Wellbutrin (bupropion hydrochloride) is an antidepressant. It is used to treat major depressive disorder (known as clinical depression or MDD) or seasonal affective disorder , now known as seasonal major depressive disorder.
The prescription drug is available in tablet form, which includes a sustained-release tablet (Wellbutrin SR) and an extended-release tablet (Wellbutrin XL).
Wellbutrin is also sold under other brand names, including:
- Forvivo XL
It is also available as a generic:
- Bupropion HCL
- Bupropion SR
- Bupropion XL
Wellbutrin and quit smoking
Bupropion hydrochloride is also the active ingredient in Zyban. However, Zyban is used to stop smoking, often in the same or a similar dose.
Wellbutrin differs from other common antidepressants, which are classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs are commonly used to treat depression and other mental health problems. They are often prescribed because they tend to cause fewer side effects than other antidepressants.
SSRIs suppress serotonin reuptake. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that influences the way you experience emotions and mood. By inhibiting serotonin reuptake, SSRIs help increase active serotonin levels in the brain, improving mood and anxiety.
Rather, Wellbutrin is believed to work by affecting the levels of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine. These brain chemicals are also involved in regulating mood, as well as other functions.
FDA-approved uses for Wellbutrin include MDD and seasonal MDD. Symptoms of these disorders include the following.
MDD . People with major depression have some of these symptoms for at least two weeks:
- Feeling overwhelmed or depressed
- Loss of interest in usual activities.
- Appetite changes
- Changes in sleep, including lack of sleep.
- Fatigue, low energy
- Feeling worthless
- Lethargy of thoughts
- Concentration problems
- Suicidal thought
Seasonal MDD – A severe depressive episode with the above symptoms that also recurs constantly at specific times during the year, usually during the dark winter months.
Use not indicated on the label
Wellbutrin is sometimes used incorrectly for the following conditions:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Depression in bipolar disorder
Wellbutrin is less likely than SSRIs to cause loss of libido and other sexual side effects, so it is sometimes used as a substitute for other antidepressants. Some studies also suggest that Wellbutrin can help treat underactive sexual dysfunction in women.
Wellbutrin is only available with a prescription. You should see a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and a prescription. A doctor can evaluate your symptoms and help you decide if Wellbutrin is right for you.
Precautions and contraindications.
Some people need to be careful when taking Wellbutrin, including people who:
- You have a known hypersensitivity to bupropion or any of the inactive ingredients in Wellbutrin.
- You have a seizure disorder.
- You recently stopped taking medications such as benzodiazepines, anticonvulsants, and barbiturates, or drinking alcohol, all of which can cause seizures.
- You have a history of anorexia or bulimia (as this can increase your risk of seizures).
- You are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs; there is a risk of drug interactions).
People with a history of the following should be careful or avoid taking Wellbutrin altogether.
- Bipolar disorder: There is an increased risk of manic, hypomanic or mixed episodes with Wellbutrin.
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure: The medicine can sometimes raise blood pressure.
- Glaucoma: Medicine can make this condition worse in some people.
- History of psychosis
- Liver disease, including cirrhosis.
Your healthcare provider can help you weigh the benefits and risks of taking Wellbutrin. If you have any underlying medical conditions while taking Wellbutrin, they should be closely monitored by a qualified healthcare professional.
Wellbutrin is available in three different forms. The dosage is different for each version:
- Wellbutrin, used to treat MDD, is available in 75 and 100 mg tablets.
- Wellbutrin SR (sustained release), which is used to treat MDD, is available as 100 and 150 mg tablets.
- Wellbutrin XL (extended release), used to treat MDD and seasonal MDD, is available as 150 and 300 mg tablets.
Usually the doctor starts with a lower dose and increases it if necessary until the desired effect is achieved. It can take up to six weeks to fully benefit from treatment; This can vary from person to person. Some symptoms may improve sooner, in a week or two.
|Drug, remedy, medication||State||Initial dose||Subsequent dose||Maximum daily dose|
|Wellbutrin||MDD||100 mg twice daily||100 mg three times a day||450 mg|
|Wellbutrin SR||MDD||150 mg once a day||150 mg twice daily||400 mg|
|Wellbutrin XL||MDD||150 mg once a day||300 mg once a day||450 mg|
|SAD||150 mg once a day||300 mg once a day||450 mg|
Consult your healthcare professional
All these doses are indicated by the manufacturer of the drug. Always check your prescription and talk to your doctor to make sure you are taking the correct dose.
In some cases, such as in people with severe liver or kidney disease, a dose adjustment of Wellbutrin may be necessary.
If you are switching from your MAOI to Wellbutrin, you should stop taking the MAOI 14 days before you start taking Wellbutrin to ensure it is completely eliminated from your body.
How to take and store
You can take Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR, and Wellbutrin XL with or without food. All formulations can be safely stored at room temperature (up to 77 degrees Fahrenheit). If you have any questions about how to take this medicine, ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider.
If you no longer need Wellbutrin, the dose should be gradually reduced to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Never stop taking Wellbutrin or change the dose without first talking to your doctor.
To ensure proper treatment, Wellbutrin should be taken on a regular schedule. Take the tablets 12 hours apart twice a day and 8 hours apart three times a day. Daily doses should be taken at the same time each morning.
Side effects can occur with all antidepressants. It is up to you what side effects you can tolerate. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about side effects and you notice anything that interferes with your daily life.
The most common side effects of Wellbutrin are gastrointestinal. Wellbutrin can also affect the central nervous system and motor function. The following side effects occur in approximately 1-10% of users:
- Stomach ache
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Taste changes
- Loss of concentration
- Soft spot
If side effects persist or get worse, talk to your doctor.
In rare cases, Wellbutrin can cause dangerously high blood pressure or liver failure. These side effects generally occur in people with uncontrolled high blood pressure or pre-existing liver disease.
High blood pressure doesn't always cause symptoms. Your healthcare provider may recommend that you check your blood pressure regularly for this side effect. Possible symptoms include:
- Blood stains in the eyes
- Redness of the face
- Nose bleed
- Strong headache
Symptoms of liver failure can include:
- Yellowing of the skin
- Abdominal pain in the upper right part.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Soft spot
One of the most serious problems with any medication is a hypersensitivity reaction such as anaphylaxis or Stevens-Johnson syndrome .
When to call 911
- Skin rash or hives
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
If left untreated, anaphylaxis can lead to organ failure and death. Seek emergency help if you have these symptoms.
Warnings and interactions
Black box warning : Wellbutrin and other SSRIs have been linked to an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children, adolescents, and young adults under 24 years of age.
Wellbutrin should be used with caution during pregnancy, as studies in animals have shown that it can have adverse effects on the human fetus.
Tell your doctor
Always tell your doctor about your medications and everything else you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medications, dietary or herbal supplements, and recreational medications.
Because Wellbutrin depends on a liver enzyme called cytochrome P2B6 (CYP2B6) for its metabolism, it may interact with other medications that affect the metabolism of CYP2B6. This can affect the level of Wellbutrin and its metabolites in the bloodstream. Also, Wellbutrin can interfere with the metabolism of some other medications. Medications that can potentially interact with Wellbutrin include: