IBS Tales Home > Treatment Reviews > IBS Medications > Paxil


Rated 3.4/5 based on 10 reviews

Paxil (paroxetine) is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) form of anti-depressant which helps to correct the imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Paxil is most often used to treat depression and other mental health problems such as anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, it can also be used to treat IBS. IBS patients are often given lower doses than depression patients. Paxil comes in tablet form.

Paxil side effects

The most common side effects of Paxil are anxiety, constipation, blurred vision, dry mouth, gas, loss of appetite, stomach upset and nausea.


Review by S

I realized that I had IBS in college, but after having kids it kind of went away. I have long suspected a hormonal link, but that is beside my point. When the kids got a little older my symptoms returned, but I was able to keep them in check with Levsin SL, a dissolving tablet that I place under my tongue before eating.

Some time later my doctor prescribed Paxil for anxiety. Lo and behold, the IBS symptoms went away. I kind of forgot about the IBS (yeah!) and stayed on the Paxil for anxiety for about eight years. After reading a lot about Paxil, and talking with friends who have been on it, I decided that my anxiety was not serious enough to be taking a powerful drug every day for the rest of my life.

I gradually tapered the medicine but still experienced mild withdrawal. Long story short, I encourage anyone considering Paxil for IBS to realize that getting off the medicine is difficult. I still have dizzy spells, brain 'flashes' and extreme fatigue. I have been Paxil-free for about two months. And yes, the IBS has come back. I am willing to try other methods of controlling it rather than take a drug with such terrible withdrawal symptoms. I wish all of you good luck.

Review by John

I am a strong believer in the mind/gut relationship and its impact on IBS. There is an interconnection between disease mechanisms, imbalances (bacterial/yeast etc), immune response problems, functional problems and hormonal imbalance and of course these are all impacted one way or another by stress.

One thing that seems to be becoming more and more known is the relationship between the mind and the gut on this disorder and the fact that there is actually a nervous system in the gut itself that is almost independent of the brain. The serotonin uptake/reuptake mechanism is fundamental and when it is not working properly IBS is the result.

I have had a very good response to SSRIs (Paxil in my case) at low doses that is even better than Imodium, Bentyl and other drugs, and even helps in combination with these. I've had success at one time or another with antibiotics, antifungals, calcium supplements, dietary control (very important) and just light exercise and stress reduction, but SSRIs at various doses have helped me a lot more especially in times when my situation is almost unbearable.

Treatment using SSRIs for IBS is only in its infancy and a lot of doctors don't know how to prescribe SSRIs for IBS or even which drug is appropriate at what dose (generally it is a much lower dose than that used for anxiety and depression). I was shocked when my gastroenterologist said he didn't use them in treating IBS, whereas psychiatrists are much more aware of the benefits and do prescribe them for IBS sufferers even though you would think IBS is only marginally related to their field.

I strongly recommend that sufferers, especially those who have constant bowel movements, investigate this with their physician or by searching the literature and consider a course of treatment just to see how it goes. I know in many cases the results verge on being miraculous. There are side effects, but the benefit can/will far outweigh the negative effects which really are minor for most people anyway.

Good luck and remember that when things feel really dark and hopeless you aren't alone and there really is help. Optimism that there will be better days is so important in dealing with this often debilitating and frustrating disorder.

Review by Waqar

I have been an IBS-D patient for the last 15 years. For the first 10 years I was on Lomotil, two tabs in the morning, and it worked but than suddenly stopped working. I contacted my doctor in Canada and he suggested Paxil and clonazepam, 20mg and 0.5mg. It's the thirtieth day of my treatment and I swear to God my IBS-D is 75 per cent cured and my depression which is due to IBS is 100 per cent gone. Paxil is a lifesaver for me and I hope it will further improve my condition.

Review by Ahmed

I feel Paxil really increases the serotonin levels and the gut works fine. I got immediate relief with 20mg Paxil, though 10mg didn't suffice. As soon as I left Paxil I was back into the darkness of IBS. I guess it's a major serotonin issue. But unfortunately if you're sexually active it would diminish your libido. So think before you balance the two.

Review by John

I have suffered from IBS since I was about 29, and I am now almost 53. It has gotten harder to control over time and my tolerance for different foods is worse each year. However, I did find relief with Paxil off and on over the last 10 years or so. When I am on Paxil I seem to be able to eat more things with less negative side effects and I feel less discomfort overall. It is slightly constipating, but that is a benefit to me since otherwise I am running to the bathroom several times a day with mostly gas, mucous, and incomplete evacuation. Paxil seems to reduce this problem although it is not a cure.

I do not believe that Paxil alone works for me and I eat yogurt, take probiotics, watch my diet and take other prescription drugs sometimes as recommended by my doctor, but Paxil definitely helps. I do often try to go without Paxil because of the negative side effects. I don't know if this would apply for women, but for me Paxil definitely reduces sexual response significantly at the 20mg level and above and less so at 10mg. However, at 10mg I don't get the IBS relief as much so it's a balance issue.

Review by Stefanie

I was put on Paxil from the ages of 18 to 23 (I am now 27). It really never helped my IBS but it did help to relive my symptoms of depression and anxiety. In the later years I started noticing severe side effects, including worsening depression and anxiety, irrational behavior, and I even attempted suicide twice. It got so bad I could barely maintain my full-time job.

Finally, I decided to stop taking it cold turkey, which was easier on the extended release tablet, and it was the best decision of my life. I still suffer from IBS (one tiny movement every three to five days) but I take senna, bisacodyl and various bulk laxatives to relieve my symptoms.

As Zelnorm was taken off the market I will look into Amitiza but I am very wary of its long list of side effects, although my symptoms from taking senna for three years are just as bad. I thought I had chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia!

Review by Amanda

I have suffered from IBS-C for at least five years now, and about three months ago my doctor put me on Paxil as a last resort before further studies. It worked! It took about a month to really kick in good, but now I'm normal again and can eat whatever I want, no bloating, no pain, no gas, BM every morning! Five stars and thank you Paxil!

Review by Joe

I am a late 40s male with alternating IBS. Paroxetine for me is useful as part of a broader medications approach. It does seem to flatten the highs and lows that my digestive system goes through every day, and I get my benefits at only 10mg per day (half a tablet) - my gastro calls me a cheap drunk!

On the downside, once you've been on it for a while getting off it can be very difficult (SSRI withdrawal syndrome is nasty, I've experienced it). So, paroxetine is a long-term commitment. I think it doesn't greatly solve IBS on its own but it can improve the effectiveness of the other IBS pills (I am on Colese/Colofac, Lomotil, a restricted diet, probiotics, and vitamin supplements).

Review by Jerry

I am a chronic IBS sufferer and nothing has helped much. For the past month I have been on Paxil and I am feeling much less anxious about the IBS, and other things too. I don't have a feeling of dread and I allow myself to eat out a bit more.

The downside is that Paxil can be constipating and, unfortunately, I have the constipating form of IBS. However, with the Paxil there is much less pain. I have been taking a standard colon cleanser type treatment (the kind you use for a colonoscopy) once a week and after that, with the Paxil, I actually feel pretty good for almost a week.

Obviously, you need to check with a doctor about Paxil. For men there are certain sexual side effects that you need to ask about. I don't know anything about its use with woman. Based on my experience, if nothing else is working for you, I would consider asking your doctor about Paxil.

Review by Linda

I have suffered with IBS for over 20 years. I have been told 'It's only in your head', or 'You're doing this to yourself'. Well, I would not wish this disease on anyone, much less do it to myself!

I use Lomotil, take a half a Paxil every day and have gotten some life back. I can go to work (over 25 miles one way) without fear of having to get to a bathroom fast. There are still some days that I fear I won't get there in time, but not like it used to be. I too left life to remain home except to go to work, no other alternative! I sent my children to the grocery store, or even Wal-Mart because as soon as I would go in a store the gut uneasiness would start and I would have to find the bathroom.

I can now go to the store and walk around and shop, except on occasion when it will flare up. I am interested in the Lotronex and wonder if it would help me. I have been so happy to be constipated, just so I could leave the house. It is so embarrassing and hard for people to understand why you can't join in society.

I can't stand and talk to someone because it seems gravity is pulling it all downhill. Sorry to ramble, but I have felt alone out here with this and just needed to vent.

Do you suffer from IBS? Have you tried Paxil? Please contact Sophie to send in your review.

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