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Paxil vs. Zoloft: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 20, 2023
Paxil (paroxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline) are both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) but are used to treat different conditions.

Key Differences

Paxil and Zoloft are both medications that fall under the category of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These are antidepressants designed to influence serotonin levels in the brain. Both Paxil and Zoloft have been approved by the FDA and are prescribed by healthcare professionals for the treatment of various mood disorders.
Although both Paxil and Zoloft operate as SSRIs, they are not identical drugs. Paxil, known by its generic name as paroxetine, is often prescribed for conditions such as depression, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder. Zoloft, on the other hand, with the generic name sertraline, is commonly prescribed for depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder, among others.
The side effects of Paxil and Zoloft may also differ slightly. While many of the side effects overlap due to their similar mechanism of action, patients might experience unique side effects depending on their individual reactions to each drug. It's essential for patients to discuss potential side effects with their healthcare provider.
Furthermore, the ideal dosage and method of administration can differ between Paxil and Zoloft. Both medications require a prescription and should be taken under the guidance of a healthcare professional. As with any medication, it's crucial for patients to adhere to the recommended dosage and be aware of potential drug interactions.
In conclusion, while Paxil and Zoloft are both SSRIs and have similar mechanisms of action, they are distinct medications with unique applications, side effects, and dosing recommendations.

Comparison Chart

Generic Name


Common Uses

Depression, panic disorder, social anxiety
Depression, OCD, panic disorder, social anxiety


Tablet, liquid, extended-release tablet
Tablet, liquid

Typical Starting Dose

10-20 mg
25-50 mg

Common Side Effects

Drowsiness, dizziness, sweating
Drowsiness, nausea, dry mouth

Paxil and Zoloft Definitions


Used to treat mood disorders.
She's been taking Paxil to manage her depression symptoms.


Used for treating depression and OCD.
Doctors recommend Zoloft for both depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.


An SSRI antidepressant medication.
My doctor prescribed Paxil for my anxiety.


An antidepressant in the SSRI class.
Zoloft has helped many with their depressive symptoms.


Known generically as paroxetine.
Is paroxetine the same as Paxil?


Can lead to side effects like nausea.
She experienced some nausea after her first dose of Zoloft.


Can treat panic and social anxiety disorders.
He started Paxil therapy for his panic attacks.


Known generically as sertraline.
Sertraline is the generic form of Zoloft.


Might cause side effects like drowsiness.
I felt drowsy after starting Paxil.


Effective for panic and social anxiety disorders.
After taking Zoloft, her social anxiety improved.


A selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor commonly prescribed as an antidepressant (trade name Paxil)


A selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor commonly prescribed as an antidepressant (trade name Zoloft)


Which drug is more effective, Paxil or Zoloft?

Effectiveness varies by individual and condition; a doctor should be consulted.

Are Paxil and Zoloft the same medication?

No, while both are SSRIs, Paxil is paroxetine and Zoloft is sertraline.

Are there generic versions available for these drugs?

Yes, paroxetine is the generic for Paxil and sertraline is the generic for Zoloft.

What are the main conditions treated by Paxil?

Paxil treats depression, panic disorder, and social anxiety, among others.

Is weight gain a side effect of Paxil or Zoloft?

Both medications can cause weight changes, but it varies by individual.

Between Paxil and Zoloft, which is newer?

Zoloft (approved in 1991) is newer than Paxil (approved in 1992).

Are Paxil and Zoloft addictive?

They aren't considered addictive, but stopping abruptly can cause withdrawal symptoms.

Can I switch from Paxil to Zoloft without consulting a doctor?

No, always consult a healthcare professional before making changes to medication.

How quickly can one expect results from Zoloft?

It might take several weeks to notice full benefits.

Can children take Paxil or Zoloft?

Some conditions in children might be treated with these, but always consult a pediatrician.

Is drowsiness common with Zoloft?

Drowsiness can occur but isn't the most common side effect.

Can Zoloft be used for obsessive-compulsive disorder?

Yes, Zoloft is prescribed for obsessive-compulsive disorder.

What are common side effects of Paxil?

Drowsiness, dizziness, and sweating are common side effects.

Can I consume alcohol while on Zoloft?

Alcohol can intensify the side effects of Zoloft; discuss with a doctor.

Is Zoloft safe for seniors?

While Zoloft can be prescribed to seniors, dosages and monitoring might differ.

How should Paxil be stored?

Store Paxil at room temperature away from moisture.

Can Zoloft be used during pregnancy?

Consult a healthcare professional as it carries risks.

How long do I need to be on Paxil?

Duration varies by individual and condition; consult with a healthcare professional.

Are there any foods to avoid while taking Zoloft?

Some foods might interact; it's best to discuss with a pharmacist or doctor.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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