Paxil affects the brain and body in profound ways. Before I tried to wean myself off of Paxil, I had worked for 20 years in a technical field and become fairly successful. I did not have serious mental issues. I was originally prescribed Paxil to treat mild situational anxiety. I am shy in social and work settings. I did not realize the ways that Paxil changed my behavior and personality until I tried to stop taking it. At that point, I began experiencing nearly all of the withdrawal effects that Glaxo Smith Kline’s literature claims only affect a small minority of users. In company sponsored studies, less than 10% of users experience serious side effects from what they call “Discontinuation Syndrome”. The effects are only supposed to be “mild and last from 1 to 3 weeks”. I have been trying to wean myself off of Paxil for 7 months. I am better able to manage the symptoms at this point, but am unable to stop taking the drug. The worst symptoms occurred for me in the initial stages of weaning. As I lowered my dosage from 40mg/day to 10mg/day over the course of 4 months, the withdrawal symptoms became unbearable. I was confined to my living room for most of that time. Once I finally finished weaning, I entered a two month window of clarity. My friends remarked at the profound difference they saw in me. I felt clear minded and confident in a way that I hadn’t experienced in years. Unfortunately, I crashed about two months after stopping Paxil entirely. I was again confined to my living room floor, feeling desperate and suicidal. I was forced to start taking Paxil again because I felt that my life was in danger. I have been able to get back to 10mg/day, but my quality of life has diminished again to bare existence. This is a list of the withdrawal symptoms I have experienced from my attempt to stop taking Paxil. I didn’t experience any of these symptoms before I started taking Paxil. These are not reemergence of existing problems, but directly related to my attempt to stop taking Paxil.
Head zaps: the feeling of electric shocks in the brain
Aching joints and muscles
Dizziness, both when standing up and sitting
Intrusive and obsessive thoughts
Vivid and frightening nightmares
Numbness in my hands (pinky and ring fingers)
Shaking in my hands
Pounding and irregular heartbeat
Loss of appetite, inability to eat, rapid weight loss
Ringing in the ears
Clenching jaw, teeth grinding
Paxil affects the way that the brain works, and directly affects the mind. By blocking neural receptors that reabsorb Serotonin, the brain becomes dependent on the drug to regulate Serotonin levels. Once the drug diminishes or is removed, the brain can no longer self regulate. As a result, the mind is thrown into chaos. It will be months before my brain is once again able to regulate Serotonin levels to an acceptable degree. I started taking Paxil for a mild problem, but have found that the solution I was presented was much worse than the problem. I don’t feel that taking a larger dose of Paxil is the solution, either, though. I can compare the way I was on the drug with my drug free self, now. I was unresponsive and insular while taking Paxil. I gained a lot of weight and was unable to control other problems like smoking or soda drinking. Most importantly of all, Paxil didn’t treat the problem that I originally started taking it for. I still suffered social anxiety and depression at the same levels I did before I started taking the drug. In fact, I was more prone to outbursts and unexplainable behavior than before. Paxil has not been a therapeutic drug for me. To the contrary, it has been a very negative experience. Perhaps there are patients with severe problems who benefit from these treatments. The companies market the drugs for mild problems that would be better treated by other means, though.