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Anxiety and Stress Disorders

Safety of Paxil

01/16/2007

Question:

I am worried about my sister who has been using Paxil for years. She is 90 years old and exhibiting bizarre behavior at times (more than her usual personality). How habit forming is it?

Answer:

This question has been forwarded by Pharmacy and Medications:

Paxil is not a habit forming drug.  It is in the class of medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI's) and its generic name is paroxetine.  Other medications in this class include prozac (fluoxetine) and zoloft (sertraline), among others.

SSRIs are primarily used to treat depression and anxiety - people may need them for a relatively short period of time (6 - 18 months) or they may need them for years, or life.  However, these medications can interact with other medications, and as people age and their health changes, the medications may not be needed any more, or they may need to be adjusted or changed.  In addition, other problems may be going on that need to be evaluated.

I encourage you and your sister to visit her primary care doctor and review ALL her medications, and determine if they are still necessary, if they are at the right dose and if there may be interactions with any other medications.  (And don't forget about over the counter drugs, herbs and supplements - they are medicines, too!)

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Response by:

Nancy   Elder, MD Nancy Elder, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati