Paxil's Side Effects of Weight Loss

Paxil, a prescription drug, treats depression and anxiety disorders. When used as directed, Paxil has side effects that include changes in weight and other more dangerous adverse reactions. Consult your doctor about your medical condition, the benefits of Paxil and risks of side effects from the drug.

Identification

The US Food and Drug Administration approved Paxil oral tablets for multiple dosages in 1992, liquid suspension for oral administration in 1997, and extended release tablets for multiple dosages in 1999. Paroxetine chloride is the active ingredient in Paxil. According to the product label, Paxil is indicated for the treatment of major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Weight Changes

Paxil can cause significant weight loss in some patients. However, clinical research on Paxil demonstrates that, on average, patients lose about 1 lb. compared to smaller changes in weight in patients taking placebo. Research also shows that some patients may more frequently gain weight than lose it. Research by Maurizio Fava, M.D., published in the "Journal of Clinical Psychiatry" in 2000 compared the effects of different antidepressants on weight changes and discovered that patients taking paroxetine experienced a significant weight increase, patients taking sertraline experienced a modest but insignificant weight increase and patients taking fluoxetine experienced a modest but insignificant weight decrease. The research also demonstrated that the number of patients whose weight increased more than 7 percent was significantly greater for those taking paroxetine compared with patients taking either sertraline or fluoxetine.

Warning

The Paxil product label warns users that the drug may increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents and young adults based on short term studies of the drug in major depressive disorder and other psychiatric disorders. Short term studies show this risk is not increased among people above 24 years of age and that the risk is reduced among adults 65 years and older. The warning also states you should balance the risk of suicide with the clinical need for the drug before deciding on taking the product. Your physician must write a prescription for the drug in order for you to take it.

Considerations

Be aware of the potential side effects of weight loss or weight gain if you are prescribed Paxil for treatment of depression or an anxiety disorder. Paxil may cause decreased appetite, nausea and diarrhea, which could contribute to weight loss. Depression is an important risk factor for increased body weight, according to research by Gregor Hasler, M.D., published in "Obesity Research" in 2005 and treating depression can cause weight loss. However, losing too much weight can be clinically troublesome. Consult your doctor if you experience sudden or extreme changes in weight.

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