Bupropion | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

bupropion, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Wellbutrin
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for bupropion

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1

Bupropion is used to treat depression and prevent seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It’s also used to help people stop smoking.

2

This drug comes in the form of a tablet or extended-release tablet you take by mouth.

3

Bupropion is available as the brand-name drugs Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL, Aplenzin, Forfivo XL, and Zyban. It’s also available as a generic drug.

4

The more common side effects of this drug include agitation, dry mouth, headache, constipation, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness. They also include sweating, shakiness, trouble sleeping, blurred vision, fast heartbeat, confusion, or rash.

5

In some cases, bupropion can cause serious side effects. These can include seizures, severe high blood pressure, depressed or suicidal thoughts, or vision problems.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA warning

This drug has a black box warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Mental health effects warning. Taking this drug may cause you to have changes in behavior. These can include hostility, agitation, depressed mood, or suicidal thoughts. The risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior is higher for children, adolescents, and young adults who receive this drug. Your doctor should monitor you closely for suicidal thoughts and behaviors that are new or get worse.

Seizures

This drug may cause seizures. The risk of seizures increases with higher doses of this drug. Before you take this drug, talk with your doctor about all of your medical conditions and all medications you take. Certain medical problems and medications can increase your risk of seizures with this drug. To reduce the risk of seizures, your doctor may increase your dosage slowly.

High blood pressure

This drug can cause severe high blood pressure. Your doctor may monitor your blood pressure during treatment with this drug.

Manic episodes

This drug can cause periods of mania. Symptoms can include greatly increased energy, severe trouble sleeping, racing thoughts, or reckless behavior. They can also include having unusually exciting ideas, feeling extremely happy or irritable, or talking more or faster than usual.

Drug features

Bupropion is a prescription drug. It comes in the form of an immediate-release tablet or an extended-release tablet. Both forms are taken by mouth. An extended-release drug is released into your system slowly over time. An immediate-release drug works more quickly. 

Bupropion is available as the brand-name drugs Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL, Aplenzin, Forfivo XL, and Zyban. It’s also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version. 

Why it's used

Bupropion is used to treat the symptoms of depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). With SAD, people have episodes of depression that occur in the fall and winter. Bupropion is also used to help people stop smoking.

How it works

Bupropion belongs to a class of drugs called antidepressant. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

See Details

How it works

Bupropion belongs to a class of drugs called antidepressant. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Bupropion works by increasing the activity of natural chemicals in your brain. Your nerves use these chemicals to send messages to each other. These chemicals include dopamine and norepinephrine. 

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SECTION 2 of 5

bupropion Side Effects

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More Common Side Effects

The more common side effects of bupropion can include:

  • agitation

  • dry mouth

  • constipation

  • headache

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • dizziness

  • sweating

  • shakiness

  • trouble sleeping

  • blurred vision

  • fast heartbeat

  • confusion

  • rash

  • increased anger

  • abnormal heart rhythms

  • changes in hearing, such as ringing in the ears, or hearing noises that aren’t real

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Mental health effects. Symptoms can include:

    • thoughts about suicide or dying
    • attempts to commit suicide
    • new or worse depression
    • new or worse anxiety
    • feeling very agitated or restless
    • panic attacks
    • trouble sleeping
    • new or worse irritability
    • acting aggressive, angry, or violent
    • acting on dangerous impulses
    • an extreme increase in activity and talking
    • other unusual changes in behavior or mood
  • Eye problems. Symptoms can include:

    • eye pain
    • swelling or redness in or around the eye
    • vision changes, such as blurred vision or double vision
  • Seizures. Symptoms can include:

    • confusion
    • a staring spell
    • jerking movements of your arms and legs that you can’t control
    • loss of consciousness
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

This drug does not cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

bupropion May Interact with Other Medications

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Bupropion can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Alcohol interaction

When taking bupropion, your risk of seizures increases if you have too many drinks that contain alcohol. It’s also increased if you drink alcohol but suddenly stop. If you drink alcohol, talk to your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Drugs you should not use with bupropion

Do not take these drugs with bupropion. Doing so can cause dangerous effects in the body. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), such as phenelzine or selegiline.
    • Using these drugs with bupropion can result in severe high blood pressure. At least 14 days should pass between your use of an MAOI and use of bupropion.

Interactions that increase your risk of side effects
  • Taking bupropion with certain medications raises your risk of side effects from these drugs. Examples of these drugs include:
    • Antidepressants, such as venlafaxine, nortriptyline, imipramine, desipramine, paroxetine, fluoxetine, or sertraline.
      • Increased side effects can include seizures. If these drugs are needed, your doctor may start you on a low dosage and increase it slowly.
    • Antipsychotics, such as haloperidol, risperidone, or thioridazine.
      • Increased side effects can include seizures. If these drugs are needed, your doctor may start you on a low dosage and increase it slowly.
    • Beta-blockers, such as metoprolol.
      • Increased side effects can include low blood pressure. Your doctor may lower your dosage of these medications if they’re taken with bupropion.
    • Antiarrhythmics, such as propafenone or flecainide.
      • Increased side effects can include fainting and changes in your heartbeat (too fast or too slow). Your doctor may lower your dosage of these medications if they’re taken with bupropion.
    • Theophylline.
      • Increased side effects can include seizures. If this drug is needed, your doctor may start you on a low dosage and increase it gradually.
    • Corticosteroids, such as prednisone or methylprednisolone.
      • Use of these drugs with bupropion may result in seizures. If these drugs are needed, your doctor may start you on a low dosage and increase it gradually.
    • Levodopa and amantadine.
      • Increased side effects can include restlessness, agitation, shakiness, loss of body movements, dizziness, loss of balance, or trouble walking.

Interactions that can make your drugs less effective
  • When bupropion is used with certain drugs, it may not work as well to treat your condition. This is because the amount of bupropion in your body may be decreased. Examples of these drugs include:
    • Blood thinner drugs, such as ticlopidine or clopidogrel.
      • If you use one of these drugs with bupropion, your doctor may adjust your bupropion dosage.
    • HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) drugs, such as ritonavir, lopinavir, or efavirenz.
      • If you use one of these drugs with bupropion, your doctor may increase your bupropion dosage.
    • Antiseizure drugs, such as carbamazepine, phenobarbital, or phenytoin.
      • If you use one of these drugs with bupropion, your doctor may increase your bupropion dosage.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

People with a seizure disorder

This drug raises the risk of seizures. You should not take this drug if you have a seizure disorder.

People with eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia

This drug raises your risk of seizures. You should not take this drug if you have an eating disorder.

Patients with bipolar disorder

This drug may make your condition worse. You should not take this drug if you have bipolar disorder.

People with kidney problems

If you have kidney problems or a history of kidney disease, you may not be able to clear this drug from your body well. This may increase the levels of this drug in your body and cause more side effects. Your doctor may reduce your dosage of this drug, or how often you are given this drug.

People with liver disease

Your doctor may reduce your dosage of this drug, or how often you are given this drug.

People with high blood pressure

This drug may increase your blood pressure even more. Your doctor will monitor your blood pressure before and during treatment with this drug.

People with angle-closure glaucoma

This drug can make your condition worse.

Pregnant women

This drug is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should only be used if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Women who are breast-feeding

This drug may pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who is breast-fed.

Talk to your doctor if you breast-feed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breast-feeding or stop taking this medication.

For seniors

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

For children

It hasn’t been established that this drug is safe and effective for use in children.

When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if:

  • You become pregnant while taking this drug.
  • Your symptoms of depression don’t improve with this drug.

Allergies

This drug can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • rash
  • swelling of your lips or tongue
  • itching
  • hives
  • fever
  • swollen lymph glands
  • painful sores in your mouth or around your eyes
  • trouble breathing

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

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How to Take bupropion (Dosage)

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All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Depression

Generic: bupropion

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 75 mg, 100 mg
Form: Oral extended-tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg, 300 mg

Brand: Wellbutrin

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 75 mg, 100 mg

Brand: Wellbutrin XL

Form: Oral extended-release tablet
Strengths: 150 mg, 300 mg

Brand: Wellbutrin SR

Form: Oral sustained-release tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg

Brand: Aplenzin

Form: Oral extended-release tablet
Strengths: 174 mg, 348 mg, 522 mg

Brand: Forfivo XL

Form: Oral extended-release tablet
Strengths: 450 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

Wellbutrin:

  • Typical starting dosage: 200 mg per day, taken as 100 mg twice daily. After 3 days, the dosage may be increased to 300 mg per day, taken as 100 mg, 3 times daily. Wait at least 6 hours between doses.
  • Maximum dosage: 450 mg per day, taken in divided doses of no more than 150 mg each. Your doctor may prescribe this dosage for you if you don’t respond to several weeks of treatment.

Wellbutrin XL:

  • Typical starting dosage: 150 mg once daily in the morning. After 4 days, the dosage may be increased to 300 mg, taken once daily in the morning.

Wellbutrin SR:

  • Typical starting dosage: 150 mg per day, taken as a single dose in the morning. After 3 days, the dosage may be increased to 300 mg per day, taken as 150 mg twice daily.
  • Maximum dosage: 400 mg per day, taken as 200 mg twice daily. Your doctor may prescribe this dosage for you if you don’t respond to several weeks of treatment at a dosage of 300 mg per day.

Aplenzin:

  • Typical starting dosage: 174 mg once daily in the morning. After 4 days, the dosage may be increased to 348 mg, taken once daily in the morning.

Forfivo XL:

  • Typical starting dosage: 450 mg once per day.
  • This brand can be used if:
    • you’ve been receiving 300 mg per day of another bupropion product for at least 2 weeks, and
    • you require a higher dosage of bupropion, at least 450 mg per day.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

It has not been confirmed that this drug is safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Seasonal affective disorder

Generic: bupropion

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 75 mg, 100 mg
Form: Oral extended-tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg, 300 mg

Brand: Wellbutrin XL

Form: Oral extended-release tablet
Strengths: 150 mg, 300 mg

Brand: Aplenzin

Form: Oral extended-release tablet
Strengths: 174 mg, 348 mg, 522 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

Wellbutrin XL:

  • Typical starting dosage: 150 mg once daily. After 7 days, the dosage may be increased to 300 mg, taken once daily in the morning.

Aplenzin:

  • Typical starting dosage: 174 mg once daily. After 7 days, the dosage may be increased to 348 mg, taken once daily.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

It has not been confirmed that this drug is safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Smoking cessation

Generic: bupropion

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 75 mg, 100 mg
Form: Oral extended-tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg, 300 mg

Brand: Zyban

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 150 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)

Zyban:

Treatment with this drug should start before you plan to quit smoking. You should set a target quit date within the first 2 weeks of treatment with this drug. Treatment should be continued for 7–12 weeks.

  • Typical starting dosage: One 150-mg tablet per day for 3 days. On the fourth day, this is increased to 300 mg per day, taken as one 150-mg tablet twice daily. Wait at least 8 hours between each dose.
  • Maximum dosage: 300 mg per day.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

It has not been confirmed that this drug is safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

This drug comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all

Your symptoms of depression or seasonal affective disorder (SAD) may get worse. Or you may not be able to quit smoking.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • seizures
  • hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t real)
  • loss of consciousness
  • abnormal heart rhythms

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away. 

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

Your symptoms of depression or SAD should decrease. Or you may be able to quit smoking.

Bupropion is used for long-term treatment of depression or SAD.

Bupropion is used for short-term treatment when used to quit smoking.

Important considerations for taking this drug

Store this drug carefully

  • Store this drug at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Keep bupropion away from light.
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

You and your doctor should monitor certain health issues. This can help make sure you stay safe while you take this drug. These issues include:

  • Kidney function. Blood tests can check how well your kidneys are working. If your kidneys aren’t working well, your doctor may lower your dosage of this drug.
  • Liver function. Blood tests can check how well your liver is working. If your liver isn’t working well, your doctor may lower your dosage of this drug.
  • Mental health and behavioral problems. You and your doctor should watch for any unusual changes in your behavior and mood. This drug can cause new mental health and behavior problems, or make problems you already have worse.
  • Blood pressure. This drug may increase your blood pressure. Your doctor may check your blood pressure during treatment with this drug.

Hidden costs

You may need to have blood tests during your treatment with this drug. The cost of these tests will depend on your insurance coverage.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for certain brands of this drug. This means your doctor may need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

What does the pill look like?

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How Much Does bupropion Cost?

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Lowest price for bupropion

Walmart $16.52
Sams Club $17.81
Kroger Pharmacy $19.97
These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for bupropion on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for bupropion on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on December 14, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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