Addiction Recovery - Drug and Alcohol

Wellbutrin Withdrawal Symptoms: Symptoms, Timeline, & More About Wellbutrin

Wellbutrin withdrawal is a complication from quitting Wellbutrin. Our blog tells you how to do it safely, especially with professional help.

Wellbutrin Withdrawal Symptoms: Symptoms, Timeline, & More About Wellbutrin

Table of contents

Written by

Brian MooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

Jeremy ArztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

June 14, 2023

The Forge Recovery Center

Wellbutrin is a prescription medicine that is being misused more and more across the country. The brand name for bupropion, Wellbutrin is commonly administered to patients with depression. It’s also used to help individuals trying to quit smoking and for a few other conditions like seasonal affective disorder.

Antidepressants such as Wellbutrin fall under the top 3 classes of medication prescribed to individuals in the States. However, antidepressants have varied impacts on people, according to their specific conditions and how their body receives the medication. It is common for patients to try different medicines in different combinations to determine the best possible way to heal their condition.

Unfortunately, this can sometimes become a prominent cause of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome or Wellbutrin withdrawal

Of course, there are numerous other reasons why withdrawal symptoms may arise. Wellbutrin abuse is when this drug is used in heavy doses to achieve its euphoric effects. If this drug supply to the body is suddenly cut off, a person can also experience withdrawal symptoms.

However, Wellbutrin affects the neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline levels in the body rather than serotonin. Because of this, withdrawal symptoms from the drug may not be as severe as they may be for other drugs. Wellbutrin withdrawal symptoms are commonly mild and manageable.

Stats Abour Wellbutrin:

The National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics offers surveys that show prescription medication-related misuse statistics. They indicate that more than 2 million people nationwide are addicted to the prescription drugs they abuse. In addition, prescription drugs are the 5th on the list of most misused substances, after alcohol and tobacco. 

What is Wellbutrin? 

Falling under the NDRI category of medication, or norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors, Wellbutrin is the common brand name for bupropion. It is an antidepressant that is majorly taken to treat depression and its signs & symptoms. 

How Does Wellbutrin Work?

When someone suffers from depression, they often have a deficiency in the norepinephrine and dopamine chemicals in the brain. This causes feelings of sadness, low self-esteem, and gloom. NDRIs such as Wellbutrin work by balancing these brain chemicals. It helps increase the volumes of these two chemicals and lets them remain in the brain for an extended period.

Higher norepinephrine and dopamine levels for a longer time helps boost the user's mood, control impulses, improve focus, and overall help reduce the feeling of sadness and depression. 

What is Dopamine?

Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter that is used by the nervous system. It’s used by the nervous system as a sort of reward for doing things that benefit a person’s existence. When we exercise, eat, reproduce, and do the other things that further our existence, we feel good in part because of increased levels of dopamine. The higher the dopamine levels, the better a person feels.

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What is Norepinephrine?

Norepinephrine is a chemical transmitter that is present in the brain by default. This chemical acts as a messenger and is responsible for working together with adrenaline to increase the blood flow to the heart and increase the heart rate.

It also contributes to an increase in blood pressure, blood glucose levels, and fat breakdown. It then helps the body use these as energy. 

This is why Wellbutrin helps improve moods and fight depression. The norepinephrine and dopamine chemicals are increased with such antidepressants, resulting in a better mood. The drug has also been known for positively impacting concentration and cognitive performance, making it a popular medication for ADHD.

Basically, Wellbutrin helps ADHD patients to remain concentrated and keep focus.

Are There Wellbutrin Side Effects?

Just like any antidepressant, Wellbutrin also has various side effects that can impact users.

They can include: 

  • Experiencing dryness of the mouth

  • Feeling occasional constipation 

  • Having random headaches

  • Having a sore throat

  • Feeling dizzy or faint 

  • Not being able to see clearly – blurred vision

  • Losing weight rapidly

  • Increased heartbeat

  • Experiencing stomach aches 

  • Not being able to sleep

  • Nausea/Vomiting

  • Having a strange taste in the mouth

It is essential to keep in mind that Wellbutrin can prove to be a beneficial option for those suffering from depression and other mental conditions that keep them low in enthusiasm. However, antidepressants such as Wellbutrin are only beneficial if they are used correctly and per a doctor's instructions.

Before taking the drug, patients should be made aware of possible side effects and closely watched for signs of misuse, abuse, or addiction when the drug is taken regularly.

How to Stop Taking Wellbutrin Safely

If you have been taking Wellbutrin for a long time, chances are you have become used to it, if not medically addicted. This means that it is likely that your brain feels the need for the drug to function normally, as it greatly impacts the brain's chemical activity. A doctor should always be consulted before stopping the medication.

Antidepressants such as Wellbutrin should never be stopped cold turkey. Patients should always taper them off to give the brain and the body enough time to adjust to lower doses before taking the drug completely. 

Experienced healthcare professionals commonly recommend gradually tapering off the drug over an extended period to minimize possible withdrawal symptoms. In general, it is best to consult a doctor aware of your medical history before stopping the consumption of Wellbutrin.

In addition, if you have been taking the drug for its euphoric effects rather than to treat depression, you should see a counselor or seek help at a rehab facility to ensure you know how to stop.

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Why Shouldn't Wellbutrin Be Stopped Cold Turkey?

The most common side effect of quitting Wellbutrin cold turkey is withdrawal symptoms. Wellbutrin is mainly given to individuals who suffer from depression. The drug starts making them feel much better and boosts their mood. Consistent drug consumption unfortunately makes the brain and body dependent on it, however. 

When a person suddenly stops using Wellbutrin without tapering off, a person may experience rebound depression – their symptoms come back. In some cases, rebound depression symptoms can be even more severe.

Fortunately, Wellbutrin withdrawal symptoms appear to be somewhat rare. However, that doesn’t mean a person shouldn’t taper off Wellbutrin gradually. The cold turkey approach is always risky and never advisable.

Tapering off Wellbutrin Safely 

Consulting your doctor about a safe plan is your best bet for weaning off Wellbutrin without serious side effects. If you only take small doses, tapering off the medication may not always be necessary. Before stopping completely, doses greater than 300 milligrams typically need to be halved – they should be reduced to 150 milligrams for at least two weeks.

Anything less than that does not usually need to be tapered. However, seeking professional medical advice is also recommended in any case. 

Wellbutrin Abuse

Wellbutrin is generally safe when it is taken following a medical healthcare professional's prescription. It can aid people who are suffering from depression or are looking to quit smoking. Be that as it may, Wellbutrin is also abused for its euphoric and stimulating effects.

It has been discovered that Wellbutrin can have effects similar to those of stimulants when the pills are crushed and consumed through the nose or injected into the bloodstream.

Signs of Wellbutrin Withdrawal

Irrespective of whether you have been misusing Wellbutrin or taking it on a prescription as suggested by your physician, your body may have become accustomed to it over long-term consumption. If you have become addicted in either case, withdrawal symptoms will follow. These side effects can be unpleasant and overwhelming, but when it comes to Wellbutrin, withdrawal symptoms are generally not fatal.

However, if you relapse once you have stopped taking Wellbutrin and end up taking a high dose, it may lead to an overdose. This is because your body is no longer used to the drug. A high dose could result in an overdose that can easily become responsible for seizures or even death.

It is also common for individuals who stop the medication suddenly to experience extreme depression and suicidal thoughts. 

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Wellbutrin Withdrawal Symptoms

Whether you have been misusing Wellbutrin or have been taking it for a long time as per the doctor's recommendation, here are some of the common withdrawal symptoms you may experience:

  • Unhealthy sleeping patterns or insomnia 

  • Depression, Irritability, or anxiety 

  • Dizziness

  • Headaches

  • Hostility

  • Aggression

  • Flu-like aches, pains, fever, sweating, rashes

  • Problems with digestion

  • Stomach cramps

  • Nausea/vomiting

  • Tremors

  • Suicidal thoughts and sometimes even actions

  • Balance issues 

  • Excessive sweating

Why Do People Experience Wellbutrin Withdrawal Symptoms?

How serious withdrawal symptoms depend solely on the individual experiencing it. Other factors that affect the severity of Wellbutrin withdrawal are the volume of the medicine being consumed, how long it was consumed, and whether it was prescribed or illicit. For instance, withdrawal typically becomes more difficult the longer Wellbutrin is taken.

When antidepressants such as Wellbutrin are taken for a long time, it is common for patients to develop a tolerance to the drug. When the threshold for Wellbutrin increases, a higher dose may be required for the consumer to feel the same effect of the drug as when they first consumed it.

If you are experiencing something like this, do not try to increase the dose yourself to feel the effect of the medication. Instead, speak to a doctor to get help in adjusting your dosage of the Wellbutrin medication. 

Wellbutrin Withdrawal Timeline 

A withdrawal timeline refers to what withdrawal looks like at certain intervals after stopping the consumption of Wellbutrin. This timeline can vary for different users, and symptoms can last from around a few days to a few weeks.

Here is what the timeline for Wellbutrin withdrawal typically looks like:

The First Few Days of Wellbutrin Withdrawal

One to three days after the last dose of Wellbutrin, there can be a risk of seizures, emotional and mental breakdowns, irrational thoughts, flu-like signs and symptoms, and mood swings.

The First Week of Wellbutrin Withdrawal

The first week after the last dose is going to be exhausting. You will feel tired and sleepy. You may also experience depression, confusion, and physical aches.

The Second Week of Wellbutrin Withdrawal

The second week after the last dose will be easier. By now, physical symptoms would have worn off. Mental and emotional issues, however, are still likely to persist. For example, you may suffer from irregular sleep, nightmares, and depression.

The First Month of Wellbutrin Withdrawal

In the third and fourth weeks after the last dose of Wellbutrin, a person may still see a few spells of depression. If you are not properly managing withdrawal and do not have professional help, you may relapse at this point. Again, ensure you have someone to guide you; you should be doing much better by the end of the fourth week!.

If someone does experience withdrawal symptoms, it is common for doctors to put them back on Wellbutrin and gently wean them off to prevent symptoms. 

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How to Manage Wellbutrin Withdrawal

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you overcome withdrawal symptoms. These may help you keep cravings at bay and beat the urge to relapse – 

Develop Your Support System

The intimate group of people you can constantly depend on makes your support system. This could be a partner, your therapist, friends, or family. Many examinations show that investing energy with friends and family can help prevent anxiety, depression, and bad moods. 

Relax & Meditate

Taking time for yourself is essential in this fast-paced world. To manage withdrawal symptoms, learn to meditate mindfully, especially if you suffer from anxiety, depression, or negative thoughts. Find patterns of focused breathing that suit your needs and help you relax.

Physical Activity

Doing your physical activity in reasonable amounts is a great strategy. An average of 40-60 minutes of exercise three to four times a week is good for you. You can start yoga, walking, cycling, swimming, or even some sport you enjoy. Exercise and getting physical movement help release the feel-good emotions in the body.

Nicotine Patches for Smokers

If Wellbutrin was prescribed to help you quit smoking, you could try nicotine patches or nicotine gum. These are very helpful in keeping cravings and urges at bay.

All in all, emerging from Wellbutrin addiction, whether from long-term use as recommended by a specialist or just because you have abused the medication, can be a test either way. Managing withdrawal symptoms is a game of intelligent approach, commitment, professional support, and patience.

If you feel like you cannot handle it yourself, do not hesitate to ask for help from loved ones or professional healthcare providers; they will be able to recommend good rehab centers for detox plans, recovery, and aftercare.

Need Help Managing Wellbutrin Withdrawal? The Forge Recovery Center Will Help

Many people suffering from an addiction to antidepressants such as Wellbutrin may seek help to return to their happy and healthy life. The Forge Treatment Center is a safe place for such people, where they receive comprehensive treatment and compassionate care throughout their treatment plan.

Guided by a trauma-informed philosophy, our compassionate staff acts as guides along the entire recovery journey. We offer a range of services, including behavioral therapy, medication-assisted treatment, ongoing support, detoxification, and counseling.

Wellbutrin withdrawal can be difficult alone. If you want to know more about how The Forge Recovery Center can help you detox safely from Wellbutrin, please reach out to us today.

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