Paxil and Weight Gain: What to Know

Paxil, also known as paroxetine as the generic, is an antidepressant medication in the class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It’s used for depression, anxiety disorders, and other mental health conditions. While it can effectively treat these conditions, like most medications, Paxil has side effects that can affect both physical and mental health. One of the less common side effects of Paxil is weight gain. 

If you’ve recently started taking Paxil (or you’re considering starting it), you should be aware of the possibility of gaining weight and why it happens.

Read on — we’re exploring Paxil weight gain here. Then, you can make more informed decisions about your treatment plan.

Does Paxil Cause Weight Gain?

Not everyone who takes Paxil will see an increase in weight. In clinical trials, about 1% of participants experienced weight gain. The amount of potential Paxil weight gain depends on factors like dosage, how long you’re on Paxil and individual metabolism. 

It’s even possible for people taking Paxil to experience weight loss or maintain their current body weight while on the medication. That said, some research suggests Paxil is more likely to cause weight gain than other SSRIs

“Paxil may cause weight gain. It is not common, but possible. Please speak with your doctor if you have any concerns.”

– Talkspace psychiatrist Dr. Dion Metzger
How much weight do you gain on Paxil?

Some research shows that the longer you’re on Paxil — longer than 6 months — the more likely you will gain weight. The amount you’ll gain can vary, and even research conflicts on this point. There isn’t one consistent set of rules about Paxil and weight gain.  

Why Do You Gain Weight on Paxil?

Increased appetite, a consequence of Paxil’s effect on serotonin levels in the brain, might be one of the primary causes of weight gain from Paxil. 

Furthermore, its soothing effects and fatigue may cause some people to become less active, which can contribute significantly to gaining extra pounds over time. 

Lastly, water retention due to Paxil intake can temporarily add body weight without any fat accumulation. This type of “false” weight gain should resolve once you discontinue the medication or adjust your dosage according to your doctor’s instructions.

Does Paxil Cause More Weight Gain Than Prozac?

Research suggests that Paxil can cause significantly more weight gain than Prozac. In fact, in some studies, people who took Prozac or Zoloft only saw a “modest but non-significant” increase in weight in comparison.

How to Avoid Gaining Weight on Paxil

Simple lifestyle changes like eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly can reduce the risk of Paxil weight gain.  


Exercise is an effective way to maintain healthy body weight and counteract any potential weight gain from an antidepressant medication like Paxil. Regular exercise helps burn calories, which prevents fat storage in the body. Exercise also releases endorphins, which reduces stress and improves moods naturally. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, 5 days a week for optimal health benefits when taking antidepressants like Paxil.

“The best way to help reduce the weight gain associated with Paxil is with lifestyle changes. These changes include eating healthier and incorporating physical activity into your weekly routine.”

– Talkspace psychiatrist Dr. Dion Metzger
Monitoring your eating habits

Eating healthy foods can prevent you from putting on those unwanted pounds. Whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, and vegetables will give your body all the nutrients it needs while keeping unhealthy cravings at bay. Avoiding processed foods that are high in sugar or saturated fats can reduce caloric intake and help keep off extra pounds associated with antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication.

Tracking your weight

Tracking your progress by weighing yourself regularly is another great tool for avoiding gaining too much weight while taking a prescription medication like Paxil. Weighing yourself once a week will allow you to recognize if changes are happening quickly, so adjustments can be made accordingly.

Adjusting the dose

If you feel weight gain from Paxil is excessive due to your medication, talk with your doctor to receive proper medical advice. They may suggest adjusting or changing doses until a proper balance has been achieved. Just try to avoid quitting cold turkey, as this can result in Paxil withdrawal.  

Talk to Your Doctor About Paxil Side Effects

You should always discuss the side effects and potential symptoms of any drug you’re considering taking with your doctor. Paxil weight gain is not a guarantee, but it is a possible side effect. Before taking this or any drug, ask your doctor about potential weight-related issues and how it can be avoided. 

At Talkspace, we understand the importance of discussing side effects from drugs like Paxil before starting them — especially when it’s related to physical health, such as gaining weight. Our licensed prescribers are ready and willing to answer questions regarding mental health concerns, treatment plans, or getting Paxil online, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us today to get started with living your life to its fullest. Get connected with an online psychiatrist today.


PAXIL- paroxetine hydrochloride tablet, film coated . U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed March 26, 2023. 

Deshmukh R, Franco K. Managing weight gain as a side effect of antidepressant therapy. CLEVELAND CLINIC JOURNAL OF MEDICINE . 2003;7(7):614-623. Accessed March 26, 2023.

Fava M. Weight gain and antidepressants. J Clin Psychiatry. 2000;61(11):37-41. Accessed March 26, 2023. 

Nevels R, Gontkovsky S, Williams B. Paroxetine—The Antidepressant from Hell? Probably Not, But Caution Required. Psychopharmacol Bull . 2016;46(1):77-104. Accessed March 26, 2023.

Anderson LA. Does Prozac cause weight gain or loss? Published February 17, 2023. Accessed March 26, 2023. 

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