Depression is more common in women with breast cancer than the general population. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a group of antidepressants, are widely used for the treatment of patients with depression and a range of anxiety-related disorders. The association between the use of antidepressant medication and breast cancer is controversial. In this study, we investigated whether and how SSRIs induce the death of human breast cancer MCF-7 cells. Of the antidepressants tested in this study (amitriptyline, bupropion, fluoxetine, paroxetine, and tianeptine), paroxetine most reduced the viability of MCF-7 cells in a time-and dose-dependent manner. The exposure of MCF-7 cells to paroxetine resulted in mitochondrion-mediated apoptosis, which is assessed by increase in the number of cells with sub-G1 DNA content, caspase-8/9 activation, poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage, and Bax/Bcl-2 ratio and a reduction in the mitochondrial membrane potential. Paroxetine increased a generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), intracellular Ca2+ levels, and p38 MAPK activation. The paroxetine-induced apoptotic events were reduced by ROS scavengers and p38 MAPK inhibitor, and the paroxetine's effect was dependent on extracellular Ca2+ level. Paroxetine also showed a synergistic effect on cell death induced by chemotherapeutic drugs in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells. Our results showed that paroxetine induced apoptosis of human breast cancer MCF-7 cells through extracellular Ca2+-and p38 MAPK-dependent ROS generation. These results suggest that paroxetine may serve as an anticancer adjuvant to current cancer therapies for breast cancer patients with or without depression.