Does Paxil make you feel like a zombie? (3+ findings)

In this article, we will answer the question “Does Paxil make you feel like a zombie?”. We will also discuss what research has to say in this regard, what factors can contribute to the ‘zombie effect’, and what alternative treatments or strategies can be used to minimize this effect. 

Does Paxil make you feel like a zombie?

No, Paxil (Paroxetine) does not make you feel like a zombie but it can cause you to zone out, especially at the start of treatment. In the first few weeks on Paxil, you may feel drowsy, a bit zoned out or confused, but this will subside once your body adjusts to the medication.

It is common for depression patients to feel a ‘zombie effect’, in which they feel numb and disconnected from reality. Impaired cognition and emotions are primarily responsible for individuals to feel this way. Sometimes the zoning out or ‘zombie effect’ is not due to Paxil but actually due to the depression or anxiety that it helps treat.  

Paroxetine has not been found to impair cognitive function to the extent that individuals cannot think clearly. However, it alters the level of serotonin in the brain and the altered neurotransmitter levels can be a cause of confusion or drowsiness in some individuals (1).

Keep in mind that not all individuals on Paxil therapy will experience this side effect. But if you do feel somewhat drowsy or confused, you should avoid activities which require clear thinking until the side effects have resolved.

What does research suggest?

Many studies have been conducted on the potential impact of Paroxetine on the cognitive abilities and emotional capacity of individuals taking therapy. 

A study conducted on elderly patients taking Paroxetine and Fluoxetine therapy found these medications to be safe and effective in the long term. These drugs did not show any harmful effect on cognitive functions. The study reported improvement in the cognitive function test results after one year of treatment (2).

Another study assessing the psychomotor effects of Paroxetine in healthy young and elderly volunteers and depressed patients did not show any detrimental effect on cognitive functions. The depressed patients showed enhanced cognitive abilities while on Paroxetine therapy (3).

A clinical study, assessing the risk of cognitive decline in elderly depression patients reported that there was no distinctive difference in cognition among the patients treated with Paroxetine or other SSRIs (4).

A study on the effects of Paroxetine on emotional functioning in healthy clinicians showed that it decreased the internal emotional experience of individuals taking therapy (5). This can explain why some individuals feel zoned out or disconnected from their surroundings while on Paxil therapy.

Symptoms of Paroxetine related zoning out

Some common symptoms related to zoning out on Paxil therapy can be as follows:

  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Emotional detachment
  • Unusual dreams
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory problems

What factors can contribute to the ‘zombie effect’ while on Paxil?

Some factors that can contribute to the zoning out or the ‘zombie effect’ while on Paxil therapy are as follows:

Patient-specific details

Each patient responds differently to medications, including Paroxetine. This can cause everyone to react differently to the medication. Some individuals may experience problems in concentrating and thinking clearly.

Drug interactions

Sometimes Paxil may interact with other antidepressants and cause an increased risk of side effects like impaired memory or emotional functioning. You must consult your healthcare provider before starting Paxil therapy and inform them about any other medications you are taking.

High levels of stress

Sometimes it is not the medication that may be causing the symptoms of zoning out. Sometimes increased anxiety and stress can hinder concentration, and clear thinking and make you feel disconnected from your surroundings.

What to do if Paxil is making you zone out?

If you feel that Paxil is not working for your depression or gives you the zombie effect by making you zone out here are a few things you should consider:

Consulting your healthcare provider

The first and foremost thing to do if you experience any discomforting symptoms while on Paxil therapy is to consult your healthcare provider regarding your symptoms. Your doctor can properly assess your condition and give proper guidance. 

Your healthcare provider may adjust the dosage of Paxil to better meet your requirements or may change your medication altogether.

Alternative medications

Although Paxil is considered relatively safe for most patients, it may not provide desired effects in some individuals. For this reason, your doctor may prescribe some other SSRI, or medications from other classes like serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) or tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), which may improve your symptoms.

Important tips to improve your focus while taking Paxil

Some important tips to help you improve your focus and concentrating abilities while on Paxil therapy are as follows:

  • Playing memory games, reading books or writing journals can help improve your concentration and sharpen your focus (6).
  • Yoga, meditation and physical activity can relieve stress and improve overall mood (7).
  • Proper sleep can help improve cognitive abilities and concentration.
  • Taking proper nutrition and staying hydrated can reduce many of the symptoms related to emotional and cognitive dysfunction.

These tips can help you feel better at times when you are having a hard time concentrating or thinking, but if the symptoms still affect your quality of life it is better to consult your doctor.


In this article, we answered the question “Does Paxil make you feel like a zombie?”. We discussed the effects of Paroxetine therapy on cognitive and emotional abilities. We also discussed what factors can contribute to the ‘zombie effect’ and how to manage its symptoms. To summarize, Paxil does not make you feel like a zombie but it may help you think more clearly once the medication starts working.

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Shrestha P, Fariba KA, Abdijadid S. Paroxetine. [Updated 2023 Jul 17]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from:


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