If you have certain types of depression, your medical professional may recommend taking a prescription drug called Wellbutrin.
Wellbutrin is prescribed for the following uses in adults:
- to treat major depressive disorder
- to prevent symptoms of seasonal affective disorder
Throughout this article, we use the term “Wellbutrin” to describe the brand-name drugs Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL. These are extended-release (ER) forms of the drug. ER means that your body slowly absorbs the drug over time. The immediate-release form of Wellbutrin is no longer available.
For details about the conditions Wellbutrin is used to treat, you can see the “What do you take Wellbutrin for?” section below.
Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL come as tablets that you take by mouth. Wellbutrin XL is absorbed into the body more slowly than Wellbutrin SR.
The active drug in Wellbutrin is bupropion. It belongs to a group of antidepressant drugs called norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors.
Wellbutrin SR is available as a generic drug called bupropion SR, and Wellbutrin XL is available as a generic called bupropion XL.
Most medications, including Wellbutrin, may cause side effects that can be serious or mild. To give you an idea of what might occur with Wellbutrin, we’ve listed some of the medication’s more common side effects below. It’s important to note that we haven’t included all the potential side effects.
For more complete information about possible side effects of Wellbutrin, you can talk with your medical professional or pharmacist. They may also be able to recommend ways to help prevent and ease side effects.
Note: Certain factors may affect a medication’s side effects. These factors can include other health conditions you may have, other drugs you may be taking, and your age.
Mild side effects
Some mild side effects that Wellbutrin may cause are listed below. For information about other mild side effects of the drug, we suggest that you talk with your medical professional or pharmacist. It may also be helpful to refer to the medication guide for the drug form you’re taking: Wellbutrin SR or Wellbutrin XL.
Mild side effects that have been reported in studies of Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL include:
- weight loss and weight gain
- abdominal (belly) pain
- dry mouth
- loss of appetite
- sore throat
- tremor (shaking that you can’t control)
Serious side effects
Wellbutrin may cause serious side effects, but this isn’t common. If you do develop serious side effects while taking Wellbutrin, it’s recommended that you call your medical professional immediately. If you feel as if you’re having a medical emergency, it’s important to call 911 or your local emergency number right away.
Serious side effects that have been reported in studies of Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL include:
- insomnia (trouble falling asleep, getting back to sleep after waking up, or staying asleep)
- mania or hypomania (episodes of high excitement and energy)
- high blood pressure
boxed warning: suicidal thoughts and behaviors*
- anxiety and other mental health changes*
- allergic reaction*
* For details about this side effect, you can see “Side effects: A closer look” below.
How long Wellbutrin side effects last
Most side effects of Wellbutrin tend to lessen after a couple of days or a few weeks of taking the drug.
But some side effects, such as anxiety and other mental health changes, may continue for longer. For details about these side effects, you can see “Side effects: A closer look” just below.
If you find that the side effects of Wellbutrin bother you, we recommend talking with your medical professional or pharmacist.
Side effects: A closer look
This section provides a close-up look at key side effects of Wellbutrin.
Weight loss and weight gain
Weight changes may occur with Wellbutrin. Both weight loss and weight gain were reported in studies of Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL. However, weight loss was more common than weight gain.
Keep in mind that weight changes are also a common symptom of depression, which Wellbutrin is used to treat. So, you may gain or lose weight while you’re taking Wellbutrin because your depression symptoms are getting better. Wellbutrin itself may not necessarily cause any weight changes.
Tips for managing
If you’re concerned about weight changes with Wellbutrin, your medical professional can help. They can suggest healthy ways to manage your weight while taking the drug.
Anxiety and other mental health changes
Anxiety and other mental health changes may occur with Wellbutrin.
Anxiety was a common side effect in studies of Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL. Other mental health changes were common as well, including:
- mania (episodes of high excitement and energy)
- anger or agitation
- insomnia (trouble falling asleep, getting back to sleep after waking up, or staying asleep)
Bupropion (the active drug in Wellbutrin) is sometimes used off-label to help people quit smoking. (Off-label means using a drug for a condition that it hasn’t been approved to treat.) And these mental health changes have also been reported by people who took bupropion for this purpose.
Wellbutrin also has a
* It’s important to note that Wellbutrin is not approved for use in children younger than 18 years old.
Tips for managing
It’s important to tell your medical professional right away about any mental health changes you have while taking Wellbutrin. This includes any anxiety you’re experiencing. They can recommend ways to treat your symptoms. And they’ll likely prescribe a drug other than Wellbutrin for you.
Many drugs, including Wellbutrin, can cause an allergic reaction.
Symptoms that can occur with a mild allergic reaction may include:
- skin rash
- flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
A more severe allergic reaction may also occur, but this is rare. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction may include swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which may cause trouble breathing. You may also experience swelling under your skin, often in your lips, eyelids, hands, or feet.
Tips for managing
If you have symptoms of an allergic reaction to Wellbutrin, be sure to call your medical professional immediately. If you feel as if you’re having a medical emergency, it’s important to call 911 or your local emergency number right away.
Wellbutrin has a
Suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Antidepressants such as Wellbutrin can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children, adolescents, and young adults. But keep in mind that Wellbutrin is not approved for use in people younger than 18 years of age.
Specifically, you may have a higher risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors with Wellbutrin if you:
- are 24 years old or younger
- recently started taking the drug (within the last few months)
- recently had a dosage change
While you’re taking Wellbutrin, it’s recommended that you watch for these symptoms:
It’s important to note that suicidal thoughts and behaviors could also be symptoms of depression. Wellbutrin is used to treat major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder, which are types of depression.
Tips for managing
It’s advised that you tell your medical professional if you have any unusual changes in your moods or behaviors while taking Wellbutrin. It’s also important to tell them if you have thoughts of harming yourself while taking the drug. Your medical professional may adjust your treatment or prescribe a drug other than Wellbutrin for you.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, you’re not alone. Help is available right now:
- Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255.
- Text “HOME” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
- The Trevor Project provides crisis support for LGBTQIA+ individuals. Call their hotline at 866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678-678.
- Contact the teen-to-teen peer hotline, Teen Line, at 800-852-8336 or text TEEN to 839863.
Not in the U.S.? Find a helpline in your country with Befrienders Worldwide.
Find answers to some commonly asked questions about Wellbutrin.
Does Wellbutrin have any off-label uses?
Yes, Wellbutrin has several off-label uses. (Off-label means using a drug for a condition that it hasn’t been approved to treat.) We describe several off-label uses for Wellbutrin below.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). With ADHD, you have long periods of hyperactivity and an inability to focus. If you have ADHD, you can talk with your medical professional about other ADHD drugs (such as amphetamine/dextroamphetamine [Adderall XR]) and how much energy they can give you.
- Bipolar disorder. With bipolar disorder, you have extreme changes in mood. These mood changes can range from depression to mania (episodes of high excitement and energy).
- Smoking cessation. Bupropion (the active drug in Wellbutrin) is sometimes used for smoking cessation (to help you quit smoking).
- Anxiety. With anxiety, you may feel very nervous or worried about everyday situations. It can take several weeks for Wellbutrin to begin easing anxiety symptoms. So, your medical professional may pair other medications with Wellbutrin to help treat your symptoms. Examples of these medications include buspirone (BuSpar) and benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam (Xanax).
If you’re interested in learning more about taking Wellbutrin to treat the conditions above, you can talk with your medical professional.
What are some alternatives to Wellbutrin?
There are many alternatives to Wellbutrin for the treatment of depression. Examples include:
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as:
- sertraline (Zoloft)
- selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, such as:
- venlafaxine (Effexor XR)
For more details about alternatives to Wellbutrin, you can talk with your medical professional or pharmacist.
Can stopping Wellbutrin treatment cause withdrawal symptoms?
No, stopping Wellbutrin isn’t known to cause withdrawal symptoms. These side effects weren’t reported in studies of Wellbutrin SR or Wellbutrin XL.
However, after you stop Wellbutrin, symptoms of the condition you were taking it to treat may start to come back. And you may notice other effects, too, such as gaining weight.
It’s important that you do not stop taking Wellbutrin unless your medical professional says it’s safe to do so. They may lower your dosage slowly over time when it’s safe for you to stop Wellbutrin treatment. This can help lessen your risk of side effects after stopping the drug.
Is Wellbutrin an SSRI?
No, Wellbutrin isn’t a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It belongs to a class of drugs called norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs). A drug class is a group of drugs that work in a similar way. But both SSRIs and NDRIs are types of antidepressant.
Wellbutrin also isn’t a stimulant. The drug works by increasing levels of brain chemicals called dopamine and norepinephrine. This helps improve your mood and emotions.
A pharmacist or your medical professional can provide details about Wellbutrin’s classification.
Does Wellbutrin cause sexual side effects?
Yes, Wellbutrin may cause sexual side effects. Some of these effects were common in studies of Wellbutrin SR or Wellbutrin XL. Other sexual side effects have been reported since the drugs became available.
Examples of sexual side effects that may occur with Wellbutrin include:
- abnormal ejaculation
- painful erection
- painful intercourse
- erectile dysfunction
- changes in your sex drive, such as being increased or decreased
Keep in mind that depression, which Wellbutrin is used to treat, can also cause sexual symptoms. So it might be hard for you to tell if any sexual problems you’re having may be caused by Wellbutrin or your condition.
We recommend telling your medical professional about any sexual side effects you have with Wellbutrin. They can help you figure out if the effects are from the condition you’re taking Wellbutrin to treat or from the drug itself.
Is hair loss a possible side effect of Wellbutrin?
Yes, hair loss can be a side effect of Wellbutrin. This side effect wasn’t reported in studies of Wellbutrin SR or Wellbutrin XL. But hair loss has been reported since Wellbutrin became available for use.
If you’re concerned about hair loss with Wellbutrin, you can talk with your medical professional.
Before taking Wellbutrin, be sure your medical professional knows about:
- medical conditions you have
- your overall health
- any other medications you take
You can keep reading to learn more about these considerations.
Taking certain drugs, foods, vaccines, and other substances with a medication may affect how that medication works. These effects are known as interactions.
Before you take Wellbutrin, it’s important that your medical professional knows about any other drugs you take. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medications. It’s also important to mention any herbs, supplements, and vitamins you may use.
Your medical professional or pharmacist can tell you about possible interactions that these substances may have with Wellbutrin.
Interactions with drugs or supplements
Wellbutrin can interact with several types of drugs. These drugs include:
- certain beta-blockers, such as metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL)
- certain antipsychotic drugs, such as:
- certain other antidepressant drugs, such as:
- sertraline (Zoloft)
- certain heart rhythm drugs, such as:
- the following HIV drugs:
- ritonavir (Norvir)
- lopinavir (Kaletra)
- efavirenz (Sustiva)
- the following seizure drugs:
- carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol)
- phenytoin (Dilantin)
- the antiplatelet drugs ticlopidine and clopidogrel (Plavix)
- the breast cancer drug tamoxifen (Soltamox)
- the heart failure drug digoxin (Lanoxin)
- the following Parkinson’s disease drugs:
- amantadine (Gocovri, Osmolex ER)
It’s important to note that we haven’t listed all types of drugs that may interact with Wellbutrin. Your medical professional or pharmacist can provide more details about other possible interactions.
* Because of this interaction, you should not take Wellbutrin if you’re taking these medications.
Wellbutrin can cause a false-positive result for amphetamine on a urine drug screen. (False positive means that the test shows that a certain drug or type of drug is present in your body when it isn’t really there.) But this depends on the specific type of drug test that’s used. If a false-positive result happens, a different type of drug test can be used.
Before taking a drug test, it’s helpful to make sure that your medical professional knows you’re taking Wellbutrin. This will help them correctly interpret your test results.
FDA boxed warning
Wellbutrin has a
For details, see “Side effects: A closer look” in the “Does Wellbutrin have side effects?” section above.
If you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health, Wellbutrin may not be the right choice for you. Before you take Wellbutrin, be sure that your medical professional knows your health history. The list below includes some factors to consider:
- Current or past eating disorder. If you have or have had bulimia or anorexia, you may have a higher risk for seizures with Wellbutrin. It’s recommended that you tell your medical professional if you currently have an eating disorder or have had one in the past.
- Angle-closure glaucoma. It’s recommended that you tell your medical professional if you have angle-closure glaucoma before starting Wellbutrin. The drug can raise the risk of a glaucoma attack (sudden eye pain and blurred vision) in people who have this condition. If you experience these symptoms of a glaucoma attack while taking Wellbutrin, it’s important to call 911 or your local emergency number right away.
- Seizures. Convulsions (uncontrolled muscle movements) are a possible side effect of Wellbutrin. Before taking Wellbutrin, let your medical professional know if you’ve had any seizures. They may prescribe a treatment other than Wellbutrin for you.
- Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Wellbutrin or any of its ingredients, it’s important to avoid taking Wellbutrin. Your medical professional can tell you what other medications are better options for you.
Wellbutrin and alcohol
It’s recommended that you avoid drinking alcohol during Wellbutrin treatment. There have been reports of mental health changes in people drinking alcohol while taking Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL.
If you drink alcohol, your medical professional can explain whether there’s an amount that’s safe for you to drink while taking Wellbutrin.
Wellbutrin use while pregnant or breastfeeding
It may not be safe to take Wellbutrin while pregnant or breastfeeding. It’s recommended that you talk with your medical professional about the risks and benefits of taking the drug during these times.
If you do take Wellbutrin during pregnancy, you might want to consider enrolling in a pregnancy registry. These registries collect information about the effects of a drug when used during pregnancy. This can help researchers understand the risks of taking the drug while pregnant.
To enroll in the National Pregnancy Registry for Antidepressants, visit the registry’s site. You can also call 844-405-6185.
Wellbutrin isn’t approved to help with weight loss. Although weight loss may happen as a side effect of the drug, Wellbutrin isn’t approved for this use.
However, bupropion (the active drug in Wellbutrin) can be prescribed for weight loss. Bupropion is available in combination with naloxone as the brand-name drug Contrave. And Contrave is approved to help with weight loss.
If you have questions about bupropion for weight loss, including its dosage, you can talk with your medical professional.
Wellbutrin belongs to a group of antidepressant drugs called norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors. Wellbutrin works by increasing levels of brain chemicals called dopamine and norepinephrine. This can help improve your mood and emotions.
It may take several weeks for your depression symptoms to ease after you start taking Wellbutrin.
To find out how long Wellbutrin stays in your system, you can use the drug’s half-life. A drug’s half-life is the time it takes for your body to get rid of half of a dose of the drug. And it usually takes about five half-lives for your system to get rid of a drug entirely.
The half-life of Wellbutrin is about 21 hours. So each dose of Wellbutrin will stay in your system for about 105 hours (more than 4 days) after your last dose.
Your medical professional can advise about how much Wellbutrin to take and how often. Common dosages are mentioned below, but it’s important to always take the dosage your medical professional recommends.
Form and strengths
Wellbutrin comes as tablets that you take by mouth.
Wellbutrin SR is available in the following strengths: 100 milligrams (mg), 150 mg, and 200 mg. And Wellbutrin XL is available in strengths of 150 mg and 300 mg.
Note: Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL are extended-release (ER) forms of the drug. ER means that your body slowly absorbs the drug over time. The immediate-release form of Wellbutrin is no longer available.
Dosage for depression
Wellbutrin is prescribed to treat the following types of depression:
For these uses, the usual dosage range for Wellbutrin is 150 mg to 300 mg once per day. The recommended maximum dosage of Wellbutrin is 450 mg per day.
Your medical professional may prescribe a different dosage, depending on:
- your age
- other medications you take
- other health conditions you have
Your medical professional can help explain how to take Wellbutrin. It’s important to follow the instructions that they provide.
Tips for taking Wellbutrin
Wellbutrin comes as tablets that you take by mouth. You’ll take the drug once per day.
Frequently asked questions about taking Wellbutrin
Below, we provide some frequently asked questions about Wellbutrin treatment and their answers.
- How long does Wellbutrin take to work? After you start taking Wellbutrin, it typically takes several weeks for your symptoms to be reduced. We recommend talking with your medical professional about when you can expect symptoms of your condition to ease.
- How does Wellbutrin make you feel? Wellbutrin helps improve your emotions and mood. It may take several weeks for you to notice the drug’s effects. Over time, you’ll likely have fewer depression symptoms.
- What should I do if I miss a dose of Wellbutrin? If you miss a dose of Wellbutrin, it’s recommended that you take your missed dose as soon as you remember. If it’s almost time for your next dose, you can skip your missed dose and take your next one at its regular time. It’s important that you don’t take two doses of Wellbutrin to make up for a missed dose. This can increase your risk for side effects. If you aren’t sure whether to take a dose or skip it, you can ask your medical professional or pharmacist.
- Is Wellbutrin meant for long-term use? Wellbutrin may be used long term. If the drug is working for you and isn’t causing bothersome side effects, your medical professional may prescribe it long term.
- Can you chew, split, or crush Wellbutrin? It’s recommended that you don’t chew, split, or crush Wellbutrin. Instead, you should swallow the tablets whole. If you have trouble swallowing Wellbutrin tablets, we suggest that you talk with your medical professional or pharmacist.
- Should you take Wellbutrin with food? You can take Wellbutrin with or without food.
What should you ask your medical professional?
It’s common to have questions about your Wellbutrin treatment plan. Your medical professional is there to work with you and help address any concerns you have.
To help guide your discussion, here are some suggestions:
- Try writing down questions you have before your visit. For example, “How will taking Wellbutrin affect my mood, body, and lifestyle?”
- Think about asking a loved one or friend to come with you to your appointment. Having in-person support may help you feel more at ease.
- Keep in mind that if your medical professional says something that’s unclear, you can always ask them to explain it.
Working with your healthcare team may help you stay on track with your treatment. The team wants you to get the best care possible.
If you have depression, your medical professional may recommend that you take Wellbutrin. Specifically, Wellbutrin is prescribed for the following uses in adults:
- To treat major depressive disorder (MDD). With MDD, you have symptoms of depression almost daily for at least 2 weeks.
- To help prevent symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). With SAD, you have symptoms of depression that are triggered by a change in seasons.
Symptoms of MDD or SAD can include:
- trouble concentrating
- lack of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- weight changes
- loss of appetite
- mood changes
- trouble sleeping
Wellbutrin belongs to a group of drugs called norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors. The drug works by increasing levels of brain chemicals called dopamine and norepinephrine. This may help improve your mood and emotions.
Studies of Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL have shown a risk of misuse.
Misuse means taking a drug differently than how it was prescribed. An example of misusing Wellbutrin is snorting the drug.
Wellbutrin isn’t a controlled substance, however. Controlled substances are drugs regulated by the federal government due to the high potential for misuse or addiction. But the risk of misuse with Wellbutrin isn’t high enough for the drug to be a controlled substance.
To learn more about your risk for misuse of Wellbutrin, you can talk with your medical professional.
It’s important that you don’t take more Wellbutrin than your medical professional recommends. Taking more than the recommended dosage can lead to severe side effects.
Symptoms of overdose
Symptoms caused by an overdose can include:
- hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that aren’t there)
- abnormal heart rhythm
- overactive reflexes
What to do in case you take too much Wellbutrin
If you believe you’ve taken too much Wellbutrin, call your medical professional right away. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers, or use its online resource. But if your symptoms are severe, immediately call 911 (or your local emergency number) or go to the closest emergency room.
Wellbutrin is a prescription drug. The costs of prescription medications may depend on several factors, such as your insurance coverage and the pharmacy you use.
Wellbutrin SR is available as a generic drug called bupropion SR, and Wellbutrin XL is available as a generic called bupropion XL. A generic is a copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. The generic may cost less than the brand-name drug. Your medical professional can help determine whether the generic form of Wellbutrin may be an option for you.
If you’re wondering how to pay for Wellbutrin, your medical professional or pharmacist may be able to help. For Wellbutrin SR, you can refer to Medicine Assistance Tool and NeedyMeds to see if support options are available. For Wellbutrin XL, you may want to visit the website of its manufacturer for ways to save on drug costs.
If you still have questions about Wellbutrin after reading this article, we recommend that you talk with your medical professional. Together, you can decide if Wellbutrin might be a good choice for you.
You can also discuss other treatments, forms of support, and resources that may benefit you. We’ve listed some suggestions below.
Additional treatment options
While you take Wellbutrin, additional treatments or remedies may help you better manage your condition. These can include:
Whether you’re looking for a therapist, support group, or information about how to afford therapy, these resources may help:
- how to find a therapist
- online counseling search through BetterHelp
- online support groups
- how to afford therapy
To receive weekly information about mental health, you may want to sign up for the Psych Central newsletter. You’ll find stories directly from other people about their mental health journeys, as well as the latest information about treatments.
Q: Can I take Wellbutrin if I have diabetes?
— Anonymous patient
A: Possibly, but it’s important to discuss this with your medical professional. Wellbutrin increases your risk for having seizures. And having diabetes also increases your risk for seizures. Your medical professional will help determine if Wellbutrin is right for you.
— Victor Nguyen, PharmD, MBA
Disclaimer: Psych Central has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.