Anxiety Home > How Does Paxil Work?

Paxil® (paroxetine hydrochloride) is a prescription drug approved for treating numerous conditions within the brain, including depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder, and panic disorder.
Many people wonder, "How does Paxil work?" The antidepressant is part of a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or SSRIs). SSRIs act on a specific chemical in the brain known as serotonin.
As a message travels down a nerve, it causes the end of the cell to release serotonin. The serotonin enters the gap between the first nerve cell and the one next to it. When enough serotonin reaches the second nerve cell, it activates receptors on the cell, and the message continues on its way. The first cell then quickly absorbs any serotonin that remains in the gap between cells. This is called "reuptake."
Normally, this process works without any problems. When the levels of serotonin become unbalanced, however, it can cause a variety of conditions, including depression. Paxil helps to block the reuptake of serotonin so that more remains in the space between the brain's nerve cells. This gives the serotonin a better chance of activating the receptors on the next nerve cell.
(Click Paxil for more information on how Paxil works, to learn about the specific effects of this medication, and to find out what side effects may occur with the antidepressant.)
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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