Does Paxil have anticholinergic effects? (+3 effects)

In this article, we will discuss whether Paxil is associated with causing anticholinergic effects or not. We will examine the anticholinergic effects and their connection with SSRIs, particularly Paxil. We will look at some common anticholinergic effects caused by Paxil. 

Does Paxil have anticholinergic effects?

Yes, Paxil can cause anticholinergic effects. Paxil is an SSRI antidepressant that works by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin neurotransmitters in the brain. However, Paxil possesses substantial anticholinergic properties based on various factors. 

Anticholinergic effects occur as a result of the inhibition of acetylcholine neurotransmitters in the brain. There could be various anticholinergic effects including dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision, and cognitive impairment. 

However, it is not necessary that Paxil causes anticholinergic effects in each individual taking it. These effects caused by Paxil may vary from person to person and affect each patient individually. 

What does research suggest?

Based on the research studies regarding the anticholinergic effects of Paxil, it has been studied that among other SSRIs, Paxil possesses a relatively high affinity for anticholinergic receptors, particularly muscarinic (M1) receptors. Due to its affinity with these receptors, Paxil exhibits anticholinergic properties  (1). 

By blocking the muscarinic receptors, Paxil interferes with the mechanism of acetylcholine exerting anticholinergic effects. This receptor blockade causes Paxil to reduce the activity of acetylcholine thus, exerting anticholinergic effects (1). 

Various anticholinergic effects can commonly occur with the use of Paxil. Among other SSRIs, Paxil is associated with causing psychomotor disturbances and confusion, due to its anticholinergicity (1).

The elderly and special population is highly affected by the anticholinergic side effects of Paxil. A significant increase in intraocular pressures was examined particularly in the elderly, due to anticholinergic and noradrenergic properties of Paxil (1). 

What are the anticholinergic side effects caused by Paxil?

Following are some common anticholinergic side effects caused by Paxil (1,2):

Dry mouth

It is one common anticholinergic effect. Patients taking Paxil may experience dry mouth as an anticholinergic side effect of Paxil. 


Another common anticholinergic side effect due to Paxil is constipation. It occurs as a result of the anticholinergic property of Paxil on the gastrointestinal system of the patients. 

Urinary retention

Paxil can also affect the urinary system of the patients. Due to the anticholinergic properties of Paxil, some patients may suffer from urinary difficulty and retention. 

Blurred vision

Due to the anticholinergic properties of Paxil, eyesight and the mechanism of vision are also affected. The patients may suffer from blurred vision and difficulty in focusing. 

The anticholinergic effects of Paxil are not the sole purpose of this medication. Some patients may suffer these as a secondary part of taking this medication. Not all patients taking Paxil may suffer from anticholinergic effects. 

All these effects need to be considered before initiating or continuing antidepressant treatment with Paxil.

What are the other side effects of Paxil?

Some other side effects associated with Paxil other than anticholinergic side effects are (3): 

  • Headache
  • Dizziness 
  • Weakness
  • Nightmares
  • Nervousness
  • Sleepiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Heartburn
  • Weight gain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Sweating 
  • yawning
  • Swelling of joints
  • Sexual problems in males and females

Careful monitoring of the side effects is important before continuing the treatment with Paxil. If these side effects are excessive then immediately seek medical help and consult your doctor. 

What to do if you experience anticholinergic side effects of Paxil?

First and foremost, consult your healthcare practitioner for excessive side effects after initiating your antidepressant treatment with Paxil. 

You should monitor yourself for side effects and report them to your doctor. He must assess your condition and may lower your antidepressant dose because lowering the dose may reduce such side effects. 

If you are experiencing excessive anticholinergic side effects due to Paxil, then your doctor may consider changing Paxil to an SSRI antidepressant with lower chances of anticholinergic side effects such as Fluoxetine, Sertraline, or Escitalopram. 

Do not abruptly stop taking this medication because it may cause withdrawal symptoms. If you are facing severe side effects then consult your healthcare provider for guidance. 


In conclusion, after conducting detailed research on the anticholinergic effects of Paxil, we have concluded that Paxil may cause anticholinergic side effects among other SSRI antidepressants. 

Therefore, your doctor must consider and assess your health condition before initiating your treatment with Paxil. I would suggest starting the treatment only if the benefits outweigh the anticholinergic side effects of Paxil treatment.

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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.


Fujishiro J, Imanishi T, Onozawa K, Tsushima M. Comparison of the anticholinergic effects of the serotonergic antidepressants, paroxetine, fluvoxamine and clomipramine. Eur J Pharmacol. 2002 Nov 15;454(2-3):183-8. doi: 10.1016/s0014-2999(02)02557-8. PMID: 12421645.


AHFS Patient Medication Information [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc.; c2019. Paroxetine; [updated 2020 Jun 24; reviewed 2018 Jul 5; cited 2020 Jul 1]; [about 5 p.]. Available from:

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