Does Paroxetine Stop Panic Attacks? (+3 Ways to manage)

In this article, we will discuss whether Paroxetine stops panic attacks. We will also discuss how paroxetine stops panic attacks and some ways to deal with panic attacks. 

Does Paroxetine Stop Panic Attacks? 

Yes, paroxetine stops panic attacks. Paroxetine is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and it is an FDA-approved drug to treat panic disorders, social anxiety disorders, and major depressive disorders (1). Thus, paroxetine helps with panic attacks.  

Paroxetine works by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, which is helpful to reduce anxiety and regulate mood. The effectiveness of paroxetine in the management of panic disorders is well established. 

Experiencing recurrent and unexpected panic attacks might indicate a panic disorder (2). If you experience panic attacks or anxiety symptoms, you should consult your healthcare provider. 

What are the signs and symptoms of a panic attack?

A panic attack is characterized by an intense feeling of fear and discomfort which increases within a few minutes and is accompanied by the following symptoms (2)

  • increased heart rate
  • sweating
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • light-headedness 
  • dizziness 

Frequent panic attacks without a warning indicate panic disorder. SSRIs like paroxetine are the first-line treatment for panic disorder (2) 

How Does Paroxetine Stop Panic Attacks?

Paroxetine is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor and it increases the concentration of synaptic serotonin (1). Mechanisms through which paroxetine stops panic attacks are widely studied. Some possible mechanisms are as follows: 

Increased Serotonin: 

Some theories suggest that a lack of serotonin in specific areas of the brain makes it easier for an individual to get a panic attack. Thus paroxetine helps restore the normal levels of serotonin in the brain which plays a role in stopping panic responses (3). 

Controlling Fight-or-Flight Response: 

SSRIs like Paroxetine and Lexapro help with fight-or-flight response. Research suggests that the release of serotonin in certain brain areas can inhibit fight-or-flight behaviors. Thus paroxetine can reduce the urge to act impulsively in stressful situations (4). 

Improved Mood: 

Paroxetine increases serotonin, which helps in mood regulation. Healthy levels of serotonin in your brain make you emotionally stable and calmer. In case of panic attacks, serotonin helps you to regulate the overwhelming feelings of fear and anxiety. 

What does research suggest? 

The impact of serotonin in treating panic disorders is well documented. One study on patients with panic disorder showed that treatment with paroxetine was effective in reducing the intensity of panic attacks and was well-tolerated (5). 

In another study, a 12-week treatment of panic disorder with paroxetine revealed that it increased glucose metabolism in the cerebral cortex and limbic brain areas. This alteration improved clinical outcomes and reduced panic attacks significantly (6).   

One meta-analysis included studies that investigated the impact of paroxetine in the treatment of panic disorders. The results concluded that paroxetine reduces the number of panic attacks and is effective in the treatment of panic disorders (7). 

What are some other ways to manage panic attacks besides medication?

Along with medications, you can use the following strategies to manage your panic attacks: 

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): 

CBT helps you to identify fearful and negative thinking which leads to a panic attack. It allows you to restructure your thoughts and be calmer in stressful situations. CBT also teaches you strategies to effectively cope with your symptoms during a panic attack. 

Breathing Techniques: 

Deep breathing exercises can help you calm down and reduce the symptoms of panic. You can learn different breathing techniques to help you relax during a panic attack. 

Practising Mindfulness: 

Mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation help you to focus on the present moment and relax. During a panic attack, mindfulness practices allow you to focus on your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations so you can process your surroundings and reduce your anxiety. 

How to avoid panic attacks? 

You can use the following strategies to reduce the number of panic attacks or manage your anxiety. These strategies are related to lifestyle modifications which are necessary to avoid the triggering of panic attacks. 

Make Healthy Choices:

Excessive intake of caffeine and alcohol can exacerbate your anxiety and trigger a panic attack. Smoking can also make your panic attacks worse. Therefore you should avoid the substances that can trigger your panic attacks. 

Exercise Regularly: 

Regular physical activity allows you to manage your stress, regulates your mood, and promotes relaxation. Thus it is a healthy way to release your tension which reduces anxiety over time and the frequency and severity of panic attacks as well. 

Consume a balanced diet: 

Highly processed foods with excessive sugars can cause mood disturbances and trigger panic attacks. To reduce your panic attacks, you should consume a healthy and balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and lean proteins.


In conclusion, the research I have found indicates that paroxetine does stop panic attacks. It works by increasing the level of serotonin in the brain which regulates panic responses. It is important to let your healthcare provider know if you experience symptoms of panic attacks for better guidance. 

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Maron E, Shlik J. Serotonin function in panic disorder: important, but why? Neuropsychopharmacology. 2006 Jan;31(1):1-11. doi: 10.1038/sj.npp.1300880. PMID: 16132063.


Johnson PL, Lightman SL, Lowry CA. A functional subset of serotonergic neurons in the rat ventrolateral periaqueductal gray implicated in the inhibition of sympathoexcitation and panic. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2004 Jun;1018:58-64. doi: 10.1196/annals.1296.006. PMID: 15240352.


Ballenger JC, Wheadon DE, Steiner M, Bushnell W, Gergel IP. Double-blind, fixed-dose, placebo-controlled study of paroxetine in the treatment of panic disorder. Am J Psychiatry. 1998 Jan;155(1):36-42. doi: 10.1176/ajp.155.1.36. PMID: 9433336.


Sim HB, Kang EH, Yu BH. Changes in Cerebral Cortex and Limbic Brain Functions after Short-Term Paroxetine Treatment in Panic Disorder: An [F]FDG-PET Pilot Study. Psychiatry Investig. 2010 Sep;7(3):215-9. doi: 10.4306/pi.2010.7.3.215. Epub 2010 Aug 13. PMID: 20927311; PMCID: PMC2947810.


Zhang B, Wang C, Cui L, Gao J, Wang C, Tan X, Fang S. Short-Term Efficacy and Tolerability of Paroxetine Versus Placebo for Panic Disorder: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Front Pharmacol. 2020 Mar 31;11:275. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2020.00275. PMID: 32296330; PMCID: PMC7136560.

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