Updated on July 5, 2023
8 min read

Wellbutrin Withdrawal

What is Wellbutrin?

Bupropion Hydrochloride, commonly known as Wellbutrin, is an antidepressant that primarily treats various mental health conditions. It’s available as an immediate-release, sustained-release, or extended-release pill taken orally.

The drug is FDA-approved to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).2

Additionally, Wellbutrin is typically prescribed off-label for:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)3
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obesity
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Nerve pain4

Besides treating psychological illnesses, Bupropion hydrochloride is also used to help people quit smoking.5

How Does Wellbutrin Work

Antidepressants like Wellbutrin work by affecting specific neurotransmitters in the brain. The drug alters the chemical messengers that help with complex functions like eating, sleeping, and emotional regulation

Wellbutrin is unique compared to other antidepressants since it doesn’t tend to affect sexual function or reduce libido. In some cases, it may even increase it.1

Wellbutrin is often prescribed with other antidepressants to help counter side effects, such as loss of sexual desire.


Online Therapy Can Help

Over 3 million people use BetterHelp. Their services are:

  • Professional and effective
  • Affordable and convenient
  • Personalized and discreet
  • Easy to start
Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Woman drinking coffee on couch

Wellbutrin Withdrawal

You shouldn’t stop taking Wellbutrin or any other antidepressant suddenly. It is important to talk to your healthcare provider before stopping the medication, as most people need to be tapered to reduce the risk of severe side effects.

Your healthcare provider can advise you on the correct way to make the transition and help you cope with any Wellbutrin withdrawal symptoms.

Wellbutrin Withdrawal Symptoms

Most people don’t experience Wellbutrin withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking the drug. However, those who experience them may become irritable and agitated.

The symptoms typically experienced from Wellbutrin withdrawal tend to vary greatly and range in severity from mild to moderate.

Here are some common Wellbutrin withdrawal symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Redness
  • Excessive sweating, especially in the heat
  • Digestive problems
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or loss of appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Unusual dreams or nightmares
  • Tremors, restless legs, numbness, and/or difficulty walking
  • Mood swings, agitation, anxiety, mania, and/or depression
  • Brain zaps, shivers, or shakes

Wellbutrin Withdrawal Timeline 

Wellbutrin withdrawal symptoms can begin as early as a few hours after the last dose, or they may take several days to appear. This is affected by factors such as dosage, how long someone has been taking the medication, and other variables.

Acute withdrawal symptoms usually last for several days to a few weeks. After the acute phase, some people may experience more prolonged withdrawal symptoms lasting for several months.

What Factors Influence Wellbutrin Withdrawal

Wellbutrin has a unique pharmacological profile unlike many other commonly prescribed antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). For this reason, several key factors can influence the intensity and duration of symptoms.

  • Dosage and duration of use ⁠— Higher doses and longer periods of Wellbutrin use may lead to more intense withdrawal symptoms. This makes the withdrawal process more challenging to overcome.
  • Individual physiology ⁠— Each person’s body and brain chemistry is unique. Some people may be more sensitive to shifts in brain chemistry and experience more severe withdrawal symptoms. 
  • The tapering process ⁠— The method and pace of tapering off Wellbutrin significantly affect withdrawal severity. Gradual dose reduction that a healthcare professional overlooks can help reduce withdrawal symptoms.
  • Concurrent medications ⁠— Taking other treatments with Wellbutrin can affect the withdrawal process. Some medications may worsen withdrawal symptoms, while others may help reduce them.
  • Individual resilience ⁠— Being independently strong by managing stress, physical health, and mental health can all influence how a person copes with withdrawal symptoms. This is why people with a history of mental health issues or previous withdrawal experiences may struggle more with Wellbutrin withdrawal.
  • Support and coping strategies ⁠— Having access to support networks and healthcare professionals, therapists, or support groups can help maintain consistency during Wellbutrin withdrawal.

Get Professional Help

BetterHelp can connect you to an addiction and mental health counselor.

Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Rehab Together

How to Safely Wean Yourself off Wellbutrin

Although Wellbutrin tapering schedules are relatively short, the safest way to stop taking Wellbutrin is to taper the dose slowly. When working with a healthcare professional, people usually reduce their Wellbutrin dose over 1 to 2 weeks.

However, here are some general considerations and tips for safely weaning off Wellbutrin:

Consult a Healthcare Professional

Before changing your medication plan, discuss your intentions with your prescribing doctor or psychiatrist. They can assess your current situation, review your medical history, and offer guidance on the best way to taper off Wellbutrin.

Follow a Gradual Tapering Schedule

Abruptly stopping Wellbutrin can lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. Your healthcare professional will likely recommend a gradual tapering program to guide your progress. This involves slowly reducing the dosage over time.

Undergo Regular Monitoring

Throughout the tapering process, it's essential to have regular check-ins with a healthcare professional. They can evaluate your progress, monitor any withdrawal symptoms, and make necessary changes to the tapering plan.

Have Patience

Tapering off any medicine can take time. It's essential to be patient with the process.

Engage in self-care practices to support your well-being during the withdrawal process. Switch to a healthy diet, get enough sleep, engage in stress-reducing activities, and consider seeking support from loved ones or a therapist.

Pay Attention to Your Body

As you reduce your dosage, pay attention to any changes or symptoms you experience. If you notice severe or concerning Wellbutrin withdrawal symptoms, contact a healthcare professional immediately.

Consider Extra Support

In some cases, doctors may recommend adding another antidepressant. They can also recommend transitioning to a different medicine during the tapering process to help manage withdrawal symptoms.

You can also consider taking up other forms of support. These can include other lifestyle changes like attending meetings or abstaining from certain habits.

Commonly Asked Questions on Wellbutrin Withdrawal

Can You Gain Weight After Stopping Wellbutrin?

Weight gain is a common side effect of most antidepressant medications. For many, the added weight goes away once the medicine is no longer being taken.

However, bupropion seems to have the opposite effect.

Once a person stops taking Wellbutrin, they may experience shifts in appetite and metabolism that can lead to weight gain. This can lead to overeating and weight gain.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Wellbutrin Withdrawal

It's difficult to provide an exact timeframe of recovery after stopping Wellbutrin due to several factors. However, it's generally observed that people may notice improvements within a few weeks to a couple of months. 

It’s essential to keep in mind that experiences can vary significantly. 

The following factors can all influence the timeline: 

  • Dosage
  • Duration of medication use
  • Individual differences in brain chemistry and response to medication discontinuation

Working closely with a healthcare professional throughout the tapering process can provide a better understanding of your situation and help guide you through the adjustment period.

What Can I Do to Manage Wellbutrin Withdrawal?

If you’re experiencing Wellbutrin withdrawal symptoms, try to develop healthier lifestyle choices.

Stay active, go on walks, try yoga - anything to get your body moving and stimulated for the release of feel-good chemicals. 

Meditating can also alleviate stress which can help with anxiety from Wellbutrin withdrawal.

Make an effort to spend time with family and friends. Studies show that spending time with friends and family can help you deal with depression symptoms.6

If you were using Wellbutrin to quit smoking, keep a nicotine patch or gum handy to help reduce nicotine cravings and agitation.

What are the Therapy Options for Wellbutrin Withdrawal?

After your taper, any long-term treatment should address the condition that led you to take Wellbutrin initially. If you’re struggling with depression, your doctor may switch you to an SRRI you haven’t tried yet, or suggest an alternative option.

Finding the right medicine or combination of medications can take several attempts. Depression is a complex illness that requires a multi-pronged treatment approach beyond medication alone.

Psychotherapy is another option for those suffering from depression. A combination of psychotherapy and medication often works better for depression and anxiety than just medication.7

Otherwise known as talk therapy, psychotherapy is a process where a person explores the reasons for their feelings and actions. Working with a qualified therapist, you’ll learn how to work toward the life you want by discussing the unhealthy patterns preventing you from staying healthy.

When Should I Consult a Healthcare Professional During Withdrawal

It’s essential to see your healthcare provider if you want to discuss changing your Wellbutrin dosage or have concerns about the tapering or withdrawal process.

If you or a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts while withdrawing from Bupropion, immediately seek medical assistance from your nearest healthcare facility. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

Phone, Video, or Live-Chat Support

BetterHelp provides therapy in a way that works for YOU. Fill out the questionnaire, get matched, begin therapy.

Get Started

Answer a few questions to get started

Woman drinking coffee on couch


Wellbutrin can be a great medicinal solution to treat various mental health conditions. However, its use can lead to side effects and withdrawal symptoms after treatment.

Because of this potential risk, it’s essential to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and to remain in contact with them regarding your progress.

The safest approach to safely wean off Wellbutrin is to work closely with a healthcare professional throughout the tapering process. They’ll provide individualized guidance based on your specific needs, monitor your progress, and ensure your safety and well-being.

Get matched with an affordable mental health counselor

Find a Therapist

Answer a few questions to get started

Updated on July 5, 2023
8 sources cited
Updated on July 5, 2023
  1. Sönmez et al. “Increased libido as a bupropion-SR side effect: Clinical description of a case.” European Psychiatry, 2020.

  2. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “Wellbutrin XL (bupropion hydrochloride extended-release tablets) prescribing information.” accessdata.fda.gov, 2020.

  3. Verbeeck et al. “Bupropion for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults.” The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 2017.

  4. Fornasari, D. “Pharmacotherapy for Neuropathic Pain: A Review.” Pain and therapy, 2017.

  5. Eisenberg et al. “Bupropion for smoking cessation in patients hospitalized with acute myocardial infarction: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial.” Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2013.

  6. Kuczynski, A.M., et al. The effect of social interaction quantity and quality on depressed mood and loneliness: A daily diary study. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 2021.

  7. Horowitz, M., and David Taylor. “Tapering of SSRI treatment to mitigate withdrawal symptoms.” The Lancet, 2019.

  8. De Jonghe et al. “Combining psychotherapy and antidepressants in the treatment of depression.” Journal of affective disorders, 2001.

Related Pages