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Bupropion Tapering

This entry was posted in Antidepressant on by .
Medically Reviewed Fact Checked

Last Updated on August 3, 2022 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Bupropion tapering at Alternative to Meds Center can be accomplished with what is arguably the most effective, health-oriented way to get off this antidepressant drug.

Alternative to Meds Center’s programs, based on proven methods, provide the client the opportunity of getting off bupropion (and similar drugs) safely and gently.

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How To Get Off Bupropion Safely

As mentioned before, an abrupt bupropion cessation is not recommended. Slowly tapering bupropion is the recommended route, which is best done with guidance and monitoring. At Alternative to Meds Center, we have specialized in tapering bupropion and other medications in a safe, gentle, and gradual way, including for timed-release versions of the drug. Though the process is designed to be incremental, each client is attentively assessed throughout their stay, especially regarding minute changes that can be made to the tapering schedule to increase the efficacy of the process.

For patients who also wish to stop smoking, ask us about gentle and concurrent program steps that can help, without relying on prescription medications or nicotine patches, etc., to deal with co-addiction issues.

Alternative to Meds Center has a number of tapering techniques that can be used in an individual’s uniquely tailored bupropion tapering program.

Methods used for bupropion tapering include:
  • Gradual, exact dose titration or cross-titration to avoid harsh withdrawals.5
  • Test for and correct nutritional deficits.
  • Test for and remove neurotoxin accumulation.
  • Modify the diet to provide the raw materials for neurochemical support.6,7
  • Provide supplementation and micronutrients needed for optimal neurotransmitter repair.
  • Boost microbiome health with prebiotics, probiotics, yogurt, and fermented foods.11
  • Allow time for adequate rest and relaxation during the cessation process.8
  • Physical exercise is recommended.9
  • CBT and other forms of counseling have proven helpful in recovery.10

Sadly, many popular TV shows and some movies openly joke about taking antidepressants and “stop-smoking pills” or treat the subject lightly. However, there is nothing funny about adverse reactions to them or the horrific bupropion withdrawal effects. If a person cannot find proper treatment to alleviate these problems, this can be ruinous. At Alternative to Meds Center, a program can be devised for each client so that their health concerns can be addressed without relying on harsh prescription drugs.

Gentle, Gradual Bupropion Tapering

Antidepressant tapering at Alternative to Meds Center could be the best and safest way to make sure that withdrawal from bupropion is gentle, gradual, and as comfortable as possible. Our luxurious licensed facility provides comfort and care, under the supervision and guidance of a full roster of licensed medical professionals and caregivers who are all familiar with high-level patient care during treatment for bupropion tapering protocols. Getting off bupropion doesn’t have to be a nightmare. If you have been considering the best options for trying to quit bupropion, please read the below summary of information that may help.

What is bupropion prescribed to treat?

Bupropion is a generic antidepressant medication in the aminoketone class and is chemically unrelated to SSRIs, TCAs, or other classes of antidepressants. Bupropion is also chemically unrelated to nicotine. Bupropion has been marketed and/or sold under various brand names around the globe, such as Wellbutrin©, Zyban©, Prolev©, Alplenzin©, and Quomem©, and others, some of which have been withdrawn since their initial approval.1,4

Bupropion is currently marketed as Wellbutrin, and as the extended and sustained release versions, Wellbutrin XR and Wellbutrin XL. These brand names for bupropion are FDA approved to treat MDD (major depressive disorder).

Bupropion marketed as Zyban was classed as a non-nicotine aid for smoking cessation. Zyban was a sustained-release medication. While information is scant, reports in 2022 that the brand name Zyban has been discontinued in the US.

Much is Unknown About Bupropion

Did you know that even for the drug manufacturers, the way the drug is purported to work in regards to smoking cessation is unknown? The same is true when bupropion is prescribed for depression. Of particular interest to prospective parents, it is not known if taking bupropion harms the fetus, or if a mother’s breast milk will harm the baby.

The original pre-approval clinical trials under the brand name Wellbutrin totaled 3 — two trials that lasted 3 weeks, and one trial that lasted 6 weeks on an outpatient population.

Known Side Effects of Bupropion

Some of the adverse reactions to bupropion have been reported to include suicidality, insomnia, headaches, dry mouth, seizures, hypertension (high blood pressure), abdominal pain, loss of sex drive, nausea, tremors, and dizziness, as well as cardiovascular adverse events such as irregular heartbeat and chest pain. Other troubling Bupropion side effects include delusions (you think you are someone else), visual hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there), audio hallucinations (hearing things that aren’t there), confusion, amnesia, paranoia, aggression, and many other difficulties.

Such reactions, especially if these were intense or lasting over a significant period of time, may lead to trying to quit bupropion. More information and recommendations concerning how to get off bupropion safely and gently can be found below, or by calling Alternative to Meds Center directly.

Bupropion for Smoking Cessation

Some may have opted for bupropion in order to help quit smoking but have also found a number of these adverse side effects have negatively impacted their quality of life.2

For those opting to take bupropion for quitting smoking, the statistics are less than encouraging. Studies show that only 6% of smokers remained smoke-free after one year.3 Just as unfortunate, the unwanted side effects from antidepressants such as bupropion can linger far longer than that. Alternative to Meds Center can help where bupropion tapering in an inpatient setting is desired.

Bupropion for Depression

bupropion holistic taperingFor those persons who have begun taking bupropion for depression, there are other avenues of diagnosis and treatment that do not focus only on pharmaceutical treatment. Alternative to Meds Center provides a wealth of opportunities for diagnostic testing and treatment options within the context of improving natural mental health. Prescription drugs primarily mask symptoms such as depression, and at best, only for a time. There are no curative properties of antidepressant medications.

Utilizing appropriate treatments concurrently with withdrawal from bupropion can make getting off bupropion a more gentle, much more comfortable experience. For example, removal of toxic load can ease compromised neurochemistry. This is helpful because healthy neurochemistry provides the basis for well-being. Therapeutic nutrition may help alleviate vitamin deficiencies, along with providing a clean, (chemical-free) and nutrient-dense diet.

Treatments are backed up by testing to ensure these aims are being achieved effectively. Other types of therapies made available for physical comfort include therapeutic massage, soothing mineral baths, foot baths, cranial-sacral massage, acupuncture, and acupressure, Equine-assisted therapy, music and art therapy, and many other genres of treatments that may help to reduce or entirely eliminate symptoms that typically emerge while trying to quit bupropion medication.

Caution Regarding Abrupt Withdrawal From Bupropion

Simply stopping bupropion “cold-turkey” is not recommended for any antidepressant medications, except in the case of the following reactions:

  1. Presenting seizures
  2. Skin rash or eruptions especially accompanied by fever
  3. Swelling in the lips, face, throat, tongue, hands, eyes, legs
  4. Chest pain
  5. Trouble breathing

These reactions can be life-threatening and are the only cases that require immediate bupropion cessation, and it is recommended that the patient be brought to a hospital or ER setting so that life-saving protocols can immediately be put in place to save the life of the patient.

Except in these cases, the FDA also has issued warnings against abruptly stopping bupropion to avoid serious side effects that can occur during withdrawal from bupropion or from abruptly getting off bupropion products including those that are manufactured in a timed-release or sustained format. Studies show various risks involved in getting off bupropion and other types of medications.2

Find Out More About Holistic Bupropion Cessation

For anyone who has been considering how to get off bupropion safely or even multiple medications, we urge you to contact us at Alternative to Meds Center. The center can advise you on science-based methods (i.e., metabolic testing, neurotoxin removal, neurotransmitter rehabilitation, orthomolecular medicine, and much more) that we have used successfully for safely tapering bupropion and other medications. We also blend the program with other holistic methods to improve both health and lifestyle choices to your benefit, as outlined earlier. There is no better program for bupropion tapering help than what we provide our clients in our comfortable, luxury-style, exceptionally well-staffed, inpatient Alternative to Meds Center.

1. Gandey A. Bupropion: 1 drug, 4 different brand names. CMAJ. 2003 Nov 25;169(11):1202. PMID: 14638672; PMCID: PMC264979. [cited 2022 July 7]

2. FDA, Wellbutrin Label information. [INTERNET] [cited 2022 July 7]

3. Benli AR, Erturhan S, Oruc MA, Kalpakci P, Sunay D, Demirel Y. A comparison of the efficacy of varenicline and bupropion and an evaluation of the effect of the medications in the context of the smoking cessation programme. Tob Induc Dis. 2017 Feb 1;15:10. doi: 10.1186/s12971-017-0116-0. PMID: 28167895; PMCID: PMC5286845. [cited 2022 July 7]

4.ZYBAN: FDA prescribing information, side effects, and usage [published online June 2022] [cited 2022 July 7]

5. Caffrey AR, Borrelli EP. The art and science of drug titration. Ther Adv Drug Saf. 2021 Jan 19;11:2042098620958910. doi: 10.1177/2042098620958910. PMID: 33796256; PMCID: PMC7967860. [cited 2022 July 11]

6. Jeynes KD, Gibson EL. The importance of nutrition in aiding recovery from substance use disorders: A review. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2017 Oct 1;179:229-239. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2017.07.006. Epub 2017 Aug 4. PMID: 28806640. [cited 2022 July 11]

7. Bourre JM. Effects of nutrients (in food) on the structure and function of the nervous system: update on dietary requirements for brain. Part 1: micronutrients. J Nutr Health Aging. 2006 Sep-Oct;10(5):377-85. PMID: 17066209. [cited 2022 July 11]

8. Helvig A, Wade S, Hunter-Eades L. Rest and the associated benefits in restorative sleep: a concept analysis. J Adv Nurs. 2016 Jan;72(1):62-72. doi: 10.1111/jan.12807. Epub 2015 Sep 15. PMID: 26370516. [cited 2022 July 11]

9. Zhang L, Yuan TF. Exercise and substance abuse. Int Rev Neurobiol. 2019;147:269-280. doi: 10.1016/bs.irn.2019.07.007. Epub 2019 Aug 22. PMID: 31607357. [cited 2022 July 11]

10. McHugh RK, Hearon BA, Otto MW. Cognitive behavioral therapy for substance use disorders. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2010 Sep;33(3):511-25. doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2010.04.012. PMID: 20599130; PMCID: PMC2897895. [cited 2022 July 11]

11. Osadchiy V, Martin CR, Mayer EA. The Gut-Brain Axis and the Microbiome: Mechanisms and Clinical Implications. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019 Jan;17(2):322-332. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2018.10.002. Epub 2018 Oct 4. PMID: 30292888; PMCID: PMC6999848. [cited 2022 July 11]

Originally Published Nov 2, 2019 by Lyle Murphy

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Bupropion Tapering
Medical Disclaimer:
Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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