BuSpar and Wellbutrin (What differentiates them)

In this blog post, we will understand BuSpar and Wellbutrin and their differences in several areas. Further, we will detail the combination of BuSpar and Wellbutrin, especially in the treatment of depression. Finally, we will outline the instructions and cautions to keep in mind while taking BuSpar and Wellbutrin. 

BuSpar (generic name, buspirone) is a drug used in the treatment of generalized anxiety. It is not chemically or pharmacologically associated with other anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines.

Wellbutrin (generic name, bupropion) is an antidepressant that is typically used in the treatment of depression and smoking cessation.

Buspar and Wellbutrin

Let us understand the differences between the two drugs.

Overview

BuSpar

  • Aids in relaxation;
  • Provides less anxiety relief with decreased drowsiness and dependence in comparison to other anti-anxiety medicines;
  • May take time to be effective; and
  • May lose utility over time.

Wellbutrin

  • Elevates mood;
  • Useful for treatment of depression; 
  • Minimal to no sexual side effects compared to other antidepressants; and
  • The patient needs to be okay, with no consumption of alcohol.

Generic Name

BuSpar

  • Buspirone

Wellbutrin

  • Bupropion

Drug Classification

BuSpar

  • Azapirones;
  • Classified under miscellaneous anxiolytics, sedatives, and hypnotics; and
  • It works as an agonist of a specific serotonin receptor, leading to higher serotonin levels in the brain.

Wellbutrin

  • Aminoketone;
  • Classified under miscellaneous antidepressants; and
  • It works by prohibiting the reabsorption of dopamine and noradrenaline (aka norepinephrine), which leads to a higher level of these two neurotransmitters in the brain.

Disorders Treated

BuSpar

  • Anxiety
  • Major depressive disorder (MDD) 

Wellbutrin

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD) 
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Sexual difficulties resulting from consuming Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs)
  • Smoking cessation

Advantages

BuSpar

  • Absence of intense physical dependence or withdrawal symptoms as seen in other anxiolytics or anti-anxiety medications;
  • Minimal drowsiness as seen in other anti-anxiety medications;
  • Affordable due to the availability of a generic pill; and
  • Pills can be split for convenient dosage alterations.

Wellbutrin

  • Relieves depressive symptoms effectively
  • Helps in smoking cessation and appetite suppression
  • Relieves ADHD symptoms
  • Energizes individuals due to stimulant properties
  • Minimal sexual side-effects in comparison to other antidepressants
  • Can boost libido in some and hence, can be taken with other antidepressants that lead to sexual dysfunctions
  • 60% of people consuming an antidepressant for the first time find it effective

Disadvantages

BuSpar

  • May take a long time for the medication to work, making it unideal for rapid anxiety relief;
  • Some report loss of effectiveness after a while;
  • Unideal for anxiety conditions that last for short periods and panic disorders; and
  • Must be taken two times a day to optimize effectiveness 

Wellbutrin

  • Unideal for people with insomnia or anxiety due to energizing properties; 
  • A slight increase in the risk of seizures, particularly for people with an eating disorder, epileptic disorders, or those who consume alcohol;
  • Typically not as effective as other antidepressants for people with anxiety;
  •  Possible for increased risk of suicidal ideations and attempts in individuals less than 24 years old;
  • Contains the same ingredient as another drug that helps in smoking cessation (Zyban), and hence, the two cannot be taken simultaneously;
  • Causes weight loss, which people looking to gain weight may not find appealing; and
  • The first antidepressant a person tries does not necessarily work, and may to try out a few different ones to understand what works for them. 

Dosage

BuSpar

  • Oral pill

Wellbutrin

  • Oral tablet
  • Oral tablet, extended-release (i.e., the drug is released slowly, which implies a lower need to take medicine often)

Side Effects

BuSpar

  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache or migraine
  • Excessive tiredness or fatigue
  • Excitement
  • Depression
  • Numbness
  • Stomach issues
  • Loss of concentration
  • Dryness of the mouth
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Weakness 

Wellbutrin

  • Irritability or agitation
  • Dryness of the mouth
  • Headache or migraine
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia 
  • Sweating
  • Drowsiness
  • Menstrual problems
  • Hostility
  • Sleep difficulties
  • Arrhythmia
  • Anxiety 
  • Blurred vision

Risk Factors

BuSpar

  • Withdrawal symptoms as a consequence of stopping other anti-anxiety medications such as benzodiazepines;
  • Serotonin syndrome as a result of consuming other medications impacting serotonin levels; and
  • Hypertension (increased blood pressure) resulting from taking in combination with or within two weeks of stopping MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors).

Wellbutrin

  • Increased risk of seizures, especially in people with a history of epilepsy, eating disorder, alcoholism, or those consuming in more than recommended dosed or with other drugs;
  • Increased side-effects in people with liver or kidney problems;
  • Psychiatric effects for smoking cessation in people with a history of depression or bipolar disorder, those at risk for bipolar disorder, and those withdrawing from nicotine;
  • Increased risk of suicidal ideations and attempts in people younger than 24 years of age;
  • Weight loss; and
  • Can induce manic symptoms in people with a history of or at risk for bipolar disorder.

Combining BuSpar and Wellbutrin

One case study found combining BuSpar and Wellbutrin to be effective in the treatment of depression. 

This case report suggests that two agents often used for augmentation of SSRI treatment, buspirone, and bupropion may be useful when used together for the treatment of depression. 

The patient studied had a relapse and displayed depressive symptoms upon stopping the use of BuSpar. This return of symptoms suggests a combined effect of the two medications, and the monotherapy of Wellbutrin 150 mg once a day is not sufficient for an antidepressant response. 

It is hypothesized that this combination of drugs influences three neurotransmitters, namely serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline. Considering previous literature that suggests a broader range of neurotransmitters getting influenced is more effective, it could be that the combination of BuSpar and Wellbutrin could lead to increased antidepressant response. 

The use of BuSpar could especially be useful in those patients who are resistant to SSRIs or in people with severe depression with or without anxiety. 

A significant advantage of this combination is that they do not produce the typical side effects, such as sexual difficulties and weight gain, as seen in SSRIs. Typically, these medications have been prescribed in combination with SSRIs to nullify such side-effects as sexual dysfunction. 

Instruction for Consumption

BuSpar

The following must be kept in mind while consuming BuSpar:

  • This medication must be regularly taken as directed by the physician;
  • Typically consumed twice or thrice every day, BuSpar can be consumed with or without food;
  • BuSpar is usually consumed between a few months to one year. The physician suggests the optimal duration period of treatment by assessing the current situation of the patient and their response to the drug;
  • During the termination of the drug, the physician gradually tapers down the dose to avoid any withdrawal or other effects;
  • It may take a few weeks for the medication to start working, and almost all patients respond to a dose of 15-30 mg;
  • Do not take over the recommended dose. The doctor may gradually increase the initial amount by 5mg once in 2-3 days, with the maximum quantity not exceeding 60 mg;
  • The risk of overdosing on BuSpar is low as dependence is minimal; and
  • Despite being less tranquilizing than other anti-anxiety pills, the patient must take caution while driving, engaging in hazardous activities, such as operating heavy equipment. 

Wellbutrin

The following must be kept in mind while taking Wellbutrin: 

  • The manner of consumption as directed by the physician must be followed;
  • No alterations to the dosage must be made without consultation with the doctor;
  • Do not stop taking the medication without talking to your physician;
  • Regularly space the dose consumption, with a minimum of 6 hours apart;
  • Wellbutrin may be consumed with or without food;
  • Take the medication at the same time each day;
  • Do not skip a dose. If you do, please do not take an extra amount. Wait and take the next amount at the regular time as consuming above the recommended dosage may increase the risk of stroke;
  • Do not chew, cut, or crush the tablet. Swallow the entire pill;
  • Do not take any other medication while on Wellbutrin. If necessary, talk to your doctor;
  • In the event of an accidental or intentional overdose, alert your physician and, if possible, the poison control center immediately;
  • If Wellbutrin is consumed for treating depression, please note that it may take a few weeks for the medication to start working. As you start feeling better, do not stop the medicine. Continue consuming as prescribed; and
  • On the off chance you feel the drug is ineffective for you, kindly call your physician. 

Conclusion

In this blog post, we gained insight into BuSpar and Wellbutrin and their differences in several areas. Then, we understood the combination of BuSpar and Wellbutrin, especially in treating depression. Finally, we listed the instructions and precautions to take while consuming BuSpar and Wellbutrin.  

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Frequently Asked Questions: BuSpar and Wellbutrin

Is it okay to take BuSpar with antidepressants?

Taking BuSpar with antidepressants like Lexapro (escitalopram) could increase the risk of serotonin syndrome, an uncommon yet grave disorder. Serotonin syndrome may manifest as seizures, hallucinations, tremors, diarrhea, palpitations, chills, muscle spasms, fever, incoordination, blurred vision, nausea/vomiting, and confusion. 

What are the drugs to avoid while taking Wellbutrin?

Certain antidepressants like MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) are to be avoided while on Wellbutrin. Moreover, patients with an epileptic disorder, currently experiencing sudden discontinuation of alcohol, benzodiazepines, antiepileptic drugs, barbiturates, or patients with a history of or currently experiencing bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa.

What are the drugs to avoid while taking BuSpar?

BuSpar must not be taken along with or in the 14 days of consuming MAOIs as their drug interaction is dangerous. MAOIs include linezolid, phenelzine, selegiline, methylene blue injection, isocarboxazid, and tranylcypromine, to name a few. 

What led to the discontinuation of Wellbutrin?

Bupropion (generic name of Wellbutrin) was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an antidepressant in 1985 and supplied as “Wellbutrin.” A tremendous incident of epileptic seizures was noted at the dosage initially recommended, leading to its discontinuation in 1986. 

However, upon realizing that the risk of epilepsy was related to the dosage, Wellbutrin was brought back to the markets in 1989 with the maximum daily dosage decreased. 

Do you experience weight loss on Wellbutrin?

Yes, people typically experience weight loss while on Wellbutrin and experience weight gain upon drug cessation. It is prescribed as an antidepressant and also helps people looking to quit smoking. The generally found attractive side-effect of this drug is weight loss. 

Do you experience weight loss on BuSpar?

No, weight changes are a rare side-effect of BuSpar. It happens for 0.1-1% of the people consuming BuSpar. Most people neither experience weight loss nor weight gain while on BuSpar. 

Does Wellbutrin cure anxiety?

Yes, Wellbutrin could work for panic disorder. A specific case study found that a daily dose of 150mg of Wellbutrin daily can improve anxiety and panic symptoms in a person with a panic disorder. Moreover, anecdotal evidence indicates adding Wellbutrin to other drugs to treat panic disorder could work.

Do serotonin levels increase because of BuSpar?

Yes, BuSpar increases serotonin levels. It influences neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. It works as an agonist, which leads to an increase in serotonin levels by increasing serotonin receptor activity in the brain. Such activity helps alleviate anxiety.  

What we recommend for curbing Anxiety

Below are some of the services and products we recommend for anxiety

Anxiety Weighted Blankets

  • Anxiety Weighted Blankets are by far the number 1 thing every person who suffers from anxiety should at least try. Anxiety Blankets may improve your sleep, allow you to fall asleep faster and you can even carry them around when chilling at home.

Online Therapy

  • Online therapy is another thing we should all try. We highly recommend Online therapy with a provider who not only provides therapy but a complete mental health toolbox to help your wellness.

Anxiety Course

  • With over 50,000 participants, this anxiety course may be just what you need to regain control of your life.

Light Therapy

  • Amber light therapy from Amber lights could increase the melatonin production in your body and help you sleep better at night.  An Amber light lamp helps reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep and increases overall sleep quality.

References

https://www.iodine.com/compare/wellbutrin-vs-buspar

https://www.rxlist.com/wellbutrin-drug.htm#description

https://www.verywellmind.com/buspar-treatment-of-social-anxiety-disorder-3024958

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