Why Does Wellbutrin Take So Long to Work? (A comprehensive guide)

In this brief guide, we will discuss the subject “Why does wellbutrin take so long to work?”, as well as other things related to Wellbutrin.

Why Does Wellbutrin Take So Long to Work?

Wellbutrin takes so long to work because it works on two main neurotransmitters in the brain, serotonin and norepinephrine, and it takes time for the medicine to bring these levels back up to normal which then has an effect on the symptoms the person is experiencing.

Another reason it may take Wellbutrin so long to work is because it has recently become clear that antidepressants don’t just alter how serotonin gets absorbed in the brain, it also changes some other important mechanism of serotonin prevalence in the neurons.

There have been studies specifically aimed at understanding why antidepressants take so long to work, even when an increased dosage is given and these involve a study of how these medications work.

Neuroscientist Mark Rasenick explains why the antidepressants like wellbutrin take so long to work, and he says:

“It’s been a puzzle for quite a long time why SSRI antidepressants can take up to two months to start reducing symptoms, especially because we know that they bind to their targets within minutes. We thought that maybe these drugs have an alternate binding site that is important in the action of the drugs to reduce depressive symptoms.”

“The process showed a time-lag consistent with other cellular actions of antidepressants. “It’s likely that this effect on the movement of G proteins out of the lipid rafts towards regions of the cell membrane where they are better able to function is the reason these antidepressants take so long to work.”

“Determining the exact binding site could contribute to the design of novel antidepressants that speed the migration of G proteins out of the lipid rafts, so that the antidepressant effects might start to be felt sooner.”

“This very minor change in the molecule prevents it from binding, so that helps narrow down some of the characteristics of the binding site.”

This means that the mechanisms of antidepressants like Wellbutrin are not just limited to making more neurotransmitters available in the brain, they also need to change some other key things about how the brain works to be able to help with the abatement of symptoms.

Some people who have taken Wellbutrin have also complained about Wellbutrin rage episodes so you should be aware of Wellbutrins potential side effects.

Signs Wellbutrin is Working

Some of the key signs that Wellbutrin is working may be seen chiefly in somatic symptoms of depression, or even somatic symptoms of anxiety, if that is what you are taking Wellbutrin for, because usually antidepressants work first on the somatic symptoms, and then on the psychological ones.

The individual might not feel happy overnight, but they may start feeling like they are not feeling as drained by sadness, and they may experience a boost in their motivation to do their own chores and take showers or take care of the personal errands they may have been ignoring while depressed.

The individual taking wellbutrin may not recognize that Wellbutrin has started working because there usually aren’t any specific signs or symptoms but the person may find that they are just doing things without realizing it, and functioning better than they have been for some time.

The first signs of wellbutrin working on the psychological and emotional symptoms of depression include a decrease in the depressed mood, and a reduction in the general feeling of fogginess that has persisted for so long.

Another sign wellbutrin is working on the somatic symptoms of depression may be a better sexual drive, and the person may start feeling like they have a desire for sexual intimacy again, which is something that goes down right away.

Other somatic symptoms of depression wellbutrin may start working from the start are fatigue, random aches and pains and a general feeling of malaise.

Wellbutrin may work on the somatic symptoms of depression within the first 2 weeks or so of starting it, and sometimes it may take up to 3 weeks as well.

Signs wellbutrin is working may be many, you may feel like you are seeing a decrease in some of your somatic symptoms and even though you may still feel depressed and the motivation levels may be very low still, you may not be sleeping and eating as poorly, and your sleep will start being more restful.

Another thing you may notice that may make for a good sign wellbutrin is working is that you may experience a more restful sleep, and when you wake up you may not feel as bleary-eyed and underrested, because wellbutrin works to improve the quality of your sleep so that you feel much better on wakefulness.

Wellbutrin Side Effects

Wellbutrin side effects are quite well known among people who take it, as they tend to be quite specific, and some of these common wellbutrin side effects may include agitation, insomnia and anger.

A full list of Wellbutrin side effects is as follows:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Sore throat.
  • Constipation
  • Weight loss
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Constipation
  • Tremor
  • Dizziness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dry mouth
  • Confusion
  • Headache or migraine
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • Tachycardia

There are other side effects of Wellbutrin as well, and these tend to be far rarer; these include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Sweating
  • Angle closure glaucoma
  • Anxiety
  • Skin rash
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Shakiness
  • Thought disturbances
  • Stomach pain

When did Wellbutrin Start Working For You?

The best way people can find out about when a certain drug might work for them is to ask others that have taken it, so here are some common responses to when did wellbutrin start working for you:

“I’m on Wellbutrin XL 150mg as well. I barely started it about 3 days ago… I’m hoping things start to get better, because that’s really what I’m even living for, right — with hopes that things really will get better… I’m just eager for time to pass by. School and work sucks.

I can’t really think clearly in my mind. All these thoughts running through and none of it feels like a peaceful clear thought. I wish I can just relax and have time pass by, while still enjoying my free-time. None of that really comes by, anymore.”

“Wellbutrin made me feel a LOT better within a few days, as in going from having no energy, crying all day, never leaving the house, and not being able to keep up with personal hygiene or household cleaning, to wanting to exercise, tidying things up, taking care of myself, eating healthily (whenever I lapse into depression, my eating becomes increasingly disordered, so it was a big thing,) and taking an interest in activities I hadn’t cared about in years.

I am aware that it’s unlikely that I was feeling the actual effects of the drug that early on, but placebo is just as much of an effect as the “real” thing, so I really didn’t/don’t give a shit.

Lithium, on the other hand, made me feel sick and stupid for 2-3 months before finally unleashing its positive benefits for me. Now, I can’t live without it.”

“I instantly had more energy and motivation, but the true AD effects were about 8 weeks in.”

The main thing is that everyone works differently, and these people took wellbutrin for various reasons that may not apply to you, so make sure you always discuss things with your doctor, especially if you have concerns.

Also make sure you never stop a psychiatric medication on your own just because it seems like it isn’t working, and tell the doctor if you are having any anxiety related to the medication.

Wellbutrin Reviews

Here are a couple of Wellbutrin Reviews to help you understand how this medication might work:

For Major Depressive Disorder: “I’m 39 female that was prescribed Wellbutrin/Bupropion without a psych evaluation and as soon as I started taking it… I began having dreams and sexual desires. I continued thinking things would change but they got worse. Weeks later I began to hallucinate and even forgot where I parked my car after going shopping one day and ended up calling police and reported it stolen when it wasn’t. I also started seeing things that weren’t there and having really dark thoughts. This drug took over my life and caused me to make irrational decisions like up and moving 1200 miles across the country for no apparent reason whatsoever. A situation I regret! I got a second opinion and was taken off of wellbutrin immediately and given a psych evaluation. I was given prozac and trazodone but no longer take them. I just got a puppy, I changed my diet and lifestyle and learned coping mechanisms. I will never take another pill if I can help it.”

For Depression: “I took it for 6 months, it didn’t help me with my depression at all and gave me even sadder thoughts”

For Depression: “I was feeling very depressed this winter. A combination of SAD and life. I was irritable, unmotivated, unsociable, negative and sad. I could hardly recognize myself. I was nervous to try an anti depressant as I’d heard weight gain an loss of sex drive were often side affects. That would’ve depressed me more! But my doctor said that Wellbutrin was often referred to as the skinny sexy pill. Now that made it sound a whole lot better. I know it seems hard to believe, but day three I felt like a weight had lifted…not sure if it can work that fast but I was able to jump out of bed and feel motivated. My appetite has decreased, I’m happy, my libido is still as good as ever and I have experienced 0 side effects. Luv it!”

For Depression: “Unfortunately this medication did not work out well for me at all. I was on 150mg of Wellbutrin, a generic SR version. In the first week I took the medicine first thing in the morning as directed (for me that’s about 7a.m.), and the rest of the day I had intense/severe headaches. Mind you, I already take medication daily for migraines because I’m a chronic sufferer, and my migraine medication was being blown out of the water! I felt like I had several ice picks in my head. The other issue I noticed immediately was that I was having an extremely difficult time sleeping and if I did fall asleep I’d have very vivid and awful nightmares. Other apparent issues were having memory loss and abnormal behavior. Not for me!!!”

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we discussed the subject “Why does wellbutrin take so long to work?”, as well as other things related to Wellbutrin.

Wellbutrin is a popular antidepressant, and many psychiatrists tend to prefer it for phases of depression and other disorders like obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety and stress disorders.

If you have any questions or comments related to why it takes so long for Wellbutrin to work, please feel free to reach out to us at any time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Why Does Wellbutrin Take So Long to Work?

How long does it take for bupropion to kick in?

It may take anywhere between 2-3 weeks to 4-6 weeks for Bupropion to kick in, but the somatic symptoms may take a shorter amount of time to go away, compared to the depressed mood and lack of interest in activities, which may subside after some time.

If there is no improvement in any of the symptoms for up to 4-6 weeks, it may mean that the bupropion is not working, and either the dosage needs to be increased or the doctor might ant to explore the idea of some other medication.

Can Wellbutrin help immediately?

No, bupropion cannot help immediately, and even though the person might start sleeping better in the first couple of days, most of the people who take bupropion have some agitation and insomnia the first couple of days as the medication builds up in their system, after which there may be some relief in the somatic symptoms like sleep, appetite and secual functioning.

The psychological symptoms like depressed mood and lack of interest in activities may start improving around the 4th to 6th week, so one should not expect to see massive improvement immediately.

Why does it take so long for antidepressants to work?

It takes so long for antidepressants to work because they need to build up in your system and bring your serotonin and dopamine levels back to normal, and this takes some time, given that it involves circuits in the brain.

Neuroscientist Mark Rasenick, who has studied why it takes long for antidepressants to work and how they work in the neural networks, says, “It’s likely that this effect on the movement of G proteins out of the lipid rafts towards regions of the cell membrane where they are better able to function is the reason these antidepressants take so long to work.”

Citations

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

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-superhuman-mind/201702/number-one-reason-ssris-take-four-six-weeks-work

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

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160728125256.htm

Divya is currently a Clinical Psychology Trainee in a Master of Philosophy program and holds a Master’s in clinical psychology. She has a special interest in Personality studies and disorders, having researched the subject before, and Neuropsychology; with an additional interest being Mood disorders. She likes to write about Psychiatric issues, having worked in multiple specialty setups during her time as a clinical psychology student, and in her free time she likes to cook and read.