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Wellbutrin XL (bupropion) is an antidepressant used to treat depression and certain similar conditions, such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and Social anxiety disorder.
Why Wellbutrin XL?
The most commonly prescribed antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which includes brands such as Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro and so forth. SSRIs are believed to elevate mood by increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain.
The active ingredient in Wellbutrin XL, bupropion, is a norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI). It is believed to improve mood by elevating levels of dopamine in the brain, rather than serotonin.
In practice the effects of both SSRIs and NDRIs are very similar; both improve mood and help patients break out of depression. Wellbutrin XL, however, provides some additional benefits:
In fact, Wellbutrin not only doesn't produce sexual side effects or promote weight gain, it very often does the opposite--so much so that Wellbutrin is often prescribed to counteract these side effects of SSRI therapy.
In most cases Wellbutrin XL is significantly less costly than SSRI medications, too--not a small consideration when treatment spans months or years.
Note that there are several Wellbutrin products:
These products have differing dosage and administration guidelines. The following pertains to Wellbutrin XL only and should not be applied to other Wellbutrin products.
In otherwise healthy adults, treatment with Wellbutrin XL is typically similar in all patients:
Many patients notice some improvement just days after the first dose, but it takes at least 4 weeks for full benefits to be felt. Occasionally Wellbutrin will be prescribed along with an SSRI antidepressant if either of the medications alone are not sufficiently effective.
If Wellbutrin XL has been used long-term, dosage is usually tapered down over several days when treatment stops.
Warnings & Side Effects
If taken properly (not exceeding dosage guidelines) side effects are relatively rare, usually mild, and usually stop occurring after several weeks of treatment. The most commonly experienced side effects include:
Patients with certain preexisting conditions are at greater risk of experiencing serious side effects, most notably those who:
The above conditions do not necessarily rule out Wellbutrin XL use, but risks should be discussed with a doctor before initiating treatment; it is likely that dosage adjustments will need to be made.
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.