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The saying “knowledge is power” applies well in certain situations — like becoming a leader in your field of expertise or knowing the best places to eat (we all have different skills).
Another situation where knowledge is power? Knowing antidepressant medication dosages for depression and anxiety disorders. The more you know about the medications available — from daily doses to side effects — the more comfortable you’ll feel about using them and the sooner you’ll be on your way to getting better.
While there are several options, this guide will focus on one for now. Don’t worry, though — we have plenty of content on other treatments.
We’re talking about bupropion, an FDA-approved antidepressant medication (that’s the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) for major depressive disorder (MDD) and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This drug is also sold as Zyban® for smoking cessation (a fun way to say it can help you quit smoking).
Also sold under the brand names Wellbutrin®, Wellbutrin SR® and Wellbutrin XL®, bupropion hydrochloride (the super science-y name for the prescription drug) dosage can vary based on several factors.
There’s plenty of information about bupropion dosages, where to start and how they may affect you. So keep reading to learn more.
Beyond major depressive disorder (or just depression), seasonal affective disorder and smoking cessation, bupropion hydrochloride is used off-label for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, weight loss and antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction.
There’s also some evidence suggesting certain bupropion doses help with anxiety symptoms associated with depression.
Your Wellbutrin dosage will depend on what mental health or medical conditions it’s prescribed for, among other factors — but we’ll get into that later.
Initially available as an immediate-release formulation, bupropion hydrochloride is also made as a twice-daily sustained-release tablet (bupropion SR), as well as a once-daily extended-release tablet (known as bupropion XL).
Wellbutrin is sold as sustained-release tablets (Wellbutrin SR) and extended-release tablets (Wellbutrin XL). “Sustained release” and “extended release” mean the medication dissolves slowly, releasing small amounts over an extended period, but extended-release pills usually take slightly longer to dissolve. Since once-a-day dosing is most convenient and least likely to result in missed doses, the XL formulation is almost always used unless there is a digestive issue that requires a sustained or immediate release formulation.
So, what Wellbutrin doses are available? Do sustained-release tablets differ in dosage from extended-release tablets? What’s the Wellbutrin dosage range?
Immediate release Wellbutrin is supplied as either a 75 mg (milligrams) or 100 mg tablet.
Although there’s no single best starting dose of Wellbutrin, the recommended starting dose is 200 mg per day, taken as a twice-daily dose of 100 mg.
The typical Wellbutrin dosage range is 75 mg to 150 mg, depending on your needs.
The maximum Wellbutrin dosage is 450 mg for those who don’t experience any improvement after using a standard dosage for several weeks.
If you’ve been prescribed Wellbutrin online, it’s important to take your medication as recommended by your healthcare provider. Be sure to check your prescription’s packaging to know what your Wellbutrin dosing is.
Also FDA-approved to treat depression and seasonal affective disorder, Wellbutrin XL is an extended-release tablet, meaning the medication is released into the body over time. This means you take a single dose each day.
You now know all the basics of the Wellbutrin dosage range (we won’t quiz you). Here’s a recap of Wellbutrin XL dosages:
The lowest dose of Wellbutrin XL is 150 mg. This is the recommended Wellbutrin XL dosage to start with.
However, , most people move up to 300 mg Wellbutrin tablet after a few days or a week, depending on your condition and symptoms.
The same information for Wellbutrin applies to Wellbutrin XL: Your medication’s packaging should have the dosage listed, and it’s important to take your prescription as recommended by your healthcare provider.
Can Wellbutrin dosages for anxiety differ from those for depression? Now that we’ve covered the basics of bupropion doses, let’s take a closer look at dosages for depression and anxiety individually.
Like many other antidepressants, bupropion is thought to have an effect on certain chemicals in the brain that impact mood, motivation and more.
Bupropion belongs to a class of antidepressant medications called norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIS).
NDRIs target the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, although bupropion seems to target them weakly compared to other dopamine reuptake inhibitors.
Dopamine regulates pleasure and motivation, while norepinephrine keeps your brain alert. Specifically, this effect on dopamine is why bupropion is thought to be effective for smoking cessation.
Different dosage options of bupropion are available for treating depression:
Immediate-release tablets are available in 75 mg or 100 mg doses.
Sustained-release versions of bupropion (Wellbutrin SR, for example) can contain 100 mg, 150 mg or 200 mg.
Extended-release tablets of bupropion contain either 150 mg or 300 mg.
A typical starting dose of bupropion for depression is 150 mg per day.
For treating seasonal affective disorder (seasonal depression), the recommended starting dosage of Wellbutrin XL is 150 mg per day. After a week, your healthcare provider may increase your dosage to 300 mg per day, taken once daily in the morning.
Wellbutrin is used for those who have anxiety symptoms as a result of depression, though there isn’t much research on bupropion solely for anxiety. The current thinking is that you need an antidepressant that interacts with the serotonin system to effectively treat a full-blown anxiety disorder.
Since there isn’t much known about the dosage for anxiety symptoms, some healthcare professionals suggest going with the “low and slow” approach when a patient’s depression is characterized by prominent symptoms of anxiety. This means using about half the recommended depression doses as a starting point.
Your symptoms, health history, response to the medication and several other factors will be taken into consideration for the Wellbutrin dosage your healthcare provider suggests.
Want to know more about the effect of Wellbutrin on anxiety? Our guide on Wellbutrin and anxiety covers everything you want to know.
So you’ve started taking Wellbutrin or Wellbutrin XL but don’t notice any improvements in your depression or anxiety. Do you increase the dosage? By how much?
Did you just Google “increasing Wellbutrin dosage from 150 to 300 side effects” to find out what’ll happen?
It may be tempting to make changes to your Wellbutrin doses if you aren’t noticing improvements, but definitely seek medical advice from your healthcare provider instead. They may change your dosage or even your type of treatment if necessary.
And we’ll save you the trouble of having to Google “increasing Wellbutrin dosage from 150 to 300” by letting you know it’s safe, so long as your healthcare provider makes the recommendation and it’s been three days since you started the medication.
For a Wellbutrin XL dosage, your doctor may increase your dosage to 300 mg once a day after four days.
There are several reasons why your dosage may need to be increased or adjusted: The placebo effect wears off, your symptoms get worse or you have no significant response to the medication.
This guide on when to increase antidepressant dosage goes into more detail.
Treating depression is a process. Antidepressants like Wellbutrin can take weeks, if not months, to start having an impact.
How do you know your Wellbutrin dosage is working? Some signs Wellbutrin is working include an improved mood, more energy and motivation and better focus.
If your Wellbutrin dosage is increased, you may experience more of the common side effects of bupropion, such as nausea, dizziness, abdominal pain, constipation, weight gain, trouble sleeping, dry mouth or agitation. Some people may also experience high blood pressure while taking Wellbutrin. More serious side effects (though less common) include a risk of seizures or suicidal thoughts.
Also, it shouldn’t be taken with certain other medications to treat depression, such as monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), due to a risk of drug interactions. On the other hand, the combination of Wellbutrin plus an SSRI is a popular choice for people who don’t respond to either one alone.
Fortunately, these adverse effects are fairly mild and tend to go away within a week or two. Still, you should seek medical advice from your healthcare provider if they persist.
And just so you know, Wellbutrin and Wellbutrin XL have a boxed warning known as a black box warning, the highest safety-related warning given by the FDA. This warning notifies people of an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and worsening depression in adolescents and young adults prescribed antidepressants — especially during the first few months of treatment or after your provider adjusts your dosage.
Bupropion dosages, like anxiety or depression symptoms, can vary by person. But it’s still helpful to keep this general info in mind:
Bupropion (an antidepressant used to treat depression, seasonal affective disorder, ADHD, anxiety, bipolar disorder and more) is sold under the brand names Wellbutrin and Wellbutrin XL. It’s also sold as Zyban to help people quit smoking.
A typical starting dosage is 200 mg per day, taken twice a day in 100 mg doses. The maximum Wellbutrin dosage is 450 mg.
Wellbutrin XL is the extended-release version, ranging between 150 mg and 300 mg daily.
The Wellbutrin dosage range for depression can be between 75 mg and 150 mg per single dose, depending on your needs. However, there isn’t much research on bupropion dosage for anxiety symptoms.
It’s not recommended to adjust your bupropion or bupropion XL dosage without seeking medical advice from your healthcare provider first. You could experience more side effects of Wellbutrin and increase your risk of bupropion withdrawal symptoms.
Dealing with depression or anxiety isn’t easy — and simply knowing all the medication dosages may not make it any easier. That’s why we’re here to assist. Our online psychiatry and mental health services can help you figure out the best treatment for your unique needs.
You can also check out online therapy as an alternative or additional treatment for mental health.
Daniel Z. Lieberman, MD is a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at George Washington University, where he has received awards for teaching and research.
During his 26-year tenure on the full-time faculty at George Washington University, he taught both medical students and psychiatry residents, and served as the Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs, the Chairman of the Institutional Review Board and the Director of the Clinical Psychiatric Research Center.
Dr. Lieberman is the co-author of the international bestseller The Molecule of More, which has been translated into more than 20 languages, and is also the author of Spellbound: Modern Science, Ancient Magic, and the Hidden Potential of the Unconscious Mind. He has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and leading psychiatric textbooks.
Dr. Lieberman is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. He also has provided insight on psychiatric topics for the US Department of Health and Human Services, the US Department of Commerce and the Office of Drug and Alcohol Policy.
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