Wellbutrin is one of the brand names for the antidepressant bupropion. This is a medication used to treat symptoms of major depressive disorder and reduce depression symptoms in people who have seasonal affective disorder.
It’s also prescribed to help people stop smoking under the brand name Zyban.
Most antidepressants don’t mix well with alcohol, especially not in large quantities.
Wellbutrin is an atypical antidepressant. This means it works differently than the major classes of antidepressants, such as selective serotonin uptake inhibitors and tricyclic antidepressants. It can also interact differently with alcohol than other antidepressants.
If you don’t drink often, drinking alcohol while taking Wellbutrin can increase your risk of certain problems, including seizures. If you drink heavily, abruptly stopping while taking Wellbutrin can have similar effects.
Read on to learn more about the interactions between alcohol and Wellbutrin, including things to watch out for if you’ve already had a drink.
Seizures are a rare but serious side effect of Wellbutrin that some people experience. The risk of having a seizure while taking Wellbutrin is higher in people who:
- have an underlying condition that causes seizures
- have an eating disorder
- are taking a high dose
Excessive use of alcohol can also increase your risk of having a seizure while taking Wellbutrin. The risk for each individual varies, so it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether, unless you have a history of heavy drinking.
If you regularly drink a lot of alcohol or have alcohol use disorder, abruptly stopping can lead to alcohol withdrawal syndrome. This is a potentially life-threatening condition if not properly managed.
Going through alcohol withdrawal while taking Wellbutrin also increases your risk of having a seizure along with other serious side effects, including:
- severe shaking and tremors
- confusion and disorientation
- hallucinations and paranoia
To minimize your risk of having a seizure or other severe side effects while taking Wellbutrin, it’s crucial that you’re honest with your doctor about your drinking habits.
Be sure to tell them:
- the kinds of alcohol you drink
- how much you drink at a time
- how much you drink on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis
- how long you’ve been drinking this amount
Honesty is the best policy
Being honest with your doctor about your drinking habits might be easier said than done.
Try to keep in mind that your doctor is likely more concerned about reducing your risk of serious side effects than judging your drinking habits. Chances are, your habits aren’t anything they haven’t come across before.
Not sure if your drinking is on the heavy side? Our guide to alcohol abuse, alcoholism, and everything in between can help.
Drinking alcohol while taking Wellbutrin can have other effects on your health.
Alcohol is a depressant, meaning it slows your central nervous system, including your brain. This can make you feel:
These are all potential side effects of Wellbutrin too. Drinking alcohol while taking Wellbutrin can intensify these effects.
In addition, drinking alcohol can counteract the beneficial effects of Wellbutrin on depression, leading to more severe depression symptoms or even suicidal thinking.
If you’re currently taking Wellbutrin and have consumed alcohol, don’t panic. Remember, drinking alcohol while taking Wellbutrin simply increases your risk of certain problems. It doesn’t guarantee them.
Still, there are a few things you’ll want to watch for over the next 24 hours, including:
- worsening of depression symptoms
- worsening of Wellbutrin side effects, especially confusion, disorientation, and lack of coordination
- increased shakiness or tremors, which can be a sign of an impending seizure
Contact your doctor right away if you experience any of these symptoms.
Head to the emergency room or urgent care if you think you may be having a seizure or have:
- severe shaking or tremors
- thoughts of suicide
- significant worsening of depression symptoms
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
It’s generally best to avoid alcohol while taking Wellbutrin. But in some cases, abruptly quitting drinking while taking Wellbutrin can have serious effects on your health. For some, having an occasional drink while taking Wellbutrin is OK.
There’s no way to predict how you’ll react to mixing alcohol and Wellbutrin. Your safest bet is to have an honest conversation with your doctor about your drinking habits before starting Wellbutrin.
If you do choose to drink alcohol while taking Wellbutrin, make sure to monitor yourself for any potentially dangerous side effects so you can get help right away.