Understanding Wellbutrin and Anxiety: Cause and Treatment

March 12, 2021
Anxiety Treatment
Understanding Wellbutrin and Anxiety: Cause and Treatment

Wellbutrin, known for its generic name bupropion, is an antidepressant with several on and off-label uses. It is FDA-approved for the treatment of depression, specifically, major depressive disorder (MDD). It is, as a matter of fact, the go-to for the treatment of depression. It is also approved for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in addition to being indicated as an effective smoking cessation aid.

Experts have yet to understand how exactly Wellbutrin works to treat and manage depression. However, it is thought that the therapeutic effects are a result of the drug increasing the levels of specific neurotransmitters in the brain, namely dopamine and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters help to improve mood, memory, concentration and sleep.

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Can Wellbutrin Make Anxiety Worse?

In clinical trials, some of the test subjects developed anxiety-related side effects shortly after they started taking Wellbutrin. It was also noted that these effects are exacerbated in the period following a dosage increase. It is believed that the effects are a result of the dosage is increased too quickly. These Wellbutrin anxiety-related side effects include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Restlessness and agitation

According to the FDA, up to 2% of the people who experienced these side effects discontinued their use of the medication. For some subjects, these side effects were so severe that they required treatment with anti-anxiety medication and sedatives. esides anxiety, there are other side effects associated with the use of Wellbutrin. The more common ones include throat inflammation, dry mouth, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitations, and inexplicable weight loss. Less common side effects include an increased risk of seizures and worsened suicidal ideation.

Be sure to get in touch with your doctor immediately if you experience severe and side effects when taking Wellbutrin. For most people, the side effects usually go away with time as their body adjusts to the medication.

Does Wellbutrin Help with Anxiety?

While Wellbutrin anxiety is a common side effect, there is also some research data, albeit limited, supporting the use of Wellbutrin to treat anxiety and anxiety-related disorders. According to a pilot study, found Wellbutrin to be comparable to escitalopram for the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD.) The findings would suggest that Wellbutrin is an effective second or third-line treatment of GAD.


What to Pair with Wellbutrin for Anxiety?

Wellbutrin is used off-label for managing social anxiety and other anxiety disorders. It can be paired with other medications for the most positive outcome.  This medication belongs in a category called norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs.) It is the only one in this class among antidepressants. As mentioned, it boosts the level of the two neurotransmitters.

Wellbutrin can be paired with other antidepressants, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors ( SNRIs) such as Effexor. Your doctor will choose the right combination for you, and adjust your medication accordingly. The dosage will also depend on the type of formulation for which you are prescribed, that is, immediate-release, sustained-release, or extended-release.

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Taking and Storing Wellbutrin

For the best results, always take Wellbutrin as directed by your doctor. You can take the medication on an empty stomach or with food. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Ensure that any remaining doses are taken at least 4 hours apart. Never should you take two doses at a go to make up for a missed dose. Doing so puts you at risk of an accidental overdose, and increases the risk of a seizure.

Ensure that you store your medication well. Keep your Wellbutrin at room temperature and away from moisture and direct sunlight. You should never stop taking Wellbutrin suddenly. Doing so increases the risk of your symptoms getting worse, and you may also experience some withdrawal symptoms including increased Wellbutrin anxiety. If, for whatever reason, you want to stop taking Wellbutrin for social anxiety or any other use, ensure that you first speak to your doctor. The doctor will help you gradually taper off the medication.

Signs Wellbutrin is Working

So you have been taking Wellbutrin for a couple of weeks now and are wondering if the medication is even working. That is, of course, a legitimate concern, as it will inform whether you need to adjust your dosage or shift to a different medication altogether. Does Wellbutrin work immediately? Of course not. Like any other depressant, it may take up to 6 weeks and even longer for you to feel the full effects of the medication. During this time, your doctor may adjust the dosage a few times. For some people, it may take a little shorter time to start feeling better. For Wellbutrin, the therapeutic effects begin to appear after about 2-3 weeks of regular use.


Again, you should always keep in mind that antidepressants affect everyone differently, and telling if they are working may not always be that easy. That being said, how to know the Wellbutrin anxiety is working is based on your specific mental health symptoms. An improvement in these symptoms is a sure sign that these symptoms are the only sure assessment of the effectiveness of the medication. This is one of the reasons why it is crucial to keep a journal of your symptoms and track any improvements.

You can tell Wellbutrin is working when you start to:

  • Sleep better
  • Develop an appetite
  • Have more energy
  • Feel less nervous about specific situations
  • Become more enthusiastic about certain things and situations
  • Concentrate better
  • Have better memory

Improvements in sleep, appetite, and energy may show within the first 1-2 weeks of taking Wellbutrin. General lack of interest in activities, as well as depressive mood, generally take longer, up to 6-8 weeks.

Wellbutrin and Weight Loss

As stated earlier, inexplicable weight loss is one of the side effects of Wellbutrin. It is for this reason that the medication is used for reducing the weight gain that is usually linked with the use of some psychiatric medications. Clinicians recommend and prescribe Wellbutrin for depressive patients suffering from social anxiety and who also have weight gain concerns.

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Wellbutrin Reviews

As with any other drug, Wellbutrin reviews range from great to not-so-great. Some of the more positive reviews highlighted how patients were able to notice some improvements in their symptoms within a short time of taking the medication. They started sleeping and eating better, and their general mood improved over time. On the other hand, the not-so-positive reviews have everything to do with the side effects, and how long it took to see any results. From exacerbated Wellbutrin anxiety to insomnia, some users found it hard to keep up with the side effects. For some, the wait to see whether the medication worked was too long.

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