Wellbutrin (Bupropion) Overdose, Abuse, & Addiction Information

June 1, 2021

Depression is one of the most common mental conditions in the United States, but it is also one of the most treatable. Wellbutrin is one of many medications that might be prescribed to help.

Wellbutrin also goes by the generic name Bupropion. It’s an antidepressant medication that is approved for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It’s also approved to help people quit smoking. 

It also has off-label uses that include depression linked to bipolar disorder, weight gain linked to previous use of psychiatric medication, symptoms of ADHD, sexual dysfunction, and generalized anxiety disorder.

Although Wellbutrin is an effective medication for many people, it can still be misused and run the risk of leading to a dependence syndrome. 

If you take Wellbutrin , or are thinking about talking to your doctor about it, it’s important to understand the risks associated.

Wellbutrin (Bupropion) Overdose

Your doctor will provide you with specific dosage instructions based on your needs. There are two different types of Wellbutrin : sustained release and extended release (long-acting).

If taking sustained release, the usual dosage is usually around 100 mg taken once in the morning and once in the mid-afternoon. Conversely, extended release tablets are taken once daily in the morning, with the dosage ranging anywhere from 150 mg to 450 mg.

Your doctor may decide to up the dosage if the medication is not working as well as intended. It’s important to do this gradually, as abrupt increases in dosage can increase the risk of seizure.

Taking more than your prescribed dose can be considered an overdose. Overdosing on Wellbutrin is potentially dangerous. In the event of an overdose, even if you do not yet feel adverse symptoms, contact the poison control helpline. If someone who has overdosed is unconscious or cannot breathe, call 911.

Symptoms of Wellbutrin overdose include:

  • Seizures
  • Hallucinating
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Rapid heart rate or breathing

You can help prevent an overdose by following your doctor’s instructions carefully. In the event that you forget to take a dose, skip the missed dose and continue on a normal schedule. 

Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

Side Effects of Wellbutrin (Bupropion)

There are some potential side effects associated with Wellbutrin, and taking more than your required dose might put you at a higher risk of experiencing them.

Common side effects of Wellbutrin include:

  • Headache
  • Weight loss
  • Nausea or dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Sore throat

There are also some serious side effects associated with Wellbutrin. If you experience any of the following, contact your doctor for further advice:

  • Skin rash
  • Muscle pain
  • Changes in vision
  • Shakiness

The risk of seizures while taking this medication is low, though the risk increases at higher doses. 

Wellbutrin is not known for causing sexual dysfunction like many other antidepressant medications.

Wellbutrin (Bupropion) Dependence

It is unlikely that you will develop a dependence on Wellbutrin. With that said, taking higher doses of the medication may create similar effects to that of illegal stimulants such as cocaine. It’s possible to feel euphoric during the first few weeks after starting bupropion, but these effects should even out after a short time.

Therefore, it’s important to take the medication exactly as prescribed. Do not increase your dose in order to feel euphoric effects. 

While becoming addicted to Wellbutrin is rare, it is important to monitor the symptoms regardless. Some of the warning signs of addiction include:

  • Taking larger doses than prescribed in order to achieve a euphoric effect
  • Feeling that you must use the drug regularly
  • Not meeting obligations because of drug use
  • Continuing to use the drug even when it is causing you psychological harm

There are also physical symptoms of dependence including:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Sudden fluctuations in weight
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Poor hygiene

If you are experiencing these symptoms, talk to a doctor. If you notice that a friend or family member is exhibiting these symptoms, try to guide them toward professional help as soon as possible.

Wellbutrin (Bupropion) Withdrawal

Medications change the chemistry of your body, and abruptly stopping without professional guidance can lead to withdrawal symptoms. These are potentially dangerous conditions that can be avoided by getting off of the medication properly.

The symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Irritability or hostility
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Mood swings
  • Limited ability to focus or think clearly

If you and your doctor decide that stopping Wellbutrin is in your best interest, your doctor will likely lower your dose gradually to help reduce the risk of withdrawal. In some cases, another medication may be prescribed at the same time to help lessen the effects of stopping Wellbutrin.

Wellbutrin withdrawal is not usually life-threatening, but it can be extremely unpleasant. While the timeline for experiencing these symptoms varies from person to person, most people recover from bupropion withdrawal in just a few days. For others, it may take a couple of weeks.

In Conclusion

Wellbutrin is an effective medication for a number of mental health conditions, namely major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder. While Wellbutrin dependence is fairly rare, it is still essential to take your prescribed dosage and nothing more.

Taking too much Wellbutrin can increase your risk of seizures, hallucinations, vomiting, or other adverse symptoms. 

If you miss a dose, never double up. If you decide you want to stop taking Wellbutrin, talk to a doctor and follow their weaning instructions to lessen the chances of withdrawal symptoms.

Are you considering Wellbutrin (bupropion) for your depression? YANA is a virtual mental health clinic that matches you with a doctor who develops a treatment plan for your specific needs. If medication is needed, we will deliver it straight to your door — quickly and discreetly.

It’s mental healthcare on your own terms. 

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Sources:

Bupropion (Wellbutrin) | National Alliance on Mental Illness

Wellbutrin Addiction | The Recovery Village

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Substance Drug Abuse in Adults | Gateway Foundation