Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Here’s everything you need to know about bupropion side effects.
Before starting a new medication, you may want to read up on the potential side effects. While not everyone experiences every side effect when taking a new medication, it can still be helpful to know what might be headed your way.
This goes for medications you take for mental health. From bipolar disorder to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) to major depression, there are a number of medications used to treat psychiatric disorders.
One such medication is bupropion. Commonly used to treat depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), bupropion is also known by the brand names Wellbutrin®, Wellbutrin SR® (a sustained-release tablet) and Wellbutrin XL® (an extended-release tablet).
So, does bupropion have side effects?
If you decide to take bupropion in the treatment of depression, SAD or anything else, it’ll help to know the minor adverse effects, as well as the rare severe side effects.
By arming yourself with this information, you’ll feel more prepared should anything pop up and will also know when to seek out medical advice from a healthcare provider.
Bupropion is an antidepressant. Other common types of medications used in the treatment of depression include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), monoamine oxidase inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants and atypical antidepressants.
Bupropion tweaks the levels of certain neurotransmitters connected to mood, such as dopamine and norepinephrine.
If you take bupropion to fight symptoms of depressive disorder or another mental health condition, you may notice some adverse effects.
Before you start taking any new prescription, you should speak to your healthcare provider about other medications you are on or if medications have ever caused an allergic reaction. You should also discuss whether you have any medical conditions, including things like seizure disorder or another ongoing issue.
There are a number of common side effects people may experience when they start taking bupropion for various psychiatric disorders. These minor side effects include:
Trouble falling asleep
Loss of appetite or weight loss
Constipation or stomach pain
Generally speaking, weight gain is not considered a side effect of this medication — but, as a reminder, weight loss is). Sexual side effects are also not explicitly listed. That said, some of the common side effects (like nausea and headache) may make it hard to get in the mood.
If you’re experiencing any side effects, even if they’re minor, it’s a good idea to let your mental health care provider know. They can keep an eye on any adverse events and may even recommend other antidepressant medications if the side effects persist.
In addition to common, more mild side effects, some people experience severe adverse effects when taking bupropion. But it’s important to note that these are rare.
These rare severe adverse events include:
Risk of seizure
Hives or skin rash
Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, eyes
If you experience any of these things, seek emergency medical help as soon as possible. If anything else occurs that isn’t listed but seems odd (like loss of consciousness or another severe reaction), contact a healthcare provider ASAP.
Both generic bupropion and brand-name Wellbutrin have what’s called a “black box” safety warning from the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration). This is something that comes with many antidepressant medications used to treat major depression.
It’s the most serious type of warning, letting users know that antidepressants may increase the risk of suicidal ideation or behaviors in children, adolescents and young adults. If you’d like to understand this type of warning further, speak to your healthcare provider.
If you’re experiencing adverse events related to starting bupropion, you probably want them to go away as quickly as possible. After all, no one loves side effects. Luckily, they do tend to go away after a bit.
So, how long do bupropion side effects last? Good news: The common side effects associated with taking bupropion often go away after a week or two of taking the medication.
If you’re experiencing common side effects that last beyond a few weeks, reach out to your healthcare provider. They may be able to adjust your dosage or help you consider another antidepressant.
Potentially dangerous side effects can also occur if you start taking bupropion while on other medications. This is why it’s so crucial to discuss any medications you’re on with your healthcare provider before you begin taking bupropion.
For example, bupropion should not be taken within two weeks of taking a monoamine oxidase inhibitor. You should also not take any medications that have the active ingredient bupropion.
Finally, taking certain medications while on bupropion can increase your risk of seizures. This includes other antidepressants (whether it’s a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor or another kind), antipsychotics, steroids and certain antibiotics.
If it’s been more than a few weeks of treatment on bupropion, and you don’t see the side effects going away, it’s best to reach out to your healthcare provider.
If your side effects are mild and manageable, a healthcare provider may keep you on the medication and monitor you. But if you’re really struggling with bupropion side effects, you can discuss a different dosage (which may help lessen the effects) or the possibility of switching to another medication that can help with your mental health condition.
Hers offers online psychiatric consultations that make it easy to figure out if medication is a good option for your mental health condition. Get started today.
Start your mental wellness journey today.