Wellbutrin is the brand-name antidepressant of bupropion, and it is used to treat several mood disorders and depression. Bupropion is primarily used for major depressive disorders and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD is a type of depression that occurs during the changes of seasons. Symptoms normally begin in the fall and early winter. Occasionally, Wellbutrin is used to help people quit smoking. Wellbutrin is also sometimes used off-label by doctors to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).Table of Contents

What Is Wellbutrin (Bupropion)?

Bupropion works as a mood-altering drug and belongs to a class of antidepressants known as aminoketone. It helps regulate chemical imbalances in the brain that cause depression. The FDA approved Wellbutrin for the treatment of depression in 1985; however, it was removed again in 1986 due to the increasing numbers of reported seizures. Wellbutrin was reapproved in 1989 with several warnings of the increased risk of seizures.

A standard dosage of bupropion starts at 75 mg to 100 mg and is taken two to three times daily. Carefully follow the directions provided by a doctor to reduce the risk of seizures. A doctor may increase the dosage depending on the severity of depression symptoms. If prescribed bupropion, a patient should notify his or her doctor of any medications currently being used and disclose his or her entire medical history to avoid interactions. If a person has a history of seizures, bupropion may be unsafe as it could increase the risk of a seizure.

Bupropion has side effects similar to those commonly associated with other antidepressants, like dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, mood changes or irritability, vision problems, itching, and dizziness. If any of these side effects worsen or do not subside, contact a healthcare provider.

Wellbutrin may also cause serious side effects. Some serious side effects of Wellbutrin are chest pains, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, disorientation, seizures, hallucinations, and difficulty swallowing or breathing. It is important to contact a doctor immediately if serious side effects occur.

When first taking Wellbutrin, one may experience increased or worsened suicidal thoughts. Notify a healthcare provider if these mental mood changes occur. The use of alcohol while taking Wellbutrin is not recommended as it may lead to seizures and possible overdose.

Wellbutrin (Bupropion) Addiction

Bupropion has a mild stimulating effect. It has been used to treat ADHD symptoms and to help people quit smoking. Many reports have shown that smokers trying to quit would misuse Wellbutrin, leading to several cases of overdose in 2013. In the early 2000s, Bupropion had a low prescription rate of less than 0.05 percent, and by 2013 the rate drastically increased to 0.47 percent due to substance misuse.

Regular Bupropion use has also been linked to weight loss, which has given people with weight problems more reason to overuse this antidepressant.

Signs of Wellbutrin overdose may include seizures, rapid or slowed heartbeat, aggressive behavior, hallucinations, and fainting. If any signs of overdose develop, seek medical attention immediately.

Wellbutrin (Bupropion) Long-term Effects

Regular substance use of any kind can alter neurotransmitters in the brain, which can lead to a reoccurrence of use and substance use disorder.

A sudden stoppage of bupropion can cause severe side effects, so it is crucial that patients taking this medication continue to do so until directed to stop by a doctor. A doctor will gradually lower the dosage to avoid withdrawal symptoms and worsening depression.

Many side effects of Wellbutrin are not long-term, although serious side effects have the potential for lingering effects even after the prescription is finished.

If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, contact The Recovery Village for more information about the recovery process.

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.