Depression takes its toll on a person’s life in multiple ways. It can take the joy out of being around family and friends and limit a person’s ability to do well on the job or in school. Many prescription medications are on the market to help treat depression, which means people have questions about which one is the right one for them, including Wellbutrin. How long does Wellbutrin take to work? Atlanta Integrative Psychiatry explores the answer to this and other questions about this popular medication.

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What is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin is the brand name for a prescription drug called Bupropion. It is manufactured under the name Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL. Wellbutrin is classified as a Norepinephrine-Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitor (NDRI).

Wellbutrin is available as a tablet and comes in three forms: 


  • Immediate-release (IR), which is taken two or three times per day
  • Sustained-release (SR), which is taken twice per day
  • Extended-release (XL), which is taken once per day  


When Wellbutrin is taken to aid in smoking cessation, it is usually taken once per day for three days, then twice a day for seven to twelve weeks. No one taking this drug should change their dosage or stop taking it without first consulting with their doctor.

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    What is Wellbutrin Used For?

    Wellbutrin is prescribed to help people who have major depressive disorder or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It can also aid in helping people who are trying to quit smoking. When used to treat depression and SAD, the medication is commonly used along with attending therapy sessions. It can still provide good results when taken by itself.

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    How Does Wellbutrin Work?

    When someone’s brain functions normally, it produces chemicals like norepinephrine and dopamine. These help regulate a person’s mood and ability to feel pleasure. When this process is interrupted or not enough production takes place, it can be a contributing factor to someone having depression. Wellbutrin helps block the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine, which causes a greater availability of these vital neurotransmitters. A person with depression who now has a higher level of these feel-good chemicals circulating in their brain chemistry will feel a boost in their emotions and ability to experience a positive mindset. 

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    Does Wellbutrin Help with Anxiety?

    Wellbutrin is meant to help people with major depressive disorder, SAD, and who want to quit smoking. However, some doctors may prescribe the drug to help treat symptoms of an anxiety disorder. This is called “off-label” use, which means Wellbutrin has not received FDA approval to be used for anxiety. However, many doctors and their patients find that it helps improve their symptoms and use it for this purpose.

    How Long Does It Take for Wellbutrin to Work?

    The answer to “How long does Wellbutrin take to work?” depends on a few factors. Some people begin to feel an improvement in their symptoms in the first two weeks of taking the drug, while others may take longer to feel them. The full effects of the medication typically happen after several weeks or even a few months. Often, the first effects are physical in nature, such as sleeping more and having increased energy. The effects that may take longer to occur include an improvement in mood.  It’s important to take the prescribed dosage regularly to ensure Wellbutrin takes effect as quickly as possible.

    Potential Side Effects

    Another concern people have alongside wondering, “How long does Wellbutrin take to work?” is if it causes side effects. Any medication has the potential to cause side effects. Wellbutrin may cause some common side effects, which typically only last for a week or two and are fairly mild. These symptoms include:


    • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Dry mouth
    • Dizziness
    • Insomnia
    • Weight loss
    • Sore throat


    Serious side effects, although uncommon, may occur. If they do, the person taking the drug should seek medical attention immediately. These rare side effects may include high blood pressure, seizures, changes in behaviors or mood, muscle aches, changes in vision, and allergic reactions.

    Is Wellbutrin Addictive?

    It is possible to develop a physical dependence on Wellbutrin and other NDRI drugs, but this is not common. Withdrawal symptoms are typically mild and end after one to two weeks. Anyone experiencing serious or long-term withdrawal symptoms should contact their doctor. Someone who has taken this medication long-term proves more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms than someone who has been on it for a shorter amount of time. Many doctors direct people who are going off Wellbutrin to taper off gradually over a few weeks to avoid any uncomfortable symptoms.

    Finding Psychiatry in Atlanta

    Have you wanted to get help for your depression but don’t know what to expect from treatment? It can be difficult to make that first step, but highly effective help is just around the corner. Atlanta Integrative Psychiatry provides several types of therapy that address what causes depression and help resolve contributing issues. We help you learn healthy coping skills and rejoin the world with an elevated mood. Our staff also provides access to prescription medications like Wellbutrin to help complement your therapy sessions.


    Contact us today to find out how easy it is to get started on helping alleviate your depression. Our therapists help you learn to get back in the driver’s seat and enjoy life again.

    You are not alone. You deserve to get help.

    Atlanta Integrative Psychiatry is an Industry leader in mental health treatment . Our team of top medical experts specialize in dual diagnosis treat and are committed to ensuring that each patient is treated as an individual.
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