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Celexa vs. Paxil

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Celexa vs. Paxil

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Depression and anxiety are complex conditions that affect each individual differently, which is why choosing the right medication is an important decision. If you are considering treatment with Celexa or Paxil, or if you are currently taking one of these medications and are wondering about switching to the other, this comparison guide will explore the similarities and differences between the two. 

At Klarity, we understand that seeking treatment for anxiety and depression can be overwhelming, which is why we offer convenient telehealth services to make it easier for you to get the help you need. Our team of experienced healthcare providers is here to support you on your journey to better mental health, and we can work with you to determine the best treatment option for regulating your anxiety or depression.

What is Paxil?

Paroxetine, sold under the brand name Paxil, is a medication that is used to treat depression. It is classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which means that it works by blocking certain receptors in the brain from reabsorbing serotonin. 

By increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, SSRIs like Paxil can help to regulate mood, sleep, appetite, and energy levels. They can also improve overall well-being by reducing the symptoms of depression, such as low mood, difficulty concentrating, and low energy.

Paxil Forms and Doses

Paxil is available in three forms: tablets, extended-release tablets, and a liquid suspension. Extended-release tablets are taken just once a day, which differentiates them from standard tablets, which usually require multiple doses throughout the day. Your provider will help you determine which form is right for you, depending on your condition and how you react to the potential side effects of Paxil. 

The tablets come in 4 color-coded dosages as follows:

  • 10 mg yellow
  • 20 mg pink
  • 30 mg blue 
  • 40 mg green 

If you are prescribed the liquid suspension, it usually comes in a bottle that is 10mg/5ml. The liquid is orange-flavored and can make taking Paxil easier if you often struggle with the taste of medicine. Regardless of whether you take a tablet or the liquid, the normal nose of Paxil usually starts at 20 mg a day and increases to a maximum of 50 mg a day when necessary. 

Conditions Paxil Treats

Paxil is classified by the FDA as an antidepressant. However, it can be effective in treating the following conditions.

Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions that cause excessive worry, fear, or anxiety that is difficult to control. By increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, Paxil can help to regulate mood and reduce anxiety. It may also help to improve sleep and reduce physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heartbeat, tremors, and muscle tension.

Depression

Depression is a mental health disorder characterized by persistent feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyable. It can also cause physical symptoms such as fatigue, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, and difficulty concentrating.

Paxil works by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, a chemical messenger that helps regulate mood and other functions in the body. By increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain, Paxil can help to regulate mood and reduce the symptoms of depression.

OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that causes repetitive thoughts and behaviors that a person feels driven to perform. These obsessions and compulsions can interfere with daily functioning and can be distressing. Paxil can increase the levels of serotonin in the brain, which as a result, reduces these obsessive thoughts and compulsions by improving overall mood. 

Paxil Costs

The cost of a 30-day supply of brand-name Paxil can be as high as $300, while a generic version of the medication, paroxetine, typically costs between $16 and $40 for the same amount. The exact cost may vary depending on your insurance coverage and the pharmacy you use. 

Paxil Side Effects

It is common for Paxil to cause some moderate side effects, which can fade in just a few days or continue intermittently as you continue taking the medication. Here are some of the most common mild to moderate side effects:

  • Changes in vision
  • Weakness, drowsiness, or dizziness
  • Sweating, anxiety, or shaking
  • Insomnia
  • Reduced appetite
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Headaches
  • Sexual dysfunction 

In some rare cases, Paxil can cause more severe side effects. If you begin to experience any of the following symptoms, it is important to immediately contact your provider. 

  • Racing thoughts, requiring less sleep, manic euphoria
  • Blurred or tunnel vision 
  • Eye pain, swelling, or seeing halos around lights
  • Bone pain or tenderness
  • Swelling or easy bruising
  • Unusual changes in weight or appetite
  • Unusual bleeding from the nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum
  • Coughing up blood;
  • Rigid muscles, high fever, sweating
  • Confusion, racing heart or arrhythmia, tremors, or fainting
  • Severe headache, slurred speech 
  • Severe weakness and reduced coordination

Paxil Warnings For Use

Due to the fact that Paxil is an SSRI, individuals who take it are at risk for a very rare condition known as serotonin syndrome, which occurs when a person has too much serotonin in their body. If left untreated, serotonin syndrome can lead to more serious complications such as high fever, seizures, coma, and even death. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include:

  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Confusion
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • High body temperature
  • Sweating
  • Dilated pupils
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle spasms or twitching

If you experience any of these symptoms, you must contact your provider or seek medical attention immediately. 

Additionally, there are some conditions that put you at a higher risk when you take Paxil. If you have any of the following conditions, speak to your provider before taking Paxil. 

  • Heart disease or stroke
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver or kidney disease
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Epilepsy 
  • Bipolar disorder 
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Glaucoma
  • Low blood sodium levels

If you experience an increase in suicidal thoughts or impulses, seek help immediately by calling the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. 

Paxil Interactions

Medications like Paxil can have adverse reactions to certain medications, so it is important to make your provider aware of any medications you already take, especially if they are one or more of the following. 

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Pimozide or other Tourettes syndrome medications
  • Thioridazine or other antipsychotic medications
  • Stimulant medications, like Adderall
  • Opioid-based painkillers
  • Herbal supplements, such as St. John’s Wort
  • Tryptophan

Additionally, individuals who have had an addiction to narcotics should discuss alternatives to Paxil with their provider. 

What is Celexa?

Like Paxil, Celexa is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication that is used to treat depression. It works by altering the way the brain uses serotonin, a chemical messenger that helps regulate mood and other functions in the body. Celexa increases the levels of serotonin in the brain and slows down its reabsorption into neurons. This can help to improve mood and reduce the symptoms of depression and increase patients’ overall mental health. 

Celexa Forms and Doses

Celexa is available in three forms: oral solution, capsule, and tablet. The oral solution has a dosage of 10mg/5ml, while the tablets come in three doses: 10mg, 20mg, and 40mg. The capsule is only available in a 30mg dose. 

The recommended starting dose for Celexa is 20mg by mouth once daily, and the maximum recommended dose is 40mg by mouth once daily. Your healthcare provider will help determine the best form and dosage for your individual needs.

Conditions Celexa Treats

Celexa is most commonly known for its ability to treat depression. However, because SSRIs can also help reduce symptoms of other mental health conditions, they can be prescribed as an off-label treatment for anxiety and OCD as well. 

Anxiety

Celexa can help reduce anxiety symptoms such as constant nervousness and fear that disrupt daily life. It works by regulating the way the brain uses serotonin, which can help alleviate these symptoms and promote a sense of calm and emotional stability. When taken regularly, Celexa may help individuals feel more relaxed and in control of their emotions.

Depression

Celexa can treat various symptoms of depression, including feelings of hopelessness and low energy. By regulating the brain’s use of serotonin, Celexa can help improve an individual’s sense of well-being and increase their energy levels. Regular use of Celexa, as directed by a healthcare provider, may also reduce the risk of depression symptoms returning.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Celexa can help reduce the obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and improve the overall quality of life. It is important to note that Celexa should be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan for OCD that may also include therapy and other interventions.

Celexa Costs

The cost of a Celexa prescription can vary based on whether you are prescribed the generic or brand version of the medication. The generic form of Celexa, called citalopram, can be relatively inexpensive, with a cost of around $7 for 30 tablets of the 20mg dosage. 

In contrast, the brand version of Celexa can be significantly more expensive, costing up to $400 for the same quantity and dosage. It is worth noting that Celexa may be less costly if it is covered by insurance.

Celexa Side Effects

Like all antidepressants, Celexa can cause some mild to moderate side effects. The side effects of Celexa usually go away in just a few days; however, if they persist, you should speak with your medical provider. 

The most common mild side effects of Celexa include

  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Sleepiness
  • Insomnia
  • Increased sweating
  • Tremors
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite


In rare cases, Celexa can cause more severe side effects. If you experience any of the following while taking Celexa, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. 

  • Chills 
  • Bleeding gums
  • Nosebleed 
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Painful urination
  • Seizures
  • Swelling of the face, ankles, or hands

In extremely rare instances, Celexa can cause serotonin syndrome, which is a condition that occurs when too much serotonin is present in the body. Symptoms of serotonin syndrome include sweating, muscle stiffness or spasms, fever, fast heart rate, and confusion, and they can lead to coma and even death. 

Celexa Warnings For Use

Celexa may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior in people under the age of 24. This risk is highest during the first few months of treatment or when the dosage is changed. 

It is important to be vigilant about your mental health during these times and seek help immediately if you have any suicidal thoughts or impulses while taking Celexa. You can call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline for help, and you should also inform your healthcare provider about any suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Celexa Interactions

If you take any medications, it is important to discuss the possible negative interactions they could have with Celexa. When paired together, Celexa and the medications below can reduce the effectiveness and increase the side effects of both. Individuals taking the following medications should avoid Celexa unless their provider says otherwise. 

  • Bepridil
  • Cisapride
  • Ketoconazole
  • Metoclopramide
  • Phenelzine
  • Sparfloxacin
  • Toloxatone
  • Ziprasidone 

Get Anxiety and Depression Treatment With Klarity!

Are you struggling with anxiety or depression? Don’t wait any longer to get the help you need. At Klarity, we connect you with convenient and effective telehealth treatment for anxiety and depression. Without leaving your home, you can speak to a trusted healthcare provider within just 48 hours of booking your appointment. 

Don’t let anxiety or depression control your life any longer. Take our free, 2-minute online assessment to learn more about which treatment is right for you. 

Paxil and Celexa Frequently Asked Questions

Are Celexa, Paxil, and other SSRIs the same drug?

Although Celexa, Paxil, and other SSRIs are all selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which are a class of medication used to treat depression and anxiety disorders, they are not the same drug. Each SSRI has different chemical structures and works in slightly different ways. 

Different SSRIs can have varying effects on patients, so it’s important to work closely with a healthcare provider to find the right treatment for you. If one medication isn’t working for you or causes unpleasant side effects, your healthcare provider may suggest trying a different medication.

Why is Celexa an off-label treatment for anxiety?

Due to the fact that Celexa is FDA approved for treating depression, it is prescribed as an off-label treatment for anxiety. Off-label use refers to the use of a medication for a purpose that has not been specifically approved by the FDA. Healthcare providers can legally prescribe medications for any use that they believe is safe and effective based on their clinical judgment and the available scientific evidence.

What’s better for anxiety? Celexa or Paxil?

Both Celexa and Paxil can be prescribed for treating anxiety, but Paxil is more commonly used. Providers may prescribe either of these SSRI antidepressants to treat anxiety if they believe the patient will see better results and fewer side effects.  

What’s better for depression? Celexa or Paxil?

Paxil and Celexa are both prescribed for the treatment of depression, but it is difficult to definitively say which is better. Your healthcare provider will consider several factors when deciding which medication to prescribe for the treatment of depression, including the type and severity of your anxiety symptoms, your medical history, and any other medications you are taking.

Can I drive on antidepressants like Celexa or Paxil?

It is generally safe to drive while taking antidepressants, including Celexa and Paxil. However, it is important to be aware of any potential side effects of the medication that could affect your ability to drive safely. Some people may experience drowsiness, dizziness, or other side effects while taking antidepressants, which could affect their ability to drive. When you begin taking either medication, it is important to assess whether you are experiencing any of these side effects before driving. 

Can I drink alcohol when taking Celexa or Paxil?

When taking any SSRI antidepressant, it is not recommended that you consume alcohol. Drinking alcohol can increase the severity of your antidepressant side effects and reduce the effectiveness of the medication. Additionally, the interaction between the two can make the effects of alcohol, such as blurred vision and impaired motor skills, worse. 

Does it matter what time of day I take Celexa or Paxil?

It is generally recommended to take Celexa and Paxil at the same time each day to help maintain a consistent level of the medication in your body. Both medications can usually be taken once a day without food, so the specific time of day that you take the medication may depend on your schedule and the instructions of your healthcare provider.

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