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Good Times with Paxil

Slate has an interesting account of a writer who decided to try taking Paxil to counteract his shyness. Paxil advertisements have touted the drug as a way to overcome "social anxiety discorder" aka bashfulness.

Below are some snippets if you want the condensed version. If not, read the whole article.

Here are the snippets:
Day 4: No longer confined to the couch, but head still buzzing. Feeling totally detached from my surroundings. There's a constant lump in my throat (apparently a common side effect), and the shaking is getting worse. Eating cereal, I spill milk from the spoon before it reaches my mouth. When the doc said tremor, I thought it could be cool—give me a little Katharine Hepburn style. Turns out tremors are not so cool.


Day 8: Delayed orgasm, beyond a reasonable point, is not a good thing. I will say nothing further about this.


Day 25: A pattern is emerging. Since starting on Paxil, I've been drinking like a fish. For some reason, vitamin P combines incredibly well with alcohol. It's more fun to drink than it was before. I want to be drunk every night. I don't get hung over now, and I remain pretty lucid even when sloshed.


Day 29: A literati book party. My first real test, and it's basically a failure. Upon meeting a gaggle of strangers, I still sprout flop sweat all over my torso, just like before. I still can't introduce myself to people I'd like to meet. I still don't know how to talk in big groups.

But then something magical happens. After deciding Paxil is worthless and downing three glasses of wine, I find I want to talk to people. No, it wasn't the alcohol. I drink at parties all the time—and go from standing alone in the corner to standing drunk and alone in the corner. This time, I'm craving conversation. In fact, I want to talk about myself. And in the midst of a lively monologue delivered to a group of four people (previously unimaginable for me), I recognize the feeling: It's like being on ecstasy!


Day 35: Drinking a lot, several nights a week. Liquor + Paxil = Wow!


Sober for me these days means extreme detachment. Movies, once a favorite hobby, do nothing for me now. Likewise books—I just don't connect with the plots or characters. I can't recall laughing (while sober) in the past couple of weeks. I'm never sad, but never happy. Why wouldn't I drink?


Day 45: I stop my treatment. ... my lack of engagement with life is freaking out my girlfriend. And my seismic personality shift when drunk is freaking out me.


Day 49: ... I can't describe how awful it is to be lightheaded for 72 straight hours. ... More alarmingly, the dreaded "zaps" have arrived. I'd read about these on the Paxil Database, a site for self-proclaimed Paxil victims, but I thought they were made up—there are so many hypochondriacs on the Web.

Turns out the zaps are for real. They're hard to describe. Imagine low level electrical shocks all over your head, as though someone removed the top of your skull and dragged a staticky blanket across your brain.


Day 52: It's mercifully over.

Easy to get and only a week's withdrawl to deal with: good time with Paxil.

Paxil woes

glad someone else has experienced these zaps. No one else believed me that I was experiencing these... they lasted for me for about 3 weeks.

re: Paxil woes

Youch!!! Sounds brutal. :{

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