Paroxetine HCl is a psychiatric drug used to treat depression, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social phobia. The drug is part of the selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) class. These compounds act by limiting the uptake of the chemical transmitter serotonin, which acts as a mood regulator. Also known as paroxetine hydrochloride, this compound has been found to be highly effective at treating severe depression, but its ability to treat lower grades of depression is in question. The drug should be prescribed for people age 24 or under with caution, since there is concern that it may lead to increased rates of suicide and aggression.
Paroxetine HCl has been shown to be highly effective at treating severe depression. In low doses, it can be used to treat the depression associated with bipolar disorder. Such treatment must be closely regulated because high doses of this drug can trigger manic phases in bipolar patients. One problem with this compound is that it can take several weeks to start to manifest its effects.
The effectiveness of paroxetine HCl for low and moderate grades of depression is in dispute. Some studies have found it to be no more effective than a placebo. The United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also put a black box warning for prescribing the drug to children, teenagers, and young adults. There is some evidence that people under age 24 can become more suicidal or aggressive when treated with this drug. This type of study is confounded by the fact that depression itself leads to an increased risk of suicide.
Paroxetine HCl can interact with a number of other prescription drugs, supplements, and alcohol. An older class of antidepressants is the monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MOI). SSRIs should not be mixed with this type of drug. It is important to inform one’s doctor about any other drugs and supplements being taken. Of particular importance is St. Johns wort, which many people take as a natural cure for depression, but it can have toxic interactions with paroxetine HCl.
If pregnant, one should consult with a doctor if taking any SSRI. Generally, their use during pregnancy is not advised. Paroxetine HCl is considered a safer drug for pregnant women to take than the other drugs in this class. It is also important to not suddenly stop taking this prescription because there can be withdrawal symptoms. If it is necessary to cease taking this drug, a doctor will gradually reduce the dosage to minimize this effect.