- Side Effects
- Drug Interaction
- Warnings and Caution
- Things to Know
Brand Name: Wellbutrin
Generic Name: bupropion
Drug Class: Antidepressants, Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors, Antidepressants, Other, Smoking Cessation Aids
What is bupropion (Wellbutrin) and what is it used for?
Bupropion (Wellbutrin) is an antidepressant medication that affects chemicals within the brain that nerves use to send messages to each other. These chemical messengers are called neurotransmitters. Many experts believe that depression is caused by an imbalance in the amounts of neurotransmitters that are released. Nerves, in a process referred to as reuptake, may recycle released neurotransmitters.
Bupropion works by inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine; an action that results in more dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine transmitting messages to other nerves.
Bupropion is used for the management of major depression (major depressive disorder) and seasonal affective disorder (depression that occurs primarily during the fall and winter). It is also prescribed for smoking cessation.
Bupropion is unique and unlike other antidepressants in that its major effect is on dopamine, an effect that is not shared by the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs (for example, paroxetine [Paxil], fluoxetine [Prozac], sertraline [Zoloft]), or the tricyclic antidepressants or TCAs (for example, amitriptyline [Elavil, Endep], imipramine [Tofranil], desipramine [Norpramin]). The FDA approved bupropion in December 1985.
Off-label uses (non-FDA approved) for bupropion include posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), social phobia, and nerve pain (neuropathic pain).
What are the side effects of bupropion (Wellbutrin)?
Four of every 1000 persons who receive bupropion in doses less than 450 mg/day experience seizures. When doses exceed 450 mg/day, the risk increases tenfold. Other risk factors for seizures include past injury to the head and medications that can lower the threshold for seizures. (See drug interactions.)
Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) 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
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Stomach pain
- Muscle pain
- Fast heartbeat
- Sore throat
- Frequent urination
- Dry mouth
In some people, agitation or insomnia is most marked shortly after starting therapy.
Less common side effects include:
- Chest pain
- Hot flashes
- Problems swallowing
- Urinary tract infections
More serious side effects include:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Unusual thoughts or behaviors (hallucinations, paranoia, feeling confused.
What is the dosage for bupropion (Wellbutrin)?
Bupropion immediate-release tablets are usually given in one, two, or three daily doses. For immediate-release tablets, no single dose should exceed 150 mg and each dose should be separated by 6 hours.
- For depression, the recommended dose of immediate-release tablets is 100 mg 3 times daily (300 mg/day); the maximum dose is 450 mg daily. The initial dose is 100 mg twice daily. The dose may be increased to 100 mg 3 times daily after three days and 150 mg 3 times after several weeks if the initial response is not adequate.
- The initial dose of sustained-release tablets is 150 mg daily; the target dose is 150 mg twice daily; the maximum dose is 200 mg twice daily.
- The initial dose of extended-release tablets is 150 mg daily; the target dose is 300 mg daily; the maximum dose is 450 mg daily. Extended-release tablets are administered once daily.
- Some patients with depression may be switched from bupropion hydrochloride (Wellbutrin, for example) to bupropion hydrobromide (Aplenzin) while others may need doses higher than those listed above. The correct dose of these medications for you should be determined by your doctor.
- When used for smoking cessation, bupropion (Zyban) usually is started at 150 mg once daily for three days, and then the dose is increased to 150 mg twice daily for 7 to 12 weeks if the patient tolerates the starting dose. Smoking is discontinued two weeks after starting bupropion therapy.
Seasonal affective disorder
- The dose for seasonal affective disorder is 150 mg once daily up to 300 mg daily using bupropion hydrochloride extended-release tablets (for example, Wellbutrin XL). Alternatively, treatment may be started with 174 mg bupropion hydrobromide (Aplenzin) daily and increased to a target dose of 348 mg per day. Start treatment in the autumn before the onset of seasonal depressive symptoms and continue through the winter season.
What drugs interact with bupropion (Wellbutrin)?
- Bupropion should be used cautiously in patients receiving drugs that reduce the threshold for seizures. Such drugs include prochlorperazine (Compazine), chlorpromazine (Thorazine), and other antipsychotic medications of the phenothiazine class. Additionally, persons who are withdrawing from benzodiazepines [for example, diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax)] are at increased risk for seizures.
- Carbamazepine (Tegretol) may reduce the effect of bupropion by reducing the blood concentration of bupropion. Monamine oxidase inhibitors should not be combined with bupropion because of the risk of severe reactions. At least 14 days should elapse between discontinuation of an MAOI and initiation of bupropion. Bupropion may affect the action of warfarin (Coumadin).
- Ritonavir (Norvir) may increase the breakdown and elimination of bupropion. In some studies, ritonavir reduced the concentration of bupropion in the body by 22% to 66%.
- What Is Avascular Necrosis and How Does It Affect Bones?
- The Arch of the Human Foot Was Key to Upright Walking, Scientists Say
- Worried About Cataracts? Here's What You Need to Know
- FDA Issues Warning About Compounded Versions of Wegovy, Ozempic
- Sick Restaurant Workers Fuel Many Foodborne Illness Outbreaks
- More Health News »
Is bupropion (Wellbutrin) safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
There are no adequate studies of bupropion in pregnant women. In one study, there was no difference between bupropion and other antidepressants in the occurrence of birth defects. Bupropion should only be used in pregnancy if the benefit outweighs the potential risk.
Bupropion is secreted in breast milk.
What else should I know about bupropion (Wellbutrin)?
Bupropion is available as over 50 Brand names in the US, therefore, there are many formulations. Examples of these formulations/combinations include bupropion, bupropion hydrochloride, and/or bupropion hydrobromide either as a single active chemical or in combination with another (like Contrave).
These are the most common formulations available in the US:
- Bupropion hydrochloride immediate-release tablets: 75 and 100 mg.
- Bupropion Sustained Release (SL) tablets: 100, 150, and 200 mg.
- Bupropion Extended Release (XL) tablets: 150 and 300, and 450mg. (Forfivo XL)
- Bupropion hydrobromide (Aplenzin) tablets: 174, 348, and 522mg.
Other formulations/prescriptions of bupropion may be available. Examine the prescription label on your prescription bottle to be sure it is what your doctor has ordered. Ask your doctor or pharmacist any questions you have regarding this drug.
Other bupropion information
- Tablets should be kept at room temperature, 15 C to 25 C (59 F to 77 F).
- Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL, Zyban, Aplenzin, Forfivo XL, and Zyban are the brand names available for bupropion in the US.
- Bupropion is available as a generic drug.
- Bupropion requires a prescription from a doctor or pharmacist.
Bupropion (Wellbutrin, Zyban, Aplenzin, Forfivo XL) is an antidepressant medication prescribed for the treatment of depressive disorders and smoking cessation. Off-label uses for Wellbutrin include posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and neuropathic pain (nerve pain). Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, pregnancy information, and dosage should be reviewed before taking any medication.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
A Visual Guide to Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Learn about generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). See if your worries are normal or something more by learning about symptoms,...
What's Schizophrenia? Symptoms, Types, Causes, Treatment
What is the definition of schizophrenia? What is paranoid schizophrenia? Read about schizophrenia types and learn about...
Learn to Spot Depression: Symptoms, Warning Signs, Medication
Know when you or someone else is depressed. Get information on depression symptoms, signs, tests, and treatments for many types...
ADHD/ADD in Adults: Symptoms & Treatments in Pictures
Most people don't associate adults with the term ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) but it is a common disorder in...
25 Effects of Smoking on Your Looks and Life
Cigarette smoking can affect your looks and moods. But did you know smoking also affects your heart, causes wrinkles, and...
What Are the Symptoms of ADHD in Kids? Tests, Medication
What is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)? Learn to recognize ADHD symptoms in children.
How to Quit Smoking: 13 Tips to End Addiction
Quitting smoking is a great way to improve your health. Learn tips and techniques to quit smoking and kick the cigarette habit...
Bipolar Disorder (Mania) Quiz
Who is at risk for developing bipolar disorder? Are you? Take this Bipolar Disorder Quiz to learn more about bipolar disorder, if...
Adult ADHD Quiz
What are the symptoms of adult ADHD? Take this quiz to learn what it means for an adult to suffer from ADHD and what can be done...
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Quiz
COPD is a combination of three conditions? Take this quiz to learn the three conditions that make up the pulmonary disease called...
Smoking Quiz: How to Quit Smoking
You know it's time you quit smoking. Learn the myths and facts about quitting smoking with the Smoking Quiz. When it comes to...
Childhood ADHD Quiz: Test, Symptoms & Medication
Find out causes, symptoms, and treatments for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a widespread behavioral condition...
Depression Quiz: Signs & Symptoms
Many people do not recognize the symptoms and warning signs of depression and depressive disorders in children and adults. With...
Myths and Facts About Therapy
False ideas scare many depression suffers away from therapy and the quick relief and help these pros can provide. Let our experts...
ADHD in Children: Understanding, Discipline and Better Parenting
ADHD is a common disorder seen in children. Parents can learn tips and techniques to teach children life skills, coping...
17 Everyday Ways to Ease Depression
The right exercise, diet, and activities -- even playing with a pet --can help you recover from depression. Learn simple...
Foods That Help Fight Depression
Foods that help fight depression include turkey, Brazil nuts, carrots, shellfish, coffee, leafy greens, salmon, milk, and...
Healthy Aging: Sneaky Depression Triggers in Pictures
There are many causes and triggers of depression. From too little vitamin B12 to too much time alone, look at these surprising...
Managing Concentration Killers: Smartphones, Social Media, and More
Finding it hard to concentrate? If you lack focus and attention, it may be internet addiction or the negative effects of social...
How to Quit Smoking Without Weight Gain
When you quit smoking, weight gain is a concern. You can quit smoking without weight gain when you understand how your body works...
Depression Myths: Overwork, Recklessness and More in Pictures
Folk remedies and half-truths still prevent many from getting treatment for depression. WebMD's pictures show unusual symptoms in...
Adult ADHD: Organization and Time-Management Tips in Pictures
Learn daily living tips for adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). If you have ADHD or you just need to get...
Physical Symptoms of Depression in Pictures
Depression can cause physical problems such as insomnia, chest pain, fatigue, headaches, and more. Learn the signs of depression...
Related Disease Conditions
Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by symptoms such as trouble concentrating, headaches, sleep problems, and irritability. Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 19 million American adults. Treatment for anxiety may incorporate medications and psychotherapy.
COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease)
COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a lung condition caused by smoking tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke, and/or air pollutants. Conditions that accompany COPD include chronic bronchitis, chronic cough, and emphysema. Symptoms of COPD include shortness of breath, wheezing, and chronic cough. Treatment of COPD includes GOLD guidelines, smoking cessation, medications, and surgery. The life expectancy of a person with COPD depends on the stage of the disease.
Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. The principal types of depression are major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disease (also called manic-depressive disease).
Hookahs vs. Cigarette Smoking (Addiction and Health Dangers)
A hookah is a water pipe that's used to smoke flavored tobacco like watermelon, licorice, coconut, chocolate, cherry, mint, apple, and cappuccino. The use of this type of tobacco smoking began in ancient India and Persia centuries ago. You can find hookah cafes all over the world, for example, the U.S., France, Russia, Britain, and the Middle East. New forms of electronic hookah are now available. Some people who smoke tobacco think that hookahs are less dangerous to their health because the smoke is filtered through water, but the smoke from hookahs contain the same cancer-causing chemicals that cigarette smoke does. Smoking tobacco via cigarettes or hookah are both dangerous to your health.
Bipolar Disorder in Children, Teens, and Adults
Bipolar disorder (or manic depression) is a mental illness characterized by depression, mania, and severe mood swings. Treatment may incorporate mood-stabilizer medications, antidepressants, and psychotherapy.
Smoking (How to Quit Smoking)
Smoking is an addiction. More than 430,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. from smoking related illnesses. Secondhand smoke or "passive smoke" also harm family members, coworkers, and others around smokers. There are a number of techniques available to assist people who want to quit smoking.
COPD vs. Emphysema
COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is the term doctors and other healthcare professionals use to describe a group of serious, progressive (worsens over time), chronic lung diseases that include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and sometimes asthma. The number one cause of COPD or emphysema, is smoking, and smoking is the third leading cause of death in the US.
What Is ADHD in Children?
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) causes the following symptoms in children: excessive activity, problems concentrating, and difficulty controlling impulses. Stimulant medications are the most common medication used to treat ADHD.
13 Tips for Parenting a Teen With ADHD
Parenting a teenager who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be challenging. Parents can use specific strategies to help their teen cope with school and homework. Special care should be taken to help an ADHD teen drive safely and avoid alcohol and drug use.
Adult ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)
About 2%-6% of adults have ADHD, a common behavioral problem. Symptoms include impulsivity, hyperactivity, and inattention. Treatment may involve ADHD education, attending a support group, skills training, and medication.
Duck syndrome is a situation initially coined at Stanford University whereby a college student may seem to be calm on the surface when actually he or she is frantically struggling to stay above water to meet the demands of student life.
Neuropathic pain is a chronic condition that leads to ongoing pain symptoms. Patients can be predisposed to developing neuropathic pain who have conditions such as diabetes, cancer, stroke, HIV, vitamin deficiencies, shingles, and multiple sclerosis. Patient history and nerve testing are used to diagnose neuropathic pain. Antidepressants, antiseizure medications, and other types of medications are used to treat neuropathic pain. Many people with neuropathic pain are able to attain some level of relief.
Mental health is an optimal way of thinking, relating to others, and feeling. All of the diagnosable mental disorders fall under the umbrella of mental illness. Depression, anxiety, and substance-abuse disorders are common types of mental illness. Symptoms and signs of mental illness include irritability, moodiness, insomnia, headaches, and sadness. Treatment may involve psychotherapy and medication.
Bipolar Disorder vs. Schizophrenia
Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are mental illnesses that share some risk factors and treatments. Symptoms of bipolar disorder include mood changes and manic and depressive episodes. Symptoms of schizophrenia include unusual behavior, delusions, and hallucinations. Check out the center below for more medical references on mental illnesses, including multimedia (slideshows, images, and quizzes), related disease conditions, treatment and diagnosis, medications, and prevention or wellness.
Depression in teenagers may be caused by many factors. Symptoms of teen depression include apathy, irresponsible behavior, sadness, sudden drop in grades, withdrawal from friends, and alcohol and drug use. Treatment of depression in adolescents may involve psychotherapy and medications.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS or SEID)
Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID) is a debilitating and complex disorder characterized by profound fatigue that lasts 6 months or longer, is not improved by bed rest, and may be worsened by physical or mental activity.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a psychiatric condition, can develop after any catastrophic life event. Symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, sweating, rapid heart rate, detachment, amnesia, sleep problems, irritability, and exaggerated startle response. Treatment may involve psychotherapy, group support, and medication.
Teen Drug Abuse
Drugs commonly abused by teens include tobacco products, marijuana, cold medications, inhalants, depressants, stimulants, narcotics, hallucinogens, PCP, ketamine, Ecstasy, and anabolic steroids. Some of the symptoms and warning signs of teen drug abuse include reddened whites of eyes, paranoia, sleepiness, excessive happiness, seizures, memory loss, increased appetite, discolored fingertips, lips or teeth, and irritability. Treatment of drug addiction may involve a combination of medication, individual, and familial interventions.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in Teens
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in teens is a disruption of neurocognitive functioning. Genetics contribute to ADHD. Symptoms of ADHD in teens include inattention, hyperactivity/impulsivity, or a combination of these. Treatment may include cognitive behavioral therapy, behavior therapy, medication, or alternative therapies.
Postpartum depression is a form of depression that occurs within a year after delivery. It is thought that rapid hormone changes after childbirth may lead to depression. Symptoms of postpartum depression include crying a lot, headaches, chest pains, eating too little or too much, sleeping too little or too much, withdrawal from friends and family, and feeling irritable, sad, hopeless, worthless, guilty, and overwhelmed. Treatment typically involves talk therapy and medication.
What Is Schizotypal Personality Disorder?
Schizotypal personality disorder is characterized by odd behaviors, feelings, perceptions, and ways of relating to others that interfere with one's ability to function. Medication and psychotherapy can help the sufferer to manage their symptoms.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that tends to occur as the days grow shorter in the fall and winter. Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include tiredness, fatigue, depression, irritability, body aches, poor sleep, and overeating.
Smoking During Pregnancy
Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, low birth weight, premature birth and more. Secondhand smoke also increases your baby's risk of developing lung cancer, heart diseases, emphysema, asthma, allergies and SIDS.
Dysthymia is a less severe form of chronic depression. Symptoms and signs include insomnia, suicidal thoughts, guilt, empty feeling, loss of energy, helplessness, sluggishness, and persistent aches and pains. Treatment may involve psychotherapy, electroconvulsive therapy, and antidepressants.
Smoking and Heart Disease
Smoking increases the risk of heart disease in women and men. Nicotine in cigarettes decrease oxygen to the heart, increases blood pressure, blood clots, and damages coronary arteries. Learn how to quit smoking today, to prolong your life.
Parenting a Child With ADHD
ADHD is a behavioral condition with characteristics that include hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. Parenting a child with ADHD presents a variety of challenges. Treatment options for children with ADHD include medication and behavioral therapy.
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Poor Hygiene
- Unusual Behavior
- Mood Swings
- Inability to Regulate Emotions
- Social Isolation
- Bipolar Disorder
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Doctor: Checklist to Take To Your Doctor's Appointment
- Duck Syndrome
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Teen Drug Abuse
- Smoking FAQs
- Depression FAQs
- ADHD FAQs
- Bipolar Disorder Mania FAQs
- COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) FAQs
- Adult ADHD FAQs
- How To Reduce Your Medication Costs
- Pharmacy Visit, How To Get The Most Out of Your Visit
- Indications for Drugs: Approved vs. Non-approved
- Drugs: The Most Common Medication Errors
- Medication Disposal
- Dangers of Mixing Medications
- Drugs: Buying Prescription Drugs Online Safely
- Generic Drugs, Are They as Good as Brand-Names?
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
- FDA: Boxed Warning on Serious Mental Health Events to be Required for Chantix
- Depression: The Link Between Depression and Other Mental Illnesses
- Depression: Major Depression
- Psychotic Depression
- Depression Caused by Chronic Illnesses
- Diagnosing Depression
- Drug Name Confusion: Preventing Medication Errors
- Quit Smoking
Subscribe to MedicineNet's Depression Newsletter
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.