unaware of any potential withdrawals. At the time, he had advised me to quit cold turkey and said that I may experience symptoms for a few days, but should return to normal within a couple weeks.

Not only was this advice purely ignorant, but it lead me through my own personal hell. The next year or two would be spent trying to figure out why I was so dizzy, had headaches for no reason, and was more depressed than prior to taking the Paxil. As a teenager, I had become a hypochondriac due to the fact that I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms, but was told they were “all in my head” and not from withdrawal.

The reality was that although they were all “in my head” they were stemming from the withdrawal, and ended up lasting at least 8 months before they improved. This made it extremely difficult to cope with high-school classes, let alone trying to socialize and make friends. My doctor kept telling me that these symptoms I was describing may be a potentially undiagnosed psychiatric condition. After time has passed, I am now able to distinguish withdrawal symptoms from mental illness, but it took several years to reach this level of awareness.

Reflecting on this experience, I know am well aware that I was basically experiencing a post-acute SSRI withdrawal from one of the most difficult SSRIs to withdraw from… Paxil. If you’d like to read more about my experience, consider checking out the article, “Quitting Paxil Cold Turkey: A Journey Through Hell.” If you are here, hopefully you haven’t yet taken the plunge and quit the drug cold turkey like I had done a decade ago.

How to Taper off of Paxil (Paroxetine): The “Weaning” Process

These days doctors (and especially psychiatrists) are a bit more informed than they were back in the early 2000s. Now, most understand that when a person quits a psychiatric drug cold turkey (or abruptly) they can experience what is referred to as “antidepressant discontinuation syndrome.” In order to avoid this “syndrome” a.k.a. an array of nightmarish neurological symptoms it is highly recommended to consult with a medical professional and set up a personalized tapering protocol.

1. Decide when you want to taper

Before you begin your taper, you’ll need to decide when you want to start the taper. Perhaps a good time to begin your taper would be a holiday or some sort of vacation from work. Ideally, you’ll want to have minimal stress in your environment so that you get off to a good start.

Although it’s probably going to be difficult to minimize stress throughout your entire withdrawal, do your best to keep it low whenever you plan on reducing your dosage. If you cannot think of a perfect time to begin your taper, consider starting it on a weekend so you won’t freak out during work if you experience anything strange for the first time.

2. Determine a “tapering rate”

The rate at which you taper is completely up to you. A multitude of factors may need to be taken into account such as: whether you taking other medications, if you are planning on switching medications, and how comfortable you feel with the suggested rate by your physician. The length of time over which you have been taking Paxil as well as your current dosage will likely play a role in how quickly you taper.

Someone that has only been taking the drug for a couple months may be advised to conduct a much quicker taper than someone who has been taking it for years. Obviously individual circumstances such as pregnancy may warrant a more abrupt discontinuation rate than the general population; this is done to protect the baby. Work with your doctor or psychiatrist to come up with a feasible rate at which you are going to taper.

3. Recommended tapering rate (~10% per month)

It is recommended by most sources to be highly conservative when tapering off of Paxil. Obviously the rate at which you taper should be individualized based on numerous factors including: whether you take any other medications that may buffer withdrawal symptoms, how long you’ve been on Paxil, as well as the dosage of Paxil that you’ve been taking. In general, it is recommended to taper at a rate of 10% (or less) per month.

  • Cutting Paxil: In order to taper off of Paxil, you’ll want to purchase a pill cutter. You can order one of these online or get one from your local drug store (i.e. Walgreens). A pill cutter is highly recommended as opposed to using a cooking knife or attempting to break a pill via some other method. Pill cutters are precise and will ensure that you are taking the correct amount for your taper.
  • Paxil CR: The “CR” version are coated with a substance that allows them to be slowly released over a 24 hour period; hence being called “controlled release.” These tablets are NOT meant to be cut and cutting them will result in detrimental/dangerous rates of absorption. If you are on the CR version, it is recommended to switch to regular Paxil in order to start your taper.
  • Paxil oral suspension liquid: A method of tapering off of Paxil that can make life easier is by using its liquid formulation. By using the liquid formulation of Paxil, you can easily measure out how much of the drug you’re taking. Some believe that this is the optimal way for people to taper off of the medication. The liquid Paxil comes in dosing of 10 mg/5ml. If prescribed, your doctor should advise you as to how you can use a syringe, measure the formula, and take the designated amount for your taper.
  • Digital scale: If you want to be as precise as possible, you could resort to purchasing a scale to weight the pills that you’ve cut. If they all weigh the same, you know you’re getting the same amount of the Paxil. If there are slight discrepancies, you can make more cuts so that you are taking the correct amount. For most people, being this specific isn’t really necessary.

An example: Let’s say that I had been taking 37.5 mg of Paxil CR. If I’m tapering at a rate of 10% each month, my first month of tapering I would drop down to 33.75 mg. Since 10% of 37.5 mg is 3.75, I would subtract that from my existing dose and that would be my new dose. Since I know the CR pills are not meant to be cut, I would ask my doctor for the standard version of Paxil that would allow me to cut my pills and formulate this exact amount. For the next month I would taper down to roughly 30 mg of Paxil to keep the 10% strategy in place.

4. Alternative: Prozac method

For people who are having significant difficulty tapering due to the array of Paxil withdrawal symptoms that ensue, an alternative method is to switch over to Prozac. Many doctors will use Prozac as an SSRI-replacement option for the Paxil because it has a longer half life. The idea behind this method is to switch a person over to Prozac, which will effectively absorb the severe withdrawal that would’ve stemmed from the Paxil discontinuation.

After stabilizing on the Prozac, a person will then eventually taper off of the Prozac. Tapering off of Prozac is thought to be much easier than that of Paxil. In large part, this is because Prozac has the longest half-life of any SSRI, whereas the half-life of Paxil is extremely short. The longer the half life (in general), the easier time people have coping with withdrawal symptoms.

It is important to note that not everyone has an easy time with this method. While it can be highly effective for some people, others may have an even tougher time. This is because their brain is attempting to adjust to withdrawal from the Paxil and simultaneously attempting to readjust to the effects of the Prozac.

5. Adjust tapering rate to fit individual needs

Sometimes people don’t respond well to the rate at which they are tapering. Although a 10% dose reduction may not seem like a lot, for someone that’s been on the drug for years even a small reduction could feel like a huge drop. As a rule of thumb, the longer you’ve been on the drug, the slower the rate at which you should likely taper.

  • Slower: Some people may need to reduce their tapering rate even from 10% a month down to 5% a month. If you feel like you can’t handle a 10% drop in dosing, make it a smaller increment so that you can still reduce some of your medication.
  • Faster: Others may feel like 10% a month is a little bit too slow of a taper. If everything is going smoothly and no withdrawal symptoms are experienced, some people may want to reduce by 15% or 20% (depending on how they feel). You should be warned that if you do taper at a faster rate, you may need to eventually slow back down.
  • Maintain existing rate: If your tapering rate seems fine, you can simply maintain it throughout the entire process. If at any time your current rate seems too quick or too slow, simply adjust it.

6. Discomfort is inevitable

It is important to understand that discomfort during withdrawal is inevitable. This is a medication that you’ve been taking for an extended period of time, and possibly become reliant upon for daily functioning. Of all SSRIs, Paxil is arguably the worst to withdraw from and even tapering is likely to cause a variety of neurological symptoms. It should be mentioned that the quicker you taper, the greater the initial severity of symptoms you’ll experience.

It should also be mentioned that if you taper at a fast rate or quit cold turkey, there is a chance that this will essentially “shock” your nervous system. This means that you will experience so many severe withdrawal symptoms, that you’ll have a nervous breakdown or be unable to cope. This can make the withdrawal period significantly longer than if you were to conduct a gradual taper.


Below are some commonly asked questions in regards to Paxil withdrawal. If you have any other questions that you’d like answered, feel free to ask in the comments section below.

How do I taper off of Paxil CR?

Paxil CR is a bit different than standard Paxil (Paroxetine) in that it is “controlled release.” In other words, the pill is coated so that the drug is released steadily over a 24 hour period. Standard versions of Paxil generally are released all at once and don’t have a special coating to control the release. Since cutting Paxil CR will disrupt the way it is absorbed, it is recommended to switch to standard Paxil for withdrawal.

Could I use Paxil liquid formulation to help taper?

Yes. Once you are down to a fairly low dosing of Paxil, you can request the liquid formulation to help with your taper. This involves measuring out a specific amount of the drug in the form of a liquid prescription and drinking it to avoid jumping from 2.5 mg to nothing.  Many people prefer using the liquid format because it is more accurate and easy to measure.

Could I just take Paxil every other day?

No. Not only will this result in a variety of unwanted symptoms, you will induce a state of chaos within your brain and nervous system. If it gets the drug one day, then withdraws from it the next, then gets the drug again, it will be stuck in a state of limbo. This is an extremely ill-advised strategy and one that should be avoided at all costs.

Always consult a medical professional for tapering advice

Understand that this website is providing information with the intention of helping people taper off of Paxil, but should not be used to replace the advice of a medical professional. Always consult your physician or psychiatrist to come up with a strategy for tapering. It is never recommended to simply quit a medication on your own without any professional help or support.

Re-learning to function without Paxil

It can be incredibly difficult to function without a drug that your brain and body had become reliant upon. You’ll experience an array of withdrawal symptoms and life will get difficult; there’s no sugar-coating how difficult the withdrawal is. However, it is possible to re-learn to function without the need for Paxil. I have been off of this medication for nearly 10 years now, and know it’s possible to live without this drug even if readjustment is extremely difficult.

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62 thoughts on “How To Taper Off of Paxil (Paroxetine) Properly”

  1. Remind me again why I am even doing this… is it worth it? I was put on Paxil 12.5 CR back in 2012 and decided to come off about 5 weeks ago now. I tapered but probably could have done it slower. No turning back at this point because it will be 4 weeks since I have had a pill this coming Wednesday.

    I am constantly nauseous, snappy with my husband and living on Ginger ale and Zofran. Canceling plans with friends, most definitely not living my best life. Thanks to this page I have hung in there, but really trying to determine if it is worth it it the long run. What if I really need this drug?

  2. Will you still need to wean if you’ve only been on it for 5 days? Or has it been in your system for so little that it’s not used to it yet? I want to know if I can just stop taking it or wean much faster. Everywhere I look only talks about people who have been taking it for years.

  3. Serendipitously found a way to get off paxil without withdrawal in less than 2 months. Switched to sertraline then stopped that after 5 or 6 weeks. That was seven months ago and haven’t had any withdrawal symptoms.

    For reference, I was on paxil for almost 20 years and always had withdrawal symptoms that didn’t subside when I tried quitting or tapering off…

  4. Thanks for the info. I switched from paroxetine to Wellbutrin to help with the rapid weight gain I had on paxil. I’m completely off of paxil now, but I still feel like I didn’t go slowly enough, because I’m getting brain zaps all the time, and I’m still more prone to start crying, when usually it’s very rare for me.

    I wish I had done a little more research and seen the advice about going down 10% at a time. I just cut my pills in half for a while with a kitchen knife, and then in fourths. I have read that brain zaps can last for months at the worst, but I hope mine go away a lot quicker than that. Thanks for the good info in this article.

    • I hear fish oil helps with the brain zaps. I haven’t tried it yet to see for myself though, but it’s worth a shot!

  5. Thank you for writing about your experiences, it was very helpful, yet at the same time very scary. I too want to go off Paxil I’ve been taking 20 mg for about 5 years.

    I feel I’m now ready to get my sex drive back, and hopefully can control my anxiety without Paxil… I will start to taper off tomorrow, wish me luck.

  6. My doctor recently suggested that I go off of Paxil. I have been on it for over 30 years and am terrified. She believes it isn’t doing anything for me after all these years. I plan on going slow and can only pray that it works. Thanks for a great article and posts.

  7. I have been taking Paxil for 15 years. I am trying to taper off of it, but it has been hard. Is there anything out there that will help with the withdrawals?

    • I have been taking Paxil for 18 years. Worst mistake I ever made. Tried getting off so many times! Very hard. I need a good Doctor to help me. They are hard to find.

  8. Thanks for your information. I recently started tapering at the 10% level. In fact, since I’m married to a biologist, had him help me figure out if I could make my own solution (you have to know if a drug is stable in liquid – namely water). Paxil is, so I put a 10 mg tab in 50 mL of water every night and let it dissolve.

    Then when I want to go down by 10%, which is just 1 mg, I shake the bottle and draw out 5mL for each mg. Currently, I’m on month 2 and take out 10 mL of solution and ditch it and drink the rest. So far the physical part is o.k. I’m working with our naturopathic doctor to possibly take some 5-HTP alongside my taper if I feel like I’m starting to struggle.

    I’m also working hard at making mindfulness meditation a daily practice along with challenging my thoughts. The key is TAKE IT SLOWLY. I fully anticipate that it will take me AT LEAST 10 months total to wean off this because I’m only going down by 1 mg per month unless I run into problems. Then I’ll take two months at the same dose. The body has to have time to learn to upregulate.

  9. Hi, I’ve been on 60mg of paxil for 13 years. I decided to taper off myself, I was sick of taking it. I had cut the very tip of one of the 30mg tabs, I heard 10% per month. It was so little, worse thing I could of done, even with that tiny amount. I ruminate on things and it got so bad I couldn’t stop thinking of one thing for about 5 days! Did anyone ever have this. OCD stinks, but I’m back on 60mg. What a horror!

  10. I’ve been on Paxil for 13 years. I’m up to 60mg a day. There has been a lot of trauma I didn’t deal with well. Anyways, in the last 2 years I got divorced and remarried. I don’t feel like jumping off a bridge every day. I’m in a loving, kind relationship.

    I went down to 30 mg on my own and have felt ok. I miss taking my mess quite often simple because I forget. I chalk up feeling off as just having a rough day… but nothing like I used to feel 13 years ago. My life is good!… and it feels like it’s time to try and live without antidepressants. How do I taper off the remaining 30mg sanely?

    Also, I’ve gained well over 30 pounds when I started them at 27. Boom! Within 2 months I needed a new wardrobe. I’m now forty. It’s time to change my life..and for the first time I feel I can do it! What is my next move??

  11. Hi! This has been very helpful to me. I have been taking Paxil 20mg for the past 3-4 years and recently decided, with the ok from my doc, to go off in preparation for family planning. My doc gave me a plan to taper but I didn’t realize how terrible the discontinuation side effects would be.

    I went from taking 20mg to 10 mg for a two week period and then to 0 starting this past Monday. Day 3 at 0 and I feel terrible physically. I feel dizzy, lightheaded and nauseous. I nearly cried three times last night watching the Bachelor :)

    Here’s my question: do I continue to fight through? I feel pretty decent mentally. I’m still able to function and exercise but the physical symptoms suck. Thank you all!

  12. My doctor just advised me to taper by taking the pill every other day for 1 week. Then every 2 days for 2 weeks – cause I can’t split my 30mg paxil pills.

    • Amazing you got this advice from a doctor. They really don’t know about the addictive nature of this drug – it is equal to heroin. You need to taper dosage amount daily, not by skipping days.

  13. I’ve been taking these antidepressants for a long time now. I’ve gone from 50 mil right down to 5ml over a period of 5 months with no real problem. I’ve been taking 5 for over a month and decided it was time to stop completely. It has made me quite ill. Headaches dizziness felt like I had the flu. Had to go back to 5ml again. I can’t cut them any smaller. Not sure where to go from here.

  14. I have been trying withdrawal from Paxil ER under psychologist’s direction, however even though I followed his orders correctly, from 25 mg to 12.5 for a week, then every other day for 3 days… I went through horrible withdrawal, not knowing why I was so so sick, weakness, profuse sweating, confusion, and uncontrollable crying all day. I thought I had all kinds of illnesses, but now realizing it is the Paxil withdrawal.

    So I went to a Wellness Dr. with all kinds of symptoms which could be anything, went to the ER and still having terrible side effects. I am going back on the 12.5 and plan on getting good advice as to withdrawal. This is a horrible drug! I am going to stick with it and plan to fight to win!!!

    What I don’t get as to why this psychologist said it was okay to withdraw so quickly. Now I have to find a good psychiatrist to help me… The symptoms are so nasty I just wanted to die cause I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Good luck everyone, I will keep you all in my prayers! XO

  15. I’m 61 and was on 20mg of Paroxetine per day and its forebears for 36 years. A very stressful job and life… Retired and relaxed now and unwittingly dropping from 20mg to 10mg in a gradual way was ok! I did it with half tablets snapping 20mg tabs in two.

    I hear that can be dangerous if they’re slow release tablets, thankfully mine don’t seem to be with a snapping grove built into the tablet. But cutting back further than 10 mg proved to be very difficult indeed even though I did it in a seemingly gradual way. Going to two half tablets every three days I experienced vertigo and head-spins that were impossible to take.

    I confessed all to my Doctor and he strongly insisted I stick to no less than 10mg per day which I obeyed and that seems to be keeping me afloat. I have been lucky with its side effects I think, but the side effects of withdrawing seem horrendous. A task indeed!

  16. Hi, I have only been on 20 mg of Paxil for 7 weeks. I already know that I don’t want to be on it. Work was stressful. Doc put me on it to to help with hot flashes and night sweats. I have gained 5 lbs. even though I watch what I eat and exercise. My friends tell me that I have become emotionless. I have been nauseated the entire time. (Tums smoothies are my friends). I have lack of motivation and just not myself. I will call my physician to get tapered off this. Can I cut my 20 in half and start just taking 10mg a night? I will get in to see her next week.

  17. I have been weaning off my 60mg Paxil dose for the last 5-6 mos. I was going down 5mgs a month. Not feeling any side effects from the withdrawal at all and I was taking Rhodiola capsules with it as recommended by my naturopath. I missed a few doses over the weekend during a GI bug that I had… and ever since I got back on track I am feeling the effect.

    Feeling anxious. Withdrawal. Scares me that my anxiety is coming back. My last decrease was from 40mg to 35mgs and that happened 2.5 weeks ago. Maybe now that I am coming down to the lower dose ranges weaning 5mgs a month is too month? Not sure. I hate being on antidepressants. I want to try getting pregnant again soon and I would like to be on a lower dose if possible… I hope everyone feels ok and good luck coming off of it!

    • Hello Erin, I tried to withdraw off Seroxat or Paxil. It’s hell! Anyway… I want to ask you about Rhodiola, does it help you? Thank you and wishes you the best. (Sorry for my english, it’s not my native language).

  18. I have anxiety/panic disorder for 30+ years. I used to take Buspar, but during my childbearing years, I found that I was able to discontinue it and did fine without it. Then when menopause started, the symptoms came back. I tried the Buspar again, but found it just wasn’t doing the trick.

    Of course the doctor tried all the new drugs on the market, but they either didn’t work, gave me horrible heartburn or upset my stomach. Then a friend suggested Paxil. It was like a miracle. I have been on 10 mg once a day for 6 years.

    So a few weeks ago, I decided maybe I don’t need it any more. I had missed 2 days as was fine, so I thought, what the heck are all these other people talking about? This is no big deal. Then came day 4. Horrible headaches, dizziness so bad that I felt like I was falling.

    My brain actually hurt, which is different than a headache. I was cranky, constantly in the bathroom with bowel issues. So I thought I better start back up, but decided to try just 5 mg. Wasn’t too bad for the first few days, the dizziness and head pain went away as did the bowel issues. But now something new was happening.

    I started feeling depressed (I don’t have and have never had depression before). I would cry at the drop of a hat and honestly just didn’t care about anything. And holy crap on going psycho crazy as well. Back up to 10 mg. I will never, ever try to stop this medication again. I will be on it until I die because it’s just too awful trying to get off of it.

  19. I’m in hell during my taper, at the halfway mark and I want to die. I hate everyone and everything. The last few days have been the worst by far and don’t seem to be getting any better. I’m trying to grin and bare it but really don’t know how much more I can handle. I was at 20 mg for nearly 6 years, tapered to 15 mg for a month, then 10 mg and this is where I am with insane anxiety about the upcoming dose cut to 5 mg coming up in a week!!

    Don’t know if I have the strength to do this. Everyone just keeps telling me to go back on it, “nothing wrong with being on it”. But they don’t know the side effects of being on it. I’m just finally feeling all the heartache and emotion that I numbed myself to in the past with these drugs.

    • I know the feeling Jen. I’m down to 5 from 20 and I feel like I’m losing it. If only we had known all of this before I never would have started!

  20. I’ve been on Paroxetine going on 2 years. I was going through a horrible divorce and my anxiety was through the roof. Doc recommended the 10 mg dosage, so within a month I didn’t really care about the ex or the divorce any more, it worked and I was thrilled! Now my family is concerned and thinks I need to stop.

    I’ve been “cold turkey” for a week and feel like I’m jumping out of my skin! Can’t sleep, headaches, moody as hell(more than normal), zoning out, bathroom issues, lack of appetite; the list goes on! The “creepy crawly” sensation and lack of sleep are the worst!

    I Googled the side effects and never realized how bad a withdrawal could be until I stopped this med. I can’t take it and I’ll have to taper off gradually so I don’t have all these crazy side effects. Any suggestions!? Half a day, every other day? Anyone going through similar experience, please advise; I can’t take this any longer or I really will go crazy!

  21. Hello all, This is my first time posting anything but I have been on many different kinds of antidepressants for almost 20 years. I had a head injury and was miss diagnosed with depression while all along my symptoms were due to head trauma. Turns out attention deficit disorder is to blame…but I also have chronic pain so I basically have been a guinea pig for years with at times taking as many as 20 or so pills a day including morphine Adderall, Lyrica, Xanax, remeron,and last but not least paxil.

    I managed with the help of a good psychiatrist to stop many of these meds but stopping or weaning off paxil is awful. Right now I take remeron 30mg and supposed to take 40 MG of paxil but I feel sooooo tired all the time. It’s come to a point where I feel nothing. Not really sad but never happy or ‘hi’ from life. I just feel like I exist not like I am living.

    It’s so hard on the family life. No sex drive at all is tough especially at 38! I honestly don’t remember what it feels like to be happy. To be myself? And I am not unhappy either just always a 5 out of ten. Never a 7 or 8 on the happy scale. This numbness isn’t living. So I am tapering down the paxil and it’s tough but hopefully for the better.

  22. I cannot thank you enough. My Dr didn’t even tell me about the liquid, or about the fact that every other day would wreak havoc! It has been. I accidentally dod the cold turkey and had vertigo so badly I had to go to an audiologist and have a battery of tests done.

    I prayed and all of a sudden thought, hey I wonder if its paxil. I went back on and sure enough. Now I’m having photosensitivity and horrible headaches. I have to get off of this. I’m going to read your story now.

  23. Great reading and feel I am NOT alone, been on Paxil for almost 2 years. Started at 10 and then increased to 20 about 6 months later. Talked to my Dr about going off as life is generally better and I am feeling great. She reduced me to 10 and while the withdrawal was bad it was short lived, maybe 4 days.

    Just went from 10 to nothing and while mentally ok, physically it’s awful, I did not know about the dizziness and the nausea. Brain fog, this time is awful. I know once I get past this it will be great but in reading alot of the comments it seems like this last a long time, hoping that’s not quite true as I picked summer to go off as it’s generally a happier time of year :-).

    Going to get some Omega 3 and B vitamins… guess the nausea will help with the loss of the weight I gained while on it. Has anyone tried acupuncture to help with the withdrawal… did it work?

  24. I appreciate finding this forum. I’ve been on 10 mg of Paxil for nearly 15 years. At a recent annual exam, my doctor suggested I try to go off of it. I am one week in at 5 mg and have noticeable dizziness but am otherwise feeling okay. I do feel off but not awful.

    I guess the question is why go off of it? The reason I personally was put on it was because of ongoing panic attacks and the 10mg has helped eliminate them. I am thinking of asking my doctor why the need to go off and face the discomfort and dizziness? Thoughts?

    • For myself I want to go off as I don’t want to be chemically dependent, the things in my life that made me need Paxil are either gone or settled and I never really felt like “me” on them. I could not cry and just never felt like my usual old happy self. One of my best friends passed away suddenly and I could not cry, literally could not. I just want to be me again.

  25. As I have been taking Paxil for a couple of years now, I have been wanting to quit. This article could not have been more timely. I have been going cold turkey and feel terrible. Thank you so very much. I won’t feel bad about renewing my prescription in the morning. I now have a plan of action. ?

  26. Been off of 20mg paxil for about a week now. I feel miserable both mentally and physically. I was forced to go cold turkey due to moving, and my refill being mailed to the old address. I’m so nauseous and dizzy, and get the worst stomach pain every time I eat. I also feel crazier than I did before I went on the drug. My emotions are all over the place and I go from happy to nearly suicidal or anxious in minutes.

    I been trying to stay away from my friends for fear they will think I’m crazy. I know this is all withdrawal effects which, believe it or not gives me a bit of comfort. I can’t wait to get this medication shipping nightmare fixed with the VA and then perhaps start weaning off and switch to a SSRI that’s a little less harsh.

  27. This is really a great article on how to taper Paroxetine. I am on the same drug, some bad luck was there with me. I went to a neuro for a small neck pain and he started giving me this and then on suggestion of our family Dr., I just stopped taking this. Then I realized “Yes Hell is nowhere else, it’s here itself”. Then went to the same neuro and now since 1.5 years he is giving me this medicine – Paroxetine. :(

    On my several requests he reduced my medicine by 10 mg and after few month I again got the same withdrawal symptoms and he again increased 12.5 mg. This has happened with me 3 times in 1.5 years. Every time he reduces the medicine for at least 10 mg and then increases it by at least 12.5 mg. I am not sure, why he is playing with me.

    But what my mind says is if he go by very less amount of reduction say by 3%-5%, after every 2-3 months, I think we can leave this medicine. One more reason of not trusting my Dr. is that he prescribes costly medicines which you cannot get in outside market. You can get it from his chemist shop only.
    If I will go for a change of doctor (Neuro or Psych) – he will say me that he can treat me and will start the treatment.

    The problem I am facing in changing the Dr. is that I am afraid of the condition I was into when I first time stopped taking medicines. I DON’T WANT TO SEE THOSE DAYS AGAIN. But I think there is no other way left I have to push myself to go to a different Dr. who can actually help me in tapering this medicine. Suggestions from you on my situation would be great ([email protected]).

    And my suggestion to anyone who is taking this medicine is – Go for very slight reduction… maybe 1% or 2%. You will get least bad effects I believe so. Then stabilize your body there for about 3-4 months at least. And then repeat the process. This will take years to leave but one day you would be able to. Less number of months and more dosage % while tapering will be more pain for anyone.

    This is what I can say about this drug from my personal understanding and experience. And please have faith in God/Nature.

    • These comments are amazing – due to night time anxiety then major anxiety attacks have been on Paxil/Paroxetine (20mg then 10mg) for 22 yrs – went off cold turkey 17 yrs ago ($ of Paxil!). Was never told how dangerous this could be!!! After 3 mos was back on 20mg until 5 yrs ago when I tried doing 10mg every other day – another mistake – this sent me to the ‘dark’ side so back to 10mg everyday until this past 12 mos.

      Twice have tried to gradually wean self – and off as of end of April, however lethargy, fatigue, some early morning anxiety (which has subsided somewhat) continues to be a companion ?. I do appreciate the return of emotions – was never told they would be diminished – for years have felt I’ve not a sympathetic bone in my body – am staying the course with assist from naturopathic phy and compounding pharmacist who suggested Neuro-5-HTP – which by second capsule at noon I begin to have some energy… so thankful to read all of your responses – shalom.

  28. OMG!! This site has been extremely helpful, but I feel scared and anxious about trying to wean off. I was on Lexapro for years, but couldn’t stand the side effects. My doctor put me on 40 mg of Paxil. I went through a rough patch, and about 6 months ago, he increased my dosage to 60 mg. after reading all the other experiences on here, I’m now thinking “HOLY SH*T!! I am on a very high dose!!”

    I’ve had sexual dysfunction as a result of SSRI’s for YEARS. I’ve finally had enough and decided I want OFF SSRI’s and try to have a regular sex life again. After reading all the posts, I’m feeling very pessimistic about being able to function without SSRI’s, even if I get my sex drive back. I’ve already cut back 10 mg with no real side effects except headaches and sometimes feeling really weepy.

    It looks like I have a long road ahead which may effect my relationships with my family. I will talk to my doctor about the possibility of other non-SSRI’s to help with anxiety and withdrawal. In this day and age, is it too much to ask for something that will help my anxiety, without giving up a sex life. Could be the withdrawal, but I’m feeling hopeless that I will ever have a normal life again.

    • Hi Laura, I have been on various dosages of Paxil for 17 years after a traumatic life event. The last 9 years had been a 40 mg dose. I am diabetic and have a thyroid disease (Graves) and also take additional meds. Over the years I have gained weight (35 lbs.) and have Chronic fatigue. I realize with the diabetes and Graves my metabolism has slowed greatly (and with age/I’ll be 54 next month).

      But no matter how much I exercise and eat healthy… I don’t lose weight. After seeing many different specialty doctors and ruling out certain medical conditions… I still continue to be overweight and have Chronic Fatigue. I went to my primary doctor and told her I wanted to get off the Paxil. She has put me on a “weaning” schedule and I’m on my 10th day now.

      So far, so good! She said the key is to wean off Slowly and have a doctor make the “plan.” She also gave me a Rx for nausea, just in case I need it. I haven’t so far. :) After reading what so many other people said about gaining weight and having chronic fatigue While Taking paxil… I’m praying that once I am completely off of it.

      I’ll get my energy back and be able to drop some of this weight. I believe we can successfully get off of Paxil, but I think it has to be done with a doctor’s plan of tapering off Very Slowly and Safely. I, like so many others, want my life back! I hope this has helped even a little. :)

  29. I thank you very dearly for the information that I found in your column. There were many things that I was unaware of about that medication and again I thank you for your information and knowledge.

  30. I have never left a comment on any forum, however I’m in an almost 3 year withdrawal plan to get off Paxil and I’m hoping the end is in sight. I started 16 years ago and 2 years in, I weaned off of it. I took my time (about 8 months). Felt okay until about 6 months later. I was driving and had to pull of the road to collect myself.

    The rebound anxiety almost took me down – way worse than any anxiety I’d had. Desperate to feel better, I went back on it and have been taking it ever since. 3 years ago I decided that I’d had enough and started reducing in increments of 5 x 15mgs for a year and a half. Then down to 10mg for the last year and a half. Next month I’ll go to 5mg for another year.

    I know it sounds like a lot of time to wean, but I can’t cope with the rebound anxiety. I would never ever have gone on this drug if I had known that I’d be trapped on Paxil for years. Even my physician said that there is no great way to wean off this drug. Makes me very mad.

  31. Omega 3’s for brain zaps and headache. I’ve been surprised at how well this works. I keep a bottle of them, along with Gravol non-drowsy ginger pills, in my purse and use frequently throughout the day. Am taking a super B-complex at my sister’s advice (experienced SSRI taperee). Also, I’m finding this is a great time to chelate (detox from heavy metals), as well, using chlorella and zeolite clay.

    It’s definitely expediting the process – tapered down from 20 mg three weeks ago to today being my first day at 0. I feel like garbage and got sent home from work today for apparently looking it, but am functional and holding it together. Bodes mentioning that I am doing this in conjunction with coming off Wellbutrin (preparing for pregnancy so went whole hog) and have been on Paxil for fifteen years (40 mg highest dose).

    Horrible attempts at withdrawing in the past; this is definitely the way I would suggest attacking it. There is a light, guys…

  32. Hi there – is there anything you could tell us regarding nutritional supplements one could take when starting to get off Paxil? I’d need to do some research myself to find out which hormones are affected when on Paxil, and how supplements could perhaps ease that specific process. It’s just a thought at the moment, but I’m sure certain vitamins/minerals/what have you can be taken to ease our bodies’ response to the paxil withdrawal. Would be interesting to see if anyone has any experience with this sort of thing.

    I myself went onto 20 mg of Paxil after a terrible post-birth psychosis (twice!). I am now on 10 mg and when I tried to taper off it, I got to about 5 mg and when my hormones kicked in for ‘that time of the month’, I started to get high anxiety and had to get back onto 10 mg ASAP. Now I wonder whether it has to do specifically with estrogen during the hormonal upheaval a woman goes through every month. So much to think about and research! Any info much appreciated.

    • I have found B vitamins and omega 3s have helped… some. The brain zaps have seemed to stop once I started the fish oil. Now trying to figure out what to do for the crazy restless legs that hurt so badly at night.

  33. I’ve been on paroxetine since 2011. Today I am on day 6 of withdrawal. It’s hell on earth. I’m trying desperately to hang in there but I’m losing hope that I can make it through. I don’t know what is best or what to do anymore. I just hope and pray I will wake up and not feel dizzy and sick. That’s all I ask.

  34. GREAT article! I have been looking for something to use online that can give me a clear insight on mostly everything related to tapering from Paxil, and this is by far the best thing I’ve come across to :) Thanks a lot.

    I will be talking to a professional about this very soon, and hopefully start the taper soon!

    Thanks a lot.
    Love from Beirut

  35. I’m feeling bad from withdrawal too. I’ve been on 20mg for the last 17 years off and on and am in the tapering process and the dizziness and headaches are no fun. It also shocks me to know that this could go on for months!

  36. Hello. I want to know one thing!! I took Paxil for about 2 years. I stopped in May 2015. Since 5.5 months, I haven’t had a single day of peace. Brain zaps have gone though. Please help me. Is is all ever going to end? Regards

  37. Hi guys, I’m Alex 29 and I’ve been on paroxatine for about 2 years on and off. I’m on it because after being diagnosed with cancer at 21 (recovered now fully) the effects of chemotherapy gave me an imbalance in my brain and constant panic, anxiety and depression. I fought it for years but decided to give in and go on antidepressants. I tried about 5 antidepressants and a psychiatrist, but found this the only tablet that works and sent me back to what seemed like a normal person to my family.

    They could cope with me again! But inside I was weirdly numb, loss all sex drive, never got excited and lost interest in a lot! Everyone else was just happy that they didn’t need to deal with me anymore. So I decide to try and come off Paxil, twice I failed and found my depression was so much worse almost Instantly. I didn’t realize this was a withdrawal effect and went back in to my daily 20mg. So I decided to research, everything that you and me and everyone out there says the same thing about the effects of coming off the tablets.

    It’s a nightmare. I stopped taking them on Mondays for a few months but took them every other day. Then I added in Tuesday while taking it every ither day. I’m now not taking it on Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and I’m dizzy, falling over from washing dishes, I have a cloudy and sore head, I’ve lost motivation, I’ve lost energy, I’m having strange dreams, headaches, I’m sad but for no reason and it’s not like before. I wish I’d never gone on it. Even GSK have admired that their drug has such profound side effects from withdrawal to keep getting money and prescriptions.

    I am an ex medical rep so this makes sense and it annoys the hell out of me. Eating a healthy diet is helping and I can feel what my body needs and try to stay calm when I want to snap. For being merely married this is not ideal and I feel for us all! If you’re finding it hard is say fight through to be clear for good. Apparently if we can’t and it there is a light at the end of the tunnel! We should be each other’s shoulder to lean on as we understand it’s the pill!!! It’s not us!!!!

  38. I have been on 40mg of Paxil for 13 years and have made a handful of attempts over that time to get off the drug. Each time was on the advice of a physician and their method and each time was a disaster. Over the years I have searched the internet for anyone who had a similar story as mine and that had successfully beaten the trap of this drug.

    Near the end of last year I was introduced to doterra essential oils and I am convinced this is the answer to not only getting off Paxil but for building a stronger healthier lifestyle all together. I started in February 2015 on my journey. The warnings to go slowly and listen to your body are excellent advice!

    I took 40mg four days a week and 20mg for three days, I did this for 5 weeks
    I took 20mg four days and 40mg three days for 4 weeks
    I took 20mg all week for 2 months

    During this time I never experience ANY of the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms I had in the past. I credit the addition of the essential oils for this. I did notice I would tear up on occasion and I had to really be cautious about using a sharp tongue as I could have a few tense moments of impatience. I felt ready to step down again at this point.

    20mg four days and 10mg three days 2 weeks
    10mg four days and 20mg three days 2wweks
    10mg all week To Soon!!

    At day 5 of 10mg the brain zaps began I returned to 20/10 and I will remain there for at least a month before I try it again. Part of my problem may have been I was still trying to cut a 40mg into four pieces and you never can really tell what dosage you are getting. So I called my doc and requested 10mg tablets. I think this will make for a much smoother transition to 10mg and it can be cut in two for the next step.

    I did not know about the liquid option as I near the end of this journey but I am glad there is something available to make that last step smoother. I will admit the closer I get to the end I wonder if it can be done without those dreaded brain zaps?

    The oils I have been using are doterra Elevation and Citrus Bliss blends. They help calm anxiety and nausea and are pure therapeutic natural oil that works with my body not against it like this synthetic nightmare called Paxil. Again, I am so thankful to have found your information and that it was my confirmation that this really can be done! My goal is to enter 2016 Paxil free!

    • I’ve found passionflower really works for me in reducing and practically eliminating brain zaps and dizziness as well as anxiety. Am currently experimenting with St. John’s wort. Feeling very depressed at times though still and wake up almost every morning with a churning stomach due to anxiety. But as far as brain zaps and dizziness go, the passionflower has been amazing!

  39. I am weaning myself off of 30 mg of Paxil after being on it for 17 years. I have tried to get off of it before, and it has always been terrible, but I want to have a family eventually so I am really trying to stick it out this time. I have found that taking 5-htp and Sam-e have been helping some. I dropped to 20 mg for a week and it wasn’t too bad. I have been down to 10 mg for a couple of days and it is getting worse, especially the dizziness, but the Sam-e and 5-htp have helped with the anxiety, anger, depression, etc.

    (Don’t get me wrong… I still have days when I cry for NO REASON, but I am not currently having any severe depression or anxiety.) Make sure you are careful with 5-HTP, though. Taking it while still on Paxil can cause serotonin syndrome, which can be dangerous. Do research and talk to your doctor. And know that you aren’t alone.

  40. This is a grate article, you describe what people can not put in words. Is there anything I can take to ease the headaches?

  41. I went from 40mg a day to 20mg a couple of weeks ago and I have had all the withdrawal symptoms. The worst is the nausea and dizziness. I think I can do this but am so ready to feel normal again. I am going to taper slower after I adjust to the 20mgs. Glad to know I am not the only one going through this. I just tapered off of tramadol and am tapering off of gabapentin too. I am down to 300mg of gabapentin from 900mg a day. I want to be drug fee for a while and use cognitive-behavior therapy for a while instead of drugs.

  42. I was prescribed 30 mg Paxil 18 months ago, after 8 life changing events. At 1 year on Paxil I started to wean off at 5mgs for 6 months I am down to 2 1/2 msg and this is the roughest, body pain, yelling, screaming, loony, but need to get off. I am 20lbs heavier and need to get balanced without drug. Going to Dr. Monday :) and Tuesday a Psychologist appointment for couples therapy. May the force be with me.

  43. Julian, I’m going through the exact same thing you are. I’m down to 7.5 and I’m very dizzy but fortunately I haven’t felt like I’m going over the edge mentally. I was on Paxil years and years ago and remember that going off this stuff sucked. Hard. I tapered much more quickly last time and was a total beast. I yelled at everyone and was a complete psychopath. That lasted for about a month along with the dizziness, lack of sleep, and general cloudiness.

    This time is much better, but I would suggest to slow it down. If you’re feeling okay at 15 mg then stay there for a few weeks and go down a tiny bit at a time. If you have another prescription to fill then maybe calculate it out so that you can go the longest time at each step-down until you’re done with that bottle…or go even slower and refill again. It’s very frustrating but it’s not a race.

  44. Hi, I have been a little nervous about writing on an Internet forum about my experience- probably because it makes it seem more real. I would love for someone to read this and offer me any advice or support. I’m a little bit desperate. I was prescribed aropax (20mg paroxetine) for anxiety and panic symptoms a couple of years ago. I began only taking 10mg daily. It didn’t seem to help so I upped it to 20mg daily which helped reduce some of the panic and anxiety stuff (I started seeing psychologist and was working through this stuff with her which could have been the reason I was getting better).

    I became more in tune with my body and mind and decided that I really didn’t like the side effects of this drug at all. I cut dose in half for a while and then stopped as suggested… While I didn’t know it was withdrawal from paroxetine I became the worst person in the world and experienced some pretty awful things, of course I just attributed it all to my ‘original’ condition. I experienced a few severe episodes of panic which made me run back to the doctor and ask for more paroxetine which I started taking 10mg daily again. I was advised by another doctor to up my dose, which I did. I was on 20mg daily again-yay ):

    I got to the pint where I couldn’t stand the side effects any more (dizziness, sleep issues, numbness, etc.) and just wanted to know who I was again. Anyway… I dropped down to 17.5mg a day for about 3-4weeks (I didn’t have a thought out tapering schedule just thought tapering down seemed like a good idea) I then dropped to 15mg for a week. Down to 12.5 for a couple days, then 10 for a couple of days, 7.5 for two days and today is day 1 on 5mg. I didn’t notice the drops until I was below 15mg daily.

    After reading this article I realise I should have tapered a lot slower. I only have 7.5mg of drug left and planned to have 5 tomorrow and 2.5 the next day before dropping to ZERO. The effects I am ezperiencing are like nothing else I have ever dealt with… Dizziness, fatigue, nausea, the frwaking ‘zaps’, falling sensations – you name it I’ve got it!!! Should I fill another script and up my dose and then taper back down slowly? Or just tough it out? I really don’t want tonincrease again, feels like I am going backwards!!!

    How long will the withdrawal symptoms (irritability, restlessness, zaps, dizziness etc) last??? I just want to know there is an end or something to look forward to. Any advice will be greatly appreciated! I just need some support right now… Thank you. -Julian

  45. I am newly pregnant, 5 weeks and I have been taking Paxil for 5 years. I am terrified if I don’t stop cold turkey I will harm my baby but I am also terrified of the side effects of withdraw. I started tapering down this morning. I have attempted to go off of it in the past and the withdraw was so terrible with: sweating, throwing up, dizziness, etc. – that I just went back on it. Had I known the side effects of quitting it years ago, I never would have started. I would rather be sick and dizzy than have baby problems.

  46. I was doing OK coming off Paxil when I tried to drop from 2.5 to nothing for two weeks. The withdrawal symptoms were horrible. I went back to half of that, practically pill crumbs around 1+ mg. and am getting some relief. At least I can function even though I feel like my head is full of mud. Will ask my Dr. for the liquid and taper off in even smaller doses. I’ve read so much about Paxil, if I’d known about its history I would have not gone on it. I have never had this reaction coming off of the two other antidepressants I have been prescribed for short periods over the past twenty years. Awful stuff.

  47. Great article that I’m sure will be a help for a lot of people. I took Paxil, 10mg for nine years and have been through hell after stopping it. It has now been 18 months and I am starting finally to feel better, but not 100%. To everyone who is going through Paxil withdrawal, please hang in there! My thoughts are with you all.


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