It’s natural and healthy to feel sad, low, or lonely on occasion.
For most people, a low mood doesn’t get in the way of their everyday functioning. When a person is suffering from depression, though, feelings of sadness, emptiness, and other negative emotions don’t dissipate.
They are persistent and debilitating, getting in the way of their ability to function at school or work.
People with depression can’t take pleasure in activities they used to enjoy, and they may experience weight fluctuations, sleep issues, or other physical symptoms.
For those people, their dark mood can last months or years and may not lift without an appropriate treatment plan.
Depression is not a single diagnosis but an umbrella term for several medical conditions that affect individuals differently.
The most common depressive disorder in the United States is major depressive disorder (MDD). It affects roughly 7% of Americans every year.
Other depressive disorders include persistent depressive disorder (PDD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
Fortunately, depression is treatable. Talk therapy, prescription medications, or a combination of the two can help patients manage their mental health, alleviate their symptoms and improve their well-being.
Wellbutrin (bupropion hydrochloride) is a brand-name antidepressant medication that is FDA-approved to treat MDD and SAD. It’s one of a class of prescription drugs called norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs) that work by increasing the neurotransmitters in your brain that help you regulate your mood.
Healthcare professionals also prescribe it to help patients with smoking cessation and to treat bipolar disorder, sexual dysfunction, and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
The positive effects of Wellbutrin on patients with depression have been researched and documented for years. In this article, I’ll talk about whether you need a prescription for Wellbutrin, and if you can get it online.
I’ll also explain more about the drug, including what Wellbutrin is, how it works, how long it takes to start working, and if there’s a generic substitute that works as well. I’ll also discuss the side effects, possible drug interactions, and costs of Wellbutrin.
Finally, I’ll help you learn how to decide if Wellbutrin is right for you.
Do You Need a Prescription for Wellbutrin?
Not everyone can take Wellbutrin.
Some patients might risk serious side effects if they began to use the medication without being under the consistent supervision of a medical professional.
That’s why Wellbutrin and its generic form, bupropion, are only available by prescription.
If you believe you might benefit from taking Wellbutrin to either treat your depressive disorder or help you quit smoking, talk to a licensed medical professional.
They will evaluate your medical history, discuss your symptoms, and, if appropriate, prescribe you the medication.
Can You Buy Wellbutrin Online?
If you have a prescription for Wellbutrin, buying the medication online is easy, convenient, and cost-effective.
Many online pharmacies can offer prescription drugs for much less than their retail competitors, so shopping with them can be an effective way to keep drug costs manageable.
Once you order your prescriptions, they will be delivered directly to your door.
What is Wellbutrin?
Wellbutrin is an antidepressant medication that the FDA approved for patient use in 1985.
It’s one of a class of medications called norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs). These medications help increase the amount of norepinephrine and dopamine—two neurotransmitters—that are available in your brain.
By regulating the amount of these chemicals in your brain, Wellbutrin can help regulate your mood. The drug is also sold as a generic called bupropion and under Wellbutrin XL, Wellbutrin SR, Zyban, and Aplenzin.
Wellbutrin is among the most common NDRIs available on the market.
Others include dexmethylphenidate (Focalin), a medication used primarily to treat ADHD, and methylphenidate (Ritalin), a drug that treats ADHD and narcolepsy. To date, Wellbutrin is the only NDRI that is FDA-approved to treat depression in adults.
How Does Wellbutrin Work?
Like other norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs), Wellbutrin works by changing the neurochemistry in your brain.
Your brain uses neurotransmitters, including dopamine and norepinephrine, to help it communicate with itself and other parts of your body.
Researchers believe that norepinephrine plays a role in how you respond to stress and anxiety and how you sleep, among other things.
Dopamine is believed to play a crucial role in how you move, feel motivated, function, become aroused, and experience joy and pleasure.
Under normal circumstances, your brain regulates the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine in your body.
It does this by reabsorbing the neurotransmitters regularly—as soon as they’ve conveyed a message.
When patients take a dose of Wellbutrin, the prescription drug’s active ingredients block your brain from reabsorbing the neurotransmitters at the same rate, leaving more available for your body to use at one time.
Researchers believe that low levels of dopamine and norepinephrine are linked to symptoms of depression.
When patients take Wellbutrin to help stimulate and increase their neurotransmitters, many end up developing a better, more regulated mood, improved sleep, and a higher quality of life.
How Long Does It Take for Wellbutrin to Work?
Like many mental health medications, it may take some time for patients taking Wellbutrin to feel its full effects.
It can take up to eight weeks for the medicine to make a difference in a patient’s mood and outlook, though some may experience physical improvements in their sleep and appetite a little earlier.
Changes in sleep, hunger, and energy can be a good indication that the medication is working.
If you are taking Wellbutrin and are concerned that it isn’t helping your depression, talk to your doctor before discontinuing the medication.
If you stop taking your pills abruptly, you can develop discontinuation syndrome, an uncomfortable set of withdrawal symptoms.
These include irritability, anxiety, dizziness, upset stomach, excessive sweating, trouble balancing, sleep changes, tremors, and suicidal thoughts.
Is There a Generic for Wellbutrin?
Wellbutrin is a brand-name prescription medication manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.
It is also available as a generic medication under the name bupropion. Like Wellbutrin, bupropion is only available by prescription.
To meet FDA standards, the generic form of any medication must be “bioequivalent” to the brand-name version of the drug.
It must have the same active ingredients, be available at the exact dosage, and be equally effective at treating the medical condition for which it is intended.
The difference between a generic medication and a brand-name medication is that the generic is often sold at a lower price. Purchasing generics can be a way to reduce prescription drug costs.
Most people who take Wellbutrin do not experience serious side effects. The most common include:
- Dry mouth
- Racing heart
- Sore throat
- Stomach upset or nausea
- Weight loss
A small portion of the patient population may experience more uncomfortable side effects, like:
- Disturbing thoughts
- Eye pain or vision changes (glaucoma)
- Muscle ache
- Skin rash
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
For most patients, there is little to no risk of seizures when taking Wellbutrin.
If you have a seizure disorder, head injury, brain tumor, or liver problems, you are at an increased risk for seizure when taking Wellbutrin.
Patients with anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders, and those who abuse substances like drugs or alcohol or take antipsychotic medication are also at increased seizure risk.
If you take Wellbutrin and at any point begin to experience swelling in your lips, tongue, or cheeks, unusual hoarseness, difficulty breathing, or chest pain, seek medical attention immediately.
These are signs of a serious allergic reaction that can be fatal if left untreated.
Does Wellbutrin cause weight gain?
Most patients who take Wellbutrin and experience weight changes actually lose weight as a side effect of the medication.
A much smaller percentage of patients gain weight as a result of taking the drug.
Does Wellbutrin reduce sex drive?
Most antidepressants come with sexual side effects.
They can lower a patient’s libido, reduce their ability to achieve orgasm, or change the way they usually ejaculate.
Unlike those drugs, Wellbutrin does not seem to affect a patient’s sex life negatively. A small portion of patients have reported an increase in libido as a result of taking the medication.
Wellbutrin is available in a variety of dosage strengths.
When prescribing your medication, your doctor will evaluate your health, medical history, and condition before recommending a specific dosage.
Never take more than your recommended dose as directed. Increasing the amount of Wellbutrin you take can increase your risk of developing side effects.
If your medication is not working, talk to your doctor about increasing your dosage or switching to another drug.
There are more than 800 medications that have at least a mild interaction with Wellbutrin.
Some drug interactions can pose a severe risk to your health. Before you begin taking Wellbutrin, talk to your doctor about any prescriptions, over-the-counter supplements, or illicit drugs you might be taking to avoid harmful drug interactions.
A few common medications that can interact poorly with Wellbutrin include:
- MAO Inhibitors
- Methylene blue
The cost of Wellbutrin varies depending on an individual’s dosage strength, insurance coverage, and local pharmacy.
If you are concerned about keeping drug costs low, shopping online for your medical treatments is an easy and convenient way to get your prescriptions at the lowest price.
You may also want to talk to your doctor about whether bupropion, a generic and less expensive form of Wellbutrin, might work for you.
Is Wellbutrin Right for You?
Depression is a well-understood and highly treatable medical condition.
If you have been suffering from major depressive disorder or seasonal affective disorder symptoms for two weeks or more, talk to your doctor about whether an antidepressant like Wellbutrin is right for you.
Talk to a Doctor Today
If you are suffering from symptoms of depression, you are not alone. Depression is one of the most common mental health conditions worldwide, with more than 264 million people suffering from depression globally.
Unfortunately, anxiety and depression are among the most under-reported and under-treated diseases in America.
Nearly 20% of adults in the US suffer from mental health illness, and fewer than half receive treatment. Our mission is to increase access to treatment for those suffering in silence.
You can start controlling your depression and get access to the treatment you need with K Health. Starting at $19/month, get prescriptions for mental health medications plus unlimited doctor visits through the K Health app. Start your free assessment here to see if you’re eligible.
K Health has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references.
Depression. (2021) https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/depression
Does Bupropion Impact More than Mood? A Case Report and Review of the Literature. (2019) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6529042/
Bioequivalance and therapeutic equivalence of generic and brand bupropion in adults with major depression: A randomized clinical trial. (2020) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6465131/
A Review of the Neuropharmacology of Bupropion, a Dual Norepinephrine and Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitor. (2004) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC514842/
Bupropion: a systematic review and meta-analysis of effectiveness as an antidepressant. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2045125316629071
Bupropion (Wellbutrin). (2020) https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatments/Mental-Health-Medications/Types-of-Medication/Bupropion-(Wellbutrin)
Understanding Disorders: What is Anxiety and Depression? (2021) https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety