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Wellbutrin SR (bupropion) is a norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) most often used to treat depression. It is also frequently used as a smoking cessation aid, and less commonly in various off-label uses ranging from ADHD treatment to minimizing symptoms of methamphetamine withdrawal.
Wellbutrin tablets are available three forms:
Note that because the above formulations require different dosing schedules, the products are not interchangeable.
Overcoming Depression with Wellbutrin SR
In treating depression, Wellbutrin is similar in effectiveness to other standard medications, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac or Zoloft. While some individuals do respond better to particular treatments, for many patients the biggest consideration in choosing an antidepressant is potential side effects.
In the side effects department, Wellbutrin SR provides some significant advantages over similar antidepressants:
Treatment is very similar in the vast majority of cases:
Some improvements may be noticeable within days of starting treatment, but it takes several weeks of continuous use for full effects to be felt. The medication increases the presence of dopamine in the brain, which elevates mood and reduces anxiety. Treatment typically lasts for several months at a minimum, and may span years.
It is not uncommon for Wellbutrin SR to be given along with an SSRI antidepressant if the SSRI is not producing good results. It may also be given to offset the sexual dysfunction often experienced with SSRI use. Mixing antidepressants can be dangerous, however, and should be done only with doctor approval.
Quit Smoking with Wellbutrin SR
As a smoking cessation aid Wellbutrin SR is marketed as Zyban. The two products are essentially the same and equally effective.
The medication addresses several aspects that make quitting so difficult:
The exact mechanism by which Wellbutrin SR helps patients quit smoking is not fully understood. It is thought that since the medication increases dopamine levels in the brain, the positive feelings experienced from smoking are minimized. With such a reduction in the reward from smoking, the patient gradually loses interest in doing so.
Treatment is simple:
If there is no significant reduction in smoking by week 8, further treatment is unlikely to help and alternative options should be considered.
No current Rx required
Medicines have benefits and some have risks. Always read the label and use only as directed. If symptoms persist or you have side effects see your health professional.