What Is Wellbutrin (Bupropion)?

Wellbutrin is a commonly-prescribed antidepressant. Also known by the name bupropion, this FDA-approved medication is part of the aminoketone class of antidepressants.

Bupropion is unlike other selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors — the most common SSRIs being Prozac or Zoloft — which increase serotonin levels in the brain to combat symptoms of depression. Wellbutrin directly affects the chemicals norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. The use of bupropion helps to moderate the levels of these neurotransmitters, which in turn combats depression.

How Is Wellbutrin (Bupropion) Used?

Wellbutrin is an oral medication that was approved by the FDA in 1985 to treat depression. By balancing the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, bupropion can help boost one’s mood and overall mental health. It is commonly prescribed to decrease the effects of seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression that typically surfaces in the fall and wintertime when we experience the least amount of daylight.

Bupropion is also prescribed to treat ADHD and bipolar disorder. Doctors have also prescribed Wellbutrin to be used in combination with SSRIs to help patients quit smoking.

Wellbutrin (Bupropion) Addiction

Although people are unlikely to develop a substance use disorder while taking Wellbutrin, it’s important to speak to your doctor about any side effects you are experiencing while taking this medication. Always take bupropion as prescribed by a physician, and report any sudden changes in your mood or mental state. In large doses, Wellbutrin is believed to create a response in the brain similar to that produced by illegal stimulants such as cocaine — making it imperative to take bupropion exactly as prescribed.

Severe worsening of depression symptoms or suicidal thoughts should be reported to your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor may adjust your Wellbutrin dosage to prevent these negative side effects from occurring. Those with a history of eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia, as well as those diagnosed with epilepsy, will not likely benefit from the use of bupropion.

If you worry your use of Wellbutrin is starting to show signs of addiction, contact us today. Seeking professional help is the first step to living a substance-free life.

The Importance of Aftercare

Like any other medication, Wellbutrin carries some risks. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, constipation, headache, sweating, sore throat, diarrhea, dizziness, blurry vision, and achy joints. Serious side effects are rare, but if you experience chest pain, irregular heartbeat, fainting, hearing loss, severe headaches, or extreme weight gain or loss, you should contact your doctor. Muscle pain, changes in vision, and seizures are extremely rare yet serious symptoms, and you should seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of these symptoms.

Drinking alcohol while taking Wellbutrin is discouraged. Speak with your doctor before taking this medication in addition to other antidepressants, as this can increase the risk of seizure. Prioritize taking the medication at a consistent time every day, and don’t stop taking Wellbutrin without consulting with your doctor first — as this can lead to withdrawal symptoms.

Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.