Can Paxil Help with Anxiety? (3+ Research Studies)

This article will explore the topic of using Paxil (paroxetine) for the treatment of anxiety disorders. It will discuss the effectiveness of Paxil in treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Panic Disorder (PD).

The article will also cover the recommended dosages for different anxiety disorders, the potential side effects of Paxil, and what to do if Paxil does not effectively alleviate anxiety symptoms. Additionally, it will briefly mention other medication options and psychological interventions for anxiety treatment.

Can Paxil help with anxiety?

Yes, Paxil can be used for treating anxiety. It is approved by the FDA for the treatment of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and panic disorder (PD) [1].

Paroxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Research and clinical evidence support the use of SSRIs, including Paxil, as a treatment option for anxiety disorders. Paxil works by increasing serotonin availability, which helps in alleviating anxiety symptoms.

Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive and persistent worry, fear, or unease that can significantly impact an individual’s daily life. These disorders encompass several subtypes, such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and others.

It is important to note that while Paxil can be effective, it may not be suitable for everyone. Each individual’s response to medication can vary, which is why it is important to discuss your treatment options with a doctor who can assess your condition and provide appropriate recommendations.

What does research suggest?

In a study investigating the effectiveness and safety of paroxetine in treating generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), it was found that the group taking paroxetine experienced a significant reduction in GAD symptoms compared to the placebo group [1].

Improvement in symptoms was observed as early as week 1, and there was a noticeable improvement in social life by week 4. The study concluded that daily doses of 20 to 50 mg of paroxetine are effective in treating patients with GAD [2].

Another study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of two fixed doses of paroxetine for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder

. The results showed that both doses of paroxetine (20 mg and 40 mg) were significantly more effective than the placebo in reducing total scores on the Hamilton anxiety scale. Moreover, the paroxetine groups had higher response rates compared to the placebo group [3].

A study focused on the effectiveness and safety of paroxetine in treating generalized social anxiety disorder. The findings demonstrated that patients treated with paroxetine had significantly greater improvement in social anxiety scale scores compared to those given a placebo.

Additionally, paroxetine was found to have positive effects on social disability and overall clinical condition in individuals with social anxiety disorder [4].

Paroxetine was examined for its effectiveness in treating various anxiety disorders, including OCD, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, GAD, and PTSD. The study revealed that paroxetine was more effective than placebo in reducing symptoms and the improvement was maintained for up to 24 weeks to 1 year.

Comparisons with other medications indicated that paroxetine had similar efficacy to other SSRIs for OCD and panic disorder and superior efficacy to certain medications for GAD. Overall, paroxetine was shown to be a promising treatment option for anxiety disorders [5].

What is the effective dose of Paxil for anxiety disorders?

The effective dose of Paxil (paroxetine) for treating anxiety may vary depending on the specific anxiety disorder being treated.

Generalized anxiety disorder

For generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), the recommended starting dose is 20 mg once daily. If necessary, the dose can be increased by 10 mg every week, up to a maximum dose of 50 mg daily [1].

Social anxiety disorder 

In the case of social anxiety disorder, the recommended starting dose is also 20 mg once daily. However, higher doses of 40 mg or 60 mg may be required for some individuals to achieve optimal therapeutic effect. Dosing should be individualized based on the patient’s response and tolerance [1].

Panic disorder 

For panic disorder, the recommended starting dose is lower, at 10 mg once daily, to minimize the potential for increased anxiety symptoms during the initial treatment phase.

Dose escalation can be done gradually, increasing by 10 mg at weekly intervals until the desired response is achieved. The maximum recommended dose for panic disorder is also 60 mg daily [1].

Obsessive-compulsive disorder 

When treating obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the recommended starting dose of Paxil is 20 mg once daily. If a high dose is needed, it can be gradually increased by 10 mg every week, up to a maximum dose of 60 mg daily for optimal effectiveness [1].

What are the side effects of using Paxil for anxiety?

When taking Paxil (paroxetine) for anxiety, there are potential side effects that individuals should be aware of. Some of the possible side effects associated with Paxil include [1]:

  • Common side effects: These side effects are experienced by a significant number of individuals and include nausea, tiredness, dizziness, insomnia, unusual dreams, sweating, tremors, changes in appetite, and sexual dysfunction.
  • Gastrointestinal side effects: Some people may experience diarrhea, constipation, or indigestion.
  • Weight changes: Both weight gain and weight loss have been reported as potential side effects of Paxil. It’s important to monitor any weight changes and discuss them with your doctor.
  • Suicidal thoughts: Like other antidepressants, Paxil carries a risk of increased suicidal thoughts, particularly in young individuals. Close monitoring and regular communication with a healthcare provider are essential, especially during the initial phase of treatment.
  • Bone fracture: Prolonged use of Paxil has been associated with an increased risk of bone fractures in adults, particularly the elderly. This risk should be considered when assessing long-term treatment options.
  • Other possible side effects may include allergic reactions, changes in blood pressure, liver problems, glaucoma, or bleeding disorders. However, these side effects are less common.

What to do if Paxil does not help your anxiety?

If Paxil (paroxetine) has proven ineffective in treating anxiety, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for further guidance. Every individual responds differently to different treatments. Here are some possible steps that a healthcare professional might suggest:

Review and adjust the current treatment plan

The healthcare professional will likely evaluate the dosage, duration, and adherence to Paxil. They may also inquire about any other medications or substances being used concurrently. Your doctor may also recommend increasing the dosage. However, any changes should only be made under their supervision.

Your doctor may also suggest combining medications to manage treatment-resistant anxiety. This can involve adding another medication or augmenting it with a non-antidepressant medication, such as a benzodiazepine. This approach should be carefully monitored for potential adverse effects.

Psychological interventions

Alongside medication, a healthcare professional might recommend psychological interventions such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which has shown effectiveness in treating anxiety disorders. CBT can help develop coping strategies, challenge negative thought patterns, and manage anxiety symptoms.

Moreover, if anxiety symptoms persist despite various treatment approaches, it may be advisable to consult a specialist, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, who has expertise in treating treatment-resistant anxiety.

Explore other medication options

If Paxil has not provided sufficient relief, the healthcare professional might propose trying a different antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication. There are various options, and they will consider factors such as individual response and potential side effects to determine the most appropriate course of action.

What other medications are effective for anxiety?

There are several medications that healthcare professionals may consider for the treatment of anxiety disorders. Here is a list of commonly prescribed medications for anxiety [6]:

  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs): SSRIs, such as Lexapro (escitalopram), Zoloft (sertraline), Prozac (fluoxetine), and Celexa (citalopram), are often prescribed as first-line treatments for anxiety disorders. They work by increasing serotonin levels in the brain.
  • Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs): Medications like Effexor (venlafaxine), Cymbalta (duloxetine), and Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) are SNRIs that target both serotonin and norepinephrine to alleviate anxiety symptoms.
  • Benzodiazepines: Benzodiazepines, such as Xanax (alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam), and Klonopin (clonazepam), can provide immediate relief for acute anxiety episodes. However, they are typically recommended for short-term use due to the risk of dependence and potential side effects.
  • Buspirone: Buspirone is a non-benzodiazepine medication that is prescribed to treat generalized anxiety disorder. It works by affecting serotonin receptors and may take a few weeks to show full effects.

It’s crucial to consult with a doctor who can evaluate your specific situation and determine a personalized treatment plan. They will consider various factors, including medical history, potential side effects, and drug interactions, to determine the most suitable medication for your anxiety.


In conclusion, Paxil is approved for treating Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Panic Disorder (PD). Research supports its use in treating anxiety, demonstrating that it significantly reduces symptoms and improves social functioning.

The effective dose of Paxil may vary depending on the specific anxiety disorder being treated. It is important to note that individual responses to medication can vary, so it is essential to discuss treatment options with a healthcare professional.

Common side effects of Paxil include nausea, tiredness, dizziness, and sexual dysfunction. If Paxil does not effectively alleviate anxiety symptoms, doctors may review and adjust the treatment plan, recommend psychological interventions like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), or explore other medication options, such as other SSRIs, SNRIs, or benzodiazepines.

Ultimately, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional who can assess your condition and provide personalized recommendations based on your specific needs and circumstances.

Was this helpful?

Thanks for your feedback!



Highkights of Prescribing Information. Paxil (paroxetine) tablets, for oral use. Paxil (paroxetine) oral suspension.


Pollack MH, Zaninelli R, Goddard A, McCafferty JP, Bellew KM, Burnham DB, Iyengar MK. Paroxetine in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: results of a placebo-controlled, flexible-dosage trial. J Clin Psychiatry. 2001 May;62(5):350-7. doi: 10.4088/jcp.v62n0508. Erratum in: J Clin Psychiatry 2001 Aug;62(8):658. PMID: 11411817.


Rickels K, Zaninelli R, McCafferty J, Bellew K, Iyengar M, Sheehan D. Paroxetine treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Am J Psychiatry. 2003 Apr;160(4):749-56. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.160.4.749. PMID: 12668365.


Liebowitz MR, Stein MB, Tancer M, Carpenter D, Oakes R, Pitts CD. A randomized, double-blind, fixed-dose comparison of paroxetine and placebo in the treatment of generalized social anxiety disorder. J Clin Psychiatry. 2002 Jan;63(1):66-74. doi: 10.4088/jcp.v63n0113. PMID: 11838629.


Wagstaff AJ, Cheer SM, Matheson AJ, Ormrod D, Goa KL. Spotlight on paroxetine in psychiatric disorders in adults. CNS Drugs. 2002;16(6):425-34. doi: 10.2165/00023210-200216060-00006. PMID: 12027788.


Strawn JR, Geracioti L, Rajdev N, Clemenza K, Levine A. Pharmacotherapy for generalized anxiety disorder in adult and pediatric patients: an evidence-based treatment review. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2018 Jul;19(10):1057-1070. doi: 10.1080/14656566.2018.1491966. PMID: 30056792; PMCID: PMC6340395.

Find a supportive therapist who can help with Depression.

Discover the convenience of BetterHelp, an online therapy platform connecting you with licensed and accredited therapists specialized in addressing issues such as depression, anxiety, relationships, and more. Complete the assessment and find your ideal therapist within just 48 hours.


AskYourPharm is user-supported. We may earn a commission if you sign up for BetterHelp’s services after clicking through from this site