How Long Does Wellbutrin Stay In Your System: Half Life & More

May 5, 2021

Wellbutrin, also known as bupropion, is an antidepressant medication that is commonly prescribed for major depressive disorder. It’s an atypical antidepressant, meaning it does not fall into the major categories of antidepressants like SSRIs or tricyclics.

This also means that Wellbutrin has some properties that differ from many other typical antidepressants, including the amount of time it stays in your system and its usual dosage. Here is everything you need to know about how Wellbutrin works and how it should be taken.

How Does Wellbutrin Work?

Wellbutrin falls into a class of medications called aminoketones. While the ways in which this antidepressant interacts with the brain are unclear, it is thought to affect the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine.

For that reason, Wellbutrin is sometimes referred to as an NDRI, or norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor. These block the absorption of the neurochemicals into the brain’s neurons, therefore increasing their abundance. 

Norepinephrine and dopamine are two chemicals in the brain that are thought to regulate alertness and happiness, respectively.

Possible Side Effects of Wellbutrin

Wellbutrin has been an effective depression treatment for many people. However, like all antidepressants, it does come with a list of possible side effects. These include:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Increased heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Dizziness
  • Nervousness

There are also some rare and more serious side effects associated with Wellbutrin that include:

  • New or worsening thoughts of suicide
  • High blood pressure
  • Paranoia
  • Manic episodes
  • Seizures
  • Severe allergic reactions

Note that the severe side effects are rare and more common in individuals who are taking higher doses of the medication. Because of these side effects, there are a lot of misconceptions surrounding antidepressants. However, they can be highly effective at treating mental health conditions.

Wellbutrin Half Life

The half life of a medication is the time it takes for the drug’s active substance in your body to reduce by 50%. Everyone’s body processes medications differently, so there is no set-in-stone half life for any drug.

For Wellbutrin, the estimated half life is about 21 hours, which is slightly less than most SSRIs. Additionally, it can take around 4.4 days for Wellbutrin to completely leave your system.

However, this can occur faster or more slowly depending on a few factors, such as:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Weight
  • Metabolism
  • Liver functioning
  • Dosage amount and frequency

Why Is This Important To Know?

The reason it’s important to understand how long Wellbutrin remains in your system is because there is a low possibility that it can result in a false-positive for amphetamines during a drug test. 

Researchers don’t exactly know how long Wellbutrin can stay in your urine, hair, or blood. For that reason, it’s important to notify your doctor and whoever is administering the drug test that you’re taking Wellbutrin before a drug screening just to be safe.

How To Take Wellbutrin

The amount of Wellbutrin that you’ll take at a given time, as well as the frequency of administration, will vary for different patients. 

However, Wellbutrin is generally administered orally, once a day, at around 150mg.

This dose can be increased, though it does not normally exceed 450mg per day.

How To Stop Taking Wellbutrin

Like almost any medication, stopping Wellbutrin suddenly can lead to antidepressant withdrawal. The symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Headaches
  • Digestive changes such as vomiting, loss of appetite, or nausea.
  • Sweating or increased body temperature
  • Mood swings or agitation
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Tremors, restless legs, or difficulty chewing
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Numbness
  • Hypersensitivity to sound

Before you stop taking any type of antidepressant, speak with your doctor ahead of time. They’ll provide you with specific instructions to safely wean off of your medication without experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms.

It’s likely that they’ll have you gradually decrease your dose over a period of time to allow your body to adapt to the absence of the drug. In some cases, you may be prescribed another antidepressant on a short-term basis to help ease symptoms as your body adjusts.

Drug Interactions with Wellbutrin

Like most antidepressants, it’s important to be cautious and cognizant of the ways that other medications can interact with Wellbutrin when taken at the same time. Some interactions can be potentially dangerous.

Alcohol is one drug that should not be used alongside Wellbutrin. One of the more serious side effects associated with Wellbutrin is seizures, and drinking alcohol can increase the likelihood of having one.

Additionally, drinking excessively and then suddenly stopping before or while taking Wellbutrin can lead to a withdrawal syndrome, which can be fatal if not properly managed.

As a rule of thumb, you should speak with your doctor before starting taking Wellbutrin if you currently use any prescription, over the counter, or herbal supplements.

In Summary

Wellbutrin is an aminoketone that is commonly prescribed for major depressive disorder, and sometimes for anxiety. While it is highly effective, there is a rare possibility that it can cause a false-positive result for amphetamines during a drug screening.

That’s why it’s important to know its half life, which is about 21 hours — this means it takes around 4.4 days to completely exit your system.

However, half life can differ based on many factors, including your dosage. Typically, a dose of Wellbutrin is 150 mg once a day. If you ever decide to wean off of Wellbutrin, talk to a doctor first and gradually decrease your dosage so your body can adapt.

Wellbutrin has helped many people find relief from their depressive symptoms, and it might be able to help you too. If your depression is getting the best of you, you’re not alone.

YANA is a virtual mental health service that matches you with a licensed medical doctor who can work with you on creating a personalized treatment plan from the comfort of your own home. If you and your doctor decide that a medication such as Wellbutrin might be helpful, it can be shipped directly to your front door, quickly and discreetly.

Taking steps towards improving your mental health can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. YANA makes mental health care accessible, affordable, and discreet. 

When you’re ready, get started with YANA here.

Sources:

Norepinephrine-dopamine Reuptake Inhibitors | Hypersomnia Foundation

Going Off Antidepressants | Harvard Health Publishing

Frequency of false positive amphetamine screens due to bupropion using the Syva EMIT II immunoassay | NCBI

Bupropion (Oral Route) Proper Use | The Mayo Clinic

Antidepressant withdrawal: Is there such a thing? | The Mayo Clinic