Wellbutrin (Bupropion) Side Effects

Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL

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Wellbutrin (bupropion) is a medication used in the treatment of major depressive disorder. It is available in three different formulations: immediate release (Wellbutrin), sustained release (Wellbutrin SR), and extended release (Wellbutrin XL).

Like other antidepressants, certain side effects are possible with Wellbutrin.

More Common Side Effects of Wellbutrin

Among the most commonly reported side effects during clinical trials were:

Wellbutrin:

Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL:

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Flushing
  • Gas
  • Headache
  • Increased sweating
  • Increased urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Stomach pain
  • Taste changes
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Weight changes

Not all possible side effects are listed here, so please consult with your doctor or pharmacist if you need more information.

More Serious Side Effects of Wellbutrin

Certain side effects may be more severe, or even potentially life-threatening, so it is important to seek medical assistance if you experience any of the following more serious side effects:

  • Signs of a severe allergic reaction, such as rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face or tongue; unusual hoarseness
  • Changes in vision
  • Changes in sexual desire or function
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Dark urine
  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • Fainting
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat
  • Fever, chills or sore throat
  • Hearing problems
  • Changes in the menstrual cycle
  • Worsening depression or signs of suicidality
  • Exaggerated feelings of well-being
  • Concentration problems
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Aggressiveness
  • Hostility
  • Impulsiveness
  • Agitation
  • Inability to sit still
  • Pale-colored stools
  • Swollen, blistered or peeling skin
  • Seizures
  • Severe headache
  • Severe dizziness
  • Severe or lingering joint or muscle pain
  • Severe or lingering nausea, vomiting or stomach pain
  • Severe or lingering nervousness, restlessness or insomnia
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Tremor
  • Unusual swelling
  • Yellow skin or eyes

What to Do If You Experience Side Effects

For many, these side effects may subside over time or be relatively minor. But if they are persistent or severe enough to interfere with your daily life, please consult with your physician for advice.

If you experience any of the more serious side effects, it is especially important to seek medical attention as these side effects have the potential to cause serious illness or even death if they are not dealt with promptly.

Never stop taking any depression medication without first checking with your doctor.  You may experience a return or worsening of your symptoms.  In addition, it is possible that you may experience a flu-like reaction called discontinuation syndrome, which includes symptoms such as stomach upset, headache, strange sensations and muscle ache.

  To help you avoid these problems, your doctor may advise you to gradually taper off your medication or switch to a different one.

A special note about seizures:

Please note that while seizures are a rare side effect of Wellbutrin, the risk is still about four times greater than it is with other antidepressants. You should notify your doctor if you belong to any of the following groups, as these factors may increase your risk of a seizure even further:

  • You have a seizure disorder
  • You are taking any other medications that contain bupropion, including the smoking-cessation drug Zyban
  • You have an eating disorder, such anorexia or bulimia

A special note about suicide:

Data analysis has shown that antidepressant drugs like Wellbutrin may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in children, teens, and young adults (aged 18-24). This increased risk does not appear to be present in older individuals, however. Patients and their caregivers should be aware of any increasing depression, suicidality, or changes in behavior and seek prompt medical attention if these occur. The early stages of treatment and dosage changes are times of particular concern.

Sources:

Warner, Christopher H. et. al. "Antidepressant Discontinuation Syndrome." American Family Physician 74.3 (2006): 449-56.

"Wellbutrin Prescribing Information." GlaxoSmithKline.  Updated:  July 2014.  Accessed: June 10, 2015.

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