Wellbutrin (bupropion hydrochloride) is an antidepressant drug. It’s used to treat major depressive disorder (known as clinical depression or MDD) or seasonal affective disorder, now known as major depressive disorder with a seasonal pattern.
The prescription drug is available in tablet form, including 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’s also available as a generic as:
- Bupropion HCL
- Bupropion SR
- Bupropion XL
Wellbutrin is distinct from other common antidepressants, which are classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs are typically used to treat depression and other mental health issues. They’re frequently prescribed because they tend to produce fewer side effects than other antidepressants.
SSRIs inhibit serotonin reuptake. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in how you experience emotions and moods. By inhibiting serotonin reuptake, SSRIs help increase active serotonin levels in the brain, improving moodand anxiety.
By contrast, Wellbutrin is thought to act by influencing levels of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine. These brain chemicals are also involved in the regulation of mood as well as other functions.
The FDA-approved uses for Wellbutrin include MDD and seasonal MDD. The symptoms of these disorders include the following.
MDD. People with major depression have several of these symptoms for at least two weeks:
- Feeling low or depressed
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Changes in appetite
- Sleep changes, including poor sleep
- Fatigue, low energy
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Sluggishness of thoughts
- Concentration problems
- Suicidal thinking
Seasonal MDD: A major depressive episode with the symptoms above that also consistently recurs at particular times during the year, usually during the dark winter months.
Wellbutrin is sometimes used off-label for the following conditions:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Depression in bipolar disorder
Wellbutrin is less likely than SSRIs to cause a loss of libido and other sexual side effects, so it’s sometimes used as a replacement for other antidepressants. Some studies also suggest that Wellbutrin may help treat hypoactive sexual disorder in women.
Wellbutrin is only available via prescription. You need to see a qualified health professional to get a diagnosis and a prescription. A healthcare provider can evaluate your symptoms and help you decide whether Wellbutrin is right for you.
Precautions and Contraindications
Some people need to be careful when taking Wellbutrin, including people who:
- Have a known hypersensitivity to bupropion or any inactive ingredient in Wellbutrin
- Have a seizure disorder
- Have recently stopped taking drugs like benzodiazepine, anticonvulsants, and barbiturates, or consuming alcohol, all of which can trigger seizures
- Have a prior history of anorexia or bulimia (because it can increase the risk of seizures)
- Are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs; there is a risk of a drug interaction)
People with a history of the following should be cautious when taking Wellbutrin or avoid it altogether.
- Bipolar disorder: There’s a heightened risk of experiencing manic, hypomanic, or mixed episodes when taking Wellbutrin.
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure: The drug can occasionally increase blood pressure.
- Glaucoma: The drug can worsen this condition 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 conditions, they should be closely monitored by a qualified healthcare provider while you are taking Wellbutrin.
Wellbutrin is available in three different formulations. Dosing is different for each version:
- Wellbutrin, used for the treatment of MDD, is available as 75-milligram (mg) and 100-mg tablets.
- Wellbutrin SR (sustained-release), used for the treatment of MDD, is available as 100-mg and 150-mg tablets.
- Wellbutrin XL (extended-release), used for the treatment of MDD and seasonal MDD, is available as 150-mg and 300-mg tablets.
Typically, a healthcare provider will start you off on a lower dose and increase as needed until the desired effect is achieved. It can take up to six weeks to feel the full benefit of treatment—this may vary depending on the person. Some symptoms may improve sooner, within a week or two.
|Drug||Condition||Starting Dose||Subsequent Dose||Maximum Daily Dose|
|Wellbutrin||MDD||100 mg twice daily||100 mg three times daily||450 mg|
|Wellbutrin SR||MDD||150 mg once daily||150 mg twice daily||400 mg|
|Wellbutrin XL||MDD||150 mg once daily||300 mg once daily||450 mg|
|SAD||150 mg once daily||300 mg once daily||450 mg|
Check With Your Healthcare Provider
All these dosages are from the drug manufacturer. Always check your prescription and talk to your healthcare provider to make sure you are taking the right dose for you.
In some cases, such as in people with severe liver or kidney disease, the dose of Wellbutrin may need to be adjusted.
If you’re replacing your MAOI drug with Wellbutrin, you need to stop taking the MAOI 14 days before starting Wellbutrin to make sure it’s entirely out of your body.
How to Take and Store
You can take Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR, and Wellbutrin XL with or without food. All formulations can be stored safely at room temperature (up to 77 degrees F). If you have any questions about how to take the drug, ask your pharmacist or healthcare provider.
If you no longer need Wellbutrin, thedose should be gradually taperedto avoid withdrawal symptoms. Never stop taking Wellbutrin or change the dose without first speaking with your healthcare provider.
To ensure proper treatment, Wellbutrin needs to be taken on a consistent schedule. Take the tablets 12 hours apart for twice-daily dosing and eight hours apart for thrice-daily dosing. Once-daily doses should be taken at the same time every morning.
Side effects can happen with all antidepressants. It’s up to you to decide what side effects you feel you can tolerate. Talk with your healthcare provider if you’re concerned about side effects and notice any that are interfering with your day-to-day 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 happen in about 1% to 10% of users:
- Stomach upset
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Changes in taste
- Loss of concentration
If side effects don’t go away or get worse, talk to your healthcare provider.
In rare cases, Wellbutrin can cause dangerously high blood pressure or liver failure. These side effects usually happen in people with uncontrolled high blood pressure or existing liver disease.
High blood pressure doesn’t always produce symptoms. Your healthcare provider may recommend regularly checking your blood pressure to check for this side effect. Possible symptoms include:
- Blood spots in the eyes
- Face flushing
- Severe headache
Symptoms of liver failure may include:
- Yellowing of the skin
- Abdominal pain on the upper-right side
- Nausea and vomiting
One of the most serious concerns when taking any drug is a hypersensitive reaction, such as anaphylaxis or Stevens-Johnson syndrome.
When to Call 911
Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include:
- Skin rash or hives
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
Left untreated, anaphylaxis can lead to organ failure and death.Seek emergency help if you experience 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, teens, and young adults under the age of 24.
Wellbutrin should be used with caution during pregnancy, as animal studies have suggested that it may have adverse effects on the human fetus.
Tell Your Healthcare Provider
Always tell your healthcare provider about the medications and anything else you’re taking, including prescription or over-the-counter drugs, nutritional or herbal supplements, and recreational drugs.
Because Wellbutrin relies on a liver enzyme called cytochrome P2B6 (CYP2B6) for metabolism, it may interact with other drugs that impact CYP2B6 metabolism. This can affect the levels of Wellbutrin and its metabolites in your bloodstream. In addition, Wellbutrin can affect the metabolism of certain other drugs. Drugs that can potentially interact with Wellbutrin include:
- Tegretol (carbamazepine)
- Lotrimin (clotrimazole)
- Cough suppressant (dextromethorphan)
- Sustiva (efavirenz)
- Luvox (fluvoxamine)
- Viracept (nelfinavir)
- Prozac (fluoxetine)
- Paxil (paroxetine)
- Luminal (phenobarbital)
- Dilantin (phenytoin)
- Rifadin (rifampicin)
- Norvir (ritonavir)
- Zoloft (sertraline)
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Wellbutrin XL: Highlights of prescribing information.
Cleveland Clinic. Depression.
Ng QX. A systematic review of the use of bupropion for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder in children and adolescents. J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2017;27(2):112-116. doi:10.1089/cap.2016.0124
Bolduan A J, Hass DM. A systematic review of the use of bupropion for hypoactive sexual desire disorder in premenopausal women. Journal of Woman’s Reproductive Health. 2014;1(1). doi:10.14302/issn.2381-862X.jwrh-14-546
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Wellbutrin (bupropion hydrochloride) tablets.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Wellbutrin SR.
American Heart Association. What are the symptoms of high blood pressure.
American Liver Foundation. The progression of liver disease.
Armstrong C. ACOG guidelines on psychiatric medication use during pregnancy and lactation. AFP.
National Alliance on Mental Illness. Bupropion (Wellbutrin).
By Steph Coelho
Steph Coelho is a freelance health writer, web producer, and editor based in Montreal. She specializes in covering general wellness and chronic illness.
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Wellbutrin is thought to have comparable effects to other antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which makes it a good option if other medications have proved to be ineffective for your needs.Why Wellbutrin is the best antidepressant? ›
Bupropion is an ideal medication for the treatment of depression as it works by inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine and helps balance out the neurotransmitter imbalance that causes depression.Who is a good candidate for Wellbutrin? ›
An antidepressant that tends to be stimulating such as Wellbutrin (bupropion) may be helpful for someone with a vegetative depression or someone who seems to have no energy—but could be the wrong choice for someone living with an anxiety disorder in addition to depression.What is the downside of Wellbutrin? ›
Adverse reactions commonly encountered in subjects treated with WELLBUTRIN are agitation, dry mouth, insomnia, headache/migraine, nausea/vomiting, constipation, tremor, dizziness, excessive sweating, blurred vision, tachycardia, confusion, rash, hostility, cardiac arrhythmia, and auditory disturbance.Is Wellbutrin better for anxiety or depression? ›
While Wellbutrin is typically used in the treatment of depression, research tells us that it can help to reduce anxiety. One study², in particular, found that bupropion significantly improved anxiety scores in patients.What is the success rate of Wellbutrin? ›
Wellbutrin has an average rating of 6.9 out of 10 from a total of 499 reviews for the treatment of Depression. 61% of reviewers reported a positive experience, while 21% reported a negative experience.Why does Wellbutrin make me feel happy? ›
However, since Wellbutrin affects the “feel-good” brain neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, it is sometimes taken to achieve a stimulant-like high. When Wellbutrin is taken in high doses or in dangerous ways, such as intravenously, it may act similarly to a stimulant, such as Adderall or cocaine.Does Wellbutrin put you in a good mood? ›
Bupropion is a medication that treats depression. It helps regulate your mood by increasing norepinephrine and dopamine hormones in your brain. The brand name of this medication is Wellbutrin®.Will Wellbutrin help me focus better? ›
In this case, Wellbutrin has been approved to treat depression, and scientific studies 1, 2, 3 have shown that it might help improve concentration, focus, and other symptoms of ADHD for patients aged 18 and older.Who is not a good candidate for Wellbutrin? ›
Bupropion should not be used by people who have a seizure disorder or an eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia.
Those taking Wellbutrin lost an average of 13 lbs (5.8 kg) in 12 weeks compared to 6 lbs (2.8 kg) in the placebo group. 57% of patients taking Wellbutrin lost 5% or more of their weight compared to only 28% in the placebo group.Why do psychiatrists prescribe Wellbutrin? ›
Bupropion, sold under the brand name Wellbutrin, is an FDA-approved medication for treating major depressive disorder in adults, seasonal affective disorder, and smoking cessation. The medication can also be used to treat other mental disorders, such as ADHD.Is Wellbutrin hard on your heart? ›
Although bupropion possesses a low risk of cardiovascular complications, the risk is increased if the patient has: Heart disease. High blood pressure. Previous heart attack.Does Wellbutrin give you energy like Adderall? ›
Unlike stimulant drugs that kick in almost immediately, Wellbutrin takes several days for most patients to notice the effects. Does Wellbutrin give you energy? With the increase of dopamine that Wellbutrin provides, some patients may experience a boost of energy and motivation while taking Wellbutrin.Is Wellbutrin worse for anxiety? ›
Can Wellbutrin worsen your anxiety symptoms? If you live with an anxiety disorder, it's not uncommon to experience increased anxiety symptoms shortly after you start taking Wellbutrin. These symptoms can be mild, or in rare cases, they may be severe enough to feel mimic or cause a panic attack.What does it feel like when Wellbutrin starts working? ›
Official answer. You may notice an improvement in your sleep, energy and appetite in the first week or two of taking Wellbutrin and this can be an important sign that the drug is working.How does Wellbutrin make you feel at first? ›
During the first week or two of taking Wellbutrin, you may experience headaches, dry mouth, nausea, dizziness, insomnia, constipation, sore throat, and a fast heartbeat. Other common side effects for Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR, and Wellbutrin XL can include: Abdominal pain. Anxiety.What type of anxiety does Wellbutrin treat? ›
Specific types of anxiety disorders that Wellbutrin can be helpful include: Generalized anxiety disorder. Social anxiety disorder. Panic disorder.How long can you stay on Wellbutrin? ›
Wellbutrin is primarily prescribed for treating major depressive disorder (MDD) and seasonal affective disorder. It can also be prescribed to help with quitting smoking. In this instance, treatment typically lasts for up to 12 weeks.How long should you take Wellbutrin for depression? ›
Under American Psychiatric Association guidelines, if you are taking an antidepressant for your first depressive episode, you should stay on it for at least 4 or 5 months after your symptoms of depression stop.
- Risk of seizures.
- Agitation, hostility, aggressiveness, unusual behavioral changes.
- Depressed mood.
Prevalence of Emotional Blunting
Unlike the others, Wellbutrin does not target a chemical transmitter in the brain—known as serotonin—that all of the other drugs so. 4 What this suggests is the inhibition of serotonin may be one of the prime causes of emotional blunting.
Although this is beneficial for someone who's depressed, for someone who does not have depression, taking antidepressant medication can cause serotonin to build up in the body, resulting in serotonin syndrome. When serotonin levels are too high, the person may experience symptoms like: Agitation or restlessness.Can you drink caffeine with Wellbutrin? ›
Wellbutrin may interact with caffeine. Consuming too much caffeine while taking Wellbutrin can increase the risk of seizures. Your doctor will likely recommend limiting how much caffeine you consume during your Wellbutrin treatment.What mood disorders does Wellbutrin treat? ›
It is approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD), seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and to help people quit smoking (smoking cessation). Symptoms of depression include: Depressed mood - feeling sad, empty, or tearful.Why does Wellbutrin work so well? ›
Wellbutrin is a type of antidepressant medication known as a norepinephrine/dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI). NDRIs work by boosting the levels of norepinephrine and dopamine (two types of neurotransmitters, or molecules, in your brain that send messages between nerves) in your brain.Why is Wellbutrin energizing? ›
For people with depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Wellbutrin can be energizing and motivating. That's because it helps to increase the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which is in part responsible for the body's “fight or flight” response to anxiety-provoking events.Does Wellbutrin give you racing thoughts? ›
Some people have anxiety-related symptoms, such as restlessness or agitation, shortly after starting Wellbutrin. Because these symptoms may be related to the dosage of your medication, speak with your doctor if you're feeling anxious after starting Wellbutrin.Does Wellbutrin affect the brain long term? ›
Other long-term side effects of Wellbutrin include new or worsening mental health problems. Examples of mental health problems that may continue after stopping this drug include hallucinations, paranoia, and confusion. These side effects may resolve after your doctor lowers your dose or stops your treatment.What is the most energizing antidepressant? ›
Prozac (fluoxetine) and Wellbutrin (bupropion) are examples of “energizing” antidepressants; whereas Paxil (paroxetine) and Celexa (citalopram) tend to be more sedating.
Several studies have compared Zoloft to Wellbutrin to see if one was better than the other. Many clinical studies have found no significant difference in effectiveness between SSRIs, like Zoloft, and Wellbutrin.What is the best and safest antidepressant? ›
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)
- Fluoxetine (Prozac)
- Paroxetine (Paxil)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
Wellbutrin XL should be taken once daily in the morning. If Wellbutrin causes you to have trouble sleeping, make sure you don't take your dose too close to bedtime. If it makes you nauseated, you can take it with food.Does Wellbutrin cause hair loss? ›
Hair loss is a possible side effect of Wellbutrin, but it is not common. In fact, it's so uncommon that during its initial clinical trials, when compared to those taking the placebo, not even 1% of people taking Wellbutrin experienced alopecia (GlaxoSmithKline, 2017).Is it hard to lose weight on Wellbutrin? ›
The lowdown. Wellbutrin is an antidepressant that is also used to promote weight loss, compared to other antidepressants which have not been shown to produce this effect. Numerous clinical trials have reported reduced body weight in patients taking Wellbutrin, indicating it may be an effective treatment for weight loss ...What is the reputation of Wellbutrin? ›
Bupropion has an average rating of 7.0 out of 10 from a total of 2,708 reviews on Drugs.com. 61% of reviewers reported a positive experience, while 21% reported a negative experience.What are the feelings of Wellbutrin? ›
Bupropion may cause some people to be agitated, irritable, or display other abnormal behaviors. It may also cause some people to have suicidal thoughts and tendencies, or to become more depressed.Why do doctors not prescribe Wellbutrin? ›
FDA warning: Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
This is a serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A boxed warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous. Antidepressants, such as Wellbutrin, may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Wellbutrin may cause serious side effects, although most are rare. Serious side effects that have been reported with Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL include: anger* anxiety*Is Wellbutrin bad for your liver? ›
The serum aminotransferase elevations that occur on bupropion therapy are usually self-limited and do not require dose modification or discontinuation of therapy. Rare instances of acute liver failure and chronic hepatitis have been attributed to bupropion therapy.
Wellbutrin® (bupropion) is an norepinephrine–dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI), and is one of the most energizing and most effective of the non-SSRI antidepressants against fatigue. This is an oral medication that should be taken early in the day to minimize sleep disturbances.What is the best antidepressant for fatigue? ›
- Tricyclics: amitriptyline (Elavil), desipramine (Norpramin), notriptyline (Pamelor)
- Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs): citalopram (Celexa), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft)
However, you may begin to experience improvements in your sleep habits, appetite and energy levels as early as one to two weeks of treatment. It may take four to six weeks to experience a significant improvement in your mood and level of interest in activities after starting bupropion.Why do I still have anxiety on Wellbutrin? ›
Some people may experience new or worsening anxiety while taking Wellbutrin. If this side effect occurs, it is usually at its worst shortly after a person begins taking the drug or in the period following dose increases.Does Wellbutrin help social anxiety? ›
Is Wellbutrin good for social anxiety? Bupropion (Wellbutrin) has been evaluated for the use of generalized social phobia. People who took this medicine reported feeling much improved or very much improved after 12 weeks of treatment. This medication was generally well tolerated.Why is Wellbutrin better than Zoloft? ›
Zoloft and Wellbutrin are effective options for treating depression. The choice between the two may come down to side effects and potential interactions. Zoloft has a tendency to cause more nausea and sexual side effects than Wellbutrin. But Wellbutrin may be more likely to cause dry mouth and constipation.Is it worth it to take Wellbutrin? ›
Despite potential side effects, Wellbutrin can provide several benefits to people who take it, including: treatment of major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder. helping people stop smoking. less sexual side effects, such as lowered sex drive, than other antidepressants.Which is better Lexapro or Wellbutrin? ›
Researchers found that both medications worked similarly well for improving depression symptoms. However, Wellbutrin appeared to be better tolerated than Lexapro. In particular, Wellbutrin had less sexual side effects.Which is better Prozac or Wellbutrin? ›
Is Prozac more effective than Wellbutrin? Wellbutrin often worsens anxiety, so Prozac may be the better choice for treating anxiety mixed with depression. However, each patient is different. If you have additional disorders, one drug or the other may work better.Do you gain weight on Zoloft or Wellbutrin? ›
Do Zoloft and Wellbutrin cause weight gain? It's possible. Some research shows a link between taking antidepressant medications, like Zoloft and Wellbutrin, and weight gain. On the other hand, some studies show that Wellbutrin can cause weight loss.
Bupropion is an antidepressant medication that works in the brain. It is approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD), seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and to help people quit smoking (smoking cessation). Symptoms of depression include: Depressed mood - feeling sad, empty, or tearful.Does Wellbutrin help you think better? ›
In this case, Wellbutrin has been approved to treat depression, and scientific studies 1, 2, 3 have shown that it might help improve concentration, focus, and other symptoms of ADHD for patients aged 18 and older.Why does Wellbutrin make me feel so good? ›
For the most part, Wellbutrin is considered to be a relatively safe antidepressant. However, since Wellbutrin affects the “feel-good” brain neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, it is sometimes taken to achieve a stimulant-like high.Will Wellbutrin make me happier? ›
By contrast, Wellbutrin is a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) — a mood booster that works with the brain's pleasure and reward centre. Altering brain chemicals like noradrenaline and dopamine, you feel more motivated and productive.What is the highest rated antidepressant? ›
- Citalopram (Celexa)
- Sertraline (Zoloft)
- Escitalopram (Lexapro)
- Paroxetine (Paxil, Paxil CR)
Other long-term side effects of Wellbutrin include new or worsening mental health problems. Examples of mental health problems that may continue after stopping this drug include hallucinations, paranoia, and confusion. These side effects may resolve after your doctor lowers your dose or stops your treatment.Which Wellbutrin is best for anxiety? ›
Wellbutrin XL has been shown in one clinical trial to be as effective for anxiety as escitalopram (Lexapro), a common antidepressant doctors prescribe for patients with anxiety. Some research also suggests Wellbutrin can help mitigate anxiety symptoms related to depression.Is Wellbutrin enough for depression? ›
Bupropion has been shown to be effective in the treatment of major depressive disorder in numerous double-blind controlled trials. Efficacy has been demonstrated relative to placebo in both inpatients and out-patients.Does Wellbutrin make you gain weight? ›
Wellbutrin can cause either weight gain or weight loss, though weight loss is more common. Using bupropion in the short term may not lead to sudden weight gain. However, long-term use of the antidepressant can lead to weight changes. People can engage in emotional eating, which can result in possible weight gain.