Wellbutrin for Anxiety: Effectiveness, Dosage and Side Effects

Anxiety is a natural stress reaction that might be beneficial in some situations. It can alert us to imminent risks and help us strategize and pay more attention.

Anxiety may present itself in various ways, including cognitive, psychological, and somatic symptoms. On a psychological level, one may experience fear or helplessness. Physical symptoms such as shaking, sweating, or trouble breathing is often associated with high-functioning anxiety. (1)

Anxiety is an inevitable part of life. However, some people experience lengthy episodes of anxiety, which may harm their lives.  In severe circumstances, anxiety can progress to a disorder.

When worry and stress are both ongoing and disruptive, anxiety disorders emerge. Anxiety disorders can be effectively treated. Unfortunately, only 37% of those suffering from them seek therapy. Several solutions are accessible to you if you wish to avoid becoming a part of this statistic.

Anxiety issues mostly require treatment, which can either be taken in the form of psychotherapy or medication.

Anxiety is frequently treated with psychotherapy, but medications can also stabilize it. Antidepressants, such as Zoloft for anxiety have an important impact. (2) In some cases of anxiety, another type of antidepressant known by the brand name Wellbutrin might be utilized.

Wellbutrin, the brand name for bupropion hydrochloride, is an antidepressant drug used to treat depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder. (3) However, doctors may occasionally prescribe Wellbutrin to cure different types of anxiety.

Wellbutrin, like any drug, has risks and adverse effects. If you are experiencing anxiety, talk to your primary care physician to help you find the best treatment for your situation.

Let us delve deeper to learn more about Wellbutrin for anxiety.

What is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin is the brand name for bupropion hydrochloride, an antidepressant medication. Wellbutrin has been authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a therapy for major depressive disorder. (4)

Wellbutrin has a secondary use in treating anxiety, but your doctor may not give Wellbutrin the same way depending on your condition. Whether you are primarily an anxiety sufferer, a depression sufferer, or both, a healthcare provider may prescribe this medicine accordingly to address your symptoms.

Bupropion has a variety of off-label uses, including the treatment of sexual dysfunction affiliated with antidepressant use, depression associated with bipolar disorder, obesity or weight loss associated with the use of psychiatric medications, and symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adults. (5)

Wellbutrin is used to treat a variety of disorders. It is given orally as an immediate-release, sustained-release, or extended-release tablet.

One feature distinguishing Wellbutrin from other antidepressants is that it does not affect libido or sexual function. In fact, it is frequently taken alongside other antidepressants to assist in counteracting the sexual adverse effects of other antidepressants.

How does Wellbutrin work for anxiety?

Wellbutrin is thought to function differently than many other regularly given antidepressants. Wellbutrin belongs to a family of antidepressants known as aminoketones. Wellbutrin influences the number of neurotransmitters in the brain.

Wellbutrin works by preventing the reuptake of the neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, resulting in more dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine sending messages to other neurons.

Dopamine controls several processes, including sleep, pleasure, motivation, and mood. (6) Norepinephrine functions by pumping blood through your system, keeping you awake, and performing other activities. (7) People suffering from depression may have low dopamine levels. (8) Consequently, Wellbutrin is used to treat patients who suffer from anxiety due to depression.

Wellbutrin differs from other antidepressants because its main effect is on dopamine, which selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) do not match.

Wellbutrin is generally used to treat depression and help individuals quit smoking, but it also treats anxiety problems. According to some findings, this medicine can be especially beneficial for people who suffer from depression and anxiety. However, there is conflicting information about the efficacy of Wellbutrin for anxiety. According to some accounts, Wellbutrin might create new or severe anxiety in some people, particularly those treated for depression.

Does Wellbutrin cause anxiety?

Wellbutrin, like most drugs, has specific possible adverse effects. Anxiety is one of these, as are restlessness, agitation, and sleeplessness. In general, any anxiety-related adverse effects would most likely be at their highest just after therapy begins or shortly after any dosage raises.

However, only approximately 2% of people discontinue taking Wellbutrin due to these adverse effects, demonstrating how controllable these side effects may be. (9)

Anxiety might also occur as a result of your Wellbutrin dose being increased too soon. If you start feeling anxious, talking to your doctor might help you figure out what is causing it.

In general, using Wellbutrin in modest dosages and only gradually increasing those levels can help avoid anxiety or at least decrease the intensity of any adverse effects.

Wellbutrin can raise anxious sensations in people who do not have depression. These symptoms should go away within a few days. If your doctor recommends Wellbutrin and you are having anxiety symptoms that do not go away after a few days, talk to your doctor about the best dose and prescription for you.

Myths about Wellbutrin

One of the most common myths regarding Wellbutrin is that it might produce new anxiety, exacerbate current anxiety, or provide no relief whatsoever.

Anxiety is a common side effect, and all popular antidepressants have the potential to cause anxiety, and Wellbutrin is no exception. (10) So, these theories are not out of the realm of possibility, but taking Wellbutrin at low dosages can help avoid this from happening.

People presume that Wellbutrin is ineffective for treating anxiety in patients with depression; however, this is not always true. People suffering from anxious depression may benefit significantly from Wellbutrin, as can those suffering from a generalized anxiety disorder.

The dividing line develops when a person has depression and another anxiety disease that is not GAD; this is why it is critical to check with your doctor before deciding on the appropriate treatment strategy for your particular requirements.

Another myth about Wellbutrin is that it is inappropriate for individuals who suffer from sleeplessness or other sleep disorders. Insomnia is a potential adverse effect of Wellbutrin. (11) However, it is more common when the medicine is initially started. In general, Wellbutrin does not cause sleeplessness, but if it does, visiting your doctor can help you discover a better alternative for anxiety.

The appropriate dose of Wellbutrin

Wellbutrin is available in various dosages, and there is a relatively common notion of how much drug should be used for anxiety and depression therapy.

The first kind is immediate-release Wellbutrin pills, in 75mg and 100mg concentrations.  Wellbutrin extended/sustained-release tablets can contain 100mg, 150mg, 200mg, 300mg, or 450mg of Wellbutrin in a single dosage.

A typical beginning dose of bupropion for depression is 150mg per day and can be increased to three times that amount. You may change doses after several days or weeks at your healthcare provider’s decision.

The dosage for anxiety will most likely be substantially lower. There has not been much debate over the optimal daily dose for anxiety therapy, which may be deemed experimental at this stage, considering that anxiety treatment is off-label.

Most healthcare practitioners advocate starting with half of the prescribed depression dosage as a starting point. Your doctor may adjust your Wellbutrin dose over time based on your symptoms, medical history, reaction to the medicine, and a variety of other variables.

Available formulations of Wellbutrin

Bupropion is available in three distinct but bioequivalent formulations, including immediate-release (IR), sustained-release (SR), and extended-release (XL).

Immediate-release formulation

Peak plasma bupropion concentrations are typically obtained within 2 hours of oral administration of pills. As immediate-release formulations have a limited period of action, they are often dosed three times per day.

Sustained-release formulation

Peak plasma concentrations of bupropion are typically reached within 3 hours after taking Wellbutrin sustained-release tablets. Sustained-release formulations give a 12-hour release of medicine and are often dosed twice daily.

Extended-release formulation

The average time to peak plasma concentrations for bupropion after a single oral dosage of Wellbutrin extended-release tablets is about 5 hours. Extended-release formulations provide a 24-hour extended-release of the drug, so they are typically dosed once per day.

What to use with Wellbutrin for anxiety?

If you and your doctor conclude that Wellbutrin is the appropriate prescription drug for your specific situation, you may encounter anxiety at times.

If your anxiety symptoms interfere with your everyday functioning, speak with your healthcare professional about their anxiety-relieving recommendations.

Coping skills for anxiety such as regular exercise, mindfulness, and meditation can also help you manage Wellbutrin-related anxiety. (12) Some people may also combine Wellbutrin with psychotherapy, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). (13)

If your anxiety is severe, your doctor may suggest switching to a different type of medicine. A doctor may prescribe both Wellbutrin plus an SSRI or SNRI medicine in some instances.

A short-acting anti-anxiety medicine, such as benzodiazepine, may be administered for acute episodes of anxiety or panic attacks caused by Wellbutrin. However, because these medications have a higher risk of adverse effects and benzodiazepines are addictive, they are unsuitable for long-term usage. (14) Your doctor may decide to treat your anxiety with different medicine.

If you take Wellbutrin, you must follow your doctor’s advice. Alcohol, for example, should not be consumed with Wellbutrin since it might exacerbate Wellbutrin’s adverse effects and worsen anxiety and depression. (15)

Certain prescription drugs or supplements may interact with Wellbutrin, so check your healthcare practitioner before beginning anything new.

Is Wellbutrin classified as Narcotic?

Wellbutrin is used to treat a wide range of conditions. Despite the advantages, there has been anecdotal evidence that Wellbutrin can be abused, raising the question of whether Wellbutrin is a narcotic.

Narcotics, often known as opioids, is a kind of drug. Prescription pain relievers and illicit drug heroin are examples of narcotics. Narcotics are produced from opium or manufactured in a manner that mimics the effects of opium-based medications. (16)

This drug class works on the central nervous system by attaching to specific receptors. Narcotics alleviate pain, but they are also highly addictive and can result in a lethal overdose since they reduce breathing rates. When taken in large amounts, narcotics, in particular, suppress breathing.

There is considerable dispute over Wellbutrin being classified as a narcotic because it has the potential for abuse. However, Wellbutrin is not a narcotic. It affects neurotransmitters in the brain, but it does not attach to opioid receptors, unlike narcotics. Wellbutrin is also not a prohibited substance in the same way that opioids are. (17)

Wellbutrin is sometimes mistaken with narcotics because it causes physical dependency in many consumers. If a person relies on Wellbutrin and abruptly stops taking medication, they may have withdrawal symptoms. Because of the risk of withdrawal, the person using Wellbutrin mustn’t discontinue the medication abruptly without consulting with their healthcare provider.

Wellbutrin is generally regarded as a safe and well-tolerated antidepressant. Some people may feel a stimulant-like high when taking large dosages or using unlawful methods such as injecting dissolved pills. However, using Wellbutrin in this manner might be hazardous or fatal. Although Wellbutrin is not a narcotic and is not very addictive, it can cause physical dependency; therefore, patients should be mindful of this when taking it.

Wellbutrin abuse

Although Wellbutrin is not a narcotic, it does have the potential to be abused. Wellbutrin is generally regarded as a relatively safe antidepressant. However, since Wellbutrin affects the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, it occasionally produces a stimulant-like high.

Wellbutrin may function similarly to a stimulant when taken excessively or in unsafe methods, such as intravenously. People who use Wellbutrin recreationally can take up to 1300 mg at a time, although the maximum daily amount for prescription usage is 450 mg.

In addition to injecting Wellbutrin, some recreational users crush the tablets and snort them; this delivers all of the drug’s effects directly into the circulation at once, avoiding the time-release portions of Wellbutrin. It is exceedingly harmful and can result in significant health complications. When Wellbutrin is injected, it can be caustic. As a consequence, it can cause substantial tissue damage.

Side effects of Wellbutrin

Wellbutrin, like other prescription medicines, has potential side effects. One is the danger of suicidal thoughts and acts, which are more prevalent in adolescents, teenagers, and young adults. (18)  When young individuals take Wellbutrin, others around them must keep an eye out for odd mood changes.

Weight loss is a distinct side effect of Wellbutrin compared to other antidepressants. Most other antidepressants can induce weight gain; however, anecdotal data suggests that Wellbutrin might promote weight loss. (19)

The combination of Wellbutrin and alcohol may potentially affect the frequency and severity of adverse effects, such as seizures and suicidal thoughts.

Typically, it takes at least two weeks of Wellbutrin treatment to develop a sufficient supply in your body to show results without any possible side effects.

Wellbutrin has a long list of potential side effects. Constipation, headache, nausea and vomiting, sweating, dizziness, sleeplessness, irritability, and changes in heartbeat are a few of the common side effects.

Ambiguity, muscle or joint pain, manic episodes, particularly in bipolar disorder, paranoia, delusions, hallucination, irrational fears, and seizures are all rare but severe side effects caused by Wellbutrin. If you notice any of these symptoms, you must immediately notify a healthcare professional.

In patients with pre-existing liver disease, Wellbutrin may aggravate the condition. Moreover, as previously noted, Wellbutrin can create anxiety symptoms in some people, particularly those who do not suffer from depression.

If you are on Wellbutrin and your side effects are affecting your ability to function, speak with your doctor as soon as possible.

Interactions of Wellbutrin with other drugs

Numerous medications interact with Wellbutrin, either increasing or decreasing its efficacy. The following are some of the most critical interactions:

  • Wellbutrin should be used with caution in patients taking medications that lower the seizure threshold. Prochlorperazine, chlorpromazine, and other antipsychotic medications in the phenothiazine class are examples of such medications. (20)
  • Carbamazepine can reduce the blood concentration of Wellbutrin resulting in lowering its effects. (21)
  • Due to the apparent risk of severe reactions, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOI) should not be combined with Wellbutrin. At least 14 days should elapse between stopping an MAOI and starting Wellbutrin. (22)
  • Wellbutrin may interfere with the action of warfarin. (23)
  • Wellbutrin’s breakdown and elimination may be accelerated by ritonavir. In certain trials, ritonavir lowered its levels in the body by 22% to 66%. (24)


Anxiety disorders are treatable in a variety of ways. Before utilizing a treatment method to get rid of anxiety or to help someone with anxiety, it is essential to consult with a doctor.

Medications are a common and efficient approach to treating anxiety. It is crucial to remember that everyone’s body is different, and what works for one person might not work for another. As a result, it is always important to visit your doctor before taking a new medicine so that they can assist you with your requirements and concerns.

Wellbutrin is effective in treating anxiety, particularly in cases of anxious depression or generalized anxiety disorder. Using Wellbutrin for anxiety is currently an off-label use, which means the FDA has not yet authorized it for this use, but it is still a feasible option.

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