The topic of mental health and depression has been around for decades with many differing opinions on how to treat the disease. This is particularly true due to difference amongst individuals with depression that make treating it not a one size fits all course. One approved treatment plan for some depressives disorders is Bupropion.

Bupropion is a medication categorized as antidepressant. Antidepressants are medications that work directly with neurotransmitters within the brain. They are used to target and ensure that the body’s neurotransmitters balanced and functioning properly.

Antidepressants are given strictly by prescription and as such, prescription must be strictly adhered to.

What is bupropion?

Bupropion is also known as Wellbutrin, Aplenzin or Zyban. It was first approved by the FDA in 1985 to help in the treatment of smoking cessation. In 1986, the drug was withdrawn because of the increase in seizures amongst the patients.

Today, bupropion is used in controlled dosages to treat depression and other chemical imbalances within the brain. As it is a highly active drug it must be taken exactly as prescribed and patients must also be monitored for any concerning side effects.

While taking Bupropion, it is better to avoid the intake of alcohol and other drugs that have not been approved by your physician.                         

Other than treating Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) and Seasonal Affective Disorder  (SAD), the drug is used to create balance in the body’s neurotransmitters which ensures that the body is at a state necessary to function properly. Bupropion is also used in balancing the release of dopamine when treating smoking cessation. It is also taken to help reduce obesity in patients. The drug is best taken during the day to avoid sleep disorders.

How does Bupropion work?

Bupropion is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). It is an antidepressant unlike most. Bupropion doesn’t have the sedative effects that other antidepressant have. It is also very effective and very selective.

Bupropion works to ensure the reuptake of dopamine. It is focused on helping the body balance it’s chemical properties so that it is not too low that it causes the patient depression and it is not too high that it leads to a manic episode.

The medication works to ensure that the body is in a good condition so it is able to process and react properly to changing emotions without causing any damage. Bupropion focuses on the communicative nerves of the body. This is why they are given without any worries of sexual side effects like erectile dysfunction. 

Bupropion is not only used to treat depression. In cases of smoking cessation, Bupropion is prescribed as it has proven itself very effective. Apart from the NRT (Nicotine replacement therapy) treatment plan, Bupropion is a highly recognized option for treating smoking cessation.

When people smoke, nicotine is released into the body and absorbed into the bloodstream releasing dopamine in the pleasure pathway of the body. When the body gets used to the constant release of dopamine, it begins to undergo withdrawal symptoms if there is no intake of nicotine after a period of time.

In a serious case of addiction, the patient begins to suffer withdrawal symptoms every 30 minutes. Some of the symptoms of nicotine addiction are; insomnia, sweating, depression, anxiety, irritability, weight gain and so much more. Bupropion works in this case by inhibiting to reuptake of dopamine. It increases the level of dopamine released in the brain so the body does not suffer from withdrawal symptoms.

What is Bupropion HCL?

Bupropion hydrochloride is a salt form of the medication that is created to help the body better dissolve it. Brands like Wellbutrin XL and Wellbutrin SR belong in this category. Bupropion hydrochloride is given at a lower dosage compared to the hydrobromide but they do treat the same things so they can be substituted.

The medication is taken orally. It can also be attached to other molecules to give varying effects. It shouldn’t be taken lightly as it is only prescribed by doctors because they believe the benefits would be greater than the risks. Before the medication is prescribed, it is advised that the doctor have a knowledge of the patient’s medical history to avoid severe side effects. While seizures are rare, they are also very possible side effects of the medication.

Side Effects

As the effects of the drug are mostly on the neurotransmitters, side effects also happen to be the same. So it is important for doctors and their patients to watch out for signs of; confusion, nausea, uncontrollable shaking of body parts, irrational fears, difficulty breathing or swallowing, loss of appetite, excitement, suicidal tendencies, rash, fever, chest pain, anxiety and muscle pain.

Contact your doctor immediately if any of these side effects present themselves so they may determine the best course of action.


This information may not include all side effects as drugs affect various people differently. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss potential risks and possible side effects with a medical professional that understands your health history well.

Check our other blog Depression Medication List to see what other depression medications are available. Also if you are discussing with a doctor to begin treatment with a depression medication, you or your doctor can use eNavvi to see which generic or brand is covered by your health plan.

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