Wellbutrin for Anxiety: Will It Treat Your Anxiety?

August 11, 2020.

Wellbutrin is a medication used for treating depression. Also known as bupropion, this medication is FDA-approved to treat major depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and smoking cessation. Wellbutrin also has several off-label uses, including treating ADHD and bipolar disorder. However, these off-label uses are up for debate. If you are considering using Wellbutrin for anxiety during menopause, there are a few things you should know. 

What is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin helps treat depression by increasing the activity in certain parts of the brain. Compared to other antidepressants, this medication has an atypical way of managing neurotransmitters in the brain. Specifically, Wellbutrin decreases the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine. Unlike many other antidepressant drugs, Wellbutrin does not have significant effects on serotonin, which can cause some unpleasant side effects in medications that do affect serotonin levels. 

What are neurotransmitters, and what do they do?

Neurotransmitters are chemical messages (like hormones) that move throughout our body to control every process that goes on in our body. These chemical messengers influence our mood, heart rate, sleep cycle, appetite, muscle movements, and breathing. We have several different types of neurotransmitters. Let’s take a look at the neurotransmitters that may affect depression.

  • Dopamine is known as the reward or pleasure neurotransmitter. It is essential in determining our behavior, memory, learning, and coordination. 
  • Serotonin also regulates mood, as well as your appetite and sleep cycle. It plays a significant role in depression and anxiety, which is why one major class of antidepressants is called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
  • Norepinephrine plays a major role in our “fight-or-flight response,” along with epinephrine. In mood control, norepinephrine increases your arousal, alertness, and concentration. Low levels of norepinephrine are associated with depression and anxiety. 

Is Wellbutrin Good For Anxiety?

People who struggle with anxiety can struggle to find a medication that does not have adverse side effects like drowsiness and sedation. Similarly, anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand so many people benefit from a medication that can treat both conditions. 

There have been mixed reviews on using Wellbutrin for anxiety. For example, because of the way Welbutrin increases certain neurotransmitters in the brain, people can sometimes suffer from worsening of anxiety. Wellbutrin can cause feelings of:

  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Agitation
  • Insomnia
  • Excitement
  • Tremors or shaking

Even though anxiety is a side of effect of Wellbutrin, some older studies have looked at using Wellbutrin to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and even panic disorder. These studies found that Wellbutrin may help treat anxiety in specific individuals. However, at this time, the research is inconclusive on whether or not this medication can successfully treat anxiety. 

Because of the way Wellbutrin increases certain neurotransmitters in the brain, people can sometimes suffer from worsening of anxiety.

How To Take Wellbutrin

Firstly, you will need to be familiar with the dosing of this medication should your doctor using Wellbutrin for anxiety. Typically, your doctor will start you on the lowest dose and gradually increase your dose until you have a therapeutic response. By slowly titrating your medication, your doctor can monitor for any adverse symptoms, including a worsening of your anxiety. 

Dosage

The Wellbutrin dosage for depression and anxiety usually starts at 150mg once a day in the morning. Generally, doses do not exceed 522mg per day. 

How To Take It

Curious what to take with Wellbutrin for anxiety? Swallow your pill with water and take it with food if it upsets your stomach. Also, make sure to avoid drinking alcohol or using drugs as they may negate the beneficial effects of this medication and cause seizures.

The Final Word On Wellbutrin For Anxiety

As of now, Wellbutrin is not a first-line treatment of GAD. Likely, your doctor will want to try other medication and methods for treating your anxiety, including:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Avoiding triggers that may worsen anxiety, such as alcohol and caffeine
  • Medications including SSRIs (Lexapro, Prozac, and Zoloft) and tricyclic antidepressants

Anxiety can be debilitating and can ultimately affect your quality of life. Also, anxiety is a common symptom of perimenopause and menopause. Meet with your doctor if you are struggling with anxiety.  

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice, does not take the place of medical advice from your physician, and is not intended to treat or cure any disease. Patients should see a qualified medical provider for assessment and treatment.

  

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Julia Walker
perry expert Julia (RN, BSN, BA) is a registered nurse based in Colorado. Julia's nursing background in women’s health has ranged from neonatal and postpartum care to labor and delivery, to outpatient gynecological medicine for both adolescent and adult populations. She specializes in helping women optimize their health during perimenopause and beyond.

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