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Exploring Wellbutrin: Relief for Depression and ADHD

Wellbutrin for depression and ADHD can be an option for adults who don’t respond well to stimulants or have co-occurring mental health conditions. Wellbutrin is a non-stimulant option for treating ADHD, offering relief from symptoms without the side effects of stimulants. It’s particularly beneficial for the 20% of individuals who don’t respond well to stimulant medications.

This article explores wellbutrin for depression and ADHD, covering its FDA-approved uses, off-label applications, how it works, side effects, and more to understand its role in mental health treatment thoroughly.

What is Wellbutrin for Depression and ADHD?

Wellbutrin, or bupropion, is primarily used to treat mental health disorders like depression, ADHD, and seasonal affective disorder in adults. As an antidepressant, it works by balancing certain brain chemicals that influence mood. Research suggests it can improve concentration, focus, impulsivity, and hyperactivity in adults with ADHD.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Wellbutrin in the United States for treating depression in 1985. The FDA also approved it for helping with smoking cessation in  1997. However, Wellbutrin for Depression and ADHD requires careful consideration and monitoring by healthcare providers how Wellbutrin Works for ADHD.

Wellbutrin is a norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI), which enhances concentration and focus by prolonging the availability of these neurotransmitters in the brain. Unlike other antidepressants, it doesn’t affect serotonin levels, functioning uniquely in its mechanism of action.

Effectiveness of Wellbutrin for Depression and ADHD

Research suggests that Wellbutrin may be effective for treating ADHD, particularly in adults. Despite not being officially approved for this use, many doctors still prescribe it off-label for ADHD due to its potential benefits.

The Reaction Time of Wellbutrin for Depression and ADHD

Wellbutrin may require several weeks to react to Depression and ADHD. Unlike stimulant medications, which can take effect in about an hour, Wellbutrin, like antidepressants, may require several days to show noticeable improvement and up to six weeks to reach its full effect. It may take several weeks to determine the most effective therapeutic dose.

Who Should Avoid Wellbutrin for Depression and ADHD

Avoid taking Wellbutrin for ADHD if you have:

  • An eating disorder
  • Seizure disorder
  • Angle-closure glaucoma.

Additionally, be cautious if you have bipolar disorder, as Wellbutrin may increase the risk of:

  • Manic
  • Mixed
  • Hypomanic mood episodes

Those with kidney or liver problems may need a reduced dose of Wellbutrin.

Why Take Wellbutrin for ADHD?

While stimulants are the primary treatment for ADHD, your doctor might prescribe a non-stimulant medication like Wellbutrin for a few reasons:

History of Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions, such as heart problems, sleep disorders, and psychiatric conditions like substance use disorder and bipolar disorder, may make stimulant medications unsuitable.


Some individuals may not tolerate stimulant medications well and experience severe side effects. Other non-stimulant medications for ADHD include Strattera (atomoxetine) and Catapres (clonidine).

How to Take Wellbutrin for Depression and ADHD

Take Wellbutrin as a tablet with or without food, swallowing it whole without crushing or breaking it. Stick to your prescribed dose to avoid an increased risk of seizures and other side effects.

If you struggle to remember when to take it, set the alarm, use a pillbox, or ask someone to remind you.

Forms of Wellbutrin

  • Wellbutrin (bupropion): Immediate release, taken 2-3 times daily.
  • Wellbutrin SR (bupropion SR): Extended-release, taken twice daily.
  • Wellbutrin XL (bupropion XL): Extended-release, taken once daily.

Wellbutrin SR and XL are slow-release forms of the drug, ensuring a steady level in the body. SR lasts 12 hours, taken twice daily, while XL lasts 24 hours, taken once daily, making it easier to stick to the dosing schedule.

Doctors prefer Wellbutrin XL for smoother, all-day effectiveness and fewer side effects. Generic versions are available at a lower cost.

Wellbutrin Dosages for ADHD

  • ADHD dose starts low at around 150 mg daily, increasing gradually up to 450 mg daily as needed.
  • For smoking cessation or depression, the typical dose is 300 mg daily.
  • For immediate release, it’s often taken as 100 mg three times daily.
  • The sustained-release version is typically taken as a 150 mg dose once or twice daily.
  • Extended-release is taken as a 300 mg dose once daily.

Side Effects of Wellbutrin for Depression and Anxiety

Understanding the side effects of any new medication you are adopting is essential. Following are the side effects of Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR, and Wellbutrin XL:

  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Dizziness
  • Excitement
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Joint aches
  • Tremors

People who are prone to seizures or have a history of eating disorders also face a risk of experiencing seizures.

Wellbutrin Warnings and Interactions

Clinicians consider the benefits and risks of medications when prescribing them, and Wellbutrin is no different.

Warning of Wellbutrin for Depression and Anxiety

Wellbutrin, like other antidepressants, carries the FDA’s black-box warning due to the increased risk of suicidal thoughts or behaviors in children, teens, and young adults.

If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support from trained counselors. In an emergency, call 911.

While Wellbutrin hasn’t undergone extensive testing in children or adolescents, existing research suggests it’s safe, effective, and well-tolerated in these age groups. As a result, clinicians often prescribe it off-label for pediatric use.

Interactions of Wellbutrin for Depression and Anxiety

Here are the names of medications that can interact with Wellbutrin:

  • Eliglustat
  • Isocarboxazid
  • Phenelzine
  • Pimozide
  • Rasagiline
  • Selegiline
  • Selegiline transdermal
  • Tranylcypromine

Be sure to tell your doctor if you’re already taking any other medicine with bupropion to avoid taking too much.

FAQs: Wellbutrin for Depression and ADHD

1. Why isn’t Wellbutrin the first choice for treating ADHD?

Wellbutrin is a medicine usually used for treating depression. It can also help with some ADHD symptoms in some people. But for most people, Adderall works better for ADHD. That’s why doctors usually try Adderall first for treating ADHD.

2. What if Wellbutrin doesn’t work for my ADHD?

If Wellbutrin doesn’t work for your ADHD, your doctor may try other medications like Adderall or Concerta. Therapy can also be helpful for ADHD.

3. How Much Does Wellbutrin Cost?

The cost of Wellbutrin varies based on the pharmacy and dosage. For instance, 30 75 mg of Wellbutrin oral tablets may cost around $87 at some pharmacies. Meanwhile, 30 tablets of 150 mg extended-release Wellbutrin XL can range between $39.07 and $43.23, depending on the pharmacy.

4. Is it safe to take Wellbutrin if I have diabetes?

It is safe, but consider consulting your doctor. It’s also shown positive effects on weight in people with obesity and depression, as well as on blood sugar control in those with diabetes.

5. What should I do if I take too much Wellbutrin?

If you think you’ve taken too much Wellbutrin, call your doctor immediately. Contact the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use their online resource. Call 911 or visit the nearest emergency room if your symptoms are severe.


Wellbutrin for depression and ADHD, offers a non-stimulant option for treatment. It helps balance brain chemicals, improving mood and focus. While stimulants are common for ADHD, Wellbutrin suits those who don’t respond well or can’t tolerate stimulants. For depression, it’s a popular choice, known for its effectiveness and tolerability.

Take the first step towards improved mental health and well-being. Always consider consulting your healthcare provider.

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