Wellbutrin (bupropion) withdrawal symptoms can be mild, moderate, or severe enough to require hospitalization. Be cautious when stopping this medication. Gradual tapering can help to avoid otherwise hard to tolerate discomforts as well as life-threatening or health-compromising risks.
Wellbutrin withdrawal symptoms include:
Seizures can occur while taking, tapering, or even after stopping bupropion. Seizures can be life-threatening. Monitor carefully during and after cessation.1
Suicidality can occur while taking, tapering, or even after stopping bupropion. Monitor carefully during and after cessation.4
Despite the known dangers of antidepressants, they are generally still prescribed without any investigation into other life factors, lab testing, or even a conversation informing the patient about Wellbutrin withdrawal and potential withdrawal symptoms. The shortcomings of this approach seem self-evident.
Depression, smoking addiction, fatigue, and other symptoms for which Wellbutrin is prescribed can actually be the result of hormonal imbalances, vitamin D deficiency, dietary failings, food allergies, adrenal fatigue, neurotoxic accumulation, and many other reasons.
Do Your Symptoms Require Wellbutrin?
Alternative to Meds has been the leader in safe antidepressant withdrawal for 15 years. Our founding members and many of the staff are survivors of medication debacles. We have outcome studies and published evidence validating our success. We have seen the worst of the worst, and we want you to know that you are not alone.
This video details the story of a woman who has lost the ability to function entirely. She explains how she got her life back for not only antidepressants but benzodiazepines as well. Many people say “no one can be as bad as me.” We are not the typical spin-dry rehab. You will easily see that ATMC takes on the worst of the worst, and is truly creating miracles.
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
Bupropion, ( trade names Wellbutrin, Zyban ) is a second-generation NDRI antidepressant medication for the treatment of depressive disorders, and FDA approved as “Zyban” for smoking cessation. Wellbutrin inhibits the reuptake of both dopamine and norepinephrine, according to research by Stahl et al, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.16 First-generation antidepressants (TCAs such as amitriptyline and MOAIs such as Eutonyl) have largely fallen out of popularity due to their significant burden of adverse side effects including suicides, seizures, and dangerous interactions with other drugs, as well as many foods and beverages common to the Western diet.2 Tragically, second-generation antidepressants such as Wellbutrin (bupropion) and others have not panned out to be as risk-free as drug manufacturers had initially hoped. For example, as stated on the package insert, Wellbutrin showed an increased risk of completed suicide and suicidal thoughts in those under the age of 25 both during clinical trials and after discontinuation.5
The stimulant effects of bupropion have been studied because its molecular profile is similar to that of amphetamines and cocaine. Studies on rats showed a likely increase in dopamine availability after ingesting bupropion.11 Wellbutrin has developed a significant street presence for the “high”, described as similar to cocaine, that is produced by crushing and snorting the drug.12 Other side effects and withdrawal adverse effects are featured below along with some of the most commonly asked questions about the antidepressant Wellbutrin.
Please note that with most antidepressants, gradually stopping the drug over weeks or months is the safest approach and should be done under careful monitoring and guidance.6 Some withdrawal effects may present unexpectedly, even after some time has passed since stopping the drug. Protracted withdrawal symptoms can be debilitating and may require reinstating the drug to stabilize the person before successful titration can occur. According to the FDA drug label, if seizures occur, the drug should be stopped immediately. If other disturbing psychiatric symptoms emerge, these should be reported to your physician so that medication changes can be initiated. Always seek medical guidance for the stopping of and management of drugs like Wellbutrin.4
This is can introduce complexity where bupropion has been used in addition to other medications in the treatment of depression or other types of disorders. Many medications and substances, including alcohol, can interact negatively with bupropion and such combinations require exact guidance under medical supervision and require discussion with your primary doctor to avoid these risks.4,7
Warning: Withdrawal symptoms may not appear until some days have passed since the last dose was taken. Monitor symptoms even well beyond completing the cessation period.1
Discontinuing Wellbutrin can be managed safely, though being under the care and supervision of a prescribing doctor familiar with discontinuing antidepressants is most highly recommended.
The safest recommendation is preferably in an inpatient setting where physical, as well as psychological factors can be immediately observed and addressed for successful recovery in a supportive atmosphere.
What is Wellbutrin Used For?
Wellbutrin (bupropion) is FDA approved for the treatment of MDD, major depressive disorder in adults aged 25 and older. Under the brand name Zyban, it is prescribed to help in smoking cessation. Off-label prescribing may include these and other uses:
ADHD in the pediatric population
Seasonal affective disorder
Antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction
Weight loss, obesity
Depression in bipolar disorder
It should be noted that in 2012 the drugmaker was fined $3 billion in fines for promoting Wellbutrin for several of these unapproved uses. 19
Wellbutrin Side Effects
Four out of every thousand people taking less than 450 mg Wellbutrin daily experience seizures. Over 450 mg daily, the risk increasessevenfold. 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
A comprehensive list of Wellbutrin side effects can be found on the drug label information,4
and in the book entitled “Bupropion” authored by Huecker et al, published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information.19
Wellbutrin side effects include:
Suicidality (Wellbutrin is associated with suicidal thoughts, and behaviors, including deaths by suicide. Wellbutrin is high-risk in overdoses, meaning often fatal.)
Cardiovascular, i.e., tachycardia
Respiratory, i.e., rhinitis, pharyngitis
Central Nervous System, i.e., insomnia, headache, migraine, agitation, dizziness, akathisia, restlessness, aggressive or compulsive behaviors
Psychiatric symptoms, i.e., activation of acute psychosis 20 and/or mania, depression or worsened depression, hallucinations, paranoia, confusion
When used as a meth-like or cocaine-like stimulant, the drug is snorted or injected, releasing the drug into the bloodstream nearly instantly.31 These effects can lead to repeated use and addiction. More information on these phenomena can be found below.
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 both on city streets and in prison populations. Wellbutrin or bupropion is commonly referred to as “poor man’s cocaine” for its cocaine-like stimulant effects. Prescription drug diversion has become a huge concern for health care workers.31
Wellbutrin (bupropion) FAQs
The following are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding Wellbutrin (bupropion), Zyban, etc., and which data applies equally to all other versions of the drug.
Can Wellbutrin Cause Weight Loss?
Yes, Wellbutrin is associated with weight loss in some who take it. The reasons are not clearly understood but may relate to the appetite suppressant effect of the drug.
Since it acts on stimulatory aspects of neurochemistry, this amphetamine-like effect is likely a component.
Can Bupropion Get You High?
Bupropion has structural similarities to cocaine, amphetamines, and various compounds of amphetamines which class includes methamphetamines and MDMA, otherwise known as ecstasy.1
The drug is sometimes used recreationally by crushing and snorting or injecting it, which users say causes a cocaine-like high. Injecting the drug causes gruesome lesions and blood vessel damage, clots, and infected abscesses, which despite their risks to health, do not significantly deter or curb such use from continuing. It is estimated that in one large Canadian city, approximately half of all IV drug users there have used bupropion in this fashion.2,3,20
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:
Euphoria, high, exhilaration
Paranoia, feelings of persecution
Necrosis of the injection site
Can Wellbutrin Be Used for Smoking Cessation (Quitting Nicotine)?
Wellbutrin is the brand name when prescribed for depression or prescribed off-label for other reasons, but the active ingredient is identical to that used in Zyban, sold for quitting smoking. Therefore, Zyban and Wellbutrin are identical drugs despite the different name tags and FDA approval categories.
In a somewhat puzzling set of guidelines, Zyban is recommended for quitting smoking but not FDA approved for the treatment of depression.
Conversely, Wellbutrin is recommended for the treatment of depression, but not FDA approved for quitting smoking.4
Treatment for Wellbutrin Abuse and Addiction
While Wellbutrin (bupropion) has not been considered habit-forming per se, nonetheless many persons become inadvertently dependent on the substance. A percentage may also become addicted when bupropion is used in ways that cause similar effects to cocaine, methamphetamines, or other stimulants.
Whether or not the drug was used as prescribed, or whether it became a drug of choice for abuse, the risks, barriers, and difficulties of abruptly stopping the drug are well-documented, as cited earlier.
An integral component in healing from drug dependence involves not only safely mitigating Wellbutrin withdrawals but in finding out as much as possible about what may have caused a person’s symptoms in the first place. Then these symptoms can resolve with proper treatment, and in most cases, without drug-based treatment.
Alternative to Meds Center offers holistic treatments that are extremely useful for Wellbutrin withdrawal. Research shows that drugs decrease the production of natural neurochemical receptors, a leading cause of drug tolerance and dependence.22Nutritional testing and correction of deficiencies which is part of the treatment regimen at the center aims to provide the raw materials so the body can rebuild its neurochemistry back to a healthy and functioning state. A large body of evidence demonstrates that neurotoxic substances such as mercury, lead, cadmium, pesticides, etc., lodged in the body can create symptoms that are often labeled “mental illness.” 23-25 The logical approach is neurotoxin removal which allows stasis to return in a natural and healthy way. Cleansing therapies are some of our most popular therapies delivered during Wellbutrin withdrawal. CBT and other genres of counseling are also extremely helpful in drug recovery, providing authentic relief for areas of unhandled trauma, life upheavals and losses, and other personal areas that respond well to counseling.26 The safest and most stress-free way to discontinue Wellbutrin is to enroll in an inpatient facility that is equipped to carefully monitor and avoid severe withdrawal symptoms. Programs at Alternative to Meds Center are highly enriched with alternative treatments to safely resolve underlying causes of symptoms. Working with an Equine therapist, yoga instructor, acupuncturist, or learning Qi Gong, for some examples, may be of great help for the rest of your life. You may be interested in drug-free methods of quitting smoking, alleviating stress, or learning how to implement lifestyle changes including the importance of diet, supplements, and exercise for natural mental health, that can empower a person to maintain natural mental health for real, without medication.27-30
Alternative to Meds Center offers a dual-diagnosis set of protocols well-equipped to address both sides of addiction or drug dependence, as well as discovering and treating the root cause of such difficulties without drugs. Please contact us for more information on the programs we offer at Alternative to Meds Center, designed to successfully treat dependence or addiction, and also to find solutions for the underlying symptoms that may have led to addiction or dependence on antidepressant drugs in the first place. Please also feel free to inquire about insurance coverage, estimated length of stay, and any other details about our Wellbutrin withdrawal program you may be interested in.
Diane is an avid supporter and researcher of natural mental health strategies. Diane received her medical writing and science communication certification through Stanford University and has published over 3 million words on the topics of holistic health, addiction, recovery, and alternative medicine. She has proudly worked with the Alternative to Meds Center since its inception and is grateful for the opportunity to help the founding members develop this world-class center that has helped so many thousands regain natural mental health.
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.