I am not a med professional, but my first question to you would be: who prescribed the Paxil? Was it your family doctor? A specialist? The reason for asking is not to cast any doubt on your doctor, but sometimes med people who are not specialists in the area rely on pharmaceutical reps for information or on advances that may not be current. Perhaps you would feel more confident in taking Paxil if you spoke with a specialist. In any case, you should ask your doctor the questions you are asking here, especially if you want to become pregnant, etc. Do you know what may have triggered your anxiety and panic???
For some people meds, in general, and Paxil, in particular, may be effective but different people may react to meds in different ways. Did your doctor tell you why s/he is prescribing Paxil rather than a different med? You are correct that some people do not take meds, some take meds to bridge their episodes of anxiety and recovery, and some choose to take meds to manage their anxiety as a lifetime commitment. Each of us is unique and we make these decisions based on our own situation. There is no right or wrong. I am not saying that your friend who is a psych nurse is giving you a bad recommendation; all I am saying is that her success with Paxil may or may not be yours.
So, for me, you need to consider another chat with your prescribing doctor including your concerns about all the issues that you raised in your posting . . . . then you can make an informed decision as to what is best for you . . . I so understand how stressful this has to be in making the decision, but there really is no way that I know of that can answer your questions of whether taking meds will make the situation worse or make you put on weight, etc. because it is the not knowing that adds to the anxiety . . .
Sorry I could not be of more help but I am sure that there are many, many posters to this forum who have more in-depth experience and knowledge so please check back . . . anyone who posts here will do their best to support you . . .take care, kc