Does Paxil cause unusual dreams? 

Does Paxil cause unusual dreams? 

Yes, Paxil and other antidepressants can cause unusual, violent, lucid, and vivid nightmares. This side effect is common with people who take these meds and it’s difficult to say whether or not they will go away on their own. 

Some people may begin to experience violent nightmares right away, and some may develop them with time. This side effect could be quite disturbing for some people, while others may compromise to keep getting the beneficial effects of the antidepressant. 

However, not everyone experiences this side effect. Each person may respond differently to medications, so it’s essential to communicate any side effects you experience with your healthcare provider. 

What does research suggest?

Research suggests that Paxil (paroxetine) can potentially cause unusual dreams as a side effect. The incidence of this side effect varies among individuals, and not everyone may experience it. However, it has been reported by some individuals taking Paxil. (1,2)

The exact mechanism behind the occurrence of unusual dreams with Paxil is not fully understood. It is believed to be related to the medication’s effect on certain neurotransmitters in the brain, specifically serotonin. (3)

Serotonin is involved in regulating various functions, including sleep and dreaming. Alterations in serotonin levels can potentially impact the content and intensity of dreams. 

This is the main reason why antidepressants can affect your sleep architecture with time and change the way your brain usually responds to things. Other commonly prescribed antidepressants, like Lexapro, Wellbutrin, Trazodone, etc can also cause nightmares. (4)

If the unusual dreams become bothersome or significantly affect your sleep quality, it is recommended to discuss it with your healthcare provider. 

How to get rid of unusual dreams on Paxil? 

There is literally no proper way to get rid of unusual dreams on Paxil while you continue taking this medication and it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider if you’re concerned about them. 

However, taking Paxil with food or reducing the dosage strength may reduce these dreams to some extent, but that’s no promising way to get rid of them for good. 

It’s hard to tell if these nightmares will subside on their own or not, like other early side effects of Paxil because a majority of people continue to experience unusual dreams throughout the entire course of their antidepressant treatment. 

If you think these nightmares are worth the beneficial effects of Paxil, then you can continue using the medication. However, if such dreams are affecting your sleep and generating an overall sense of fear in your personality, talk to your doctor. 

There are other antidepressants that may not make you feel that way. Just make sure you don’t stop using Paxil without consulting your doctor first. 

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Kobayashi T, Yamauchi M. A case of serial nightmares and oneiroid state under paroxetine for senile depression. Psychogeriatrics. 2012 Mar;12(1):54-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1479-8301.2011.00382.x. PMID: 22416829.


Nevels RM, Gontkovsky ST, Williams BE. Paroxetine-The Antidepressant from Hell? Probably Not, But Caution Required. Psychopharmacol Bull. 2016 Mar 1;46(1):77-104. PMID: 27738376; PMCID: PMC5044489.


Shrestha P, Fariba KA, Abdijadid S. Paroxetine. 2022 Jul 19. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 30252278.


Nicolas A, Ruby PM. Dreams, Sleep, and Psychotropic Drugs. Front Neurol. 2020 Nov 5;11:507495. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2020.507495. PMID: 33224081; PMCID: PMC7674595.

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