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Paroxetine (paroxetine hydrochloride) is the formal name for Paxil® (in the United States) or Seroxat® (in the UK). It was released onto the market in 1992 by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline and has since become one of the most successful anti-depressants on the market. It is the second most prescribed anti-depressant in the UK.

Paroxetine is in a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) of which Prozac is probably the most well known.

Like some other antidepressants, it also can be used in the treating of anxiety disorders. It was the first (and as of 2002, the only) antidepressant formally approved in the United States for the treatment of social phobia, causing it to be sometimes referred to (although inaccurately) as an anti-shyness drug.

Although the drug has proved to be extremely helpful in the majority of cases it is used, there has been a growing body of anecdotal evidence that have raised concerns about some of its side effects.

Although the manufacturers say there is no reliable clinical evidence that the drug can cause any violence or aggression, the company was sued in the US after Donald Schell had killed his wife, daughter and grandchild after two days on the drug. During the investigation of the clinical records it was reported that although effective most of the time in a minority of cases the drug could cause unpredictable side effects.

  • Wild mood swings/Suicidal impulses when first starting on the drug
  • Withdrawal side effects making it hard to stop taking the drug.

The manufacturers claim it is impossible to get addicted. Other campaigners disagree.

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