Is Seroxat addictive? (3+ findings)

In this article, we will answer the question “Is Seroxat addictive?”. We will also discuss what research studies have assessed regarding Seroxat addiction and dependence, and what guidelines should be followed for the safe and effective use of Seroxat.

Is Seroxat addictive?

No, Seroxat (also known as Paroxetine or Paxil) is not addictive. However, it does tend to cause dependence in individuals using the medication. Even then, Seroxat does not have a high potential for abuse and due to this reason it is not a controlled substance.

Seroxat is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) and is used for various depressive disorders. It is available only on prescription and does have a risk of causing dependency in the individual using it.

Can Seroxat cause dependence?

Seroxat, along with other SSRIs, can cause physical dependence in some patients taking therapy. This is due to the adaptation of the brain cells to long-term use of Seroxat. Physical dependence is always consistent with the occurrence of withdrawal symptoms in individuals.

How can Seroxat cause dependence?

Physical dependence on antidepressants including Seroxat, occurs because when in therapy, the body and brain cells undergo adaptation to the drug and counteracts accordingly to maintain stability and homeostasis. When medication is in use the neuroadaptation by the brain develops a homeostatic equilibrium. On discontinuation of medication or reduction of dosage, the equilibrium is unsettled causing withdrawal symptoms.

The only way to figure out if the individual taking Seroxat therapy is dependent on the medication or not is the appearance of withdrawal symptoms when the dosage of Seroxat is reduced or therapy is abruptly discontinued.

How is Seroxat different from addictive drugs?

Seroxat is different from addictive drugs. Seroxat works by blocking the serotonin reuptake transporter (SERT) and increasing the concentration of serotonin in the brain. This increased level of serotonin is responsible for regulating your mood and decreasing depressive symptoms.

Addictive drugs, on the other hand, are those medications which alter the physiological processes of the brain and can detach you from reality (1,2).

Difference between dependence and addiction

Keep in mind that dependence and addiction are different phenomena. Dependence refers to physical dependence on any medication, which when discontinued, causes withdrawal symptoms, whereas addiction is the craving and recurrent use of any substance even without the physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms (2).

Seroxat does not cause addiction but it may cause dependence. For this reason, it does need to be tapered off with gradual dose reduction.

Can Seroxat lead to addictive behaviour?

Seroxat is not addictive and cannot result in addictive behaviour. There is no evidence that Seroxat can be used for recreational purposes or abuse. However, some individuals think that this medication can be habit-forming for people suffering from social anxiety.

Seroxat is often used in recovery from addiction. Sometimes, antidepressants like SSRIs, are prescribed to help tackle anxiety in patients on rehab therapy. It is also given to such patients who have a diagnosis of a co-occurring mental illness.

What does research suggest?

Many research studies suggest that Paroxetine does not cause addiction of any sort. A study assessing the withdrawal symptoms of SSRIs after discontinuation of therapy states that SSRIs including Paroxetine, cause dependence and not addiction in individuals on therapy (3).

Another study assessing various antidepressants reported that even though some antidepressants do have psychological and physical dependence they are shown to have no addictive properties and cannot cause addiction (4).

A study on the pharmacotherapy of mood disorders reported that antidepressants have only withdrawal and dependence upon discontinuation, which should be called withdrawal syndrome and not addiction (5).

Research assessing whether antidepressant users report withdrawal or addiction also stated that many users reported withdrawal effects of the medication, especially Paroxetine, after discontinuing treatment (6).

What are the withdrawal symptoms associated with Seroxat?

Seroxat needs tapering off and gradual dose reduction of therapy when discontinuation is needed. If there is abrupt dose reduction or cessation of therapy, Seroxat may cause withdrawal symptoms more commonly referred to as the withdrawal syndrome.

Some of these symptoms are agitation, irritability, vertigo, lightheadedness, fever, dizziness, nausea, headache, flu-like symptoms, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, tinnitus, unusual dreaming and seizures.

If withdrawal syndrome occurs, it is recommended to gradually reduce the dosage of your medication, or pause dose reduction until the symptoms subside.

What are the guidelines for the safe use of Seroxat?

For Seroxat to be used safely, the FDA has recommended that individuals on therapy should also be monitored for the following (9):

  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviours
  • Activation of mania/hypomania
  • Increased risk of bleeding
  • Seizures
  • Angle-closure glaucoma
  • Embryofetal toxicity, in pregnant women
  • Serotonin syndrome, if used with other serotonergic agents
  • Withdrawal syndrome, when dose reduction or cessation of therapy is required

What strategies facilitate Seroxat discontinuation?

Although the FDA recommends gradual dose reduction as the only approach to help with symptoms of Seroxat withdrawal, some other interventions may also be helpful (10):

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)

CBT in the process of discontinuation is needed to help the patient think positively about the withdrawal symptoms. The individual must think of the symptoms as temporary, and something they can easily overcome. Positive psychological behaviour in the discontinuation process can help the individual cope better with their symptoms.

Educating the patient

Education of the patient is the key to successful discontinuation. Withdrawal symptoms should be explained to the patient in detail before starting the discontinuation process. This is necessary because the individual knows what to expect during this process.

Alternative treatment with benzodiazepines

The addition of a benzodiazepine for a short duration during the discontinuation process can provide symptomatic relief to the patient. Your healthcare provider may prescribe you a benzodiazepine if nothing else seems to be helping with your withdrawal symptoms.

Debunking the myth of Seroxat addiction

There is a general myth that antidepressants including Seroxat can be addictive. But this is nothing more than a mere myth. Seroxat does not make you ‘high’ or cause any cravings like addictive drugs. This is just a misconception which evokes fear in individuals who are prescribed Seroxat.

Research studies have provided enough proof that antidepressants cannot cause any sort of addiction. In addition to research studies, the FDA, practitioners and drug makers are also stating that Paroxetine is not addictive.

A statement of the FDA regarding addiction to Paxil (a brand name of Paroxetine) says “FDA scientists that have considered this very issue do not regard [Paxil] to be habit forming.” A professor of psychiatry Fred Goodwin states “Patients ask me, ‘Is this habit-forming?’ I say no.” Similarly, the vice president of Glaxo, the manufacturer of Paxil, also has a statement regarding the same myth. He stated, “There is no evidence that Paxil is addictive.”


To sum up everything, Seroxat is not an addictive drug and many research studies support this statement. In my opinion, it is a medication that has the potential to cause physical dependence at the most, which can result in withdrawal syndrome when Seroxat is discontinued.

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