How to Get off Paxil

Two Parts:Deciding When To Get Off PaxilTapering Off Paxil

Paxil is a prescription medication that is commonly prescribed by health care providers to treat the symptoms of depression, panic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder. Paxil can result in some unpleasant side effects, such as headaches, insomnia, and low sex drive, which prompts some users to stop taking the medication. However, abrupt discontinuation of Paxil may result in withdrawal symptoms that are even more difficult than the side effects experienced while taking the drug. To ensure you wean yourself off of this medication with as few withdrawal symptoms as possible, it is important to learn how to get off Paxil gradually and carefully.

Part 1
Deciding When To Get Off Paxil

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    Determine whether or not you are ready to get off the medication for good. Before you can learn how to get off Paxil, you must decide if you still need the medication to control the symptoms of depression or anxiety. Your doctor can help you make this decision based on the improvement of symptoms, the length of time you have been on the drug, and your progression in dealing with your depression through other methods.
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    Choose a good time to taper off Paxil. Your doctor will likely have you taper off Paxil by slowly reducing your dosage. If you can, begin this process on a Friday so that you can see how your body is affected without worrying about how to get to work the next day. Other things you may want to consider when planning to get off Paxil:
    • Take some time off work or plan to taper during a holiday.
    • Minimize stress — take care of as many chores, bills, or other stressors before you begin. If possible, get help from a friend or family member to manage these things for the duration of your withdrawal.
    • Inform your friends and family that you are planning to get off Paxil and that you may experience difficult side effects.
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    Develop a plan to manage your withdrawals. It helps to have an idea laid out detailing how you will deal with your withdrawals. Go ahead and gather things that will distract you, such as movies and television shows, books, music, or games. Think of a physical activity that you can do to help. Try golf, walking, gardening, cycling, or swimming.
    • Come up with a pleasant idea or memory to focus on during your darkest times. This may help lift your mood and help everything not seem so dire.
    • Prepare a journal to write through the experience.[1]
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    Talk to your doctor about how to get off Paxil safely. Abrupt discontinuation of the drug may result in Paxil withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, sleep changes, headaches and dizziness and can last for months. A slow and steady withdrawal under a doctor's supervision can go far in reducing these unpleasant Paxil side effects. Think of your doctor as a partner in the process and follow his directions precisely to make the transition to a medication-free lifestyle as smooth as possible.[2]

Part 2
Tapering Off Paxil

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    Reduce your dosage by 10%. The standard reduction for getting off Paxil is 10%. To start getting off Paxil, look at your current dosage. Reduce that dosage by 10%. Each time you reduce, reduce by 10% based on the dosage you were just taking.[3] Whatever rate you choose, remember to be conservative so you have the least possible symptoms.
    • For example, if you take a 20 mg tablet, reducing by 10% is 18 mg. The next time you reduce by 10%, it will be 16.2 mg. You will need a pill cutter and probably a scale to make sure you are getting the correct dosage. You may also decide to switch to liquid Paxil, which is much easier to measure.
    • Paxil has been found to be potentially harmful to a fetus if taken while pregnant. It is essential you get off Paxil before you become pregnant.[4] If you become Pregnant before tapering off Paxil consult your doctor about how to get off right away.
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    Decide if you need another reduction rate. A reduction of 10% is the recommended cut. But you need a more individualized rates. This is based on what other medications you are taking, how long you've been on Paxil, and the dosage you take.
    • If you haven't been taking Paxil long, you may be able to reduce the percentage more quickly. If you have been on Paxil for years, you may have to slow the reduction rate.[5]
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    Take Paxil in liquid form. Possibly the easiest way to taper off Paxil is to take it in a liquid form instead of tablet form. With the liquid, you can more accurately measure the dosage. It comes in a concentration of 10mg/5mL. You will be shown how to measure the correct amount so you can safely taper.[6]
    • Some people believe this is the best way to taper off Paxil.
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    Purchase a pill cutter. Pill cutters can be found at most drug stores. Since you are reducing your dosage, you need to very accurately cut up the Paxil tablet. Cut the tablets into halves or quarters.[7]
    • For example, if you have a 10 mg pill, halves will be 5 mg and quarters will be 2.5 mg.
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    Weigh your pills. If you want to be even more precise, buy a digital scale that measures milligrams. This way, you can cut the pills into smaller sections and weigh the proper dosage.[8]
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    Switch to regular Paxil if on Paxil CR. Paxil CR is coated to time-release (the CR stands for "controlled release") in your body and if you cut a tablet, your body will receive an unmoderated dose. This can be very dangerous. Instead, switch to regular Paxil. The two tablets release in different ways, and this can start your tapering process.[9]
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    Try the Prozac method. If you have trouble tapering off Paxil, try the Prozac method. Your doctor can replace Paxil with Prozac, which has a longer half life. Switching will help absorb the severe withdrawal symptoms. After you stabilize the Prozac, you can start cutting it in half each week.[10]
    • If you have difficulties, reduce the amount you cut each week. Or you can wait longer between each reduction.
    • You can also take Prozac in liquid form.
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    Adjust your tapering rate as needed. Pay careful attention to your symptoms and reactions as you taper. The 10% may work just great or it may be a huge drop. You may need to drop it to a 5% reduction per month, or up it to 15-20%. Talk to your doctor about adjusting if you think it is too much too fast or not enough.[11]
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    Use psychotherapy as a support. Psychotherapy can be great for avoiding recurrence of the depression while dealing with Paxil side effects. Counseling and psychotherapy uncover the root causes of the depression so they can be effectively dealt with on a more permanent basis. The other advantage to psychotherapy is that it can be continued over the long run if necessary, without the danger of Paxil side effects from long-term use.
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    Find a self-help support group. Self-help support groups can be beneficial as you navigate the withdrawals and accompanying feelings.[12] In addition to support groups, seek out additional support from family and friends that can help keep you on track in your battle against depression. With the proper support from your health care provider and loved ones, you can learn how to get off Paxil and enjoy a medication-free lifestyle once again.
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    Adopt other healthy lifestyles. To help aid you in getting off Paxil and combating withdrawal, adopt a healthy lifestyle. Eat a nutritious diet and get daily exercise to manage Paxil side effects and keep the symptoms of depression at bay. Physical activity releases endorphins, which are the body's natural antidepressant chemicals. Some foods can also positively impact mood without the need for antidepressants to control symptoms.


  • Always see a medical professional before getting off of Paxil. A physician can oversee your tapering and your withdrawal symptoms.


  • Be aware that the effects of getting off Paxil can be severe.
  • Never take Paxil while pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant.
  • Never take Paxil every other day. This can mess up your brain and nervous system.[13]

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Categories: Taking Pills and Medicine