Bupropion weight gain

Can Wellbutrin Cause Weight Gain or Loss?

Bupropion weight gain
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The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient's unique health circumstances and needs.

Concerns about weight gain and weight loss often loom large in individuals taking antidepressant medications. Although these drugs are an effective way to treat depression, they are associated with specific side effects, and weight gain is one of them.

Wellbutrin (bupropion), has gained a reputation for being a weight-neutral antidepressant or even potentially leading to weight loss. So, what is the truth behind the relationship between Wellbutrin and weight?

Schedule an appointment with an MD and see if Wellbutrin is the missing piece in your depression treatment plan.

What is Wellbutrin (Bupropion)?

Wellbutrin is also known by its generic name bupropion. It is an atypical antidepressant medication that belongs to the class of drugs called norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs). It primarily works by modulating the levels of neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain, which are associated with mood regulation. By modulating these neurotransmitters, Wellbutrin helps to restore the balance of chemicals in the brain, which may reduce depression symptoms.

Wellbutrin is commonly used to treat major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression a person experiences during certain seasons, usually in the fall and winter. Two commonly prescribed types of this medicine are Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL.

What Distinguishes Wellbutrin SR from Wellbutrin XL?

Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL are two different formulations of the same medication, bupropion. The main distinction between them lies in their drug release mechanisms and dosing schedules. Wellbutrin SR stands for sustained release, while Wellbutrin XL stands for extended-release. These terms refer to how the medication is released in the body over time.

Wellbutrin SR is designed to be released gradually after ingestion. It is usually taken twice a day, with doses spaced around 8 hours apart. This sustained-release formulation helps ensure sufficient levels of the medication remain in the bloodstream throughout the day, helping to maintain its effects.

On the other hand, Wellbutrin XL is formulated to be released slowly over an extended period. It is taken once a day, usually in the morning. The extended-release mechanism allows for a slower, controlled constant release of the medication over 24 hours, providing continuous therapeutic effects.

The doctor’s choice between Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL often depends on considering several factors, including specific treatment goals, dosing convenience, tolerance to side effects, and patient preference. Some individuals may benefit from the twice-daily dosing of Wellbutrin SR, as it allows for a more immediate effect and flexibility in dose delivery. On the other hand, for others, the once-daily dosing of Wellbutrin XL may be preferred due to its convenience and consistent release of the medication which can improve tolerability.

Note that the dosage strengths available for Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL may differ. Depending on the individual’s needs, the healthcare provider will determine the appropriate dosage and formulation that best suits the patient.

What Does Bupropion Help with?

Bupropion, approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has several official indications for use. The FDA-approved uses of bupropion include:

  1. Major depressive disorder (MDD). Bupropion treatment is approved for treating major depressive episodes in adults. It can be used as a standalone antidepressant or as part of combination therapy.
  2. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Bupropion is approved for the prevention and treatment of depressive episodes in individuals diagnosed with SAD. It can be used as a prophylactic treatment during the season when symptoms typically occur.
  3. Smoking cessation. As a smoking cessation aid, bupropion can help individuals quit smoking by reducing nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Doctors can also prescribe bupropion off-label for other conditions such as ADHD [1*] , obesity [2*] , and antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction [3*] .

Bupropion treatment

How Does Wellbutrin Impact Weight?

Contrary to popular belief, Wellbutrin is not a magic weight-loss drug. While some individuals may experience weight loss while taking Wellbutrin, it is not a primary effect of an antidepressant and does not occur in everyone. Weight changes associated with medication can be influenced by various factors, including individual biology, lifestyle, and other concurrent treatments.

Does Wellbutrin Cause Weight Gain?

Weight gain is generally not associated with Wellbutrin (bupropion). In fact, Wellbutrin is often considered weight-neutral or potentially associated with weight loss for some individuals.

According to the FDA, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trials found that among the different formulations, Wellbutrin XL has a slightly higher percentage of weight gain as a side effect. However, when compared to weight loss, the incidence of weight gain in all formulations is lower. Research [4*] indicates that when compared to other antidepressants, Wellbutrin has a lower likelihood of causing weight gain.

Are you tired of feeling down? Talk to a doctor who will develop a personalized treatment plan and prescribe the right medication for you.

How Does Wellbutrin Contribute to Weight Loss?

Unlike certain antidepressants that may contribute to weight gain by affecting appetite and metabolism, Wellbutrin has a more neutral effect on these factors. It does not typically lead to increased hunger or significant changes in metabolic rate. This characteristic has made it a preferred antidepressant [5*] for individuals concerned about potential weight gain associated with antidepressant use.

In fact, for some individuals, Wellbutrin may have the opposite effect. It can act as an appetite suppressant, reducing cravings and promoting a sense of fullness and loss of appetite. This can lead to decreased calorie intake and, in turn, result in weight loss for those who may have previously struggled with binge eating or emotional eating.

Any changes in weight associated with Wellbutrin use are generally modest. Significant weight loss or gain is not a typical or expected outcome of the medication. The impact on weight, if any, is often a secondary effect and varies from person to person.

What Are the Downsides of Wellbutrin?

While Wellbutrin (bupropion) can be an effective medication for many individuals, it is important to be aware of its potential downsides and side effects. Here are some of the common ones:

  • Side effects. Common side effects of Wellbutrin may include dry mouth, headache, nausea, insomnia, restlessness, anxiety, dizziness, and increased heart rate. These side effects are usually mild and temporary, but they can be bothersome for some people.
  • Seizure risk. Wellbutrin is associated with a dose-dependent risk of seizures. The risk is higher at higher doses, particularly in individuals with a predisposition to seizures or who have certain medical conditions that increase seizure risk. Therefore, it is important to follow the prescribed dosage of Wellbutrin and inform your healthcare provider about any seizure history or risk factors.
  • Psychiatric effects. Wellbutrin can occasionally cause or exacerbate psychiatric symptoms such as agitation, restlessness, irritability, and even suicidal thoughts in some individuals. Close monitoring by a healthcare professional is crucial, especially during the initial stages of treatment or when there are changes in dosage.
  • Pre-existing conditions. Wellbutrin may not be suitable for individuals with certain medical conditions, such as a seizure disorder, an eating disorder (anorexia or bulimia), glaucoma, or a history of bipolar disorder or mania. Your healthcare provider will carefully evaluate your medical history to determine if Wellbutrin is appropriate for you.
  • Individual variations. The effectiveness of Wellbutrin can vary from person to person. While it may work well for some, others may not experience significant improvement in their symptoms or may find that the side effects outweigh the benefits. Finding the right medication and dosage often requires a process of trial and error, and it is important to communicate openly with your healthcare provider to ensure the best treatment outcomes.
  • Drug interactions. Bupropion can interact with other medications, including monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), potentially leading to adverse effects. It is crucial to avoid taking multiple medications containing bupropion simultaneously. Inform your healthcare provider about all the medications, supplements, or substances you are taking to avoid potential interactions.

Do Other Antidepressants Lead to Weight Gain?

Weight gain is a potential side effect associated with certain antidepressant medications. While not all antidepressants cause weight gain, some may contribute to it through various mechanisms. It is important to note that individual responses to prescription medications can vary, and not everyone will experience weight changes while taking antidepressants. Here are some antidepressant classes [6*] that are commonly associated with weight gain:

1. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs, such as sertraline (Zoloft), fluoxetine (Prozac), and escitalopram (Lexapro), are widely prescribed antidepressants. While they are generally considered weight-neutral, a subset of individuals may experience weight gain as a side effect. The exact reasons behind this weight gain are not fully understood, but it is believed to be influenced by neurotransmitter levels which impact changes in appetite, metabolism, and other physiological factors.
2. Tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs). TCAs, such as amitriptyline (Elavil) and nortriptyline (Pamelor), can cause more weight gain as compared to other antidepressants. These medications affect various neurotransmitters in the brain, including norepinephrine and serotonin levels, and can increase appetite and alter metabolism, leading to weight gain.

3. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). MAOIs, such as phenelzine (Nardil) and tranylcypromine (Parnate), are an older class of antidepressants. They can cause weight gain in some individuals, primarily due to their impact on appetite regulation and metabolism.
4. Atypical antidepressants. Certain atypical antidepressants, such as mirtazapine (Remeron) and trazodone, are known to be associated with weight gain. These medications can increase appetite and cause metabolic changes, contributing to weight gain in some cases.

Individual responses to antidepressants can vary significantly. While weight gain may be a potential side effect, not everyone will experience it. Additionally, the degree of weight gain can also vary among individuals.

Wellbutrin for depression

In Conclusion

Weight management is often a concern for obese patients with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. So, it is crucial to discuss it with a healthcare professional when choosing an antidepressant. They can provide guidance on potential side effects associated with specific antidepressants and help develop strategies for weight management, including lifestyle modifications (following a balanced diet, exercising, etc.).

It is worth noting that the impact on weight should be balanced with the benefits of the medication in treating depression or any other mental illness, including off-label uses for ADHD. For many individuals, the therapeutic effects of antidepressants outweigh the potential risks of weight gain, and close monitoring by healthcare professionals can help manage any adverse effects effectively.


The potential for weight gain on Wellbutrin (bupropion) is generally low. It is considered a weight-neutral medication. Comparatively, some individuals may even experience weight loss while taking it.

Wellbutrin (bupropion) has a minimal effect on metabolism and does not significantly directly boost it. This moderate effect is believed to be related to Wellbutrin's influence on certain neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine and dopamine, which can impact metabolism.

Bupropion (Wellbutrin) is generally considered weight-neutral or potentially associated with weight loss for some individuals. It is not known to hinder weight loss efforts, and in some cases, it may even help with weight management by suppressing appetite.

However, individual responses to medication can vary, so it is important to discuss any concerns with a healthcare professional. They can provide personalized guidance and support based on your specific situation.

According to a particular study [7*] , the average weight loss observed among individuals was over 5% of their initial body weight. However, it is important to note that while some individuals may experience weight loss while taking Wellbutrin, it is not a weight loss drug. The extent and rate of weight loss can differ depending on such factors as drug formulation, BMI, metabolism, lifestyle, underlying conditions, and individual responses to the medication.


+7 sources
  1. Bupropion for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults - PMC
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  2. Bupropion for weight loss: an investigation of efficacy and tolerability in overweight and obese women. (2001)
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  3. Bupropion-sustained release as a treatment for SSRI-induced sexual side effects. (2002)
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  4. Weight gain and antidepressants. (2000)
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  5. Effect on body weight of bupropion sustained-release in patients with major depression treated for 52 weeks. (2002)
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  6. Weight gain and antidepressants. (2000)
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  7. Bupropion for weight loss: an investigation of efficacy and tolerability in overweight and obese women. (2001)
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