Wellbutrin is the brand name for bupropion, a prescription drug that is used to treat depression. It's also used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression that usually strikes in the fall and winter. Under the brand name Zyban, bupropion has also been prescribed to help people quit smoking. Wellbutrin belongs to the aminoketone class of antidepressants, which are chemically unrelated to the better-known selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Prozac, Paxil, or Zoloft. Wellbutrin moderates the levels and activity of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, but exactly how it works to treat depression is not known.
Bupropion is used to treat depression. It can improve your mood and feelings of well-being. It may work by helping to restore the balance of certain natural chemicals in your brain.
How to Use Wellbutrin
Make sure to always consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. Take this medication by mouth usually three times daily. If stomach upset occurs, you may take this drug with food. It is important to take your doses at least 6 hours apart or as directed by your doctor to decrease your risk of having a seizure.
Do not take more or less medication or take it more frequently than prescribed. Taking more than the recommended dose of bupropion may increase your risk of having a seizure. Do not take more than 150 milligrams as a single dose, and do not take more than 450 milligrams per day. Your dosage is based on your medical condition and response to therapy. Your dose may be slowly increased to limit side effects such as sleeplessness, and to decrease the risk of seizures. To avoid trouble sleeping, do not take this medication too close to bedtime. Let your doctor know if sleeplessness becomes a problem.
Before Taking This Medicine
Do not use Wellbutrin if you have used an MAO inhibitor in the past 14 days. A dangerous drug interaction could occur. MAO inhibitors include isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, tranylcypromine, and others.
You should not take Wellbutrin if you are allergic to bupropion, or if you have:
- a seizure disorder;
- an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia; or
- if you have suddenly stopped using alcohol, seizure medication, or a sedative such as Xanax, Valium, Fiorinal, Klonopin, and others).
What Are The Side Effects of Bupropion?
Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in short-term studies in children and adolescents with depression and other psychiatric disorders. Anyone considering the use of bupropion or any other antidepressant in a child or adolescent must balance this risk with the clinical need. Patients who are started on therapy should be closely observed for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior.
The most common side effects associated with bupropion include:
- Weight loss
- Skin rash
- Muscle pain
- Fast heartbeat
- Frequent urination
Wellbutrin, like other antidepressants, is required to carry a black-box warning about an increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, teenagers, and young adults between the ages of 18 and 24. The black-box warning notes the need to monitor patients taking antidepressants for signs of any worsening of their depression, and for the emergence of suicidal thoughts, especially in the first few months of treatment or when the dose is either increased or decreased. The warning also extended to Zyban, which contains the same ingredient as Wellbutrin and is made by the same company.
Many drugs can interact with bupropion. Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with Wellbutrin. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide. Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Wellbutrin only for the indication prescribed.