Wellbutrin (Bupropion) for Anxiety

For many practitioners, Wellbutrin is the go-to medication for treating anxiety, depression, and sexual dysfunction among other conditions. Bupropion is FDA-approved for prevention of major seasonal depressive for patients with seasonal affective disorder.  It is also used as a smoking cessation aid.

What Is Wellbutrin And What Does It Cure?

Bupropion is an approved medication used to cure seasonal affective disorder (SAD), major depressive disorder (MDD), and help people quit smoking.

An individual is said to be suffering from major depressive disorder when they experience several of the following symptoms for two weeks;

  • Poor sleep
  • Loss of energy
  • Changes in appetite
  • Suicidal thinking
  • Psychomotor retardation (i.e., thoughts/movements speeding up or slowing down)
  • Feeling guilty/hopeless/worthlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating

Bupropion can also be prescribed as an “off label” (not approved by Food and Drug Administration for this condition) for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)and sexual dysfunction due to SSRI antidepressants or bipolar. Your physician should explain the reason they are prescribing “Bupropion” as an “off label” before they do. They should be clear on the amount of research done on the effectiveness of the drugs as an “off label.”

What Is The Most Important Thing I Should Know About Bupropion?

After starting Bupropion medication, symptoms begin to reduce after a few weeks. In cases of SAD and MDD, other physical symptoms may show improvement as wel as interest in activities or mood. Once symptoms are under control, MDD needs long-term treatment to prevent the return of the symptoms.

If you’re using Wellbutrin for a smoking recession or SAD, the treatment length may be shorter. Only your practitioner can determine the length of Buprion treatment that is right for you. Also, do not change your dosage without the instructions of your healthcare provider.

Depression is also a part of bipolar disorder. Patients of bipolar who take antidepressants stand a risk of “switching” from bipolar to mania. Symptoms of mania include;

    • Very high self-esteem,
    • Pressure to keep talking
    • “High” or irritable mood
    • Decreased need for sleep
    • Being easily distracted
    • Racing thoughts
    • Getting involved in high-risk activities.

Are There Any Concerns About Bupropion And Pregnancy?

If you are planning to get pregnant, see that you inform your physician to moderate your medication. Women living with MDD have to face difficult decisions, each with benefits and risks as they relate to how medication and life of a fetus may interact. Although MDD is a risk to both the mother and fetus, they are several solutions.

Also, pregnant women are advised to take Wellbutrin after other therapies fail. Breastfeeding women are also cautioned against Wellbutrin as it is passed to breast milk.

What Should I Discuss With My Practitioner Before Taking Bupropion?

  • If you use alcohol or other drugs
  • If you are breastfeeding, expectant or plan to get pregnant
  • Other non-medication you are currently using (such as substance abuse treatment or psychotherapy). Your doctor will then explain how Bupropion works with the medication.
  • If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts
  • If you start experiencing side effects with your medication, alert your doctor; while some may pass with time, it may be a warning that you need a change in medication.
  • Any other medical problems or psychiatric you have including a bipolar disorder history.
  • Any other medication you are using or allergies you may have.
  • The most disturbing symptoms of your condition
  • Other medications you took in your past and their effects

How Should I Take Bupropion?

Bupropion hydrochloride comes in three different forms; extended-release (XL), immediate release (IR), and sustained release (SR).

Bupropion IR is taken 2 or 3 times per day with a time difference of 4-6 hours. The dose ranges from 150mg thrice to 100mg twice, with the last prescription taken at mid-afternoon.

Bupropion SR is taken in the morning and mid-afternoon. The dosage ranges from 200 mg twice daily to 100 mg twice.

Bupropion XL is taken once every day with a range of 150 mg to 450 mg.

(Aplenzin®) is taken once every morning with a range of 174 mg to 522 mg.

Please Note

  • You should not take more than one substance that contains Wellbutrin
  • Wellbutrin should not be taken in an empty or full stomach
  • Bupropion should not be crushed, broken or chewed; it should be taken as full to ensure the medication works correctly in your body, and reduce severe side effects.
  • The tablets XL or SR shells may be seen in your feces.

What Happens If I Forget A Dose Of Bupropion?

For bupropion SR or IR, take the dosage as soon as you remember, if you miss it. Take the remaining dosages of the day with an at least 4-hour gap. Do not take two dosages together; taking more than your prescription may increase chances of seizures.

For the XL form, wait and continue your dosage the following day; do not take an extra tablet to compensate the forgotten dose.

What Should I Avoid While Taking Bupropion?

Avoid taking illegal drugs or alcohol when using Bupropion as it may reduce the effectiveness of the drugs or increase the risk of a seizure. If you are dependent on any drugs and would love to stop; talk to your healthcare provider for help. Quitting these substances abruptly when using Wellbutrin may result in seizures.

What Happens If I Overdose With Bupropion?

If you take an overdose of Wellbutrin, accidentally or with intention, immediate medication attention may be necessary. Call emergency medical service (911) or your doctor. Alternatively, you may call poison control (1-800-222-1222).

What Are The Side Effects Of Bupropion?

Common side effects

The most reported cases include;

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Weight loss
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Sore throat
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Dry mouth.

The symptoms are mild and disappear after 1-2 weeks of treatment as you continue with medication.

Rare/serious side effects

Only less than 10% of patients will experience ringing in the ears, skin rash, sweating, thought disturbances, shakiness stomach, anxiety, or angle closure glaucoma (changes in vision, redness in or around the eye, eye pain).

Unlike other antidepressants, Wellbutrin does not cause sexual side effects. It can, therefore, be selected as an alternative treatment when antidepressant-induced sexual side effects (ejaculatory delay or difficulty achieving orgasm) are challenging.

In general, the risk of having seizures are low. They only occur when a patient overdoses, or has a tumor in the brain, eating disorder, head injury, alcohol or drug dependence, history of seizures or use of other drugs that can also increase the risk of having a convulsion.

The risk of cardiovascular adverse effects related to stimulating agents, including Bupropion is low. This risk increases if a patient has high blood pressure, previous heart attack, heart disease, irregular pulse, when used with transdermal nicotine replacement products. In these cases, cardiovascular evaluation is recommended prior to starting the medicine.

What Are The Risks For Taking Bupropion For A Long Time?

There are no known problems associated with prolonged use of bupropion. It is effective and safe when used as directed.

How Long Does It Take For Bupropion To Work?

While depressing lack of interest in activities and depressed mood may need 4-6 weeks to get better; Improvement in energy, appetite, and disturbances in sleep, may take 1-2 weeks. The small improvements can be a good indicator that the medication is working.

Final Verdict

Anxiety can be a deal-breaker in life. However, there is no reason to feel troubled because there are several medications that can help you live a normal life. Wellbutrin is among the medications used to control anxiety.

Although Wellbutrin has side effects, it is very helpful when used as prescribed by the physician. Be sure to mention all the symptoms to your doctor, and any side-effects you may be having when using the medication.

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