What are the advantages of Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin (generic name: buproprion) is unusual among antide-pressants because it helps the brain increase the neurochemical dopamine in the gap between brain cells (it increases norepinephrine as well). It is a good antidepressant to try if a patient has already tried a serotonin antidepressant with unsatisfactory results.

Wellbutrin has a stimulating, upbeat effect. Patients tend to like it; they say it increases the number of positive, optimistic thoughts and helps keep their negative emotions in check. In your first few months on Wellbutrin, you should not take it close to bedtime, because it may make it harder to get to sleep. This effect diminishes over time for most people. Wellbutrin does not cause weight gain, and many patients have lost weight while taking Wellbutrin. It does not cause sexual problems; in fact, several doctors have tried giving Wellbutrin to improve sexual function in their depressed patients, but without much success. Wellbutrin has increased sex drive in patients with bipolar depression, as it drove them closer to mania.

The norepinephrine effects of Wellbutrin may be helpful to some patients who suffer from asthma.

Wellbutrin’s main side effects are insomnia, weight loss, and slight nausea right after taking the pill. This nausea usually goes away in a few days to weeks. If nausea is a problem at first, you can relieve it by eating something small at the same time that you take the medicine. Half a cracker is usually enough.

Because of Wellbutrin’s activating effect, it has sometimes been tried as a treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD] in adults, with mixed success. It might be especially helpful for you if depressive distractibility or indecisiveness is causing problems in your life. Please note that Wellbutrin has reportedly caused false-positive results for amphetamines in a small number of urine drug tests.

If you have epilepsy, you should not take Wellbutrin, because it can increase the risk of epileptic seizures. Ask your doctor to make sure you do not take any medications or supplements that could increase seizure risk while taking Wellbutrin. Anorexia and bulimia with purging can upset the body’s mineral balance and cause seizures, so if you suffer from these problems you should not take Wellbutrin. It can also sometimes slightly increase blood pressure, and if you have a heart disease, you should probably pick a different antidepressant.

Wellbutrin comes in 75- and 100-milligram regular-release tablets that are taken three to four times daily; 100-, 150-, and 200-milligram sustained-release (SR) tablets that are taken twice a day; and 150- and 300-milligram extended-release (XR) tablets that are taken once in the morning. The regular-release and SR tablets are the largest antidepressant pills around; taking these tablets has been likened to swallowing a dime. On the other hand, Wellbutrin XR comes in trim little tablets that anyone can swallow.

Wellbutrin SR is also sold under the name of Zyban to stop the habit of cigarette smoking. If you are depressed and also want help to stop smoking, Wellbutrin may be a good antidepressant for you. It may also be helpful for other substance-use problems. Depressed cocaine abusers have stopped using cocaine after their depression was relieved by Wellbutrin.

Usual therapeutic doses range from 150 to 300 milligrams daily. You may not get a significant effect until you reach the higher doses, so do not give up if you do not feel better at low doses.