What are the signs of your Wellbutrin not working? (7+ red flags) 

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In this blog post, we are going to talk about the basic signs that you begin to notice when your Wellbutrin is not working as well as it should. Wellbutrin is an atypical antidepressant which is used to treat mild to severe episodes of depression and depression comorbid with mania. 

However, this drug may not work for everyone and this is all we are going to talk about in this blog. 

What are the signs of your Wellbutrin not working? 

The signs of your Wellbutrin not working include:

  • It does not make your condition better, even after several weeks. 
  • You feel manic, paranoid or start hallucinating
  • Your depression and anxiety keep getting worse
  • It starts working right away, but the effects begin to fade away quickly 
  • You feel emotionally numb
  • You develop tolerance
  • You can’t sleep
  • It makes just a little difference in months
  • You can’t achieve your smoking cessation goals even after months of using Wellbutrin

It does not make your condition better, even after several weeks. 

It is a known fact that antidepressants don’t start working right away. These meds take time to make changes in your system and you can not expect them to alter the levels of excitatory neurotransmitters in your brain right away. 

Same is the case with Wellbutrin. It’s totally normal if you don’t see any beneficial effects of this drug within 2 to 3 weeks of your treatment. However, if you can’t see any changes even after using this antidepressant for more than 6 weeks, it clearly is a red flag and indicates that Wellbutrin is not working. 

You feel manic, paranoid or start hallucinating

Mania, paranoia and hallucinations are the serious and rare side effects of Wellbutrin. They don’t affect everyone taking this antidepressant. However, if it does, it indicates that the drug is affecting your brain negatively and is altering your normal mental recognition and alertness. 

This is a major red flag and you need to stop using this antidepressant. One thing to bear in mind is to not stop Wellbutrin abruptly. Sudden withdrawal will make your side effects worse. 

Your depression and anxiety keep getting worse

Wellbutrin is meant to control the symptoms associated with depression. It does take some time to do that, but if your condition worsens even after the proper and continuous use of Wellbutrin for several weeks, it indicates that this med is not working for you. 

What good is your antidepressant if you continue to feel sad and depressed? 

It starts working right away, but the effects begin to fade away quickly

When you begin to feel ‘better’ just after taking a dose or two of Wellbutrin, it might be a red flag. If a drug, which is not supposed to work that fast, starts working right away, these effects are not meant to last that long. 

This is something known as ‘pseudo-effect’ and it begins to fade away soon after your body gets adjusted to the med. This indicates that Wellbutrin is not working for you. 

You feel emotionally numb

If Wellbutrin makes your depression symptoms go away, but eventually start making you emotionally numb, this indicates that the med is affecting your brain negatively and it may cause further complications if you continue to use it. 

You develop tolerance

Tolerance is one of the major reasons that can make your antidepressant inefficient. If you stop seeing results by staying on the same dose of Wellbutrin, it indicates that you have developed tolerance. 

Dose escalation can help, but it is likely to develop again with the new dose. Higher doses are more likely to cause disturbing side effects and you can’t keep increasing the dose to achieve your therapeutic goals. 

You can’t sleep 

Insomnia is one of the most common complications with the use of Wellbutrin. However, it is believed that antidepressants take time to work and they may produce side effects earlier than the beneficial effects. 

These side effects are believed to subside within 2 to 3 weeks of treatment. However, if you can’t fall asleep or your insomnia gets worse with time, it indicates that Wellbutrin is not working and is not the right choice of antidepressant for you. 

It makes just a little difference in months

Another sign that indicates Wellbutrin inefficiency is the rate at which it works on you. Several surveys have revealed that some people can tolerate this antidepressant well, but the it’s antidepressant effect is so slow, that it just takes months to feel a little better. 

This indicates that you should stop this med as it does not work that well for you. 

You can’t achieve your smoking cessation goals even after months of using wellbutrin

Wellbutrin can also be used for smoking cessation. If you have been taking it for a long time but you don’t see any changes either in your cravings or your body’s reaction to no smoking, it means Wellbutrin is simply not working. 

What are the possible reasons associated with the inefficiency of Wellbutrin? 

Wellbutrin might not work because of one of the following reasons:

Addition of another prescription medication 

An addition of another medication can cause your wellbutrin to stop working. Drug interaction is an actual problem but it is often neglected. Two drugs don’t just produce unwanted side effects when they interact together. 

Some drugs interact pharmacokinetically, which means that drugs can interfere with each other’s absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion, abbreviated as ADME. There are plenty of drugs that can inhibit the proper absorption of your wellbutrin. 

You can’t expect your med to work if it doesn’t absorb in your blood properly which serves as a vehicle and takes the med to its respective binding receptors. Antibiotics are well known for making your wellbutrin and many other antidepressants ineffective. 

Excessive use of alcohol 

Experts have indicated that excessive use of alcohol can really make your antidepressant inefficient. Not just this, but the combined use of alcohol and Wellbutrin can make your symptoms much worse. 

Studies suggest that alcohol numbs down your brain and trigger an episode of depression and may also induce suicidal behavior. Alcohol can also mess with the absorption of your wellbutrin and as stated earlier, your med doesn’t work if it’s not absorbed properly. 

Other health condition

Other health related problems may also contribute to the inefficiency of your wellbutrin. Studies suggest that people who have other chronic conditions like hypertension, diabetes or some respiratory illness may experience antidepressant inefficiency. 

This is because these conditions can reduce the quality of your life and may trigger episodes of depression that may become difficult for your wellbutrin to control. 

Aging

Aging could be another factor leading to the decreased effects of your antidepressant. As you grow old, the physiological functions of your body start to slow down. This includes drug metabolism as well, because the liver doesn’t work as efficiently as it once did. 

This effect is more pronounced in people who have been suffering from chronic illnesses. Aging also slows down the process of drug digestion and absorption, which may also be a reason for less beneficial effects of your wellbutrin. 

What other options do you have if Wellbutrin does not work for your depression anymore? 

There are several other options which may help to get rid of your depression or anxiety if your wellbutrin stops working. These include:

Other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) 

There are other SSRIs which may help to reduce your symptoms. These meds work by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin by blocking serotonin transporters (SERT). 

Serotonin is an excitatory neurotransmitter responsible for modulating mood, cognition, reward pathway and other physiological functions. The excess amount of serotonin can significantly decrease your depression symptoms. Examples of SSRIs other than wellbutrin include:

  • Zoloft (Sertraline) 
  • Celexa (Citalopram)
  • Lexapro (Escitalopram) 
  • Prozac (Fluoxetine) 
  • Paxil (Paroxetine) 

Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) 

SNRIs are another class of antidepressants which can also be used for several other mental health illnesses. These meds work by inhibiting not only the reuptake of serotonin, but they also inhibit the reuptake of norepinephrine, which is another excitatory neurotransmitter. 

Examples include:

  • Effexor (Venlafaxine) 
  • Pristiq (Desvenlafaxine) 
  • Ixel (Milnacipran) 
  • Fetzima (levomilnacipran) 

Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) 

Tricyclic antidepressants are also used to control depression and anxiety. These agents were once used as the first line of treatment for depression, but later they were switched because of more side effects and were replaced by newer SSRIs which were proven to be much safer. 

However, TCAs are still a good option for people with depression which is resistant to the treatment with SSRIs. Examples include:

  • Elavil (Amitriptyline) 
  • Pamelor (Nortriptyline) 
  • Tofranil (Imipramine) 

Monoaminoxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) 

MAOIs are also used to help relieve the symptoms of depression. These agents work by inhibiting the enzyme monoaminoxidase which is responsible for the breakdown and metabolism of serotonin and norepinephrine. 

This results in increased amounts of these excitatory neurotransmitters which counteract the symptoms of depression. Examples include:

  • Nardil (Phenelzine) 
  • Marplan (Isocarboxazid) 
  • Emsam (Selegiline) 
  • Parnate (Tranylcypromine) 

Conclusion 

In this blog post, we have discussed the basic signs that you begin to notice when your Wellbutrin is not working as well as it should. 

Make sure you contact your healthcare provider right away if you begin to notice that your antidepressant is not working for you. Do not stop Wellbutrin abruptly or without your doctor’s approval. 

FAQs:  Signs Wellbutrin is not working

What happens if Wellbutrin doesn’t work?

If Wellbutrin does not work, it will not treat the health condition for which you start taking this antidepressant in the first place. This results in therapeutic failure which can lead to the discontinuation of the treatment. 

How do you know if your Wellbutrin is not working?

The signs of your Wellbutrin not working include:

  • It does not make your condition better, even after several weeks. 
  • You can’t sleep 
  • You feel manic, paranoid or start hallucinating
  • Your depression and anxiety getting worse
  • It starts working right away, but the effects begin to fade away
  • You feel emotionally numb
  • You develop tolerance
  • It makes just a little difference in months
  • You can’t achieve your smoking cessation goals even after months of using Wellbutrin

How do you know if your antidepressant has stopped working? 

The simple answer: When your symptoms start to subside. Depression is commonly associated with feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness, irritability or frustration, even over small matters. 

You simply feel relieved from above mentioned symptoms. When you feel happy and satisfied, when you feel like engaging in your favourite activities and when you start feeling like being a part of your social gatherings again, you know your medicine is working. 

Does your brain go back to normal after antidepressants?

Your brain does go back to normal after you stop using antidepressants, but it takes time and this time taken depends on the duration of your antidepressant therapy. It could take up to 10 months to go back to your normal serotonin levels, after long-term antidepressant therapy.

How long does it take for Wellbutrin to leave your system?

Wellbutrin has a half life of about 30-33 hours. It means that the concentration of the drug is reduced to half after this time period. The remaining amount is further reduced to half in the next 30-33 hours. This process keeps on ongoing until the drug is completely washed out from your body.

References 

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