How long does it take for wellbutrin to kick in?

In this guide, we will discuss ‘How long does it take for wellbutrin to kick in?’ and some additional considerations such as what is wellbutrin and its uses, key facts about wellbutrin, possible side effects, how wellbutrin is usually taken, what happens if you miss a dose, among other related topics.

How long does wellbutrin take to work?

It may take about 1-2 weeks, or even 6-8 weeks for Wellbutrin to work. Improvement in somatic symptoms like sleep, energy, appetite and libido are initial signs that Wellbutrin is working, and this can happen in the first 1-2 weeks. It may take Wellbutrin about 6 or so weeks to work on other symptoms.

How long does it take Wellbutrin XL to work?

It can take about 1-2 weeks, minimum, for Wellbutrin XL to work, and in this time Wellbutrin Xl can start working on somatic symptoms like Sleep, energy, or appetite. Other symptoms like Depressed mood and lack of interest in activities take some time, and for these Wellbutrin XL can start working in about 6-8 weeks.

As you may know, Wellbutrin is the brand name of the component Bupropion hydrochloride. Some of the commercial brand names you can find are: Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL, Zyban, Budeprion XL and Aplenzin. However, let’s take a look more in depth on what is Wellbutrin and what it treats.

How long does it take for wellbutrin xl 300 mg to work?

It may take about 1-2 weeks minimum for Wellbutrin XL 300 mg to work, although during this time only symptoms like sleep, appetite and libido may improve. For psychological symptoms like depression, anxiety it may take about 5-6 weeks for Wellbutrin XL 300 mg to work, and if it does not, the doctor might look at increasing your dosage, so make sure to let them know.

How long does it take to feel the effects of Wellbutrin?

It can take about 1-2 weeks to feel the effects of Wellbutrin, and in that time physical symptoms of sleep, appetite, libido and energy can usually improve. It can take up to 6-8 weeks for the Wellbutrin to work on psychological symptoms like depression and anxiety.

How long does it take Wellbutrin to work for depression?

It may take up to 6 weeks for Wellbutrin to work for depression, although the somatic symptoms of depression like sleep, appetite or libido might start to improve in about 2-3 weeks. Wellbutrin is prescribed very often for depression, and if it does not start to work soon, one may talk to their physician about changing the dose by a small amount.

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What is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin is an antidepressant medication that affects the brain neurochemistry. It has been approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD), seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and to help people who want to quit smoking. 

As indicated by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “Major depression occurs when a person experiences several of the following symptoms concurrently, for at least two weeks: “low” or depressed mood (for example, sad, empty, tearful), decreased interest in most or all activities, changes in appetite (usually decreased), changes in sleep (usually poor sleep), loss of energy, feeling worthless/guilty/hopeless/helpless, psychomotor agitation or retardation (i.e., thoughts/movements speeding up or slowing down), difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of death (suicidal thinking).”

In contrast, SAD mainly occurs during the autumn-winter season, that is why it is called ‘seasonal affective disorder’. However, the term SAD is now referred to as Major Depression with a Seasonal Pattern. 

In terms of the ‘off-label’ prescription, it can get prescribed to treat bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and sexual dysfunction as one of the side effects of SSRI medication. When your doctor mentions ‘off-label’ or if you have read it somewhere, it means the FDA hasn’t approved it officially to treat the condition. However, it is the duty of your healthcare provider to justify why they are recommending an ‘off-label’ use.

Key facts about Wellbutrin (things to know)

As indicated by NAMI:

  • After starting the medication, symptoms will gradually decrease over a period of weeks. In the case of MDD and SAD, sleep and other physical symptoms may improve before there is an improvement in mood or interest in activities.
  • If you are using wellbutrin to quit smoking or for SAD, the length of the treatment is usually shorter. However, your doctor will decide for how long you need to take the medicine.
  • Do not attempt to stop your medication suddenly or change your dose without consulting it with your doctor first.
  • Depression is also part of bipolar disorder and people suffering from this condition taking antidepressants, may be at a higher risk for switching from depression into mania. Some of the symptoms related to a manic episode include ‘high’ or irritable mood, very high self-esteem, decreased need to sleep and racing thoughts.

Possible Side effects

As indicated by drugs.com, if you are between the ages of 18 and 60, take no other medication or have no other medical conditions, side effects you are more likely to experience include:

  • Insomnia, headaches, dizziness, dry mouth, sore throat, nausea and constipation. You may also experience abdominal pain, abnormal dreams, flushing, muscle and joint pain, rash or itchy skin.
  • Severe symptoms such as agitation, anxiety, delusions, hallucinations, panic disorder, paranoia and psychosis (included in the black box warning). 
  • More likely than other antidepressants to cause weight loss; however, may also cause weight gain in some people.
  • May increase blood pressure. Blood pressure should be taken on treatment initiation and monitored periodically.
  • It may increase suicidal thoughts or behavior, however, there is a higher risk for children and young adults under the age of 24. Should be monitored.
  • Risk of seizures with higher doses of bupropion in those with head injury or taking other medication. Consult with your doctor and check for any drug interactions.
  • If stopped abruptly it can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, insomnia, vivid dreams, among others.

Who should not take Bupropion?

  • The dosage of bupropion requires adjusting in kidney and liver disease.
  • May not be recommended for people with seizure disorders, eating disorders, undergoing alcohol, anticonvulsant, barbiturate or benzodiazepine withdrawal, being at risk of glaucoma, being pregnant or breastfeeding, or if they are taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors.
  • Those who are allergic to bupropion or any other related component. Symptoms may manifest as itchiness, facial swelling and hives. Stop the treatment immediately and seek immediate medical help.

How should I take Bupropion?

Bupropion hydrochloride is available in the following forms:

  • Immediate release (IR)
    Sustained release (SR)
  • Extended release (ER)

The IR form is usually taken 2 or 3 times per day with 4-6 hours between doses. The dose usually ranges from 100mg twice a day to 150 mg three times a day, with the last dose taken mid-afternoon. 

The SR form is usually taken twice daily in the morning and mid-afternoon. The dose usually ranges from 100 mg twice daily up to 200 mg twice daily. Finally, the XL form is usually taken once a day in the morning. The doses range between 150 mg to 450 mg. 

In the case of Aplenzin, it is usually taken once daily during the morning and the dose ranges from 174 mg to 522 mg. 

The recommended dose for SAD is bupropion XL 150 mg once a day in the morning but the dose may be increased to 300 mg once a day. In contrast, the dose for smoking cessation is bupropion SR 150 mg once a day for 3 days and then twice daily for 7-12 weeks. 

However, while we have discussed the dose ranges for each form, your physician will indicate specifically the form and dose that is right for you. 

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you forget to take a dose from the IR or SR forms, take it as soon as you remember and take the remaining doses for the day at evenly spaced times at least 4 hours apart. Do not attempt to take 2 doses at once and do not take more than you were prescribed by your doctor.

For the XL form NAMI indicates, “do not take an extra tablet to make up for the dose you forgot. Wait and take your next dose at your regular time the next day.”

Interactions with other medicines

Interactions with other medicines may decrease the potential effect of wellbutrin, affect how long it works for, increase side effects or have less of an effect when taken with bupropion. Speak to your doctor about how the drugs you are currently taking may interact with bupropion and how it should be managed.

As indicated by drugs.com, the common medications that may interact with bupropion include:

  • antiarrhythmics, such as amiodarone or flecainide
  • anticonvulsants, such as carbamazepine, phenytoin, phenobarbital, or primidone
  • antidepressants, such as SSRIs (eg, fluoxetine, sertraline), tricyclic antidepressants (such as desipramine, nortriptyline), or MAOIs (such as phenelzine or selegiline)
  • antipsychotics (such as butyrophenones, phenothiazines, or thioxanthenes) and atypical antipsychotics (eg, olanzapine, quetiapine, ziprasidone)
  • any medication that lowers the seizure threshold, such as tramadol, reserpine, and volatile anesthetics
  • beta-blockers, such as atenolol or metoprolol
  • blood thinners, such as clopidogrel or ticlopidine
  • corticosteroids, such as prednisone or methylprednisolone
  • HIV medications, such as ritonavir or lopinavir
  • levodopa
  • theophylline.

Moreover, do not consider this as the final list or all inclusive to all the possible medicines that can interact with wellbutrin, always consult with your physician. Also, while taking this medicine, avoid alcohol and illegal or recreational drugs intake.

How long does it take for wellbutrin to work for smoking?

It may take wellbutrin about 2-3 weeks to work for smoking, and even in this time period it may work slowly, and one may not start feeling like they don’t want to smoke right away, rather, there may be a gradual decrease in craving.

Wellbutrin may also take longer to work for smoking when the person has had the habit for some time and they are taking a low dosage of the medication.

In some cases it can also take Wellbutrin, or Bupropion, about 8 days or so to work for smoking, and one might find that they may slowly not feel like smoking as much as they did before.

Wellbutrin may also start working for smoking because in addition to reducing the craving it can also take the edge off the side effects and adverse reactions of withdrawal symptoms that happen when someone tries to quit smoking.

How long does it take for wellbutrin to work for anxiety?

It may take about 2-3 weeks, or even up to 4-6 weeks for wellbutrin to work for anxiety, but be aware that while the somatic symptoms of anxiety, as well as some of the low mood related ones, may disappear before the other symptoms of anxiety do, and one may find that even with wellbutrin, fear may not go away very soon.

Wellbutrin has been shown to work for anxiety in several studies, and in some cases about 150 milligrams of Wellbutrin has been shown to bring about some effect in the reduction of symptoms in people suffering from panic disorder as well.

However, it is important to note here that wellbutrin is not the typically prescribed drug for anxiety, and it has been shown to cause some nasty side effects in people who took it for anxiety.

When considering how long it takes for wellbutrin to work for anxiety you need to consider other possible harmful effects of the drug, like this review says:

“I never, and I mean never, listen to bad review on drugs because I know everyone reacts differently. But please, for the love of God, listen to this bad review. I have mild to moderate anxiety and started taking bupropion 75mg, once a day, 3 days ago. It has been a living nightmare. 30 minutes after I take it I have massive panic attacks, feel like I can’t breathe and I’m losing my mind. I feel paranoid and “sketched” out about everything. I shake, feel dizzy and my thoughts are absolutely insane. If you’ve ever smoked too much marijuana and have an anxiety attack, thats just what Wellbutrin feels like. I’ve ended up just staying in bed. When I was driving on day 2 I had a massive sudden panic attack where I had to pull over. I didn’t even have that severe of anxiety before Wellbutrin.”

How long does it take for wellbutrin to work for depression?

It may take about 1-2 weeks for Wellbutrin to work for depression, but when wellbutrin starts working, it may have effects on somatic symptoms like sleep, appetite or tiredness first, and the psychological symptoms like low mood may take slightly longer to start getting better.

Usually, Wellbutrin may take about 1-2 weeks for depression but the full effects of the medicine in cases of depression particularly are typically seen after 1 month.

Most doctors also suggest that if it is taking Wellbutrin longer work for depression than the suggested timeline, and if the person has had no relief from any symptoms of depression even after 6 weeks, they may need to ask the doctor to change the dosage and give the person a slightly stronger one after confirming that they don’t have any other problems that may interact with this medication, especially an increased dose of the medicine.

When talking about the time it takes for wellbutrin to work for depression most people say they felt  tremendous improvement on the 2nd or 3rd day itself, but one needs to remember that the medicine works differently for everyone and the experiences of one person may not translate exactly for you.

Another thing to remember is that how long it takes for Wellbutrin to work for depression may depend on which one of the different types of depression it is used for is applicable to you, because depression can be mild or moderate or severe, and without correctly assessing the severity of the illness the other person is going through, one may not be able to make a proper assessment of how well it is working.

How long does it take for wellbutrin to get in your system?

It may take Wellbutrin about 1 week to get in your system, and about 2-3 weeks for it to build up to the necessary levels for you to see serious improvement in whatever condition you are using it for.

The technical term for how long a drug stays in your system for is Half life of the drug, and this is defined as the time it takes for the half the drug to be flushed out of your system.

The half life of Wellbutrin is about 3-4 hours, but when it is taken regularly, as it is for mental illnesses, it can have a half life of about 21 hours, which means that Wellbutrin can start getting in your system for longer periods of time the longer you take it, and that is how it starts helping your mental health condition.

According to the FDA, Wellbutrin achieves steady state plasma levels at about 8 days in, which means, in simple language, that it may take Wellbutrin about 8 days or so to get in your system.

How long does it take for wellbutrin to get out of your system?

It may take Wellbutrin approximately 4.4 days for Wellbutrin to get out of your system completely, and this time period can vary significantly depending on various physical factors, which you should discuss with your doctor when they prescribe wellbutrin to you.

Wellbutrin can also cause false positives for amphetamines in your urine, so if you are taking it and need to get a urine test for any reason, make sure to disclose that you are taking this drug because it can take a long time for wellbutrin to get out of your system completely, and till it is in your system it can make you test positive for amphetamines.

Furthermore, while there are no tests on the hair related aspects of how long it takes for wellbutrin to get out of your system, it has been seen that in most cases it may take wellbutrin about 90 days to get out of your hair.

If you are concerned about how long it takes wellbutrin to get out of your system because you are concerned about withdrawal or coming off the drug because you are better, that is something your doctor will discuss with you, and no matter what antidepressant you are on you will be taken off it gradually, so that you don’t experience a sudden shock to your brain because it is not in your system any longer.

How long does it take for wellbutrin side effects to go away?

It may take about 1-2 weeks for wellbutrin side effects to go away, because as the drug builds up in your system you may develop a certain tolerance to it, and it may cause the initial side effects to subside.

Wellbutrin side effects are generally mild to start with, and the fact that they usually go away within the first 1-2 weeks of treatment is a big reason for why this medication is prescribed for so many conditions and so often.

Wellbutrin side effects that usually go away within the initial 1-2 weeks are the common ones that are most likely to happen, and if the more serious side effects do occur they need to be taken seriously right away and the doctor should be consulted.

If you are experiencing problems and want to know how long it may take for wellbutrin side effects to go away, consider this review by someone who was also experiencing wellbutrin side effects:

“I started taking Wellbutrin about 2 months ago for depression and it has definitely helped me. I was DESPERATE to keep my marriage intact and to be a better mother. I walked around sad all the time with no desire or motivation for no reason at all. I also seemed angry all the time. At first, I was a little nauseous and a tiny bit dizzy, but the thing that I noticed most was that I was restless at night and my mind RACED and I could NOT shut it down! I didn’t sleep much the 1st few nights so the pharmacist reduce my dosage to 150mg per day instead of 300mg (SR, not XL) and I could sleep again, felt less dizzy and less nauseous as the days went by until eventually I felt normal except for the dry mouth that I have 24/7. Recently I noticed after 2 months that it seemed to wane just a little and I felt some anxiety again. I asked the pharmacist about increasing my dosage.”

Why is this blog about How long does it take for wellbutrin to kick in, important?

As we have discussed on ‘how long does it take for wellbutrin to kick in?’ It has been indicated that depressed mood and lack of interest in activities may need up to 4-6 weeks to improve while disturbances in your sleep, energy or appetite may improve within the first 1-2 weeks of taking the medicine. Moreover, Wellbutrin is considered an antidepressant medication that affects the brain neurochemistry. It has been approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD), seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and to help people who want to quit smoking. 

However, we also discussed the recommended doses, possible side effects, interactions with other drugs, among other important topics that should be consulted with your doctor since this is not a complete guide with all there is to know about Wellbutrin. 

Please feel free to leave any comments or thoughts about the content of this article!

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 (FAQs) about How long does it take for wellbutrin to kick in

Does Wellbutrin help with anxiety?

Wellbutrin can help with anxiety for some people but for others it may worsen the symptoms. Wellbutrin is considered an antidepressant medication that has several on and off-label uses. Remember that medication can affect people in different ways since not everyone will respond the same to it.

What is the best time of day to take Wellbutrin?

The best time of day to take wellbutrin, if you are taking the extended-release version, is once a day in the morning within a 24-hour time frame. However, try to take wellbutrin at the same time each day, and avoid taking it too close to your bedtime. Moreover, swallow the pill whole and avoid splitting, chewing or crushing it.

Does wellbutrin cause weight loss?

Wellbutrin may cause weight loss according to some studies. This could be due to wellbutrin reducing your appetite if one of the symptoms related to depression was an increase in your appetite.

How long does wellbutrin last?

Wellbutrin lasts (half-life) between 33 to 37 hours, meaning that the half-life of wellbutrin is exceptionally long compared to other antidepressant medication.

Does Wellbutrin make you horny?

There is no known association between wellbutrin and increased libido. However, unlike other competing antidepressants, wellbutrin does not cause a decrease in libido.

What we recommend for depression

Professional counselling

If you are suffering from depression then ongoing professional counselling may be your ideal first point of call. Counselling will utilize theories such as Cognitive behavioural therapy which will help you live a more fulfilling life.

References 

Drugs.com: “Bupropion: 7 things you should know”

Nami.org: “Bupropion (Wellbutrin)”

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