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Paxil vs Xanax: Which Is The Better Anxiolytic?

Anxiety is an issue everyone deals with at some point in their lives. You can have anxiety before taking an exam or before going for an interview.

However, anxiety becomes a worrying issue when you are always feeling uncomfortable, disturbed, and on the edge; carrying out daily chores without worry seems like an impossible task. This is when anti-anxiety pills play their role and you start comparing Paxil vs Xanax the most commonly prescribed drugs for anxiety, depression, OCD, and PTSD.

Nevertheless, anxiolytic medicines come with many side effects which makes it all the more important to choose the right medicine to treat your symptoms.

Table of Content

How Does Paxil Work?

Paxil or paroxetine is a long-acting drug and a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. It increases the amount of serotonin aka ‘feel-good hormone’ in the brain.

Paxil treat the following issues

  • General anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Depression
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

How Does Xanax Work?

Xanax or alprazolam is a benzodiazepine that increases the amount of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain producing a calming effect.

Xanax has the quickest onset of action (5-10 minutes) amongst the benzodiazepines. It is a fast-acting drug with a relatively short duration of action (2-3hrs).

Xanax is used for treating

  • Panic Disorder
  • Anxiety Disorders

When you are comparing Paxil vs Xanax, the implications may seems limited. however, the outcome rate of Xanax will surprise you.

Paxil Side Effects

  • Abnormal ejaculation
  • Abnormal vision
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Constipation
  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased sexual appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Female genital disorder
  • Gas
  • Impaired concentration
  • Impotence
  • Indigestion
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle twitching
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Painful period
  • Sweating
  • Throat inflammation
  • Trauma
  • Tremor
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Yawning

Xanax Side Effects

  • Blurry vision
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fainting
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Headache
  • Increased salivation
  • Lightheadedness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Nasal congestion
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Skin irritation/allergy
  • Tremor
  • Weight gain
  • Weight loss

Paxil vs Xanax: How Does Paxil differ from Xanax?

Yes, the Paxil side effects list already told the difference between these two Anxiolytic drugs. Paxil is more effective than Xanax in treating depression and anxiety but causes more side effects than it.

Xanax is quicker in response than Paxil to treat short-term anxiety and panic attacks. However, the withdrawal syndrome of Xanax is more than any other benzodiazepine drug.

Along with pills, extended release capsules, and liquid Xanax comes as dissolving tablet too. This form of dosage is not available for Paxil.

Xanax, on the other hand, is cheaper than Paxil and causes less severe side effects like drowsiness, tiredness, memory problems, headache, nausea, vomiting. It gives an almost immediate effect which is required when you’re anxious about something. I mean, what’s the point of taking a drug if it’s not going to make you feel better when you need it to.

What is good about Paxil?

Paxil reduces the uptake of serotonin in the body and increases the level of serotonin in the body, it helps in improving your mood, appetite, energy level and overall helps restore daily lifestyle.

It also helps in re-establishing your messed-up sleep routine. Paxil also decreases fear and the number of panic attacks; all of which are major problems when you’re dealing with anxiety.

paxil vs xanax

Since Paxil is a long-acting drug, it can take several weeks to be effective. This gives Paxil an added advantage of having a reduced risk of developing drug dependency.

What is good about Xanax?

Xanax slows down the nervous system which brings tranquility and relaxes your body. The relaxing feeling helps people sleep peacefully which is a rising concern for people suffering from chronic anxiety.

It is more effective if it’s taken between 45 minutes to 2 hours before sleeping. Xanax also helps you pay attention, focus, and concentrate.

paxil vs xanax

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Downsides of Paxil

Along with numerous side effects, Paxil have some downside too. Whne you are comparing Paxil vs Xanax, these factors should be considered thoroughly.

Serotonin syndrome

Serotonin syndrome is a serious complication that can occur often when you’re taking Paxil for a long time increasing the level of serotonin in the body to a toxic level. It can cause shivering, confusion, twitching of muscles, hypertension, tremor, etc. Discontinuing Paxil or any other offending agents will eventually solve the problem.

However, sometimes it’s difficult to realize the cause behind your symptoms which can cause more severe symptoms like high fever, slurred speech, agitation, and abnormal bowel sounds. Severe symptoms as such is a hospital emergency so if you’re experiencing any of the above, please contact the nearest hospital and discontinue any medications you’re taking.

Reduce Libido

Paxil can reduce your libido for being intimate with your partner. Patients who are using Paxil for long time feels less interest on sexual activities.

Moroever, the drug sometimes cause premature ejaculation for male. In some severe cases, the ejaculation can be stopped.

Suicidal Thoughts

Like any other antidepressent, Paxil can trigger suicidal thought especially in adolescents and children. Thus, it is essential to consult a doctor while you have an underaged depression patient.

Deteriorate Dementia

If you already have dementia or age sixty or more, Paxil can make things worse for you. Typically, doctors do not recommend it for aged people. However, if it is necessary for your condition let your physician be the judge of it.

Downsides of Xanax

Whne you are comparing Paxil vs Xanax, both the drugs has downsides that needs to be considered before starting them to treat anxiety. One of the concernining downside of Xanax is it’s habit-forming nature.

Liver Issues

Your liver can be affected by Xanax severely. Thus, if you have any pre-existing liver issues, it’s better to talk to your doctor before starting Xanax.

Withdrawl Symptoms

You may endure a wide range of withdrawl symptoms after the last dose of Xanax. Typically, the symptoms show up with 1 hour of the last dose; however, they will reach the peak of severity with 1 to 4 days.

The symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Blurred vision
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Heart palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle pain
  • Numb fingers
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Sweating
  • Tremors

Memory Problem and Confusion

Sometimes, Xanax can make you feel confused and you ay end up forgetting things. Some patients has also reported drowsiness and diziness.

Xanax addiction

Xanax addiction is a very common but alarming condition. You might be taking Xanax just as prescribed and still get addicted by developing tolerance.

Signs and symptoms include delirium, cognitive impairment, drowsiness, impaired coordination, etc.

How to Avoid Xanax Addiction?

Beacuse of its wide spread use and quick response time, long time Xanax user get used to with it and it leads to addiction. I have rounded up some tipe so that you can tapper the drug without being addicted to it.

Conjugate Xanax intake with therapy

Xanax intake without therapy has a high risk of developing an addiction. Anxiety can be decreased drastically by sharing your fears and thoughts with a counselor. So, don’t hesitate to talk to someone about therapy before you start comparing Paxil vs Xanax.

Take Xanax on an “as needed” basis

Take the pill only as prescribed or when there’s no way to avoid taking the drug. Consult your doctor as soon as the medicine is over to change the drug. Don’t take any extra pills.

Taper off when done

Don’t stop taking the medicine abruptly. Decrease the dose with time and stop gradually. This way, you won’t experience any of the withdrawal symptoms and extra urge for going back to taking the drug.

Use generic or extended-release Xanax

Many psychiatrists suggest that neither Paxil nor Xanax has a take on anxiety. Generic or slow-release Xanax increases the duration of action reducing the constant requirement of the drug. Thus, reducing the chance of abuse or addiction.

Don’t stop taking the drug when you feel good

Continue taking the drug just because you feel good and relieved of anxiety. Complete the dosing schedule as prescribed but don’t take any extra pills either.

Don’t miss any dose

This is something you have to be careful with no matter which antidepressants or anti-anxiety medicine but particularly with Xanax since it’s a highly addictive drug.

When you miss a dose, there’s a high chance that you’re going to feel more anxious than you usually do and end up taking a higher dose than required. This will lead to tolerance and hence, addiction.

Thhings to Avoid While Taking Xanax

Xanax can also cause adverse drug reactions when not taken with precautions. Before you complete the comparison between Paxil vs Xanax consider the things to avoid when taking Xanax-

Avoid alcohol consumption

Even a little bit of alcohol consumption can cause major drug reactions as alcohol causes central nervous system depression and so does Xanax. It can cause severe symptoms and even coma.

avoid alcohol while comparing Paxil vs Xanax

Avoid drinking grapefruit drinks

Grapefruit juice or grape-containing drinks affects liver enzymes reducing Xanax metabolism and hence increasing the duration of action of stay of Xanax in the body.

Don’t take Xanax during pregnancy

Avoid taking the drug during the second and third trimester of pregnancy as it will cause withdrawal symptoms in the baby.

Avoid smoking or drugs like marijuana

The cause behind the effect hasn’t been identified yet but some harmful effects have been recorded when they are mixed in high doses.

Avoid caffeinated drinks

This causes a very mild reaction but if you’re taking Xanax to help you sleep then it’s best to avoid coffee or caffeinated drinks as caffeine will oppose the purpose of taking Xanax.

How effective is combining the two drugs?

If you have symptoms of depression and anxiety associated with depression, some doctors might prescribe both Paxil and Xanax for better effect. However, it depends on what works best for you.

For some, the combination of both drugs at a low dose works best where Paxil is given as a maintenance dose and Xanax for acute reactions. Some may find only either drug to be helpful. Discuss your symptoms and the effect of your drug with your doctor to continue.


What is better than Paxil for anxiety?

There are a few options that work better than Paxil. Selective Norepinephrine Inhibitors (SNRIs) can also treat generalized anxiety just like Paxil. Drugs like Effexor XR (venlafaxine) and Cymbalta (duloxetine) are included in the SNRIs group.

Can Paxil and Xanax be taken at the same time?

Taking Paxil and Xanax cannot be a good idea. The combined effect can increase the side effects like confusion, lack of concentration, drowsiness, or dizziness. Aged people may suffer severe motor coordination or judgment impairment.

Is Paxil a good medication for anxiety?

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Yes, Paxil is an FDA-approved medication for anxiety. Despite some side effects, Paxil is highly effective against panic disorder, anxiety disorder, or social phobia.

Does Paxil calm you down?

Drugs like Paxil falls into the Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) group. Medications in these groups may improve neuroticism and lower the extraversion levels that will calm any person with depression.


The real question is not Paxil vs Xanax but what works best for you. Both the drugs come with their share of advantages and disadvantages but which is the better anxiolytic will vary for every individual.

If a basic outline is to be given, Xanax is the better choice of drug, if taken properly, for combatting anxiety. However, it will vary for every individual so a doctor’s discretion is required.

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