Wellbutrin withdrawal has many symptoms that are similar to depression.
The safest way to get off Wellbutrin is through a tapering program designed by a medical professional who can monitor your progress. This tapering program uses medication substitutes or Wellbutrin itself to minimize withdrawal, making for a smooth transition to sobriety with minimal risk.
What is Wellbutrin?
Wellbutrin is a commonly used antidepressant and smoking cessation aid that uses the active ingredient bupropion.
Bupropion can improve your overall mood and promote general feelings of well-being. It can help to restore balance to neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain.
Wellbutrin works by blocking neuronal reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine, antagonizing acetylcholine at neuronal nicotinic receptors. This is what makes it an effective aid to stop smoking, as it blocks the pleasure and reward centers, which are usually excited by smoking.
No drug is without potential side effects. Common side effects related to Wellbutrin include:
- Dry mouth
- Taste issues
- Visual disturbances
- Irregular heartbeat
- Excessive sweating
- Blurred vision
- Rapid heartbeat
Typically, Wellbutrin is taken in tablet form three times a day. If you experience stomach irritation while taking Wellbutrin, it should always be taken with food.
Wellbutrin doses should be taken at least six hours apart to reduce the risk of seizures. Other serious side effects of Wellbutrin include the following:
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Rapid, irregular heartbeat
- A rise in blood pressure
- Muscle or joint pain
- Irrational fears
It is important not to take more or less Wellbutrin than prescribed. Taking more than the recommended dose of bupropion increases the risk of having a seizure. A single dose of bupropion should never exceed 150 mg (milligrams), and it should never exceed 450 mg total for the day.
Dosage recommendations from a doctor are based on the specific medical condition of the individual as well as their response to treatment.
How Antidepressants Work
While Wellbutrin is an effective medicine that is only prescribed when the benefit of it outweighs the risk, sometimes dependence does occur, especially if it has been abused or not used as directed. According to Harvard Medical School, antidepressant withdrawal can be a difficult thing to navigate.
About 10 percent of women over age 18 are taking antidepressants. With such a significant number of the population taking these drugs, coupled with the risk for dependence that these drugs possess, it’s important to be aware of the possibility of dependency with Wellbutrin.
Antidepressants work by altering the levels of neurotransmitters that attach to receptors on neurons throughout the body to influence how they behave. Over time, neurons in the brain adapt to the expected level of neurotransmitters. If these levels change too much or too quickly, they can cause symptoms that range from mild to deadly.
Suddenly stopping antidepressants is generally not dangerous, but it can be very uncomfortable. It is important to talk to your doctor or therapist first to ensure you do not stop prematurely and run the risk of slipping back into depression.
According to a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), antidepressants are one of the top three most prescribed medications in America. Some people only take them for a few months, but others will take them for years.
About 25 percent of antidepressant users have taken them for more than 10 years. Generally, when a patient finds an antidepressant that successfully treats their disorder, they stick with it indefinitely.
The longer a person is on an antidepressant and the larger the dose they take, the more likely they will be to experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop use.
In general, most people who stop taking Wellbutrin do not experience severe withdrawal symptoms. There may be some mild symptoms, such as irritability, that can be addressed via a tapering schedule.
Antidepressant withdrawal symptoms are possible when someone is coming off a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), like Zoloft or Paxil. Wellbutrin affects different neurotransmitters — dopamine and noradrenaline.
While there are not usually many withdrawal symptoms associated with Wellbutrin, there are many important precautions that should be considered.
Individuals with a major depressive disorder may experience worsening depression and/or suicide ideation and thoughts. Several studies of short-term placebo-controlled trials of antidepressant drugs, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors and other antidepressants, found that these drugs increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children and young adults.
The safest way to stop taking Wellbutrin is via a tapering program. This will involve slowly weaning off the drug to prevent severe withdrawal symptoms.
The tapering timeline for Wellbutrin is fairly short, especially compared to other drugs. Typically, it will last about one to two weeks.
Once the initial tapering program is complete, long-term therapy is recommended to address the underlying mental health condition that led to using Wellbutrin in the first place.
Those who still struggle with depression after taking Wellbutrin may be switched to a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). It is not uncommon for it to take several attempts and medicinal combinations to find a plan that works for you.
Therapy is an integral part of treatment, as it can help individuals cope with symptoms of depression.
Seek professional assistance before attempting to stop Wellbutrin use. With the help of a professional, you can detox in a safe environment.