In this blog piece, you will learn about the medication bupropion, how it works, what diseases it treats, and common side effects.
Bupropion is a drug used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
What is bupropion?
Bupropion is a medication used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The Zyban brand of bupropion is used to reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with cigarette smoking.
Non-FDA approved uses for bupropion include posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), social anxiety disorder or social phobia, and nerve pain (neuropathic pain).
Bupropion is a unique antidepressant because it does not belong to the same class as typical antidepressant medications. The mechanism of action (discussed below) is different from that of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs).
Who should take bupropion?
If you suspect you have MDD or SAD, talk to your doctor about taking bupropion. These are debilitating mental health conditions and you should not feel like you have to go through them alone.
MDD is a mood disorder that causes feelings of worthlessness and loss of interest in daily activities. Common symptoms of MDD are as follows:
· Chronic feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness, or hopelessness
· Loss of interest in activities that once used to bring enjoyment (i.e., sex, hobbies)
· Outbursts of anger
· Issues with sleeping too much or insomnia
· Lack of energy and fatigue
· Changes in eating patterns and weight (i.e., increased appetite and weight gain or reduced appetite and weight loss)
· Slowed speaking, thinking, and movement
· Feelings of worthlessness
· Ruminating on past failures
· Feelings of guilt
· Trouble concentrating, making proper decisions, and remembering things
· Physical problems such as back pain or headaches that cannot be explained by another medical condition
SAD is a subtype of depression that is heavily related to changes in seasons. It usually begins at the same time every year and usually occurs during fall and winter months. If you have any of the following symptoms, you may be diagnosed with SAD:
· Feelings of depression most of the day almost every day
· Low energy
· Loss of interest in activities that used to bring enjoyment
· Trouble sleeping, usually oversleeping
· Changes in appetite or weight
· Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, or guilt
· Feeling agitated or sluggish
· Frequent thoughts of death or suicide
In the winter months, people with SAD may frequently oversleep, gain weight due to food cravings high in carbohydrates, or have fatigue and lack of energy. More rarely, people can suffer from SAD in the spring or summer months. These patients are likely to experience trouble sleeping (insomnia), reduced appetite and weight loss, and agitation or anxiety.
To get more insight into depression and to see some interesting articles, click here.
How does bupropion work?
Bupropion works by increasing the number of available neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that allow neurons to communicate with one another to produce normal behavior. Bupropion works to increase dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine in the brain.
What is some important information I should know before starting to take bupropion?
You should not take bupropion if you have a history of seizures or eating disorders. If you take Wellbutrin for depression, you should not use bupropion (Zyban) to help reduce cigarette cravings or withdrawal symptoms.
In addition, you should not take bupropion under the following circumstances:
· If you have taken a monoamine oxidase inhibitor (MAOI) within the last 14 days (MAOI’s include isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, or tranylcypromine
· If you plan to take bupropion 14 days after taking an MAOI
· If you are allergic to bupropion
· If you have a history of seizure disorders
· If you have an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia
· If you have suddenly stopped taking alcohol, seizure medication, or medications such as Valium, Fiorinal, or Klonopin
· If you are taking Wellbutrin for depression
Bupropion should be used cautiously with the following drugs that reduce the threshold for seizures: prochlorperazine (Compazine), chlorpromazine (Thorazine), and other antipsychotics in the phenothiazine class.
What are the things I should discuss with my doctor before taking bupropion?
Since bupropion can cause seizure, discuss with your doctor your prior and current medical conditions as well as drugs you are taking.
Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any of the following medical conditions:
· Head injury
· Narrow-angle glaucoma
· Brain or spinal cord tumor
· Heart disease, high blood pressure, history of heart attack
· Kidney or liver disease including cirrhosis
· Bipolar disorder or another mental illness
· If you drink alcohol
If you are pregnant or are planning to get pregnant discuss this with your doctor before taking bupropion. It is unknown whether or not bupropion will harm an unborn baby.
What are some things I should discuss with my doctor throughout the course of my bupropion treatment?
Antidepressants such as bupropion can increase thoughts of suicide. Make sure your monitor your mood when you first start taking bupropion and discuss with your doctor if you notice any significant changes.
What are the side effects of bupropion?
Some of the side effects of bupropion include:
· Sleep problems (i.e., difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep)
· Dry mouth
· Gastrointestinal issues (i.e., stomach pain, nausea, vomiting)
· Headache or sore throat
· A part of the body shaking uncontrollably
· Loss of appetite and weight loss
· Excessive sweating
· Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
· Frequent urination
· Changes in your sense of taste
More serious side effects of bupropion include:
· Irrational fears
· Muscle or joint pain
· Rapid or irregular heartbeat
If you experience any of the above symptoms, call your doctor immediately or seek emergency medical help.
The following side effects require immediate cessation of bupropion or emergency medical treatment:
· Rash or blisters, itching, hives
· Swelling (face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs)
· Difficulty breathing or swallowing
· Chest pain
If you suspect that you or someone you know has overdosed on bupropion, get emergency medical help immediately. Seizure, hallucinations, loss of consciousness, or rapid heartbeat are all symptoms of a potential overdose.
How should bupropion be taken?
Bupropion comes as sustained-release or extended-release oral tablet. If you are prescribed Wellbutrin (one of the brand names of bupropion used to treat depression), the tablet should be taken three times a day with at least 6 hours in between. If your doctor tells you to take the tablet four times a day, you should wait at least 4 hours between doses.
The extended release tablet (brand name Aplenzin or Wellbutrin XL) is usually taken once daily and doses should be taken at least 24 hours apart.
When bupropion is prescribed to treat SAD, it is usually taken once a day in the morning beginning in the fall and then stopping in early spring.
If you are prescribed bupropion (brand name Zyban) to treat nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms from quitting cigarette smoking, it should be taken once daily for three days and then the dose is increased and is taken twice daily for 7 to 12 weeks. Smoking should be discontinued two weeks after beginning bupropion.
All bupropion tablets are meant to be swallowed whole, not split, chewed, or crushed.
It typically takes at least 4 weeks before you will feel the full effects of bupropion. Even if you feel better, do not stop taking bupropion. If you feel that you want to go off of bupropion because you feel well or because you are experiencing unwanted side effects, talk to your doctor. He or she can gradually decrease your dose and come up with a different treatment plan that works for you.
If you miss a dose of bupropion, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose.
What are some other things I should know while taking bupropion?
Take bupropion exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take more than your intended dose, since too much can cause seizures. Do not crush, chew, or break an extended-release tablet.
Additionally, do not stop suddenly stop taking bupropion, unless you have a seizure. Stopping to take this medication can cause withdrawal symptoms. If you want to stop taking bupropion talk to your doctor about slowly tapering off.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about bupropion:
What are the side effects of bupropion?
Common side effects of taking bupropion include dry mouth, agitation, insomnia, headache or migraine, nausea or vomiting, constipation, tremor, dizziness, excessive sweating, blurred vision, tachycardia (fast heartbeat), confusion, rash, hostility, cardiac arrhythmia, and auditory disturbances.
What is bupropion used for?
Bupropion is a medication used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) and seasonal affective disorder. Zyban, one of the brand names of bupropion, can be prescribed to treat cravings and withdrawal effects in cigarette smokers.
Is bupropion the same as Wellbutrin?
Wellbutrin is the brand name for bupropion.
Is bupropion used for anxiety?
Bupropion is usually used to treat depression, not anxiety. It has been shown to increase anxiety in some patients, but can be an effective treatment for anxiety disorders in others.
How long does bupropion take to work?
Bupropion usually takes 4-6 weeks to improve a patient’s depressed mood and loss of interest in activities. Sleep disturbances, energy, and appetite may show improvement within the first 1-2 weeks.
Is bupropion a stimulant?
Yes, bupropion is a stimulant, but usually comes as controlled-release tablets so that it enters the bloodstream slowly.
In this article, you have learned what bupropion is used for, common side effects, and important precautions to discuss with your doctor.
Want to learn more about bupropion? Try these books!
Bupropion Hydrochloride: A Complete Guide
This book has extensive details to answer all your questions regarding bupropion. If you are wondering about drug interactions, allergies, or how to take this medication you can find that information here. This guide will help you formulate the right questions to ask your doctor and includes room for notes so you can jot down important information during your appointments. In addition, if you are a healthcare provider and want to make sure you can answer every question your patient has, then this guide book is for you as well.
Wellbutrin (Bupropion): Treats Depression and Aids in Quitting Smoking; also Prevents Depression caused by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
This book by James Lee Anderson provides information about bupropion in paperback form. It discusses what bupropion is prescribed for, how it works, and how it should be taken.
I am not in recovery. I am in discovery: Journaling my mental illness
Journaling is a great way to help process and keep track of your experiences and feelings while you are going through depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This journal contains 94 daily templates to aid in your discovery process.
Questions or comments about bupropion? Post below!
Bupropion.Medline Plus. February 15th, 2018.
Depression (major depressive disorder).Mayo Clinic. 2019.
Seasonal affective disorder (SAD).Mayo Clinic. October 25th, 2017.