What is Wellbutrin (Bupropion) Used For?
Wellbutrin (bupropion) is used for many purposes but was initially FDA-approved for these uses primarily:
- MDD (major depressive disorder)
- Smoking cessation
- Seasonal affective disorder
Off-label uses have developed in the treatments of:
- PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)
- Anxiety disorders
- ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder)
- Social phobia
- Neuropathy (nerve pain)
- Chronic fatigue
- Cocaine dependence
- Parkinson’s disease
Wellbutrin (Bupropion) Alternative Names and Slang
Brand names in the US include Aplenzin, Buproban, ForfivoXL, Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL, Zyban, Zyban Advantage Pack, and Budeprion XL. There are dozens of other brand names for other countries.
Wellbutrin and its various versions have been shown to be particularly subject to abuse, and there are substantial risks for recreational users, which has become a growing trend.
On the streets in Toronto, the drug is commonly referred to as “poor man’s cocaine” for its cocaine-like stimulant effects.
Wellbutrin (Bupropion) Side Effects
Four out of every thousand people taking less than 450 mg daily experience seizures; over 450 mg daily, the risk increases sevenfold. Also important to note is that 68% to 77% of bupropion-induced seizures occur within the first 4 hours of taking the drug. The higher the dose, the more likely a seizure is to occur, and some seizures can be fatal.1
Apart from the risk of seizure, other side effects of taking Wellbutrin can include:
- Suicidality (Wellbutrin is associated with suicidal thoughts, and behaviors, including deaths by suicide. Wellbutrin is high-risk in overdoses, meaning often fatal.)
- Worsened depression
- Digestive issues such as indigestion, cramps
- High blood pressure
- Chest pain
- Stomach pain
- Migraine, headache
- Hot flashes
- Weight loss
- Sore throat
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Muscle pain
- Myalgia (pain in a group of muscles)
- Frequent urination
- Dry mouth
- Problems swallowing
- Loss of balance
- Heat intolerance
When used as a meth-like or cocaine-like stimulant, the drug is snorted or injected, releasing the drug into the bloodstream nearly instantly, causing such effects as:
- Increased self-esteem
- Increased energy, activity
- Loss of appetite
- Reduced need for sleep
- Long periods of wakefulness
These effects can lead to repeated use and addiction.
Wellbutrin Withdrawal Symptoms (Bupropion)
Wellbutrin (bupropion) withdrawal symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe enough to require hospitalization. While some people do not experience more than mild discomforts, be cautious when stopping this medication. Gradually tapering can help to avoid life-threatening or health-compromising risks.
Here are some of the withdrawal symptoms associated with Wellbutrin (bupropion) or Zyban:
- Seizures can occur while taking, tapering, or even after stopping bupropion. Seizures can be life-threatening. Monitor carefully during and after cessation.
- Suicidality can occur while taking, tapering, or even after stopping bupropion. Monitor carefully during and after cessation.
- Flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, aches, pains, sweats).
- Loss of balance
Discontinuing/Quitting Wellbutrin (Bupropion)
Warning: Withdrawal symptoms may not appear until some days have passed since the last dose was taken. Monitor symptoms even well beyond the cessation period is complete.1
Discontinuing Wellbutrin can be managed safely and though it can carry some risks and discomfort, discussing cessation with your prescribing doctor is recommended beforehand.
The safest recommendation is to seek medical guidance for cessation, preferably in an inpatient setting where physical, as well as psychological factors, can be addressed for successful recovery in a supportive atmosphere.