YANA Mental Health

Using Wellbutrin for Anxiety: Can it Help?

Wellbutrin is the brand name for bupropion, which is a medication commonly prescribed to treat depression, though it can also be prescribed for those with anxiety. 

Medications can have different effects on different people, which may leave you with some questions. 

For some, Wellbutrin may cause worsened anxiety symptoms, but for others, it can actually be a highly effective treatment. It all comes down to the fact that everyone’s body and brain chemistry is different. 

The FDA has approved bupropion for use in treating seasonal affective disorder as well as helping those trying to quit smoking. These usages that have been approved are referred to as “on-label” uses, but Wellbutrin has several off-label uses as well. 

These off-label uses include treating:

  • Sexual dysfunction that has been caused by previous use of antidepressants
  • Depression associated with bipolar disorder and obesity
  • Weight gain linked to the previous use of psychiatric medications
  • Symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults and children
  • Generalized anxiety disorder

If your doctor has recommended that you start treatment with Wellbutrin and you are looking to learn more, or if you are curious about the medication before heading into your consultation, we have you covered. 

Gaining a better understanding of psychiatric medications can help you make more informed decisions when it comes to your health and treatment plans. 

What is Wellbutrin and Why is it Usually Prescribed?

The exact way that Wellbutrin works in your body is not known, but it is commonly thought to have an impact on the mood-influencing chemicals in your body, specifically dopamine and norepinephrine. In this way, it differs from other common antidepressants because it does not impact serotonin levels the way that traditional antidepressants and SSRIs do.

The therapeutic effects of Wellbutrin generally start to become apparent after about 2 weeks of using the medication regularly, making it relatively fast-acting. Your doctor may be able to give you a more accurate window of time for when the effects will start taking place. 

Does Wellbutrin Itself Cause Anxiety?

Like most medications, Wellbutrin does have some potential side effects

One of these is anxiety, and others include restlessness, agitation, and insomnia. Generally speaking, any anxiety-related side effects will likely be at their worst right after treatment starts, or in the short time period following any dosage increases. 

The good news is that only about 2% of people end up stopping their usage of Wellbutrin as a result of these side effects, providing insight to how manageable these side effects can be. 

These side effects can also be a result of your Wellbutrin dosage being increased too quickly. If you do start experiencing any side effects, consulting your doctor can help you get to the bottom of it. 

Generally, using Wellbutrin in low doses, and only changing those doses very slowly, can help prevent side effects from occurring, or at least lessen the severity of any side effects.

Can Wellbutrin Really Help My Anxiety?

Even though anxiety is a potential side effect of Wellbutrin, it can still be an effective treatment for anxiety disorders, and it may even be able to help improve symptoms associated with panic disorder. 

Further research is still needed to determine whether or not Wellbutrin may be an appropriate second or third-line treatment for anxiety, but regardless, some have found it to be effective.

As mentioned earlier, the FDA has not yet approved the use of Wellbutrin for anxiety, but this does not mean that it can’t help you or isn’t worth a try. 

If other treatment methods or plans have not been working for you thus far, it may be worth asking your doctor about Wellbutrin and listening to what they have to say for your particular situation and health history. If they think it may be a good fit, they might prescribe it. 

What Other Side Effects Should I Be Aware Of?

Besides anxiety, Wellbutrin has several other potential side effects:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Fast heart rate
  • Nervousness
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Tremors
  • Nausea
  • Constipation

These are the most common, generally mild side effects, and they do not differ much from the side effects of other common medications prescribed for mental health conditions. 

However, there are some rarer, more serious side effects as well. These include:

  • New or worsening suicidal thoughts
  • Manic episodes, especially in people who have bipolar disorder
  • Paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations
  • High blood pressure
  • Certain eye problems, including pain, swelling, and redness of the eyes
  • Severe allergic reactions

These side effects are much less common, and usually only occur in people who are taking high doses of Wellbutrin. 

Because of these side effects, there are many common misconceptions and myths surrounding Wellbutrin usage, which may be the source of some of your concerns and questions. Let’s take a look at a few. 

Common Misconceptions About Wellbutrin

One of the biggest misconceptions about Wellbutrin is that it can cause new anxiety, make existing anxiety worse, or will not help anxiety at all. Anxiety is a side effect of the medication, so these speculations aren’t impossible, but taking low doses of Wellbutrin can help prevent this from happening.  All common antidepressants have a risk of causing anxiety, so Wellbutrin is not much different in this regard.

Some people may also believe that Wellbutrin will not be effective in the treatment of anxiety in people who also have depression, but this is not necessarily the case. People who are specifically struggling with anxious depression may see great results from Wellbutrin, and those with generalized anxiety disorder may also benefit. 

The grey area occurs with people with depression and a completely separate anxiety disorder that is not GAD. This is why it is important to consult your doctor in order to choose the best treatment plan for your specific needs. 

One final myth associated with Wellbutrin is that it is not a good fit for people struggling with insomnia or other sleep disturbances. Wellbutrin does have insomnia as a potential side effect, but this is seen more so when someone first begins taking this medication. That said, insomnia generally does not persist as a result of Wellbutrin, but if it does, consulting your doctor can help you find a better solution for your anxiety. 

Summary

Wellbutrin is the brand name for the drug bupropion, and it is commonly prescribed to treat depression and seasonal affective disorder. 

Wellbutrin is sometimes used to help treat anxiety, but because anxiety is also a potential side effect, it may not be the best fit for everyone. Everyone’s body works differently, and what works for one person may not work for another. Therefore, it is always important to consult your doctor before starting a new medication so that they can help you take care of your specific needs and concerns. 

That said, Wellbutrin can be effective for anxiety, specifically in cases of anxious depression or generalized anxiety disorder. Using Wellbutrin for anxiety is currently an off-label usage, meaning the FDA has not yet approved it for this purpose, but this does not make it any less viable of an option. 

When it comes to the right treatment plan for your specific needs and concerns, it is important to consult a mental health professional who can help guide you in the right direction. 

YANA is a virtual mental health clinic that matches you with a doctor who can perform an assessment in order to help figure out what may be bothering you. Your doctor will give you a tailored plan for improving your symptoms and starting the path to a happier and healthier you. If medication is an option, your prescriptions will be discreetly delivered to your door at no additional cost. 

YANA’s online platform is both affordable and accessible, meaning you will spend less time and money trying to find the quality care that you need.

Anxiety can be exhausting both physically and mentally, and our doctors and mental health professionals are here to make getting mental healthcare easier, more affordable, and on your terms!

Sources:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/does-wellbutrin-cause-anxiety

https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/wellbutrin-anxiety

https://www.psychiatrictimes.com/view/3-myths-about-bupropion

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