How Long Until Wellbutrin Starts Working?

In this blog article, we will answer the question, “how long until Wellbutrin starts working?” Further, we will understand the side-effects of this drug. We will then look into the most critical information and other pieces of information regarding Wellbutrin. Finally, we will see the myths revolving around Wellbutrin. 

Wellbutrin (generic name, bupropion) is an antidepressant that has an effect on neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain. Depression is known to be caused as a result of an imbalance in the number of neurotransmitters released. Wellbutrin is also prescribed for people looking to quit smoking.

How Long Until Wellbutrin Starts Working?

Wellbutrin or bupropion does not take too long before it starts working. Within the first one or two weeks of consumption, improvements in sleep, energy levels, and appetite may be noticed. This early progress indicates signs that the medication is working. Improvements in mood and motivation levels may take more time, around 4-6 weeks, before becoming apparent. 

Wellbutrin works differently for different people. It may make some people feel anxiety, while in others, it is used to treat anxiety. Some people may experience specific symptoms right after starting Wellbutrin. These symptoms may be:

  • Restlessness;
  • Anxiety;
  • Excitement;
  • Agitation;
  • Shaking; and
  • Insomnia or difficulty falling and staying asleep.

In some people, these symptoms may be severe enough to require treatment, such as sedatives, anxiolytics (anti-anxiety medication). Some people may even stop taking Wellbutrin because of these symptoms. 

One reason for experiencing such symptoms could be due to a sudden increase in dosage. If these symptoms are experienced, it is recommended you see a doctor at once.

Side Effects of Wellbutrin

Common Side-Effects

Several side-effects commonly come with taking bupoprion. These side-effects include: 

  • Headaches  
  • Light-headedness 
  • Weight loss 
  • Sleep difficulties 
  • Dryness of the mouth 
  • Nausea  
  • Arrhythmia  
  • Sore throat 
  • Constipation

These symptoms are typically mild and are resolved within one or two weeks of starting the medication. 

Adverse/Rare Side-Effects

There are certain adverse side-effects, although incredibly rare. Less than 10% of people taking Wellbutrin experience symptoms, including:

  • Muscle pain
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Anxiety
  • Thought disturbances
  • Sweating
  • Skin rashes
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Angle-closure glaucoma (symptoms include vision changes, redness or inflammation around the eye area)

The risk of seizure as a result of Wellbutrin is next to none. This risk increases only with higher than recommended Wellbutrin dosages, brain tumor, eating disorder, substance dependence or abuse, a history of seizures or trauma to the head, or use of other drugs. 

There is minimal risk of serious cardiovascular issues with stimulants in general, including Wellbutrin. This risk typically increases with high blood pressure, heart disease, history of heart attack, arrhythmia, or when coupled with the use of nicotine patches. 

Difficulties related to sexual health or performance are typically common with antidepressants. Wellbutrin is, in fact, given as an alternative treatment in cases of antidepressant-induced sexual issues, such as ejaculatory delays. 

Most Important Information Regarding Wellbutrin

Consumption of Wellbutrin leads to a gradual decrease in symptoms over a few weeks. Early signs of improvement in patients of major depressive disorder (MDD) and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) include better sleep, mood, and motivation. After symptoms get regulated, it is crucial to seek long-term treatment for MDD to prevent relapse. 

In case of usage of Wellbutrin for SAD or smoking cessation, a shorter treatment period may be enough. Depending on personal reports, the medical professional will determine the duration of medication. 

It is imperative that the patient does not stop or change the dosage without consulting their doctor. 

People with bipolar disorder undergo manic as well as depressive episodes. Taking Wellbutrin would put them at risk for “switching” from an episode of depression to a manic episode. Manic episodes are characterized by elevated mood, high self-esteem, pressure in speech, distractibility, racing thoughts, lack of need for sleep, and impulsivity. 

Extra Information About Wellbutrin

Things to Avoid While on Wellbutrin

A person taking Wellbutrin must not consume alcohol or illegal drugs, as this would suppress the medication’s functionality. It may also increase the risk of seizures. 

In case one notices dependency on alcohol or other drugs or both and have the desire to stop, it is best to consult their doctor first. Suddenly stopping the use of these substances while taking Wellbutrin can also cause seizures. 

Missing a Dose of Wellbutrin

If a dose is missed, take it upon remembrance. The remaining doses should be taken at regularly spaced times, a minimum of 4 hours apart. You should NOT take two doses at once and are not allowed to take more than the amount recommended by the physician. Doing so could increase the risk of seizure. 

Overdosing with Wellbutrin

If there is an intentional or accidental overdose, immediate medical attention is required. Call the local doctor or emergency medical service. The poison control center may also be alerted.

Long-term Risks of Wellbutrin

As yet, there are no known problems related to long-term Wellbutrin consumption when taken as directed by the physician.

Interaction with Other Medications

Wellbutrin must not be consumed with monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) and must not be consumed within two weeks of taking this drug class. Some examples of MAOIs include phenelzine (Nardil), isocarboxazid (Marplan), selegiline (Emsam), and tranylcypromine (Parnate).

Do not take two or more products containing Wellbrutin as this may increase the risk of seizure. Other medications that increase this risk include other antidepressants, theophylline, antipsychotics, stimulants, isoniazid, hypoglycemic agents (such as insulin), and steroids. Specific antibiotics such as Cipro should also be avoided while on Wellbutrin. Suddenly discontinuing benzodiazepines could also increase the risk of seizure. 

If any of the following medications are consumed presently, let your physician know.

  • Codeine
  • Atomoxetine
  • Thioridazine
  • Tetrabenazine
  • Tricyclic antide[reesant
  • Tramadol

Wellbutrin could change bodily reactions to these medications.

Wellbutrin Usage During Pregnancy

If there are plans of becoming pregnant, let the physician know. It is important for people with depression wanting to become pregnant to make some significant decisions related to illness, medication, and how it may affect the baby. Untreated depression poses threats to the patient and their baby. Not enough literature exists on the effects of Wellbutrin in pregnant women, but it is essential to discuss it with the doctor.

Wellbutrin is prescribed for quitting smoking as well. For pregnant women, Wellbutrin must only be prescribed if other treatment options have proven to be ineffective.

As regards breastfeeding, Wellbutrin is known to be secreted in breast milk and, therefore, caution is advised.   

Myths Surrounding Wellbutrin

Wellbutrin is an excellent treatment option for depression, but the scare regarding its side effects has proven to tarnish its deserved recognition.

Let us see some of the myths and the associated facts regarding Wellbutrin.

Wellbutrin causes the most seizures.

No, Wellbutrin does not cause the most seizures. If the patient was prescribed Wellbutrin dozes three times a day, they may consume it too close together, which could raise blood levels and increase the risk of seizure. A meta-analysis study found that clomipramine (a tricyclic antidepressant) had the highest risk of stroke, and Wellbutrin was not even ranked anywhere near the top. 

Wellbutrin does not help with anxiety in patients with depression.

This statement is not valid, as seen in a meta-analysis study. The researchers found anxiety outcomes not to be any different for Wellbutrin when compared to SSRIs. The same researchers conducted a reanalysis, looking particularly at patients with anxiety. This time they found SSRIs to be slightly more advantageous.

However, the researchers maintained that they had to treat 17 patients with remarkably high anxious depression to see this benefit. SSRIs come with a side effect of loss of sex drive, which implies many patients losing their sex drive for a minor advantage.

Wellbutrin can cause anxiety.

Although this is true, Wellbutrin causes anxiety as a side effect in almost the same number of people as other antidepressants do as per many FDA registered trials’ analyses. Every antidepressant can cause anxiety.

Wellbutrin is not a good fit for those with insomnia.

This statement is partially correct. Although Wellbutrin has a slightly higher risk of causing insomnia, sleep quality is much better for people on Wellbutrin than other antidepressants. Depression impairs sleep through more significant REM latency (i.e., they enter REM rather rapidly) and density. Wellbutrin reverses these alterations while SSRIs worsen them. 

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.

Conclusion

In this blog post, we found the answer to “how long until Wellbutrin starts working?” We also looked into its side-effects, critical and other pieces of information, before busting some myths about the drug.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): How Long Until Wellbutrin Starts Working?

How does Wellbutrin make one feel?

Right after taking Welbutrin (bupropion), certain people experience various symptoms, including:

Anxiety
Restlessness
Tremors or shaking
Excitement
Irritability or agitation
Insomnia or difficulty falling asleep

What happens as soon as you start taking Wellbutrin?

Within the first one or two weeks of taking Wellbutrin, people often experience improved sleep, appetite, or energy levels. Apparent improvements in mood and motivation levels may take longer, say 6-8 weeks. It also reduces nicotine cravings and symptoms of withdrawal but may take a week or two to show. 

Do you experience tiredness initially upon consuming Wellbutrin?

No, in fact, consuming Wellbutrin has been shown to be more effective than Specific Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) in reducing symptoms of fatigue and drowsiness while treating depression.

Do you get energized after consuming bupropion?

Yes, Wellbutrin enhances energy, which other antidepressants, such as SSRIs, do not do. Wellbutrin allows patients to sleep better at night (tackling insomnia, one of the primary symptoms of depression) as a result of energetic activity during the day. 

Is there any weirdness caused by Wellbutrin?

Yes, people usually report feeling weird in that they sense a certain amount of restlessness, excitement, anxiety, and agitation. However, in most cases, the effects can be made mild by allowing room for adjustment. This adjustment occurs by starting with a low dose and gradually increasing the same.

Do you experience weight loss by taking Wellbutrin?

Yes, typically, weight loss is experienced while on the medication and weight gain upon stopping the consumption of the drug.  It is commonly prescribed for depression, and those looking to quit smoking, and weight loss is one side effect that attracts patients who desire to lose weight. 

Is it wrong to smoke while on Wellbutrin?

Yes, smoking or consuming nicotine while on Wellbutrin can increase blood pressure and, consequently, cause headaches, light-headedness, confusion, arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat), and chest pain. It is essential to tell the doctor immediately if any of these symptoms are experienced. 

Are there any long-term side effects associated with Wellbutrin?

The most common adverse effects of being on Wellbutrin include headaches, constipation, light-headedness, insomnia, nausea, and dryness of the mouth. Moreover, seizures and allergic reactions are rare yet adverse effects. 

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

https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatments/Mental-Health-Medications/Types-of-Medication/Bupropion-(Wellbutrin)#:~:text=How%20Long%20Does%20It%20Take,the%20first%201%2D2%20weeks.

https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/wellbutrin-anxiety#treats-anxiety

https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/3-myths-about-bupropion

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Sara Quitlag is an Applied Psychologist, with a deep interest in psychopathology and neuropsychology and how psychology impacts and permeates every aspect of our environment. She has worked in Clinical settings (as Special Ed. Counselor, CBT Therapist) and has contributed at local Universities as a Faculty member from time to time. She has a graduate degree in English Literature and feels very connected to how literature and psychology interact. She feels accountable and passionate about making a "QUALITY" contribution to the overall global reform and well-being. She actively seeks out opportunities where she can spread awareness and make a positive difference across the globe for the welfare of our global society.