Wellbutrin XL (Bupropion) – Oral

Warning:

Antidepressants increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults. Anyone considering using Wellbutrin XL or any other antidepressant must balance this risk with the clinical need. People of all ages who are on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior. Families and caregivers must keep a close watch over people on this drug and stay in communication with the prescriber. Wellbutrin XL is not approved for use in children. Wellbutrin XL is not approved to treat or help to quit smoking. If you want to use bupropion for smoking cessation, use Wellbutrin SR (bupropion SR). Severe side effects may be caused by using Wellbutrin XL for smoking cessation.


What Is Wellbutrin XL?

Wellbutrin XL (bupropion hydrochloride) is an antidepressant used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) and prevent seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It works by inhibiting the uptake of chemicals (norepinephrine and dopamine) in the brain. This can help your mood.

Wellbutrin XL is a prescription-only medicine available as extended-release tablets.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Bupropion

Brand Name(s): Wellbutrin XL, Aplenzin, Budeprion SR, Budeprion XL, Buproban, Forfivo XL, Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR

Drug Availability: Prescription

Therapeutic Classification: Antidepressant (aminoketone class)

Available Generically: Yes

Controlled Substance: N/A

Administration Route: Oral

Active Ingredient: Bupropion

Dosage Form(s): Extended-release tablet, tablet

What Is Wellbutrin XL Used For?

Wellbutrin XL treats major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder, which is depression that occurs at the same time each year, more often when there's less sunlight.

Bupropion regulates neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that help regulate mood as well as other functions.

Bupropion under the brand name Wellbutrin SR helps people to quit smoking. If you are using bupropion for smoking cessation, use bupropion SR instead of other brands of this drug.

Wellbutrin XL (Bupropion) Drug Information - Illustration by Zoe Hansen

Verywell / Zoe Hansen

How to Take Wellbutrin XL

Read the prescription label carefully before you start using bupropion and get a refill each time. Ask your healthcare provider if you have any questions or don't understand something.

Take Wellbutrin XL by mouth with or without food as directed, usually once daily in the morning. To prevent stomach upset, take this medication with or after a meal or snack. Wellbutrin XL may cause insomnia if taken later in the day. Wellbutrin XL is an extended-release tablet that releases the drug slowly.

Do not crush or chew the tablet. Chewing or breaking the tablet can release all the drug at once, increasing the risk of side effects. Swallow the tablet whole or split it if it has a score line and your doctor or pharmacist directs you to do so. Do not stop taking medicine without asking your doctor. Your dose may need to be gradually decreased over time to minimize withdrawal symptoms.

Storage

Store this medicine in a well-closed container at room temperature (between 59 degrees and 86 degrees Fahrenheit). Keep it away from direct light, heat, and moisture. Do not store it in the bathroom. Keep all medication locked out of the sight and reach of children and pets.

Do not keep expired or unwanted medicines. Discard the products when expired or no longer needed. Do not throw the unwanted medication down the drain, the toilet, or in the waste bin. The best way to dispose of old medicine is to return the unwanted medicine through a medicine take-back program. Ask your pharmacist or contact your local waste disposal company about your local medicine take-back programs.

Off-Label Uses

Healthcare providers may prescribe Wellbutrin XL for off-label uses, meaning for conditions not specifically indicated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Bupropion may be used off-label for other conditions including:

How Long Does Wellbutrin XL Take to Work?

There is some improvement in the sleep, energy, or hunger patterns of patients within the first one to two weeks. It is an early indication that the medicine is working. Depression, mood disorder, and lack of interest in activities may take six to eight weeks to show improvement.

What Are the Side Effects of Wellbutrin XL?

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. A medical professional can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a medical professional. You may report side effects to the FDA at www.fda.gov/medwatch or 800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects

Some common side effects of Wellbutrin XL are:

  • Changes in your sense of taste
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive sweating
  • Frequent urination
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Nervousness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sore throat
  • Stomach pain
  • Tremors or uncontrollable shaking of a body part
  • Weight loss

Get medical help if any of these symptoms do not go away or if they worsen.

Severe Side Effects

Some side effects can be severe. If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop taking Wellbutrin XL and call your healthcare provider right away or get emergency medical treatment:

  • Aggressive behavior
  • Attempting suicide
  • Changes in behavior or thinking
  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Hostility
  • Irrational fears
  • Panic attacks
  • Rapid, irregular, or pounding heartbeat
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal thoughts or thoughts of dying

Stop taking Wellbutrin XL and get emergency medical help if you notice any allergy symptoms, such as:

  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Itching,
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, or hands
  • Hoarseness
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing

Long-Term Side Effects

Speak with your healthcare provider about long-term safety and effectiveness.

Report Side Effects

Wellbutrin XL may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Wellbutrin XL Should I Take?

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For oral dosage form (extended-release tablets):
    • For depression:
      • Adults—
        • Aplenzin®: At first, 174 milligrams (mg) once a day in the morning. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 522 mg per day.
        • Forfivo XL®: 450 mg once a day.
        • Wellbutrin XL®: At first, 150 mg once a day in the morning. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 450 mg per day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • For seasonal affective disorder:
      • Adults—
        • Aplenzin®: At first, 174 milligrams (mg) once a day in the morning. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 522 mg per day.
        • Wellbutrin XL®: At first, 150 mg once a day in the morning. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 300 mg once a day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
  • For oral dosage form (sustained-release tablets):
    • For depression:
      • Adults—At first, 150 milligrams (mg) once a day in the morning. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 200 mg two times per day, taken at least 8 hours apart.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
    • To quit smoking:
      • Adults—At first, 150 milligrams (mg) once a day for the first 3 days. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 300 mg per day.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
  • For oral dosage form (tablets):
    • For depression:
      • Adults—At first, 100 milligrams (mg) two times per day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed. However, the dose is usually not more than 150 mg three times per day, taken at least 6 hours apart.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Modifications

Wellbutrin XL should be used with care and under the surveillance of a healthcare practitioner. A dose reduction may be required in people with decreased kidney function and liver impairment. Your prescribing healthcare provider may start with a low dose and gradually increase the dose. In some cases, you may need to modify your treatment or use a different medication.

Pregnancy

Wellbutrin XL should only be used during pregnancy if the benefit to the pregnant person's health justifies the risk to the fetus.

Breastfeeding

Bupropion can be passed in human milk. Speak with your healthcare provider about using this medication while breastfeeding to decide the best course of action.

Adults Age 65 and Over

Some people aged 65 years old and older may be more likely to have decreased kidney function which can impact how medicine is used by your body. Your healthcare provider may adjust your dosage and keep an eye on your kidney function through lab tests. 

Missed Dose

If you missed a dose of Wellbutrin XL, take it as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it's nearly the time for the next dose. Don't take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Wellbutrin XL?

If someone has overdosed, call a poison control center right away. If the victim has severe symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Symptoms of overdose may include:

  • Confusion
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Rapid or pounding heart rate
  • Seizures

What Happens If I Overdose on Wellbutrin XL?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Wellbutrin XL, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Wellbutrin XL, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly and to check for unwanted effects.

Do not take bupropion with a monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor (eg, isocarboxazid [Marplan®], linezolid [Zyvox®], phenelzine [Nardil®], selegiline [Eldepryl®], tranylcypromine [Parnate®]). Do not start taking bupropion during the 2 weeks after you stop a MAO inhibitor. Wait for 2 weeks after stopping bupropion before you start taking a MAO inhibitor. If you take them together or do not wait 2 weeks, you may have confusion, agitation, restlessness, stomach or bowel symptoms, a sudden high body temperature, an extremely high blood pressure, or severe convulsions.

Check with your doctor before using this medicine with alcohol or other medicines that affect the central nervous system (CNS). The use of alcohol or other medicines that affect the CNS with bupropion may worsen the side effects of this medicine, such as dizziness, poor concentration, drowsiness, unusual dreams, and trouble with sleeping. Some examples of medicines that affect the CNS are antihistamines or medicine for allergies or colds, sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicines, medicine for depression, medicine for anxiety, prescription pain medicine or narcotics, medicine for attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, medicine for seizures or barbiturates, muscle relaxants, or anesthetics, including some dental anesthetics.

Bupropion may cause some people to be agitated, irritable, or display other abnormal behaviors. It may also cause some people to have suicidal thoughts and tendencies, or to become more depressed. Make sure the doctor knows if you have trouble sleeping, get upset easily, have a big increase in energy, or start to act reckless. Also tell your doctor if you have sudden or strong feelings, such as feeling nervous, angry, restless, violent, or scared. If you or your caregiver notice any of these side effects, tell your doctor right away.

Your blood pressure might get too high while you are using this medicine. This may cause headaches, dizziness, or blurred vision. You might need to measure your blood pressure at home. If you think your blood pressure is too high, call your doctor right away.

This medicine may cause a serious type of allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can be life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention. Call your doctor right away if you have a rash, itching, swelling of the face, tongue, or throat, trouble breathing, or chest pain.

Serious skin reactions can occur with this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you have blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin, red skin lesions, severe acne or a skin rash, sores or ulcers on the skin, or fever or chills with this medicine.

Drinking alcoholic beverages should be limited or avoided, if possible, with bupropion. This will help prevent seizures.

This medicine may cause some people to have a false sense of wellbeing, or to become drowsy, dizzy, or less alert than they are normally. Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are drowsy, dizzy, or less alert.

Do not stop taking this medicine without checking first with your doctor. Your doctor may want you to gradually reduce the amount you are taking before stopping it completely. This is to decrease the chance of having certain side effects when you stop the medicine, such as agitation, anxiety, dizziness, a feeling of constant movement of self or surroundings, headaches, increased sweating, nausea, trembling or shaking, trouble with sleeping or walking, or unusual tiredness.

Check with your doctor right away if you have pain or tenderness in the upper stomach, pale stools, dark urine, loss of appetite, nausea, unusual tiredness or weakness, or yellow eyes or skin. These could be symptoms of a serious liver problem.

This medicine may cause a change in your appetite or weight. Your doctor may need to check your weight on a regular basis.

Before you have any medical tests, tell the medical doctor in charge that you are taking this medicine. The results of some tests may be affected by this medicine.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Wellbutrin XL?

Wellbutrin XL should not be used:

  • In children
  • In individuals with a seizure disorder
  • In people with existing or previously diagnosed bulimia (an eating disorder) or anorexia nervosa (an eating disorder and severe mental health condition): A higher risk of seizures was observed in such people when treated with Wellbutrin XL.
  • In people who suddenly stop using alcohol, antiepileptics, benzodiazepines, and barbiturate drugs
  • In people taking or who have taken monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) in the last 14 days: A minimum 14-day gap is required after stopping MAOIs and starting bupropion. 
  • In people who are hypersensitive to bupropion or other ingredients of Wellbutrin XL tablets: Anaphylactoid/anaphylactic reactions and Stevens-Johnson syndrome have been reported in some people.
  • In individuals taking any other brand of bupropion such as Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR, Aplenzin, Bupropion SR, and others

What Other Medications Interact With Wellbutrin XL?

Wellbutrin XL may affect how some drugs work. Some of the common drug-drug interactions are discussed below.

Taking MAOIs with Wellbutrin XL may cause a fatal drug interaction. MAOIs include:

  • Marplan (isocarboxazid)
  • Nardil (phenelzine)
  • Zyvox (linezolid)
  • ProvayBlue (methylene blue)
  • Eldepryl, Emsam, Zelapar (selegiline )
  • Parnate (tranylcypromine)

It is best to not take MAOIs two weeks before and after treatment with Wellbutrin XL. Tell your healthcare provider if you are taking or if you have stopped taking an MAOI in the past 14 days.

Wellbutrin XL is metabolized by a special liver enzyme known as cytochrome P2B6 (CYP2B6). Wellbutrin XL may interact with other drugs that impact CYP2B6 metabolism. This can affect Wellbutrin levels in your body. These include:

  • Kaletra (lopinavir and ritonavir)
  • Carbatrol, Tegretol (carbamazepine)
  • Dilantin, Phenytek (phenytoin)
  • Luminal, Solfoton (phenobarbital)

Wellbutrin XL can inhibit enzyme CYP2D6 and can increase the concentration of the following drugs.

Antidepressants such as:

  • Celexa (citalopram)
  • Lexapro (escitalopram)
  • Prozac (fluoxetine)
  • Trintellix (vortioxetine)
  • Zoloft (sertraline)
  • Brisdelle, Paxil, Pexeva (paroxetine)
  • Luvox (fluvoxamine)

Antipsychotics such as:

  • Risperdal (risperidone)
  • Seroquel (quetiapine)
  • Zyprexa (olanzapine)
  • Zeldox (ziprasidone)
  • Invega (paliperidone)
  • Clozaril (clozapine)

Beta-blockers such as:

  • Tenormin (atenolol)
  • Normodyne (labetalol)
  • Lopressor, Toprol XL (metoprolol)
  • Inderal (propranolol)

Wellbutrin XL can also cause false positive urine test results for amphetamines.

What Medications Are Similar?

Bupropion is available and sold under other brand names, including:

It’s also available as a generic as:

  • Bupropion HCL
  • Bupropion SR
  • Bupropion XL

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Wellbutrin XL used for?

    Wellbutrin XL is used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) and prevent seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a kind of depression that happens each year at the same time. It can improve your mood and feelings of well-being.

  • How does Wellbutrin XL work?

    Wellbutrin XL works by changing the balance of chemicals in the brain (the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine). It works differently than SSRIs, which change serotonin levels in the brain instead.

  • What drugs should not be taken with Wellbutrin XL?

    Some medicines may interact with bupropion, including other antidepressants, MAO inhibitors, antipsychotics, blood thinners, and corticosteroids. Talk with your healthcare provider before taking any medicine or supplement when using Wellbutrin XL.

  • How long does it take for Wellbutrin XL to work?

    Wellbutrin XL may start showing an improvement in depressive feelings within one to two weeks. However, it may take four to six weeks or longer to show a complete benefit.

  • What are the side effects of Wellbutrin XL?

    Different side effects exist, including hallucinations, muscle or joint pain, rapid, irregular or pounding heartbeat, seizures, confusion, and others.

  • How to stop taking Wellbutrin XL?

    Never stop taking your medicine on your own. You may need a gradual decrease in dose before you stop taking this drug completely.

  • Can I drink alcohol while taking Wellbutrin XL?

    It is better to avoid or limit alcohol when taking an antidepressant like bupropion. Using bupropion with alcohol may cause serious side effects, such as seizures, hallucinations, delusions, paranoia, mood changes, and suicidal thoughts. It also makes it difficult to get the maximum benefit from the drug.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Wellbutrin XL?

Notice how this medication affects you before doing tasks in which you need extra concentration and attention, like driving or operating machines. While taking Wellbutrin XL or any other brand of bupropion, use the prescribed brand only. Don't change your brand or stop taking medicine without talking it over with your healthcare practitioner.

Abruptly stopping the drug may cause withdrawal effects. Try to do your best to keep the lines of communication open with your friends, family, and healthcare provider while you're taking this medication. This is important, especially if you notice any unexpected thoughts or behavioral changes.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare professional. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

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