Bupropion, or Wellbutrin, is an antidepressant that treats various conditions. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Wellbutrin to treat major depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder and nicotine addiction. Some doctors may also prescribe it to ease symptoms of bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety. If you’re taking this medication for any of these conditions, you may want to understand the signs that Wellbutrin is working. Learn more about how Wellbutrin works and how long it takes to feel the effects of this medication.
How Wellbutrin Works
Wellbutrin works in the brain to combat common symptoms of depression. These symptoms vary from individual to individual but may include feelings of sadness, worthlessness or guilt, loss of interest in usual activities, low energy levels, inability to concentrate and suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
The drug works by blocking the brain from absorbing two key neurotransmitters: norepinephrine and dopamine. Norepinephrine can increase alertness, arousal and attention. Dopamine is a chemical that the brain releases to make you feel good. As a dual norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor, Wellbutrin works to increase these neurotransmitters in the brain to combat the symptoms of depression. This inhibiting action represents the Wellbutrin MOA, or mechanism of action.
Timeline for Effectiveness
If you’re wondering how long it takes for Wellbutrin to work, the answer can vary from person to person. Typically, individuals who begin taking Wellbutrin can expect to see a reduction in symptoms over several weeks. In the first two weeks, individuals might notice that they’re sleeping better and their appetite and energy levels have improved. However, overall improvement in mood and a complete reduction in depression symptoms can take a bit longer, often as long as 6 to 8 weeks.
Wellbutrin can also be used to help people quit smoking. For this purpose, the drug can take several weeks to start working, so people are typically advised not to completely quit smoking when they start the drug. Your doctor can determine when it’s time to stop smoking, but many doctors recommend quitting between 7 and 12 weeks after starting Wellbutrin.
Several factors can impact Wellbutrin’s timeline for effectiveness. The drug is available in three doses, and the amount of Wellbutrin you take can impact how long it takes for the drug to work. Your doctor may prescribe an immediate-release dose that’s taken two to three times per day at regular intervals. A sustained-release dose is taken twice daily. Or you may be prescribed Wellbutrin XL, an extended-release dose that’s taken once a day in the morning. While all types of Wellbutrin can positively affect your mental health, the dosage you’re prescribed can determine when it takes effect.
Wellbutrin can interact with other medications, which can affect how it works. It’s important to talk to your doctor about your medication regimen to ensure Wellbutrin works alongside any other prescriptions you may be taking.
Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind that treatments for depression work differently for everyone. Wellbutrin is highly effective for treating depression, but when you experience a reduction in side effects can depend on your medical history and how you respond to the treatment. Discuss any concerns with your doctor to determine if Wellbutrin is right for you.
Reducing depressive symptoms after starting Wellbutrin is gradual, so it’s important to manage your expectations and look for signs the drug is working. Rather than expecting to wake up free of all your symptoms, you want to identify small steps toward improved mental health.
Like other antidepressants, Wellbutrin doesn’t start working instantly. However, you might be able to recognize some improvements as early as the second week of taking the drug. Look for improvements in your sleep habits, instances where you had a more positive outlook or a better mood and enhanced focus while you’re working. You may also be able to identify a reduction in physical symptoms of depression, which may include aches, joint and muscle pain or digestive issues.
By looking for these gradual improvements, you can build a more positive outlook on your new Wellbutrin regimen.
Like any prescription drug, Wellbutrin can have some side effects. Common side effects include headaches, weight loss, dizziness, blurred vision, fast heartbeat, constipation, dry mouth and nausea. If you’re wondering, “Does Wellbutrin make you tired?” the drug has been associated with drowsiness in some individuals.
More serious side effects are less common. An increased risk of seizures is one concern, especially for individuals with a history of seizures, head injuries, brain tumors or severe liver disease. Wellbutrin paired with some prescription medications may increase the risk of seizure, so be sure to discuss your complete medication regimen with your doctor.
Additionally, Wellbutrin has an FDA black box warning that the drug may increase suicidal thoughts in some individuals. This risk is higher in children, teenagers and young adults under the age of 24. To combat these serious side effects, your doctor will start you on a low dose of the drug to gradually introduce it to your system.
After starting Wellbutrin, keep track of any side effects you may be experiencing. Some simple strategies can help you minimize the side effects. Consider taking Wellbutrin with food if you experience nausea. Increase your water intake to combat dry mouth. This increased water, along with a fiber-rich diet, can also help you ease the side effect of constipation. Talk to your doctor about any ongoing side effects at your next appointment.
Combat Depression With Wellbutrin
Wellbutrin is well regarded as an effective treatment for major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder. If you’re living with depression, contact us at Restore Mental Health to discuss your symptoms and determine whether Wellbutrin is right for you. Our depression treatments can help improve your mental health and establish renewed energy and purpose in your life.