How Long Before Wellbutrin Works?

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This blog post will answer the question, “How long before Wellbutrin works?” and also cover topics like what is Wellbutrin, symptoms of depression, how it works, what the research says, what are the side effects of the drug, and Wellbutrin & psychotherapy.

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How long before Wellbutrin works?

Wellbutrin usually takes a few weeks to show its effectiveness in treating depression-related symptoms like an improvement in sleep, energy levels, mood, etc. 

Let us explore it in-depth, but first, we need to understand what is Wellbutrin, which condition it is used to treat, its side effects, and how it can be used in combination with psychotherapy.

What is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin is the brand name for the Bupropion medication which is basically known as antidepressant medication. Wellbutrin is used to treat Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) which is usually referred to as depression or clinical depression. Wellbutrin is also useful in the cessation of smoking. Wellbutrin was formulated to produce a kind of antidepressant that had a unique chemical property that would provide safety advantages over the medications that were already existing in the market.

How safe is Wellbutrin? 

The safety of consumption of Wellbutrin has been established through several clinical trials as well as with FDA in 1989. The initial form of this medication was an Immediate Release (IR) tablet (three times a day) but patients have often reported inconvenience in the dosing schedule hence it was then developed and marketed as a Sustained Release (SR) tablet in 1996.

With the newer SR formulation of bupropion and a better safety profile and enhanced tolerance, it became one of the most frequently prescribed medications for depression. 

According to NCBI, a desipramine comparator study was conducted in people with bipolar I-related symptoms and the results have shown that Wellbutrin turned out to be as effective as desipramine for bipolar depression as it was associated with a statistically lower rate of switching into manic phase or mania over one year period. But the use of bupropion is not yet certified by the FDA.

Symptoms of depression

Let us first take a look at some symptoms of depression

●       A feeling of emptiness and hopelessness

●       Changes in sleeping patterns – sleeping way too much or very little

●       Disruption in concentration

●       Eating less or more than usual

●       A state of no interest in the activities you used to enjoy

●       Feeling drained and devoid of energy

●       Feeling guilty or worthless

●       Suicidal thoughts

What are the variants of Wellbutrin available in the market?

Wellbutrin comes in two variants – XL and SR but both work in the same manner. The only difference is the way drugs are released into your body.

XL stands for Extended-release and is consumed once a day while SR stands for sustained release and can be taken twice a day.

What does the research say about Wellbutrin? 

Wellbutrin belongs to the class of aminoketones and it changes the process of production of neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine in your body as these affect our moods.

Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers used by our body to transport signals from one pathway of neurons to another. They can be assumed as the internal messaging system through which the brain and tissues connect.

Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that works and maintains the alertness of your body, pushing it to become ready to act. It is responsible for your heart rate, blood pumping, keeping you awake, and able to recall and focus on things around you.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for balancing the pleasure-reward mechanism, sleep, and moods.

It is not yet FDA approved but is being considered by organizations as an alternative line of treatment for people affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or ADHD.

Moreover, if you want to get rid of your smoking habits your medical professional can recommend Bupropion as an alternative treatment option along with the nicotine patches.

Researchers aren’t quite sure about how exactly Wellbutrin works but the takeaway is it is able to stop the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine. It must be noted here that it is not an SSRI and does not have an effect on the reuptake of serotonin or inhibit monoamine oxidase.

What are the general side effects of Wellbutrin? 

If you have no other medical issues or other health-related complications these are the side effects associated with Wellbutrin and are generally seen in consumers:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Insomnia
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Joint pains
  • Migraines and headache
  • Rash and itch in the skin
  • Neuropathic symptoms – anxiety, delusions, panic attacks, psychosis, and paranoia. Wellbutrin should be discontinued if such symptoms persist in the person.
  • The chance of weight gain is higher as compared to other anti-depressants that cause weight loss.
  • Increase in blood pressure.
  • Aggressive behavior.
  • Change is sexual activities.
  • Vision-related as well as hearing-related issues.
  • Menstrual cycle disruption.
  • Pale stools, change in color of urine.
  • Inability to sit still.
  • Yellow skin and eyes.

Side Effects of Wellbutrin in people with other physical and mental health-related conditions

Even though it is an effective antidepressant as compared to other antidepressant drugs and other serotonin drugs, there are quite a number of side effects for certain people with other conditions, and they are advised not to consume it without strict instructions and prescriptions from their healthcare providers. These are listed below:

  • People who have seizures. 
  • People who have eating disorders. 
  • People with Bipolar disorders
  • People with a history of kidney-related issues. 
  • It is not safe for children
  • People who have an allergic reaction to Wellbutrin can get rashes, hives, swelling, etc. 
  • People with phobia-related issues.
  • People with panic disorder.
  • Women who are pregnant.
  • People who are breastfeeding.
  • People consuming antipsychotic drugs.

Wellbutrin and Psychotherapy

Wellbutrin is used as an antidepressant to treat MDD/Depression. MDD is a mental health disorder that is often treated with a combination of pharmacological treatment used in combination with psychotherapy to help people with MDD with their symptoms and also help them live a better life. 

When medications and psychotherapy is done simultaneously, it can be very helpful for the person to deal with their physical symptoms as well as mental distress and other issues in therapy. 

Psychotherapy is often used to treat mental health disorders and conditions in which there is a trained and certified mental health professional who establishes a therapeutic relationship with the person who is experiencing any form of distress or has a mental health condition.  

Psychotherapy is also quite effective in helping people to work on themselves, self-growth, work on their self-esteem, boundaries, stress management, anxiety, trauma, grief, etc.

There are various forms of psychotherapy but Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often used to treat MDD and other depressive disorders as it is quite effective in such cases. 

How long does it take for Wellbutrin to work? 

If Wellbutrin is being administered to you for depression it can take around six to eight weeks before it really starts functioning as a treatment and helping the person with their symptoms related to Major Depressive Disorder or MDD or Clinical Depression. 

One can not be sure if they notice an enhancement in their sleep pattern, appetite, or energy levels or not but there is an improvement usually seen in these areas from the first 2-3 weeks only. It can be used as a short-term as well as long-term treatment of depression and related conditions. 

Conclusion

The blog answered the question, “How long before Wellbutrin works?” and also covered other areas like what is Wellbutrin, variants of Wellbutrin available in the market, research about the drug, side effects associated with the drug, and combination of Wellbutrin with psychotherapy. 

 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs): How long before Wellbutrin works?

How quickly does Wellbutrin start working?

If you’re using Wellbutrin for depression, it can take six to eight weeks for it to start working as a proper line of treatment and helping you with the symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder or Depression

Apparently one can see certain improvements in their sleep-related issues, energy levels, and appetite as early as during the first or second week of consumption of Wellbutrin.

What if I stop taking Wellbutrin abruptly?

You should not abruptly stop taking Wellbutrin because there is a chance of discontinuation syndrome that can cause dizziness, nausea, insomnia, and dietary changes

Are there specific concerns about Wellbutrin and pregnancy?

Yes, there are specific concerns about Wellbutrin and pregnancy. You must consult your OBGYN and psychiatrist to discuss a course of action. This is important because people with depression or MDD take this medication to deal with their symptoms but it is not safe for consumption during pregnancy as it is not safe for the baby as well as the mother during gestation. 

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before choosing Wellbutrin?

You should discuss various things with your healthcare provider before choosing Wellbutrin. A list of some major things that should be discussed is mentioned below:

  • Suicidal ideation and suicidal thoughts
  • Symptoms that hinder your well-being
  • Past medication and history of mental health issues
  • Other medical issues in the past 
  • Allergies
  • If you are taking physiotherapy, psychotherapy, counselling, substance abuse treatment, etc. 
  • If you are pregnant or planning to have kids 
  • If you consume alcohol or drugs

How should Wellbutrin be taken?

Wellbutrin is an antidepressant and should only be taken when prescribed by a medical professional. 

This medication is available in the forms – IR(Immediate release), SR(Sustained Release), XL(Extended-release)

IR is usually taken 3 times a day and the dosage varies from 100mg to 150 mg

SR is taken twice daily – morning and afternoon with a dosage ranging from 100mg to 200 mg

XL is usually taken once in the morning with dosage varying from 150mg to 450mg.

While there are dosage ranges for different varieties of Wellbutrin, your doctor can confirm the dose that is right for you based on your body’s response, history, and current condition.

What happens if I miss a dose of Wellbutrin?

If you miss a dose of Wellbutrin by mistake, try to take it whenever you are reminded of it. Take the remaining prescribed dose at an evenly spaced time, at least four hours apart. NEVER take two doses altogether at once, doing so may increase your risk of seizure and other reactions or side effects. 

What should I avoid while taking Wellbutrin?

You should avoid drinking alcohol and consuming drugs while taking Wellbutrin or Bupropion as that can significantly increase your risk of having a seizure. You can consult your healthcare provider to discuss your alcohol/drug consumption and a course of action regarding alcohol and drugs. 

Consumption of alcohol/drugs is dangerous with Wellbutrin Sudden and suddenly stopping alcohol or drugs can be extremely difficult as that might trigger the withdrawal syndrome and interrupt your well-being. 

References 

Bupropion(Wellbutrin): What it is, how it works, side effects, and more. https://www.forhims.com/blog/wellbutrin-bupropion-overview

Bupropion (Wellbutrin). NAMI https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatments/Mental-Health-Medications/Types-of-Medication/Bupropion-(Wellbutrin)

Schimelpfening (2021) What to know about Wellbutrin (Bupropion). https://www.verywellmind.com/wellbutrin-bupropion-side-effects-1066745#toc-wellbutrin-uses

Warner C, Shoaib M. How does bupropion work as a smoking cessation aid? Addict Biol. 2005 Sep;10(3):219-31. DOI: 10.1080/13556210500222670. PMID: 16109583.

Chun-Fai-Chan B, Koren G, Fayez I, Kalra S, Voyer-Lavigne S, Boshier A, Shakir S, Einarson A. Pregnancy outcome of women exposed to bupropion during pregnancy: a prospective comparative study. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2005 Mar;192(3):932-6. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajog.2004.09.027. PMID: 15746694.

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