How Long Does Wellbutrin Take To Work? All You Need to Know

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Wellbutrin is a commonly prescribed medication to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Its generic name is bupropion, and it’s an atypical antidepressant. Since 1985, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved bupropion for treating adult depression, SAD, and smoking cessation.

Additionally, a sustained-release version called Wellbutrin SR was approved in 1996 to treat adult depression, while the extended-release version called Wellbutrin XL was approved in 2003 for the treatment of SAD. So, how long does Wellbutrin take to work when used? Read on to find out.

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How Does Wellbutrin work?

Wellbutrin contains the active ingredient bupropion, which helps alleviate symptoms of depression by inhibiting the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. Studies show that the inhibition of these chemicals increases the level of the neurotransmitters associated with mood.

Wellbutrin’s extended-release version treats both adult depression and SAD, while the immediate-release version treats only the former.

For quitting smoking, Wellbutrin works by reducing withdrawal symptoms and the urge to smoke. It’s not entirely clear how the medication does this, but it’s thought to work by preventing dopamine reuptake. Wellbutrin does not inhibit the re-uptake of serotonin or monoamine oxidase.

How Long Does Wellbutrin Take to Work?

Generally, antidepressants take weeks or even a couple of months to start working. For most people, it usually takes around two weeks for Wellbutrin to work. It typically reaches its maximal therapeutic effect by four to eight weeks. Some people may experience relief from their symptoms sooner than two weeks, while others may not feel the drug’s full effects until after eight weeks.

How patients follow the doctor’s instructions, the severity of the condition, and other individual factors can all affect how long it takes for Wellbutrin to work.

Therefore, taking Wellbutrin according to the doctor’s directions is critical. Discontinuation of the medication without consulting with a mental health professional is not advised.

Signs Wellbutrin is Working

The most apparent signs that Wellbutrin works are alleviating depressive or other symptoms. Other signs that may indicate that Wellbutrin is working include:

  • Improved sleep
  • Better focus and memory
  • More energy and interest in activities
  • Increased ability to function at work or school
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Less anxiety
  • Improved mood
  • Fewer physical symptoms of depression
  • Better decision-making ability

Generally, patients will feel mentally and physically better when Wellbutrin is working. After the side effects during the first few days have dissipated, patients may feel more like their old selves.

Things to Know Before Taking Wellbutrin

It’s helpful to know the basics of Wellbutrin to ease any patient’s anxiety about starting a new medication. Here are a few vital things to keep note of:

  • Wellbutrin is an antidepressant available as a brand-name medication or in generic form (bupropion).
  • Generic bupropion and other brand names such as Aplenzin and Zyban are available.
  • Wellbutrin treats depression in Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
  • Wellbutrin has a “black box” safety warning from the FDA, which is the most severe type of FDA warning. It can be seen in bupropion medications that are for depression treatment. These boxes are meant to draw attention to the extreme nature of a drug’s side effects.
  • The downsides of Wellbutrin include seizure risk, increased blood pressure, and suicidal thoughts or behaviors. Wellbutrin may cause weight loss or weight gain.
  • Bupropion may not be suitable for people with kidney or liver issues and diabetes. It may also not be ideal for psychiatric disorders.
  • You can use Wellbutrin with or without food.
  • Starting dosages for Wellbutrin should be low. Dosage can be tapered up or down, depending on how the patient reacts to the medication.
  • Taking the last dose before 5 PM is recommended to minimize the risk of insomnia.
  • Suppose you’re taking Wellbutrin for SAD, then you should take it from autumn before the onset of symptoms.
  • Minimize or avoid alcohol consumption and smoking when taking Wellbutrin to reduce the risk of seizure.
  • Wellbutrin may interact with other medications, so you must tell the doctor about all other medications you take, including vitamins and supplements.
  • Avoid activities that need mental alertness until you know the medication’s effects on you.
  • It may take several weeks for patients to feel the full effects of Wellbutrin.
  • If discontinued, do so gradually to avoid withdrawal symptoms.

It would be best if you discussed all questions and concerns with a qualified mental health professional.

How Long Does Wellbutrin Take to Start Working?

Wellbutrin usually takes six to eight weeks to work as a treatment for depression fully. However, one can experience sleep, appetite, and energy improvements after one or two weeks. For improvement of mood and interest in activities, it may take four weeks or more.

Warnings and Drug Interactions

Patients who take herbal products, health supplements, and over-the-counter medications must tell the doctor as these may interact with Wellbutrin.

Patients with excessive alcohol use should also inform their doctor as alcohol may interact with the medicine and lead to a seizure. Wellbutrin may lower some patients’ seizure threshold.

Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also notify their doctor as Wellbutrin may pass into breast milk and cause harm to the baby. Wellbutrin may also increase suicidal thoughts or behavior in young people up to 24 years of age, teens, and children.

Interactions with Other Conditions

Wellbutrin is known to have interactions with several diseases. Patients must tell their doctor about other medical conditions, including liver or kidney problems, diabetes, and a history of head injury or seizures. The eight disease interactions with Wellbutrin include:

  • Liver disease
  • Seizure disorders
  • Depression
  • Angle Closure Glaucoma
  • Mixed or Manic Episode
  • Psychosis
  • Renal Dysfunction
  • Weight Loss

Generally, Wellbutrin is considered a safe medication with few adverse effects. However, patients should disclose allergies, habits, and medical conditions to their doctor before starting the medication.

In addition, you should store Wellbutrin in a tight bottle away from natural sunlight.

How Long Does Wellbutrin Take To Work For Depression?

Wellbutrin’s efficacy differs from person to person. How the patient follows the doctor’s instructions also affect how long the medication will work. It’s also vital to consider the patient’s age, gender, health conditions, and drugs. Moreover, how the patient does their part in staying healthy also matters.

Like any antidepressant, Wellbutrin will be prescribed to patients for as long as the healthcare provider deems necessary. The usual length of treatment is six to twelve months.

However, some patients may need to stay on the medication for a more extended period of maintenance therapy.

Patients must follow their doctor’s instructions and take Wellbutrin as prescribed. They should also keep regular appointments with their healthcare provider to check their progress. It’s essential to report any changes in mood, behavior, or side effects to the doctor.

How Long Does Wellbutrin Remain in Your System?

When a patient takes Wellbutrin, it takes seven hours to take full effect. Wellbutrin can stay in the body for up to two weeks after the last dose. The half-life of Wellbutrin is 33 to 37 hours, which means it takes that long for the body to reduce the concentration of the drug by half.

The elimination half-life is the time it takes for a drug to be eliminated from the body. A drug’s half-life is the time it takes for the concentration of the drug in the blood to be reduced by half.

Compared to other antidepressants, Wellbutrin has an exceptionally long half-life. This means direct guidance from a physician is essential when tapering on and off the drug.

Does Wellbutrin frequently stop working as an antidepressant?

If Wellbutrin becomes less effective as an antidepressant, it’s essential to talk to a doctor. The dosage may need to be increased, or the patient may need to switch to a different medication. Generally, Wellbutrin doesn’t stop treating depression, but everyone’s body chemistry is different.

How To Take Wellbutrin

As a prescription medication, you should only take Wellbutrin according to the directions given by your doctor. Generally, Wellbutrin comes in tablet form with 75mg or 100mg of bupropion.

Depending on the diagnosis, healthcare providers may recommend taking Wellbutrin anywhere from one to four times per day, depending on the dosage.

Wellbutrin typically comes in two forms: Wellbutrin XL and Wellbutrin SR. In tablet form, Wellbutrin XL comes in 150mg or 300mg of bupropion. However, Wellbutrin SR has three different dosage forms, including 100mg, 150mg, and 300mg.

When to See a Doctor

If someone you know or you are struggling with depression and smoking cessation, it’s essential to seek professional help as soon as possible. Wellbutrin can be an effective treatment for both conditions, but it’s also important to be aware of the potential risks.

The same applies to people who are going through Wellbutrin addiction and withdrawal. It would be best if you only took Wellbutrin under the guidance of a medical professional.

Patients must also see a medical professional if they want to stop taking Wellbutrin. Suddenly stopping the medication can cause withdrawal symptoms.

Since Wellbutrin is mainly used as a treatment for depression, seeing a doctor whenever the patient is willing and ready is essential to rule out other potential causes of the condition. Depression is a severe condition that needs proper medical treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

A dose of Wellbutrin takes seven hours to take full effect. As treatment for depression, the drug may need to be taken for four to six weeks before the full benefits are felt. How quickly the drug works depends on the patient’s condition and several other factors. For some, Wellbutrin works faster than other antidepressants. 

Depression is a severe condition that needs proper medical treatment. Many factors go into how effective Wellbutrin is for each patient. The drug may need to be taken for four to six weeks before the full benefits are felt.

How quickly the drug works depends on the patient’s condition, how they follow their treatment plan, and several other factors. In general, though, Wellbutrin is just as effective as SSRIs.

The time of day a patient takes Wellbutrin may depend on the doctor’s recommendation. Some patients may do better taking the drug in the morning, while others may do better taking it at night.

Generally, doctors advise patients to take the last dose before 5 PM to reduce the risk of insomnia. Consult with a doctor to see what time of day is best for the patient. 

It’s typically not recommended to drink alcohol while taking Wellbutrin because alcohol can interfere with the medication and reduce its effectiveness. It can also escalate the risk of side effects. However, if a patient does drink while taking Wellbutrin, they should inform the doctor and be sure to be on the lookout for any changes in their condition. 

Wellbutrin has been severally used in treating people with depressive mood and bipolar disorder because of its safety, good treatment results, and reduced risk of phase shifting. However, new evidence from research suggests Wellbutrin may not be as safe for BD patients as previously believed.

There are many reasons bupropion may not work for a particular patient. Talk to a doctor to determine if your dosage or the medicine itself is the right course of treatment for you. Some antidepressants work better for certain patients than others.

Some patients may feel anxious or irritable when they first start taking Wellbutrin. These side effects typically go away as the body adjusts to the medication. However, it’s important not to change the dosage without talking to a doctor, regardless of how the patient is feeling. For persistent side effects, talking to a doctor is always advised.

The content on Doctor Alexa’s blog is reviewed by Advanced practice registered nurses or pharmacist and is intended for educational purposes only. This information should not be relied upon as professional medical counsel. Be sure to always consult with your physician about the dangers and benefits of any medication, treatment or procedure.

You shouldn’t wait to see the doctor for simple health needs.