Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 7/20/2020
Bupropion is an antidepressant. It’s sold under a variety of brand names, including Wellbutrin® as a medication for treating depression and as Zyban® for smokers that need help resisting nicotine cravings while quitting.
If you’re prescribed bupropion, it’s important to take your medication as recommended by your healthcare provider.
Below, we’ve listed the common dosages for bupropion, with information on dosing for use as an antidepressant and as a smoking cessation aid. We’ve also provided answers to a range of frequently asked questions about bupropion use and dosages.
Wellbutrin is a medication that’s commonly prescribed to treat major depressive disorder (MDD, or simply depression). An extended-release version of Wellbutrin, marketed as Wellbutrin XL®, is also approved by the FDA to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Wellbutrin comes in tablet form, with each tablet containing either 75mg or 100mg of bupropion. If you’re prescribed Wellbutrin, make sure to check your medication’s packaging to ensure you’re aware of the strength before using this medication.
The recommended starting dosage for Wellbutrin is 200mg per day, taken as 100mg twice per day. After three days, your healthcare provider may increase your dosage to 300mg of bupropion per day, given as 100mg three times daily with at least six hours between each dose.
Treating depression is often a process. Your healthcare provider may adjust your dosage of Wellbutrin over the course of treatment based on your response to the medication and the severity of your symptoms.
The maximum dosage of Wellbutrin is 450mg per day. This dosage is typically used for people who don’t experience any improvement after using Wellbutrin at a standard dosage for several weeks.
If you’re prescribed Wellbutrin and don’t experience any improvement, don’t make any changes to your dosage on your own. Instead, talk to your healthcare provider. If appropriate, they may change your dosage or recommend a different type of treatment.
Wellbutrin XL also comes in tablet form. Each tablet of Wellbutrin XL contains either 150mg or 300mg of bupropion. If you’re prescribed Wellbutrin XL, it’s important to check the label of your medication to make sure you take the correct dosage.
The recommended starting dosage of Wellbutrin XL for depression is 150mg per day, taken in the morning. After four days, your doctor may increase your dosage to 300mg each day, also taken in the morning.
Antidepressants such as Wellbutrin XL can take several months to treat depression. Your doctor may adjust your Wellbutrin XL dosage over the course of several weeks or months to make sure you experience the best results from the medication.
For treating seasonal affective disorder (SAD), the recommended starting dosage of Wellbutrin XL is 150mg per day. After seven days, your healthcare provider may increase your dosage to 300mg per day, taken once daily in the morning.
If you have seasonal affective disorder, your healthcare provider may recommend that you begin treatment with Wellbutrin XL before your depressive symptoms appear. It’s typical to use Wellbutrin XL from autumn until early spring as a treatment for seasonal affective disorder.
Bupropion is available in several doses, and for depression treatment, there’s a fairly standard understanding of how much medication should be taken.
First, there are immediate-release bupropion tablets, which are available in strengths of 75mg and 100mg.
Extended/sustained-release versions of bupropion can contain 100mg, 150mg, 200mg, 300mg or 450mg of bupropion in a single dose per tablet. This may also vary based on the brand of medication you’re using — make sure to consult the label before taking any medication.
Typically, a starting dose of bupropion for depression starts around 150mg per day, and might go up to three times that. Doses may be adjusted after a few days or weeks at the discretion of your healthcare provider.
For anxiety, the dosage will likely be much smaller.
There’s not ample discussion on the appropriate daily dose for anxiety treatment, and it could be considered experimental at this point, given that anxiety treatment is off-label.
But some healthcare professionals suggest going with the “low and slow” approach, using about half the recommended depression doses as a starting point.
Based on your symptoms, health history, response to the medication and several other factors, your healthcare provider may adjust your dosage of bupropion over time.
If you no longer want to take Wellbutrin or Wellbutrin XL, or your healthcare provider believes that you don’t need to use your medication anymore, they’ll recommend that you gradually taper your dosage in order to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions closely and lower your dosage gradually as recommended. Do not make any changes to your dosage of Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin XL or any other antidepressant without first talking to your healthcare provider.
Zyban is a smoking cessation medication. It’s designed to help smokers deal with the effects of nicotine withdrawal and stay smoke-free after making the decision to quit cigarettes and/or other tobacco products.
Like other medications that contain bupropion, Zyban comes in tablet form. Each tablet contains 150mg of bupropion.
If you’re prescribed Zyban, your healthcare provider will typically instruct you to start taking your medication at least one week before your planned quit date. This helps to allow the medication to reach a steady state in your bloodstream by the time you stop smoking.
The recommended starting dosage for Zyban is 150mg per day for three days. After three days, the recommended dosage increases to 300mg per day, taken as one 150mg tablet at a time, at least eight hours apart. You should not take more than 300mg of Zyban per day.
Treatment with Zyban usually lasts for seven to 12 weeks. If you haven’t quit after using Zyban for seven weeks or longer, talk to your healthcare provider. They may suggest making changes to your treatment plan to help you quit successfully.
Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and take bupropion as recommended. If you’re prescribed an extended-release form of bupropion, such as Wellbutrin XL, you should use your medication in the morning, as recommended on the medication’s label.
Taking bupropion in the morning and avoiding late night use may help to reduce the severity of insomnia — a common side effect of bupropion.
All medications that contain bupropion, including Wellbutrin and Zyban, can be safely taken with or without food. Research indicates that food doesn’t have a significant impact on the absorption of bupropion, meaning your medication will work effectively even if it’s taken after a meal.
If you experience nauseous after taking bupropion, taking your medication with food may help to reduce the severity of your symptoms.
Swallow your Wellbutrin or Zyban tablets whole and do not crush, divide or chew them. To make taking your medication easier, you can swallow the tablet(s) with a glass of water.
The FDA recommends storing Wellbutrin or Zyban at room temperature in a dry location, away from natural light. Keep this medication stored between 59 and 86°F (15 and 30°C). Make sure to keep Wellbutrin, Zyban or other bupropion medications out of reach of children.
If you miss a dose of Wellbutrin, Zyban or other bupropion medication, don’t take an extra tablet to make up for the missed dose. Taking an extra bupropion tablet may increase your risk of side effects, including seizures.
Instead, continue taking your medication as normal from the next dose. If you frequently forget to take bupropion as prescribed, consider setting a reminder or using a pill organizer to make it easier to take your medication on time.
If you have leftover medication after you finish using bupropion, talk to your healthcare provider about disposing of it safely.
If you don’t notice any effects from bupropion, don’t increase your dosage on your own. Sudden increases in your dosage of bupropion can elevate your risk of experiencing severe side effects, such as seizures.
If you don’t think bupropion online is working for you, talk to your healthcare provider. They may recommend adjusting your dosage or trying a different type of treatment.
For another commonly asked question, read our blog on Wellbutrin and pregnancy: is it safe?
Bupropion (Wellbutrin) is like any other medication: used correctly, it has the potential to help reduce or eliminate the symptoms of the medical condition(s) it treats. And like any other medication, following the directions of your healthcare provider is key.
That’s why dosage is so important: an improper dose may have serious side effects, or cause major issues with the effectiveness of your treatment.
Ultimately, Wellbutrin may just be one of the elements of effective treatment for your mood disorders.
Others may include lifestyle changes or therapy — a healthcare provider will likely make recommendations for your individual needs, and it may include some or all of the options available for treatment.
You can’t and should never change a prescription on your own, but there are things you can do without a healthcare professional’s input to work on your mental health — like reading.
Ready to talk to someone? Consider scheduling an online psychiatry evaluation today.