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Wellbutrin

Wellbutrin (Bupropion) is a Norepinephrine-Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitor (NDRI) used in the treatment of depression. The Food and Drug Administration approved it as a smoking cessation aid in 1997. Wellbutrin has also been used in the treatment of attention deficit disorder, seasonal affective disorder and obesity. Wellbutrin comes in extended release (XL) form, which is taken once a day, and sustained-release form (SR), which is taken twice. According to a report by Drug Topics, Wellbutrin was the fourth most prescribed antidepressant of 2006.

Uses

Wellbutrin, under the brand name Zyban, has become a popular smoking cessation aid. As a nicotinic antagonist, it helps to reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms and cravings. Wellbutrin has also been found to be effective in the treatment of obesity, with rates of efficiency similar to popular weight loss medications. Studies have shown it is effective in the treatment of attention deficit disorder, but it has not yet been approved by the FDA for this use.

Side Effects

For the treatment of depression, it is often used in conjunction with SSRIs. When a patient does not respond to treatment with only an SSRI, the addition of Wellbutrin is often effective. Unlike many antidepressants, Wellbutrin has few sexual side effects. It is sometimes used to counteract the loss of libido and other sexual side effects caused by a SSRIs antidepressant. Wellbutrin has a very unique side effect profile.

Side Effects May Include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Skin rash
  • Sweating
  • Shakiness and nervousness
  • Stomach pain
  • Agitation
  • Constipation
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Sore throat
  • Frequent urination

Overdose

A controversial side effect of Wellbutrin is seizure. At normal therapeutic doses, Wellbutrin is no more likely than other antidepressants to cause seizure. However, the likelihood of a Wellbutrin-induced seizure is highly related to dosage. When the dose is higher than 600 mg, the risk of seizure increases tenfold. In one study, nearly all patients who ingested more than 9 grams of Wellbutrin had a seizure.

Overdose Symptoms Include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Agitation
  • Drowsiness
  • Sinus tachycardia
  • Delirium
  • Seizure
  • Hallucinations
  • Coma
  • Irregular heartbeat

Let your doctor know if you are taking any other prescription medication or over-the-counter drugs. Taking Wellbutrin in combination with other substances that lower the seizure threshold is dangerous. These substances include alcohol, antipsychotics, steroids and some tricyclic anti-depressants. Wellbutrin should also not be taken in combination with drugs that elevate blood pressure.