If you have depression, your medical professional might recommend that you take a prescription drug called Wellbutrin.

Wellbutrin is prescribed for the uses below in adults:

In this article, we use “Wellbutrin” to represent the brand-name drugs Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL. The active drug in both forms of Wellbutrin is bupropion. And both forms come as tablets that you swallow.

Wellbutrin may be prescribed as a long-term treatment. If you’d like to learn more about Wellbutrin, including specifics about its uses, you can see this overview of the medication.

As with other drugs, Wellbutrin may cause side effects that can be mild or serious. For more information, we encourage you to keep reading.

While taking Wellbutrin, mild or serious side effects may occur.

Here are some examples of side effects commonly reported with Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL treatment:

These are only a few of the side effects that can occur with Wellbutrin. In the sections below, we review other possible mild and serious side effects the drug may cause.

You may have mild side effects from Wellbutrin.

Examples of mild side effects that have been reported with Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL include:

* To learn more about this side effect, you can see “Side effects up close” below.

The side effects of Wellbutrin may be temporary or long lasting. And some may be easily managed. If you have any symptoms that continue or bother you, consider talking with your medical professional or pharmacist.

Also, it’s important to continue taking Wellbutrin unless your medical professional recommends that you stop.

It’s possible that Wellbutrin can cause mild side effects other than the ones listed above. For more information, you can see the medication guide for the drug form you’re taking: Wellbutrin SR or Wellbutrin XL.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a medication, it tracks side effects of the drug. If you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Wellbutrin, you can visit MedWatch.

Wellbutrin may cause serious side effects, although most are rare.

Serious side effects that have been reported with Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL include:

If you develop serious side effects while taking Wellbutrin, it’s important to call your medical professional immediately. If you feel the side effects are life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency, it’s vital to call 911 or your local emergency number right away.

* To learn more about this side effect, you can see “Side effects up close” below.
Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL have a boxed warning for this risk. We explain more about this warning in the “Side effects up close” section below.

Side effects when you first start Wellbutrin treatment

Certain side effects may be more common than others when you first start Wellbutrin treatment.

For example, the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors* with Wellbutrin is highest right after you start treatment with the drug.

When you start taking Wellbutrin, your medical professional will prescribe a low dosage. This helps lessen your risk of side effects from the drug. They may increase your dosage slowly over time until the symptoms of your condition ease.

Your medical professional or pharmacist can tell you more about the possible initial side effects of Wellbutrin.

* Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL have a boxed warning for this risk. We explain more about this warning in the “Side effects up close” section below.

How long Wellbutrin side effects last

You may be wondering whether Wellbutrin’s side effects will go away. The side effects of the drug may be temporary or long lasting.

For example, after taking Wellbutrin you may have symptoms of anxiety, such as feeling restless or having trouble falling asleep. These symptoms may take longer to ease than other side effects of the drug.

Your medical professional or pharmacist can give you more details about what to expect when taking Wellbutrin.

Wellbutrin isn’t approved for use in children. The drug is approved for use only in adults ages 18 years and older. However, Wellbutrin may be prescribed for children off-label. (Off-label use is when a drug is prescribed to treat a condition that it isn’t approved for.)

It’s important to note that Wellbutrin has a boxed warning about the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children, teens, and young adults. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

For details, you can see the “Side effects up close” section right below.

Your child’s medical professional can give you more information about Wellbutrin off-label use in children.

Here’s some additional information about some of the side effects that Wellbutrin may cause.

Anger

Wellbutrin may cause anger. This side effect was a common in studies of Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL.

Ways to help manage

It’s important to tell your medical professional if you experience anger while taking Wellbutrin. Mood changes, such as anger, can be a symptom of a more serious side effect. For details, you can see “Suicidal thoughts and behaviors” below.

Weight loss

Wellbutrin may cause weight loss. This was a common side effect in studies of Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL.

It’s important to note that weight changes can be a symptom of depression. And Wellbutrin is prescribed to treat depression. So you may experience weight loss while taking Wellbutrin because your depression symptoms are easing. The drug itself may not necessarily cause any weight changes.

Ways to help manage

If you’re worried about weight changes with Wellbutrin, you can talk with your medical professional. They can recommend ways for you to maintain a moderate weight while taking the drug.

Decreased libido

Wellbutrin can cause a decreased libido (decreased sex drive). This side effect was common in studies of Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL.

Other sexual side effects, such as hypersexuality (high sex drive), were reported after the drugs became available. (To learn more, see “Could Wellbutrin cause hypersexuality?” in the “FAQs about Wellbutrin side effects” section below.)

It’s important to remember that depression, which Wellbutrin is prescribed to treat, may also cause sexual symptoms. It might be difficult for you to tell whether these sexual problems are caused by Wellbutrin or your condition.

Ways to help manage

You’ll want to tell your medical professional if you experience decreased libido while taking Wellbutrin. They can determine whether it’s due to Wellbutrin itself or the depression you’re taking the drug to treat.

Anxiety

Wellbutrin can cause anxiety. This was a common side effect in studies of Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL.

Symptoms of anxiety can include:

  • dry mouth
  • feelings of dread, panic, restlessness, or worry
  • having racing thoughts or trouble concentrating
  • increased heart rate
  • sweating
  • trouble breathing

Ways to help manage

It’s important to tell your medical professional if you have symptoms of anxiety while taking Wellbutrin. They can suggest ways to lessen your symptoms. They may also prescribe a drug other than Wellbutrin for you.

Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Wellbutrin has a boxed warning about suicidal thoughts and behaviors. A boxed warning appears on the drug’s label and alerts you to possible serious risks.

This risk affects children, teens, and young adults who take an antidepressant, such as Wellbutrin. However, Wellbutrin is approved for use only in adults ages 18 years and older.

You may also have an increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors with Wellbutrin if you:

  • had your dosage changed recently
  • started taking the drug within the past few months

While taking Wellbutrin, it’s recommended that you watch for the following possible symptoms:

  • anxiety
  • mood changes such as agitation, aggressiveness, hostility, and irritability
  • restlessness
  • thoughts of harming yourself

It’s important to note that suicidal thoughts and behaviors may be symptoms of depression. Wellbutrin is prescribed to treat certain types of depression, including seasonal affective disorder and major depressive disorder. So it may be hard for you to tell if your symptoms are caused by Wellbutrin or the condition you’re taking it to treat.

Ways to help manage

You’ll want to talk with a medical professional about unusual changes in your behaviors or moods while taking Wellbutrin. It’s vital to talk with them right away if you have thoughts of harming yourself. They may prescribe a drug other than Wellbutrin for you, or they may adjust your treatment plan.

Suicide prevention

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, you’re not alone. Help is available right now:

Not in the U.S.? Find a helpline in your country with Befrienders Worldwide.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, Wellbutrin can cause an allergic reaction in some people.

Symptoms of an allergic reaction can be mild or serious and can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

Ways to help manage

If you develop mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as itchiness, call your medical professional right away. (A mild reaction could become serious if not treated.) They may suggest an over-the-counter product to help ease your symptoms.

If they confirm that you had a mild allergic reaction to Wellbutrin, they can advise you on whether it’s safe for you to keep taking the drug.

If you have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as trouble breathing or swelling, it’s vital to call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms could be life threatening and require immediate medical care.

If your medical professional confirms you had a serious allergic reaction to Wellbutrin, they may recommend that you switch to a different treatment.

Monitoring side effects

While you take Wellbutrin, you may want to write down information about any side effects you develop. You can share these notes with your medical professional. This is very helpful to do when you first take new medications or use multiple treatments.

In your notes, you can include answers to questions such as:

  • What dose was I taking when I developed the side effect?
  • How long after taking that dose did I have the side effect?
  • What symptoms did I develop?
  • How did the side effect impact my everyday activities?
  • What other medications was I also taking?
  • What other information do I think is important to share?

By writing down notes and sharing them with your medical professional, they’ll learn how Wellbutrin affects you. They can use this information to adjust your treatment plan as needed.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the side effects of Wellbutrin.

Are there side effects that are specific to Wellbutrin SR?

Most side effects of Wellbutrin SR are expected to be the same as those for Wellbutrin XL. (For details, you can see the “Which side effects of Wellbutrin are mild?” and “Which side effects of Wellbutrin are serious?” sections above.)

However, certain side effects may be more common with Wellbutrin SR. Examples include constipation and headache.

If you have questions about what to expect while taking Wellbutrin SR, your medical professional or pharmacist can help.

Can Wellbutrin cause hypersexuality?

It’s possible. Hypersexuality (increased sex drive) wasn’t reported in studies of Wellbutrin SR or Wellbutrin XL. But hypersexuality was reported by people who took Wellbutrin after the drug became available for use.

Decreased libido (decreased sex drive), on the other hand, is a side effect of Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL. For more about decreased libido, see the “Side effects up close” section above.

If you’re concerned about hypersexuality during your Wellbutrin treatment, you’ll want to talk with your medical professional.

Does Wellbutrin cause withdrawal side effects when you stop taking it?

No, Wellbutrin isn’t known to cause any side effects when you stop taking it.

Other antidepressants can cause withdrawal side effects if you suddenly stop taking the drug. (Wellbutrin is a type of antidepressant.) But these side effects weren’t reported in studies of Wellbutrin SR or Wellbutrin XL.

It’s important that you don’t stop taking Wellbutrin unless your medical professional says it’s safe to do so. If they tell you it’s safe, they may slowly lower your Wellbutrin dosage over time. This can help decrease your risk for side effects after stopping treatment.

Can an overdose of Wellbutrin cause any side effects?

Yes, an overdose of Wellbutrin can cause side effects.

Examples of side effects caused by an overdose of Wellbutrin include:

Be sure to take only the Wellbutrin dosage that your medical professional recommends. This should prevent an overdose and may help you avoid side effects of Wellbutrin.

If you think you’ve taken too much Wellbutrin, it’s important to tell your medical professional right away. If your symptoms are severe, it’s vital to call 911 (or your local emergency number) immediately.

Are there any side effects linked to the 300-mg dose of Wellbutrin?

Yes, certain side effects may be more common with the 300-milligram (mg) dose of Wellbutrin than with other doses.

In studies of Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL, the following side effects were common with the 300-mg dose:

For more information about what to expect with Wellbutrin based on the dose you take, talk with your medical professional or pharmacist.

Should I expect hair loss when I take Wellbutrin?

It’s possible you may have hair loss with Wellbutrin.

This side effect wasn’t reported in studies of Wellbutrin SR or Wellbutrin XL. But hair loss has been reported by people who took Wellbutrin after the drug became available for use.

Your medical professional can address any concerns you may have about hair loss with Wellbutrin.

It may not be safe to take Wellbutrin if you have certain medical conditions. We describe these and other considerations in more detail below.

FDA boxed warning: Suicidal thoughts and behaviors

Wellbutrin has a boxed warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about suicidal thoughts and behaviors. The boxed warning appears on the drug’s label and alerts you to possible serious risks.

This risk affects children, teens, and young adults who take an antidepressant, such as Wellbutrin. However, Wellbutrin is approved for use only in adults ages 18 years and older.

For details, you can see the “Side effects up close” section above.

Other warnings

Wellbutrin may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. It’s important to talk with your medical professional about your health history before you take Wellbutrin. The list below includes factors to consider.

Angle-closure glaucoma. Before starting Wellbutrin treatment, tell your medical professional if you have angle-closure glaucoma. The drug can raise the risk of a glaucoma attack (sudden blurry vision and eye pain) in people who have this condition. If you have symptoms of a glaucoma attack while taking Wellbutrin, it’s vital to call 911 or your local emergency number right away.

Bipolar disorder.Wellbutrin may cause mania or hypomania. (These are episodes of extremely high energy and excitement usually related to bipolar disorder.) Wellbutrin can also cause mental health changes, such as psychosis or paranoia. Your risk for these side effects may be higher than usual if you have bipolar disorder.

Before taking Wellbutrin, it’s important to tell your medical professional if you have bipolar disorder. They may prescribe a different treatment for you.

Current or past eating disorder. If you have or have had anorexia or bulimia, you may have an increased risk of seizures with Wellbutrin. Before you start treatment with the drug, talk with your medical professional. You can let them know about any eating disorders you have now or had in the past.

Seizures. Seizures are a possible side effect of Wellbutrin. Before taking the drug, be sure to tell your medical professional if you already have seizures. They may prescribe a treatment for you other than Wellbutrin.

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.

Stopping alcohol use or treatment with certain drugs. Before you start taking Wellbutrin, tell your medical professional if you’ve recently stopped drinking alcohol.

Also let them know if you’ve recently stopped taking certain medications, such as benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and seizure drugs. Abruptly stopping the use of alcohol or these medications can raise your risk of seizures with Wellbutrin. Your medical professional can advise whether it’s safe for you to take Wellbutrin.

Alcohol use and Wellbutrin

It’s best to avoid drinking alcohol while you take Wellbutrin. Mental health changes have been reported in people who drank alcohol while taking Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL.

If you want to drink alcohol while taking Wellbutrin, your medical professional can suggest an amount that may be safe for you to consume.

It’s important to note that if you suddenly stop drinking alcohol, taking Wellbutrin isn’t advised in most cases.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Wellbutrin

It may not be safe to take Wellbutrin during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Talk with your medical professional about the benefits and risks of taking Wellbutrin during these times.

If you do take Wellbutrin during pregnancy, you may consider enrolling in a pregnancy registry. Pregnancy registries collect information about the effects of a drug people experience while pregnant. The information gathered by these registries can help researchers understand the risks of taking the drug while pregnant.

To enroll in the National Pregnancy Registry for Antidepressants, call 866-961-2388. You can also visit the registry’s site.

It isn’t likely. Studies of Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL showed a low risk of misuse with these drugs. (Misuse refers to taking a drug in a way that’s different from how your medical professional prescribed it.)

To learn about your risk for misuse of Wellbutrin, talk with your medical professional.

Wellbutrin may cause mild or serious side effects. Most side effects of the drug go away with time.

If you have questions about possible side effects from Wellbutrin, you can talk with your medical professional or pharmacist.

Here are a few suggested questions you may want to ask:

  • Is there an amount of alcohol that’s safe for me to drink while taking Wellbutrin?
  • Am I at a high risk of misuse with Wellbutrin?
  • Are there any side effects of Wellbutrin that I should tell you about right away?
  • Do I have any health conditions that might increase my risk of side effects from Wellbutrin?

While you take Wellbutrin, you may find it helpful to speak with a therapist or join a support group. You may also be interested in ways to afford therapy. The following articles might be helpful:

You can also visit the BetterHelp website to search for online counseling.

In addition, you can sign up for the Psych Central newsletter. We share stories from other people on mental health journeys as well as current information about treatments.

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.