Brand names of bupropion

  • Wellbutrin
  • Zyban

Bupropion is a prescription drug that belongs to the category of anti-depressant medication, which affects the neurotransmitters (chemical substances used to send messages by the nerves to one another) in the brain. According to medical experts, depression is a result of an imbalance among the quantities of neurotransmitters released by the nerves. In a process known as reuptake, the nerves are likely to recycle the neurotransmitters released by them. The anti-depressant medication bupropion works by slowing down the reuptake of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. As a result of this action of bupropion, the nerves release more serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine to send out messages to other nerves. In effect, bupropion is exceptional as well as dissimilar from other anti-depressant medications in the manner that its main impact is on dopamine. This impact is not created by the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

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The Food and Drug Administration of the United States has approved the sale and use of bupropion in December 1985.

Things you need to tell your physician before taking bupropion

As in the case of starting treatment with any new drug, you need to adopt a number of precautions prior to taking bupropion. First and foremost, you need to tell your doctor whether you have any allergic reactions to bupropion or any other medication. Before you start taking bupropion, tell your doctor regarding all the prescription and non-prescription (over-the-counter) drugs, herbal products, vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements being taken by you currently or you intend to take. Especially tell your doctor if you are taking any monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor or if you discontinued taking any MAO inhibitor within the last 14 days. In such a situation, your doctor is most likely to advise you not to take bupropion.

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Prior to taking bupropion tell your doctor regarding your entire medical history, especially if you have or have had anorexia nervosa (an eating problem), seizures or bulimia (unnaturally constant hunger). Also tell your doctor if you have or have ever had a head injury, a heart attack, high blood pressure (hypertension), and any heart ailment, a tumour in your brain or spine, diabetes and / or any disease of the kidney and / or liver. In addition, tell your doctor if you consume large amounts of alcoholic beverages, but want to stop taking it all of a sudden or if you are taking any sedatives and also expect to stop taking it suddenly. In this situation too, your doctor will advise you not to take bupropion.

Prior to starting your treatment with bupropion, you also need to tell your doctor if you use street drugs, drink plenty of alcoholic beverages or overuse any prescription drug. People who consume too much alcoholic beverages should talk to their doctor regarding the safe use of alcohol while they are taking bupropion. Remember, use of alcohol while undergoing treatment with bupropion may aggravate the side effects caused by this medication.

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It is important to note that you ought not to take more than one product containing bupropion at the same time. If you do so, you are likely to receive an excessive dose of the anti-depressant drug and experience acute side effects. In addition, people taking bupropion ought to know that this medication causes drowsiness and, hence, people using it should not undertake any job that requires alertness, such as driving a vehicle or operating a machine, unless they are sure about the medication's impact on them as also of the fact that they can perform the tasks safely.

Women who intend to take bupropion for their condition should tell their doctor if they are pregnant, planning to become pregnant or are breast feeding. In case any woman becomes pregnant while taking bupropion, they should call their doctor immediately and discuss the problem.

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Bupropion is primarily used to provide relief from the symptoms of severe depression. In effect, this anti-depressant medication is also given to chain smokers as a nicotine free agent with a view to help them quit smoking. In the second instance, this medication ought to be used as a part of an all-inclusive program to stop smoking and essentially under the direct supervision of your physician.

How to use bupropion

The anti-depressant medication bupropion is available in the form of tablets and sustained release or long-acting tablets and the medication is meant to be taken orally. The most commonly used tablet (Wellburtrin) is generally taken thrice or four times every day - each dose taken at intervals of six hours. It may be noted that the sustained-release tablets, such as Wellburtrin SR and Zyban, are generally taken two times every day at intervals of eight hours.

People taking the extended-release tablet of bupropion, such as Wellbutrin XL or Aplenzin, should generally take it once every day in the morning. If this medication is being used to treat seasonal affective disorder, it is generally taken once every day in the morning starting from the early fall, continued throughout the winter and discontinued in early spring. Occasionally, a lower dosage of bupropion is taken for around two weeks prior to discontinuing with the medication. In case bupropion causes stomach upsets, take the medication along with food. It is important to take bupropion around the same time every day as it will help you to remember the time of taking the medication. Prior to starting your treatment with bupropion it is important to carefully read and follow the instructions on the packaging label and if you find it difficult to understand any part of it or have any queries, ask your doctor or pharmacist for help. It is important to take this medication strictly as per the directions of your doctor. Never take an excess dose of the medication or less of it than what has been recommended by your doctor.

Remember, you should never break, chew or crush the sustained release and extended release tablets, but swallow them as a whole with a full glass (approximately 8 ounces) of water. Generally, your physician will start your treatment with bupropion with a low dosage and gradually increase the dose depending on your medical condition as well as response to the therapy. Usually, it takes around four weeks or sometimes even longer before the patient is able to feel the full benefits of taking bupropion. Even if you start feeling better or find that your symptoms have disappeared, do not stop taking the medication, but continue the full regimen prescribed by your doctor. It is advisable not to stop taking bupropion all of a sudden or without consulting your doctor. When you need to discontinue this medication, your doctor will probably give you a lower dose for some time before stopping the medication completely.

How bupropion works

Although the precise method by which bupropion works is yet to be ascertained, it seems that this medication facilitates balancing the neurotransmitter levels (chemical substances used by the nerves in the brain to send messages to each other) - neurotransmitters are believed to be related to an individual's mood, feelings and mental condition. Unlike other medications that help people to quit smoking, bupropion does not enclose nicotine. It is generally believed that the action of bupropion on the chemicals in the brain facilitates in curbing the desire for nicotine and, at the same time, augments the ability of the patient to desist smoking.

Side effects

When treating depression:
  • hallucinations
  • confusion
  • excitement or agitation
  • insomnia
  • heartbeat irregularities
  • seizures
  • skin rash
  • severe headache
Smoking cessation: none reported.
When treating depression:Smoking cessation:
  • insomnia
  • dry mouth
Less common
When treating depression: Smoking cessation:

Possible interactions

As in the case of most drugs, the anti-depressant bupropion is also known to interact with certain medications, including herbal products and/ or minerals and, hence, they should not be taken concurrently. It has been found that certain herbs, such as ma huang, ginseng, St. John's wort and yohimbe, may interact with anti-depressant medications and, hence, combining these two types of medications is never recommended.

People taking anti-depressant medications should completely avoid consumption of alcoholic beverages. Taking alcoholic drinks during treatment with anti-depressant medications, including bupropion, may promote development of convulsions/ seizures. Similarly, such patients should also avoid smoking marijuana, as this may result in psychotic (a mental ailment marked by symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations) conduct.


The anti-depressant medication bupropion should never be stopped all of a sudden or without consulting your doctor. It is advisable that you talk to your doctor prior to discontinuing this medication and it is likely that he would suggest you to decrease the dose of the medication gradually before stopping it for good.

Storage instructions

The anti-depressant medication bupropion should always be stored at room temperature ranging between 59°F and 77°F (15°C and 25°C). This medication should be kept in a dry and dark place. Never store this medication in your bathroom, which is mostly damp. In addition, keep all medications in such a place, which is beyond the reach of children and pets.

Generally, bupropion tablets have an odd smell, but this is normal and it does not mean that the medication is not fit for use. If the medication becomes outdated or is needed no longer, discard it in a proper and safe way. Unless directed otherwise, never dispose of this medication by flushing it down the toilet or pouring it down the drain. If necessary, talk to your pharmacist or the neighbourhood disposal company to know the appropriate and safe way to discard the unwanted medication.


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