Bupropion is a prescription drug belonging to the class of medications known as antidepressants. It is available in the brand name of Wellbutrin in Canada. You can get the medication as an extended-release or immediate-release tablet, both to be taken by mouth. 

It works by correcting the imbalance of brain chemicals, which is a cause for depression. One factor that differentiates Bupropion from other antidepressants is that it does not alter your sexual function, which is a common side effect of many antidepressants. 

It may also be prescribed with other antidepressants to counter their sexual side effects.

Here is more about Bupropion, including its uses and side effects.

How Does Bupropion Help Treat Depression?

Bupropion is a commonly used depression medication. It triggers the activity of natural chemicals in your brain, such as norepinephrine and dopamine, which are responsible for improving your mood. The nerves take up these chemicals to send messages among them.

Bupropion works by preventing the reuptake of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, improving their level in your brain, and thus boosting your mood.

Bupropion is thus used to manage:

  • Depression
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

It can also be used to help you stop smoking.

Unlike other antidepressants that have an effect on serotonin, Bupropion has a major impact on dopamine.

Prescription and Use

Take this medicine as advised by your doctor. In general, the following instructions should be followed:

  • Bupropion is a medication to be taken by mouth. Read the medication guide before taking it.
  • Take the tablet orally as directed by your doctor. It is usually taken once a day, preferably in the morning.
  • Take the exact dose as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use it too often or take a higher dose than advised.
  • Swallow the whole tablet.
  • Do not chew or crush the tablet. Doing so will release all the medicine at once, increasing the probability of side effects.
  • Do not split the tablet unless told by your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Avoid taking it late in the day as it may cause trouble sleeping.
  • In case you have an upset stomach, take the medication after or with a snack or meal.
  • Take medicine regularly, preferably at the same time every day. Do not skip the medication without consulting your doctor.

If you forget a dose:

  • Take it as soon as you remember it the same day and carry on as usual from the next day
  • If you completely forget the dose for the whole day, skip it and carry on, as usual, the next day
  • Do not take double the dose to compensate for the missed dose
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Progress of Treatment

After starting Bupropion, you may notice a gradual improvement in your symptoms over a few weeks. It may be possible that physical symptoms and sleep improve before you can observe any change in your mood.

Once the symptoms improve, you may need to take this medicine for a longer time period to prevent the recurrence of depression.

In any case, do not change your dose or stop taking Bupropion without talking with your physician first.

Depression may also be associated with bipolar illness. People who are on antidepressants are at a higher risk of switching from sadness to mania. Symptoms of mania include irritable mood, decreased need for sleep, very high self-esteem, racing thoughts, increased talking, indulging in risky behavior, and being easily distracted. 

Common Side Effects of Bupropion/Wellbutrin

As with other medicines, Wellbutrin can also cause side effects in some people. Some common side effects include:

Common side effects

  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blurred vision
  • fast heartbeat
  • Increased anger
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Agitation
  • Constipation
  • Sweating
  • Shakiness
  • Confusion
  • Rash
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Hearing problems such as ringing in the ears

These side effects are usually short-lived. But in case you notice them for a longer time, it is best to consult your doctor.

Serious side effects

Seek immediate medical help if the mentioned symptoms are present:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Worsening of depression symptoms
  • New or worsened anxiety
  • Suicidal attempts
  • Feeling restless or agitated
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Panic attacks
  • Impulsive actions
  • Being aggressive or violent
  • Eye problems such as redness or swelling around the eyes
  • Eye pain, double or blurred vision
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Jerking movement of extremities
  • Staring spells
  • Confusion
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Precautions

This medication should be avoided by pregnant and breastfeeding moms unless suggested by the doctor. You should also avoid this medicine if you have:

  • Kidney disorders
  • Liver diseases
  • Angle-closure glaucoma
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia
  • Seizures

Interactions

You should also not take Bupropion if you are on the following medications:

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors, such as selegiline and phenelzine
  • Antidepressants, such as nortriptyline, desipramine, fluoxetine, venlafaxine, imipramine, and paroxetine
  • Antipsychotics, such as risperidone, haloperidol, and thioridazine
  • Anti-arrhythmic drugs, such as flecainide and propafenone
  • HIV drugs, such as ritonavir, efavirenz, and lopinavir
  • Anti-seizure medications, such as phenobarbital, carbamazepine, and phenytoin
  • Beta-blockers
  • Theophylline
  • Amantadine
  • Levodopa
  • Corticosteroids
  • Clopidogrel

This is not an exhaustive list. Always consult a doctor before taking Bupropion if you are on any other medications.

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