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Wellbutrin Tapering (Bupropion)

Wellbutrin Tapering (Bupropion)

This entry was posted in Antidepressant on by .

Last Updated on January 10, 2021 by Carol Gillette

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

If you’re searching for concrete information on Wellbutrin tapering, weaning, and titration, we can help. Alternative to Meds Center is a well-recognized rehab center providing professional, tailored solutions.

Side effects from antidepressants such as Wellbutrin (aka bupropion and other names) can be ferociously wicked to withstand and still tend to be largely misunderstood by the same people who prescribe these drugs.

Do you feel misunderstood?
You are not alone.

getting off wellbutrin
Alternative to Meds has been a trusted source of help for antidepressant tapering for 15+ years. We have published evidence we invite you to review that clearly shows our clients’ success. Even with people who have what might be considered highly unusual symptoms, these same symptoms are much more common than what is generally reported. Not only do we specialize in these symptoms, but many of us have also had to endure them ourselves. With our extensive training, our lengthy history in assisting our clients, and our own personal experiences, we have acquired the skills needed to help others through their own medication tapering program.
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Information on Tapering from Wellbutrin

Information here is for anyone searching for information on Wellbutrin tapering, or for general information before stopping Wellbutrin. Please be advised that this drug is also prescribed under quite a number of other names. The list of alternative names includes Zyban, bupropion, Fortivo XL, Aplenzin, Prolev, Quomem, and others.1

All of these various drug names, however, refer to the same molecular blueprint. Some have additional drugs added, and other versions may be timed-release. Look for this information on the prescription label. For example, Zyban is primarily approved for quitting smoking, but Wellbutrin, with exactly the same molecular structure, is not approved for use in quitting smoking. The key point, despite the many names for this drug, would be to understand that Zyban is the same as Wellbutrin, and should not be viewed as “less toxic” or less habit-forming, or not subject to similar harsh effects. This drug is classed as an “NDRI” or a norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor.

Drug manufacturers have added to the confusion, in apparent attempts to extend production beyond patent expiry dates.

Challenges of Wellbutrin Tapering and Titration

Wellbutrin taperingBelow, we will discuss some of the main challenges with getting off Wellbutrin, and some ways to stay healthy during tapering from Wellbutrin (or any other of Wellbutrin’s namesakes).

An important challenge is estimating how quickly or slowly to administer a Wellbutrin tapering program. The Alternative to Meds Center structures its Wellbutrin tapering programs with built-in monitoring, involving real-time discussions and coordinated teamwork between the client and the various staff on your team. This is how we designed our Wellbutrin cessation programs in order to address this exact point in an alert and flexible way. The client is always consulted at each step so that the estimation of how quickly or slowly to proceed is always in consultation and agreement with the client. Below, we will cover some of the more concerning side effects of Wellbutrin, which may be avoided by tapering off the drug safely.

Wellbutrin Side Effects

  • Seizures
  • Suicidal thoughts and behavior
  • Depression
  • Mania
  • Psychosis, delusions, hallucinations
  • Aggression, hostility, irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety, panic, paranoia
  • Weight-loss, loss of appetite, nausea
  • Tachycardia, cardiac arrhythmias

FDA WARNINGS:  The FDA cautions that Wellbutrin (bupropion) can cause seizures, and suicidal thoughts.4

These and other side effects may lead to the decision to get off Wellbutrin. Safety is of prime concern. The Harvard Medical School has cautioned against abruptly stopping antidepressants, noting risk for worsened depression in such cases.2 This means a slower, gradual tapering method would offer a safer treatment choice. This is our specialty.

Alternative to Meds Center has been helping clients getting off Wellbutrin and many other drugs safely and gently for more than a decade and a half. Part of the center’s success comes from sound principles of holistic treatment in a safe and nurturing inpatient setting. During the process, clients receive many therapeutic aids, such as cranial sacral and other therapeutic forms of massage, mineral and foot baths, targeted nutrition therapy, nebulized glutathione treatments, music and art therapy, Reiki, acupressure and/or acupuncture, and other ways to support client comfort at every step along the way.

wellbutrin tapering

The Importance of Addressing Root Causes

help weaning off wellbutrinEqually important, if not more so, is working on investigating and correcting root causes for a person’s pre-medication symptoms. This is vital and is where some life-changing health improvements can occur. By isolating causal factors these can then be addressed. Resolving these factors will tend to resolve the person’s symptomology without needing to rely on drugs to mask unwanted symptoms. 

It may be true that in the past, the only “solution” that was offered was to dampen symptoms with medication. In the past, perhaps that was all that was possible and would be more humane than letting a person suffer. But with today’s testing and other diagnostic and investigative tools, Alternative to Meds Center can help our clients to truly move forward into bonafide better health. Some of these benefits might include more energy, a brighter mood, a better quality of sleep, more vitality overall, and therefore not needing the artificial stimulation of medication.

Will a Person’s Original Symptoms Return When Stopping Wellbutrin?

Administering a safe and effective Wellbutrin tapering program must include helping to prevent a person’s symptoms from returning as the medication is being incrementally reduced. For instance, where a person took Wellbutrin to combat depression, if Wellbutrin tapering is too fast it would not be unusual for the person’s depressive symptoms to return which can do so with increased intensity. However, the Alternative to Meds Center Program is designed so that fluctuations in mood or other reactions can be monitored extremely closely and can be mitigated through exact supplementation, therapies, or adjusting the speed of the taper to compensate. The goal is to administer Wellbutrin tapering without these fluctuations, and without major or intense Wellbutrin discontinuation symptoms, and without a return of original symptoms as much as is possible.

Researchers believe that inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine accounts for lessened cravings during nicotine withdrawal.5 Thus, if a person took Wellbutrin to stop smoking, it is possible that unless addressed, nicotine cravings may return. Or, where a person took the drug to lose weight, weight might return after stopping the drug.

But, as the drug label suggests, regardless of why a person started taking Wellbutrin (or any of its namesakes) suicidal thoughts, worsened depression, or other adverse events can occur and would require close and careful monitoring. Each client is a unique person with their own history. The results we achieve for our clients at Alternative to Meds Center would never be possible with a cookie-cutter style program. Each client has a program designed specifically for their needs and their health profile, etc.

Wellbutrin on the City Streets

wellbutrin addictWellbutrin has even found a significant presence in some city streets where it is known as “poor man’s cocaine” due to its euphoric effects when snorted. Wellbutrin is classified as an antidepressant, but because of the drug being a cathinone derivative, it belongs also to a class of drugs chemically related to amphetamines or “bath salts,” which also have stimulating effects.2

Most of Wellbutrin use is from a prescription, for treatment of depression, and also used for ADHD for its stimulant effects, or in treating SAD and other conditions. Wellbutrin is the only DNRI legally approved to treat depression. To compare effects, cocaine is a DRI, a dopamine reuptake inhibitor. Inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine makes the drug stimulating. Drugs that inhibit the reuptake of norepinephrine (adrenaline), are called sNRIs which stands for selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. and also have stimulating effects. Unfortunately, many street users have been harmed by overuse or overdose of DRIs, sNRIs, and NDRIs. The inherent risk for drug-liking and addiction is very high in stimulant drugs.

Wellbutrin’s FDA label does not say a single word about how to come off the drug safely. The FDA label suggests that if a person is “depressed” about weight loss, that Wellbutrin might be a drug to consider. This is because many people who take it lose their appetite and will lose weight. In fact, a “new” version of this drug called “Contrave” (a combination of bupropion and naltrexone) hit the market in 2014 specifically marketed for weight loss. All of these drugs carry the same warnings, for example, if psychosis, suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, mania, or renal failure occurs, (along with numerous other reactions) that in some cases stopping the drug has stopped these symptoms.4

Correctly planned Wellbutrin tapering should be carefully monitored due to suicide risk, and other potential problems. This is important whether the drug was prescribed for depression, or under a different name for quitting smoking, weight-loss, or ADHD. Where NDRI drugs were non-prescribed or prescribed, we strongly recommend seeking guidance to mitigate these risks.

More Information Regarding Successful Wellbutrin Tapering Protocols

wellbutrin titrationThere is much more to learn about the programs delivered at Alternative to Meds Center and what they entail in terms of treatments and therapies that are available to our clients. We believe there is no more comprehensive program for Wellbutrin tapering help than what is delivered in our comfortable, luxurious, and nurturing inpatient facility.

Please contact us at Alternative to Meds Center so we can provide you with many more details about the various techniques and protocols that are used to help our clients meet their individual health goals. We invite you to contact us and discover how easy it may be for you or your loved one to begin their Wellbutrin tapering treatment: your Wellbutrin tapering program will be designed to be gradual, without harsh side effects, and surprisingly comfortable.

1. Gandey, Allison “Bupropion: 1 Drug, 4 Different Brand Names”, CMAJ [2003] [cited 2020 Apr 5]

2.”Focus on Bupropion Toxicity and Abuse” published by The British Columbia Drug and Poison Information Center [cited 2020 Apr 5]

3. Berigan TR, Harazan JS “Bupropion-Associated Withdrawal Symptoms: A Case Report.” The Primary Care Companion of the Journal of Psychiatry of 1999 [cited 2020 Oct 21]

4. FDA Wellbutrin label. [cited 2020 Oct 21]

5. Stahl S, Pradko J, Haight B, et al., “A Review of the Neuropharmacology of Bupropion, a Dual Norepinephrine and Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitor.” Primary Care Companion to the Clinical Journal of Psychiatry 2004 [Internet] PMID 15361919 [cited 2020 Oct 21]

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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