Wellbutrin and Weight Loss

by on July 31, 2012

Wellbutrin (bupropion) is a prescription drug used for management of depression (clinical depression). Like other medications, Wellbutrin can cause a number of side effects and weight loss appears to be among them. Although some people may find this side effect desirable, sudden and uncontrolled weight loss can be a problem to others.

How Wellbutrin Causes Weight Loss

It is not known how Wellbutrin exactly causes weight loss. There are a lot of factors that can actually contribute to weight loss with Wellbutrin. For one, this medication can cause certain side effects such as loss of appetite, vomiting and nausea that can lead to weight loss.

In most patients, these side effects resolve with time. However, you should consult your healthcare provider if you these side effects do not go away.

It is also thought that weight loss may be a positive response to the treatment, particularly in patients who have overeating and weight gain as symptoms of depression.

What Studies Say

Studies conducted before Wellbutrin was approved by the Food and Drug Administration show that at least 28 percent of people taking this drug have reported losing at least five pounds of their body weight.

A different clinical trial conducted on patients taking bupropion for treatment of major depressive disorder has also noted a mild weight loss after initiating this medication. Compared to other antidepressant drugs, particularly tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), that have weight gain as a common side effect, bupropion resulted in mild weight loss.

In three placebo-controlled studies that evaluated the effectiveness of bupropion as treatment for obesity, studies have demonstrated that bupropion is likely to be more effective than placebo in helping an individual lose weight. A decrease of 2 to 10% of the initial body weight has been noted depending on the dose of bupropion, diet, and duration of treatment. One of the participants had symptoms of mild depression, and in some participants with previous history of major depressive disorder, this medication appeared to be beneficial in treating symptoms of depression. A recent study participated by overweight adolescents and conducted over a 16-week trial period has shown that bupropion is superior to placebo in reducing weight.

Although these studies suggest that Wellbutrin may be beneficial in managing weight problems, it has not been approved by the FDA for this purpose. The FDA and the manufacturer of Wellbutrin specifically recommend that this medication be used only as instructed by a healthcare provider.

It should not be taken for managing overweight or obesity.

In case you experience sudden, uncontrolled weight loss, be sure to contact your healthcare provider, especially for older adults and those with other underlying medical conditions.