Can paroxetine be used to treat OCD? (+3 findings)

In this article, we will discuss whether or not paroxetine can be used to treat OCD, research findings on paroxetine as a treatment for OCD, dosage of paroxetine treatment for OCD, side effects and considerations with paroxetine use, and treatment options for OCD.

Can paroxetine be used to treat OCD?

Yes, paroxetine can be used to treat OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Paroxetine is an antidepressant that belongs to the SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) medication class.

Paroxetine is approved by the FDA for the treatment of MDD (Major Depressive Disorder), OCD, SAD (Social Anxiety Disorder), GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), and other related mental disorders. (1)

Your healthcare provider may prescribe SSRIs as part of your treatment if you have been diagnosed with OCD. Paroxetine functions by reestablishing the proper serotonin levels in the brain which can help in treating OCD.

What does research suggest?

Research was carried out to assess the short-term safety and effectiveness as well as the long-term safety, effectiveness, and effect on relapse prevention of paroxetine in treating OCD.

The study included the recruitment of 348 OCD patients. They were split up into two groups, one of which received varying dosages of paroxetine and the other received a placebo.

The findings demonstrated that compared to patients getting a placebo, patients who received 40 and 60 mg per day of paroxetine had a significant improvement in their OCD symptoms.

All dosages of paroxetine were well-tolerated, and there was no appreciable rise in the frequency of side effects during the course of long-term paroxetine treatment, and the adverse events were more common in the placebo group than in patients receiving paroxetine.

The study concluded that long-term treatment with paroxetine is safe, and effective, and reduces the relapse rate. (2)

What is the recommended dose of paroxetine for OCD treatment?

The recommended dose of paroxetine for OCD treatment is as follows: (3), (4)

Adults’ dose: 20 mg of paroxetine once per day to be taken in the morning or after waking up with or without food. The maximum dose of paroxetine per day is 60 mg per day (3 times daily).

Elderly dose: 10 mg of paroxetine once per day to be taken in the morning with or without food. The medication is preferred to be taken with food if the patient has gastrointestinal problems. The maximum dose of paroxetine is 40 mg per day (2 times daily).

Children: Paroxetine should not be given to children younger than 18 years and their dose is only determined by their psychiatrist or healthcare provider.

What are the side effects of using Paxil to treat OCD?

Paxil may cause a number of side effects when used to treat OCD such as: (5)

Common side effects

  • Fatigue and tiredness that can last for up to 8 weeks.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Nausea.
  • Insomnia (inability to sleep).
  • Headaches.

Serious of life-threatening side effects

  • Prolonged confusion and muscle weakness or cramps.
  • Bleeding from any bodily part openings such as blood in the urine, blood in the feces, vomiting or coughing up blood, gum bleeding, or ant bleeding changes during the menstrual cycle.
  • Restlessness.
  • Blurred vision or any vision changes.

You must immediately seek medical attention if you encounter any of these life-threatening side effects.

What are the alternative treatment options for OCD?

Certain treatments and medications are FDA-approved for managing and treating OCD such as: (6)

CBT/ERP (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy/Exposure and Response Prevention) is the first-line treatment option for managing OCD symptoms

SSRIs can be used in combination with CBT/ERP for managing OCD symptoms in certain individuals, examples include:

  • Paroxetine (for adults only).
  • Sertraline (for adults and children aged six years and older).
  • Fluoxetine (for adults and children aged seven years and older).
  • Fluvoxamine (for adults and children aged eight years and older).

TCAs (Tricyclic antidepressants) like clomipramine can also be used in combination with CBT/ERP for treating OCD symptoms in certain individuals who failed to respond to SSRIs. It is prescribed for adults and children aged ten years and older.


Based on my knowledge and research, Paxil is FDA-approved for OCD treatment and can manage OCD symptoms in individuals diagnosed with OCD. However, if you experience any side effects, consult your healthcare provider about reducing your medication dose or switching to an alternative with fewer adverse effects.

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Shrestha P, Fariba KA, Abdijadid S. Paroxetine [Internet]. PubMed. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023. Available from:,vasomotor%20symptoms%20associated%20with%20menopause.


Hollander E, Allen A, Steiner M, Wheadon DE, Oakes R, Burnham DB. Acute and Long-Term Treatment and Prevention of Relapse of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder With Paroxetine. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2003 Sep 15;64(9):1113–21. Available from:,lengthens%20the%20time%20to%20relapse.


Paroxetine (Oral Route) Proper Use – Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Available from:


Paroxetine: MedlinePlus Drug Information [Internet]. [cited 2023 Nov 11]. Available from:’s%20doctor,to%20treat%20a%20child’s%20condition.


Side effects of paroxetine [Internet]. 2022. Available from: 


Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic [Internet]. Available from:

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