Wellbutrin, also known by the generic name Bupropion, has been around for a while. It hit the market in the United States in the mid 1970s, 40 plus years ago. This medication is an antidepressant, but it's unique in the way it treats depression. It's different from your typical SSRIs, such as Zoloft, or Prozac. Wellbutrin hits on a different chemical. It actually hits on a different combination of chemicals similar to the SSRIs. What it does is it blocks the reuptake of certain chemicals from the synaptic cleft or space. This controls our mood, the chemicals that are in that space determine how we feel. The more of the feelgood chemicals we have, the better. What Wellbutrin does is it increases dopamine, and it also increases norepinephrine.
These two together in increased concentration can help with things like energy levels, and it can help you have a better mood, with that increased dopamine. Wellbutrin is called a norepinephrine dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI). Similar to an SSRI, which is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Only this blocks norepinephrine and dopamine. What's the biggest difference here? Wellbutrin works quite well for depression, but it doesn't work super well for anxiety.
Wellbutrin is not often prescribed for people with anxious symptoms with their depression. It won't help those anxious symptoms as much as something like an SSRI would or other anxiolytic medications. However there are some advantages to Wellbutrin. Like I said, it has a unique mechanism of action where it works on Dopamine and Norepinephrine and not so much on Serotonin. So what does this do? Well, as far as side effects go, this gives you some advantages. It doesn't have sexual side effects like SSRIs and SNRIs do. In fact, it might help with sexual dysfunction. This is really good for those who feel like maybe they've been having issues with other medications decreasing their libido or maybe decreasing their attraction to their partner. This is a medication that isn't known for doing that. Another thing that it doesn't do is it doesn't cause weight gain. Wellbutrin is a pretty good medication for not doing that. If you've been having that issue on other drugs, maybe give Wellbutrin a try.
One of the things that Wellbutrin is known for is being prescribed for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which I talk about in another article here. Seasonal affective disorder is when people have certain times of the year where they feel more depressed than normal. Everybody has some seasonal slump, but with SAD, it's more extreme. They are having clinical depression, difficulty getting out of bed, difficulty functioning in their normal everyday life. This commonly happens during the winter months, but can happen during other times during the year. This medication is specifically used for that because with that increased norepinephrine, you have increased energy levels.
Another interesting fact about Wellbutrin is that it is commonly prescribed as a smoking cessation agent. It goes by the brand name Zyban when used for smoking cessation. It is the same medication and has been shown to help people who have difficulty quitting smoking.
I was actually prescribed Wellbutrin at one point in my mental health journey, and I was on it for three or four weeks. I had a really hard time with Wellbutrin. I was taking it in December. It was right when that seasonal affective stuff hits, but I had a really poor reaction to the medication. It made me really achy, especially in the joints. It was quite painful. I also had pinching, tingling sensations all over that made me all around miserable. I tried to give this medication the best chance that I could, but ultimately I quit because of the side effects.
Now, that's not to say that you're going to have the same side effects if this is a medication that you try. Everybody is different. This is something that I like to point out, especially in the comments on the videos, is that everybody reacts differently to medications. We all have a different body chemistry. We all have different ways our body metabolizes drugs. We have different genetics. There's so much that goes into this. Saying that I had a bad experience doesn't mean that you are going to have a bad experience. I really want people to not be discouraged from trying different options. It took me a long time to finally find the combination of medications and supplements that help me feel my very best.
It just takes time. And you shouldn't get discouraged and say, oh, all medications are out because I had a bad reaction to this one. Please be hopeful and keep trying. You're going to find something. It took me a very long time to find the right medication for me, but I finally got there, and I'm so much better and happier because of it, so don't give up. Wellbutrin is a good medication. It's a good drug you can ask your doctor about, especially if you've been having difficulty with other medications like SSRIs.
Wellbutrin (Bupropion) has been around for a long time. In this video, I talk about my experience taking Wellbutrin. I also talk about how Wellbutrin works and how it can be a benefit to those fighting Major Depressive Disorder.