IRFANA PARVEEN
By Irfana Parveen

B.Sc (Psychiatry Ward)

19 September 2021
Medically reviewed by
Freny Menezes
Pharm. D
WELLBUTRIN FOR WEIGHT LOSS
Table of Contents

One-fifth of the population suffers from a major depressive disorder. While battling with anxiety and depression, individuals can tend to hyper-focus on their appearance and weight, resulting in increased anxiety and eating disorders.
Bupropion, also known under the brand names Wellbutrin XL, SR, and IR, is a medication prescribed for depression and to help with smoking cessation aid. For more than 20 years, Bupropion has been used as an antidepressant. Its unique pharmacology prevents the reuptake of noradrenaline and dopamine. And the drug may act as a pharmacological adjunct to more widely used antidepressants.

Besides its use as an antidepressant, Wellbutrin also results in weight loss. Is weight loss a side effect of Wellbutrin? What are other services and side effects associated with Wellbutrin? Let us find out more.

What Is Wellbutrin (Bupropion)?

Since the late 1990s, Bupropion has been approved for treating depression in the United States; an extended formulation version became available in 2007. Bupropion, sold under the brand name Wellbutrin is a prescribed drug for people experiencing depression. It is also an efficacious therapy for anxiety in some people. 

Studies also show that the drug helps to quit smoking. While treating depression, some people have encountered weight loss issues too. These problems are sometimes due to the symptoms of depression that may influence an individual's appetite.

Indications Of Wellbutrin

FDA-approved indications of Bupropion include adult depression, seasonal affective disorder, and smoking cessation.

Off-label uses include Antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression associated with bipolar disorder, and obesity.
Bupropion is also employed as an off-label for ADHD in the pediatric population.

How Does Wellbutrin Work?

Wellbutrin or Bupropion belongs to the class of antidepressants. It is an aminoketone with distinct pharmacology and prevents the reuptake of noradrenaline and dopamine.  

The effects on dopamine and norepinephrine are what cause its clinical symptoms. The norepinephrine uptake is less potent, whereas dopamine reuptake inhibition is very significant. Bupropion also has a minor effect on serotonin and nicotinic receptors. 

The correct dosage is necessary for the desired clinical outcome. The dosage includes the directions regarding the dosing and administration of the medications. Patients should make sure that they follow the proper dosage guidelines for the intended result.

Major Depressive disorder

The initial dose is 150 mg orally once daily. The dose may be titrated up to the maintenance dose of 300 mg daily. The maximum amount is 450 mg, given in divided doses daily.

Smoking cessation

Start at the lowest dose of 150 mg per day for three days, increase to 150 mg every 12 hours and continue the treatment for 7-12 weeks. The maximum daily dose in divided doses is 450 mg. Start therapy one week before the quit date.

ADHD

150 mg daily orally. Titrate to 150-450 mg/ day as needed.

The symptoms include seizure, hallucination, loss of consciousness, and rapid or pounding heartbeat.
Wellbutrin is as least as effective as other commonly given antidepressants. Compared to other forms of treatment, there is also decreased likelihood of weight gain, drowsiness, and sexual dysfunction. It might even effectively treat sexual dysfunction brought on by prior antidepressant use.
Although Wellbutrin does not cause addiction, withdrawal symptoms might happen, so consult your doctor before stopping use.

Does Wellbutrin Cause Weight Loss?

Bupropion seems to work well as an antidepressant for various depressive disorders. Bupropion has been demonstrated to be more effective than sertraline and fluoxetine in treating Anxiety related to depression. Bupropion typically has few adverse effects, with the type, severity, and frequency of issues similar to those seen with other SSRIs. 

Wellbutrin is an effective antidepressant, often combined with naltrexone, also sold as the weight loss drug Contrave. All antidepressants seem to have side effects in most people, but at least patients are not worried about gaining weight while taking them. In a recently released study, Bupropion was also linked to weight loss in obese and overweight women. 

How Does Wellbutrin Work To Cause Weight Loss?

The sustainably releasing formula of Bupropion reduces appetite, which can contribute to weight loss. If you also eat regularly to manage depression, you may find that relieving depressive symptoms can help you eat when you're hungry and not just in response to your feelings. If you drink regularly, there may be a calorie reduction if you stop drinking alcohol, which leads to weight loss.

Bupropion has been shown to cause a loss of body mass in some patients. Overall, there is no definitive answer as to how fast the loss can be in patients taking the drug or what specific dosages will follow for weight loss from Bupropion. No medical procedures or bariatric surgery solutions are available, so you may need to try out traditional weight loss methods such as diet change and exercise to succeed.

2012 study found that obese adults who consumed the drug standard release in 300 mg or 400 mg doses lost up to 7.2% and 10% of their body weight over 24 weeks and maintained that weight at 48 weeks. Studies and research show that the drug was initially invested as an antidepressant which was then linked to weight loss.

Study Related To Wellbutrin Use And Weight Loss

Two studies on obesity, published in September 2001 and July 2002, showed that Bupropion was well tolerated in adults with obesity and successfully stimulated them to lose weight like fluoxetine. However, it may not be suitable for patients who lose weight due to depression or eating disorders.

At the end of the study, non-smokers who took Bupropion achieved an average weight loss of 7.1 pounds. Nonetheless, smokers who used the drug gained 2.2 pounds during the study. Participants who received other antidepressants also increased their weight.

Is Weight Loss A Wellbutrin Side Effect?

Studies show that while the drug helps quit smoking, weight loss is one of the side effects of this drug. Studies of Wellbutrin XL reveal that 23% of people using a dose of 150 to 300 mg daily lost 5 pounds or higher.

It is not clear how the medication incites weight loss. It may operate on receptors and neurotransmitters in the brain that influence metabolism and appetite.

A study in 2016 observed that people using Wellbutrin had lost approximately 7 pounds. In 2019, 27 studies reviewed that the drug in children and adults tends to lose weight. However, the drug may not be suitable for everyone and can induce several side effects. 

Does Wellbutrin Cause Weight Gain

Every person who consumes medicine has some or the other effects on their health. It might be regarding weight loss, gain, or any other side effects that the medicine components might produce in the body. As you know that after consumption of Wellbutrin, there are high chances of weight loss.

It's not just that, with the consumption of Wellbutrin, people have suffered from side effects like weight loss and weight gain. Studies have shown that few percentages of people might suffer from a weight gain of not more than 5  pounds.

Side Effects Of Wellbutrin

Side effects are any undesired effects of medication. It is possible to avoid side effects by taking the drugs as directed. Most SSRIs have a high rate of side effects. In many trials, the most frequent adverse effects of Bupropion were headache, dry mouth, and nausea.

Common

Serious

Agitation

Suicidal thoughts

Dry mouth

Worsened depression

Constipation

Panic-attack 

Headache

Increase in talking

Nausea and vomiting

Mood changes

Confusion

Eye problems

Precautions Of Wellbutrin 

These are steps taken to avoid any unintended effects of the drug from occurring. By following the instructions as directed, one can avoid the side effects of the drug.
Before taking Wellbutrin- 

1. Tell your doctor if you are allergic to Bupropion or other drugs.
2. Inform your doctor before using Bupropion if you've ever had

  • Epilepsy disorder
  • eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia
  • damage to the head, narrow-angle glaucoma
  • kidney or liver illness, diabetes
  • Depression

3. Inform your doctor and pharmacist about any additional prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, dietary supplements, and herbal products you intend to use while on Wellbutrin.
4. Do not chew, cut, or crush WELLBUTRIN  tablets.
5. You may take WELLBUTRIN with or without food. 
6. Inform your doctor if you are expecting, intend to get pregnant, or are breastfeeding a baby.
7. You should be aware that Bupropion may cause you to feel sleepy. Avoid using machinery or driving a car when on Bupropion.
8. While using Bupropion, refrain from drinking alcohol. 
9. Skip the missed dose and continue your regular dose if you forget to take an amount. For the missed dose, do not take a second one.

Interactions Of Wellbutrin

Drug interactions could reduce the effectiveness of your medication, result in unpleasant side effects, or intensify the effects of a drug. Even dangerous medication interactions can occur.

  • When combined, alcohol and Bupropion may affect your mental state. 
  • Avoid concurrent use of  MAOIs with Bupropion, as it has a higher risk of hypertensive responses.
  • Concomitant treatment with antiviral drugs can decrease bupropion and hydroxybupropion exposure.
  • Patients on levodopa or amantadine concurrently should use caution while taking.
  • WELLBUTRIN. It has been linked to CNS toxicity when used with levodopa or amantadine.
  • Taking WELLBUTRIN concurrently with digoxin may reduce digoxin plasma levels.
  • When using WELLBUTRIN with medications that lower the seizure threshold, use great caution (e.g., other bupropion products, antipsychotics, antidepressants, theophylline, or systemic corticosteroids).

Bottom Line From Practical Anxiety Solutions

The clinical profile of Bupropion is distinct, and its efficacy is on par with that of other antidepressants. It is equally as effective as other antidepressants but less likely to result in typical adverse effects linked with antidepressants, such as sedation, weight gain, and sexual dysfunction. Bupropion is generally well-tolerated and shows few adverse effects.

Bupropion had a striking effect on weight loss in subjects who stopped an eight-week randomized, double-blind study before completion. Women who took Bupropion lost four times more weight than those in the placebo group. 

This does not imply that Wellbutrin will aid everyone in losing weight or that it should be used only for this goal. If you are concerned about your weight, talk to your physician about the risks and benefits of the drug. Your practitioner will advise the most suitable medication for you. Follow your physician's recommendation for the best outcomes.

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