Does Paxil Cause Memory Loss? (+3 studies)

This article answers the question “Does paxil cause memory loss?”. We will investigate scientific evidence and provide some beneficial tips. 

Does Paxil Cause Memory Loss? 

No, Paxil (Paroxetine) does not necessarily cause memory loss. In fact, Paxil may have positive effects on the memory function of the individuals taking it, according to the research. 

Paxil is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and has been identified as an antidepressant. SSRIs are commonly associated with changes in cognition due to their anticholinergic effects. However, different studies have shown that Paxil is not associated with memory loss despite its strong anticholinergic and sedative properties (1). 

While taking Paxil, you may experience different side effects like cognitive confusion, mild mental fogginess, dizziness, and nervousness which are common to occur while using this drug (2). However, memory loss is not a commonly reported symptom of Paxil. 

How does Paxil cause memory loss? 

The possible mechanism through which Paxil can cause memory loss is due to its strong anticholinergic properties. Different studies have documented that drugs with anticholinergic properties can result in poor cognitive performance and increase the risk of dementia and cognitive decline. The anticholinergic side effects of Paxil are likely to be higher than the other SSRIs. Therefore it is expected that Paxil can cause cognitive impairment and memory loss (1). 

Despite the strong anticholinergic properties of Paxil, studies have found that it does not result in cognitive decline and does not increase the risks of dementia in older adults. No significant difference between the cognitive effects of Paxil and other SSRIs has been found indicating that its strong anticholinergic properties do not result in increased cognitive side effects (1). 

What does research suggest? 

Different studies have explored the impact of Paxil on memory and cognitive problems like confusion. One study explored the impact of Paxil on elderly patients with depression. The results revealed that Paxil did not impair cognitive function even in patients with already existing cognitive problems (3). 

Another comparative study on Paxil (paroxetine) and fluoxetine found that Paxil is suitable to be used to treat elderly depression as it does not have harmful effects on cognitive functions and has a good tolerability and safety profile (4). 

One study explored the impact of Paxil treatment on patients with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The findings demonstrated that Paxil was effective in treating PTSD and also improved the ability of the patients to remember and recall verbal information (5). 

Paxil has also shown a positive impact on memory during animal studies. A study on rats demonstrated that Paxil improves spatial memory and memory function in rats with depression (6). Another study on mice with Alzheimer’s disease showed that Paxil can help improve memory issues and emotional dysfunction (7) 

Although many studies have revealed the positive effects of Paxil on memory, some studies showed that SSRIs like Paxil can cause memory impairment. One study on patients with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder revealed that during the 8-week treatment with SSRIs including Paxil, patients experienced memory loss (8). 

Another study included 67 patients with major depression and anxiety disorders. Over 20% of these patients demonstrated memory impairment. Memory impairment was reported as a side effect of SSRIs including Paxil in this study (9). 

These studies suggest that evidence related to Paxil’s impact on memory loss is diverse. While most of the studies indicate its positive impact on memory, some show that it can lead to cognitive decline. Therefore, individual experiences with this medicine may vary. 

Other possible side effects of Paxil on cognition and the brain:

Some reported side effects of Paxil on cognition and the brain are as follows (9):

  • Apathy
  • Inattentiveness 
  • lack of concentration
  • confusion (2)
  • mild mental fogginess (2) 

What to do if you experience memory changes while taking Paxil? 

You might be concerned about the effect of Paxil on your memory as some SSRIs like sertraline and celexa can cause memory problems. Although the chances of memory issues with Paxil are low, you can use the following recommendations if you experience any memory-related issues. 

  • Reach out to your doctor if you experience memory loss or cognitive difficulties. Your doctor will assess your symptoms and may decide to change your dose or switch to another medication. 
  • Monitor and records your symptom regularly. Documenting your symptoms and how they affect your daily life is valuable information needed by your doctor. 
  • Always follow your doctor’s advice while taking your medicines and do not change the dose unless instructed by your doctor. 

How to support your memory while taking Paxil? 

If you are concerned about your cognition while taking Paxil, certain lifestyle factors can help you improve your memory which will also help to slow down the age-related memory decline. 

Healthy lifestyle factors are known to support your memory. This includes consuming a balanced healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking alcohol, and keeping your brain engaged with activities like reading or learning a new skill (10). 

You should also get enough sleep daily and manage your stress well as disturbed sleep and stress can impact your memory negatively (11). 

How to take Paxil Properly? 

  • Take Paxil as directed by your doctor. Do not increase or reduce its dose. 
  • It might take up to 4 weeks or more for this medication to work so be patient. 
  • Do not crush, break, or chew the tablets. 
  • Do not double the dose if you skip one dose. 
  • Tell your doctor if you experience any serious or unusual side effects 
  • Do not stop taking Paxil abruptly.  


Based on the information available, I have found that Paxil does not necessarily result in memory loss. However, individual experiences may vary. It might also result in some side effects on the brain and cognition including confusion, inattentiveness, and a lack of concentration. In many cases, Paxil has been found to have a positive effect on the memory function of individuals. It is important to consider that open communication with your healthcare provider is necessary if you experience any unusual symptoms while taking Paxil. 

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