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Wellbutrin XL (Bupropion HCL XL)

What Is Wellbutrin XL?

Wellbutrin, also known by the trade name bupropion, is an antidepressant medication. The XL version is an extended-release formula and is usually taken once daily. Wellbutrin XL is often used to treat seasonal affective disorder, a form of depression occurring during the fall and winter months. It's also a standard treatment for major depression (MDD) in adults. The full effects of the medication may not be felt for up to four weeks. Doctors typically start patients on low doses of the medication and increase it until the ideal dosage is achieved. When stopping Wellbutrin XL, doctors may taper doses downward for two weeks before complete termination.

Important Considerations Before Use:

  • Wellbutrin is not approved for use in people younger than 18.
  • Tell your doctor about all of your medication allergies. Additionally, tell your doctor and pharmacist which prescription and nonprescription drugs you currently take. Even herbal products like St. John's Wort can lead to unwanted drug interactions.
  • Wellbutrin, like many antidepressants, can have a dangerous interaction with a class of drugs called monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). If you currently take an MAOI or have stopped taking one within the last 2 weeks, your doctor will likely not prescribe Wellbutrin. Examples of these drugs include Marplan (isocarboxazid), Nardil (phenelzine), and Emsam (selegiline).
  • If you have substance abuse problems, talk to your doctor before taking Wellbutrin.
  • Talk with your doctor about your medical history. Your doctor will need to know if you have ever had a heart attack, head injury, brain or spine tumor, high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.
  • Alcohol can increase the side effects of Wellbutrin, particularly drowsiness.
  • Zyban, a low-dose form of bupropion, has demonstrated effectiveness for smoking cessation and it has been licensed in the United States and the United Kingdom for this purpose.
  • Rare, adverse psychiatric side effects include anger, paranoia, hallucinations, and hostility.

Important Information During Use:

  • Let your doctor know if you are breastfeeding, pregnant, or plan to become pregnant.
  • Be mindful of worsening depression or thoughts of suicide. There is a small risk of suicide or self-harm with any antidepressant.
  • Take Wellbutrin exactly as prescribed. Don't double up in the event of a skipped dose, and don't take more than your prescribed dosage. Don't chew or crush the tablets because this causes the drug to be released too quickly.
  • Taking Wellbutrin with food will prevent stomach upset.
  • You may see something that looks like a tablet in your stool. This is actually the empty casing for the medicine and doesn't mean that you didn't get your dosage.

Wellbutrin XL Side Effects


  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Irrational fears
  • Fever
  • Rash, blisters, or hives
  • Itching
  • Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • Hoarse voice
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing
  • Chest pain
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Rapid, pounding, or irregular heartbeat

Less Serious:

  • Drowsiness
  • Excitement
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Excessive sweating

Withdrawal from Wellbutrin is usually not considered serious. Gradual tapering of the dose minimizes any withdrawal effects while allowing faster reinstatement of the medication should symptoms of depression return.

Possible Symptoms of Wellbutrin Withdrawal:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Intense and frequent dreams
  • Headache
  • Vertigo
  • Changes to senses and perception
  • Numbness of extremities


Comparing Wellbutrin

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Last Update: 02-20-2013


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