Wellbutrin Side Effects
Wellbutrin side effects are similar to those experienced during the initial doses of other antidepressants, including nausea, drowsiness, headache, and constipation. Bupropion (Bupropion) medications like Wellbutrin are different from SSRI antidepressants such as Paxil and Zoloft because they don’t cause weight gain or a decrease in sexual performance. Other antidepressant side effects like seizures and severe mood changes have been reported with Wellbutrin, however.
Common Wellbutrin Side Effects
Many people experience mild side effects when they first start taking an antidepressant. These symptoms usually occur as the body adjusts to the medication and will generally improve within a few weeks of continued usage. Some Wellbutrin side effects are more common with higher dosages.
- Unexplained excitement
- Dry mouth
- Weight loss
- Excessive sweating
- Tremors or uncontrolled shaking
- Changes in appetite
- Mild skin rash or itching
- Changes in sexual desire
- Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
If any of the symptoms above persist for more than 30 days or become worse, contact your doctor. You may need to adjust your current dosage of Wellbutrin, or switch to a different antidepressant.
Serious Wellbutrin Side Effects
There is a slight chance of experiencing more serious side effects while taking Wellbutrin. When the medication is taken as directed, these Wellbutrin side effects are rare, but can cause serious harm to the user if they do occur. Contact your doctor immediately if you have any of the symptoms below:
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Shallow or difficult breathing
- Severe tremors
- High fever
- Prolonged confusion
- Lack of focus
- Peeling or blistering skin
- Abnormal thoughts or behaviors
- Irrational fears
- Signs of an allergic reaction, including hives, difficulty breathing, and facial swelling
Some patients may experience more severe symptoms of the condition being treated while taking Wellbutrin. If you are more aggressive, hyperactive, irritable, or depressed than normal, contact your physician. Seek immediate care if you have thoughts of suicide or attempt to harm yourself. Other serious but rare side effects of Wellbutrin may include severe hypertension and liver toxicity.
One of the most concerning side effects associated with the use of bupropion is the increased risk of seizures. Studies have shown an increase in seizures in patients who take more than 600 mg of Wellbutrin per day at a rate that is much higher than other antidepressants. Because of this, Wellbutrin is not approved for doses higher than 450 mg. There is still a risk of seizures while taking this medication, but it is comparable to the risk associated with other antidepressants. Individuals with a history of epilepsy or who take other drugs that reduce their seizure threshold should discuss the potential side effects of Wellbutrin with their doctor.
Unlike SSRI antidepressants, Wellbutrin is not recommended for use by individuals with heart conditions. There is a very rare chance that users will experience severe high blood pressure, even without an existing condition, but this is more frequently reported in cardiac patients who take more than 400 mg of Wellbutrin for depression. In most cases, Wellbutrin’s cardiovascular side effects are very mild but the dangers are still greater than those associated with other antidepressants.
Many antidepressants have adverse reactions in pediatric patients. Similar side effects have been reported with Wellbutrin as well. Individuals under the age of 24 are more likely to display abnormal and extreme changes in behavior, including suicidal tendencies and actions that could be harmful to the patient. For this reason, Wellbutrin and other bupropion medications are not recommended for use in children. In severe cases, your child’s doctor may suggest Wellbutrin as a treatment option. Be sure to monitor your child’s behavior closely if he or she takes this medication and report any changes or concerns to his or her doctor immediately.
There is a chance that other medications, vitamins, or supplements may have adverse reactions with bupropion drugs. Make sure your doctor is aware of everything else you take on a regular basis, particularly the medications below:
- Anticoagulants such as Plavix, Aggrastat, Ticlid, etc.
- Medications to treat immune disorders like HIV, including Sustiva, Norvir, etc.
- Cancer medications like Camptosar, Doxil, Neosar, etc.
- Heart or blood pressure medications such as Metoprolol, Rythmol, Tenormin, etc.
Because of the risk of seizures associated with the use of Wellbutrin, this medication should not be used with other drugs that lower a patient’s seizure threshold. Do not use bupropion with:
- Psychiatric medications including Prolixin, Trifalon, Thorazine, etc.
- Medications to treat or prevent malaria
- Drugs to treat asthma or bronchodilators
- Other antidepressants including Zoloft, Lexapro, Prozac, Citalopram, etc.
- Diet pills or other stimulants, including medications to treat ADHD such as Ritalin, Adderall, Vyvanse, etc.
- Medications to treat nausea or motion sickness
- Oral contraceptives or estrogen replacements
There may be other medications that can increase your chance of experiencing side effects with Wellbutrin. Regular use of alcohol can intensify the drug’s effect as well. Talk to your doctor if you drink on a daily basis. Don’t stop drinking when you begin taking Wellbutrin without advice from a physician. Street drugs such as cocaine and speed may also increase your risk of side effects.
For most adult patients, Wellbutrin is a safe and effective treatment option for depression. Wellbutrin side effects are generally mild and patients are less likely to experience weight gain or sexual dysfunction that is common with other antidepressants.