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15 min read

Does Wellbutrin cause hair loss?

Written by Klarity Editorial Team

Published: Apr 24, 2024

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Zoe Russell

Table of contents

If you’re considering Wellbutrin (bupropion) or already on it, you may be alarmed by discussions hinting at its link to thinning hair and hair loss. In this article, we answer the question, “Does Wellbutrin cause hair loss?” We also cover what Wellbutrin is, other side effects of this prescription medication, and what to do if you’re on it and are losing hair.

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Why does Wellbutrin cause hair loss?

The exact reason Wellbutrin might cause hair loss isn’t known. Some scientific theories suggest that the medication potentially disrupts the natural hair growth cycle. Other speculations attribute the side effects to changes in hormone levels or stress responses that the prescription medication might create. 

It’s worth noting that hair loss isn’t always a side effect of taking Wellbutrin; it remains relatively rare, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and occurs in less than 1 out of 1,000 patients. If you’re experiencing hair loss as a side effect of Wellbutrin, speak with your healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment options.

Is Wellbutrin hair loss permanent?

Generally, Wellbutrin doesn’t cause permanent hair loss. In most of these rare cases, the condition improves, and hair regrowth starts after you stop taking or adjust your dose. Some people have reported that their hair growth returns to normal after their bodies adjust to the medication, which is often within a week of starting treatment.

However, your reaction to a prescription drug can be different, and outcomes can vary. If you experience hair loss or hair shedding while taking Wellbutrin, consult your healthcare provider for personalized medical advice.

Is Wellbutrin hair loss common?

Hair loss is considered a rare side effect of Wellbutrin, according to the FDA. It’s not 1 of the common side effects that are often listed or discussed during a typical medical consultation about the drug with a licensed professional. 

However, it’s been documented in a small number of cases (less than 1 out of 1,000 patients).

Hair loss (alopecia) and antidepressants

Hair loss isn’t only associated with Wellbutrin and can be a side effect of other antidepressant drugs. The phenomenon is known medically as drug-induced alopecia. Antidepressants that belong to the category of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) or SNRIs (serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors) are also reported to cause drug-induced hair loss in some cases. Specifically, medications like Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), and Effexor (venlafaxine) are linked to hair loss.

The reason for this side effect isn’t entirely understood but could be related to hormonal fluctuations or disruptions in the hair growth cycle, similar to Wellbutrin. It’s worth mentioning that hair loss from SSRIs and SNRIs is quite rare and often reversible by stopping the medication. Contact your healthcare provider if you’re dealing with side effects.

How to prevent Wellbutrin hair loss

Preventing hair loss from Wellbutrin starts with understanding your risk factors and consulting your healthcare provider. A medical evaluation can help rule out other causes of hair loss, such as hormonal imbalances or nutrient deficiencies. Some people have success by reducing the medication dosage under medical supervision, while others may decide with their provider to switch to a different antidepressant that is less likely to cause hair loss. 

Additionally, incorporating nutrient-rich foods that support hair growth, like those high in biotin and omega-3 fatty acids, may be beneficial. Proper scalp care and avoiding stressful hair treatments like bleaching or frequent heat styling can also help.

How to treat hair loss from Wellbutrin

If you find yourself dealing with hair loss while taking Wellbutrin, don’t worry. There are multiple available remedies, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. First and foremost, consult your healthcare provider for a thorough evaluation to determine the root cause of your hair loss and to decide the most effective treatment for you. 

Note that some treatments may take time to show results, so patience and consistent follow-up with your healthcare provider are key. 

Here’s a more in-depth look at hair loss remedies you can explore:

Topical medication Minoxidil for Wellburtin hair loss

Minoxidil is an FDA-approved solution that you apply directly to the scalp to stimulate hair growth. It’s available in both liquid and foam formulations and works by widening blood vessels and providing more oxygen, blood, and nutrients to hair follicles. This process reinvigorates shrunken hair follicles, so you can grow larger and thicker strands of hair. It’s often one of the first treatments recommended due to its general efficacy and tolerability. 

Keep in mind that Minoxidil can initially lead to increased hair shedding, which is a sign that older hairs are making way for new growth. Consistent use is key for sustained benefits, and it’s essential to continue the treatment indefinitely to maintain improvements. Be aware that Minoxidil does have some side effects, like scalp irritation or unwanted hair growth in adjacent areas, so it’s always a good idea to consult your healthcare provider before starting it.

Biotin to treat hair loss from Wellbutrin

Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in the health of your skin, hair, and nails. Biotin supplements can be used with other hair loss treatments, strengthening hair and potentially promoting new growth. 

While biotin deficiencies are rare, supplementing can offer additional support to your hair health, especially when dealing with hair thinning or shedding caused by medications such as Wellbutrin. 

Biotin supplements are available in various forms, including capsules, gummies, and even topical solutions. 

Consult with a healthcare provider for the appropriate dosage and to ensure it doesn’t interfere with any other medications you’re taking. Some people report improvements within a few weeks, but for others, it can take several months to see noticeable results, so patience and consistency are key.

Hair loss shampoo

Specialized shampoos designed to combat hair loss often incorporate a variety of active ingredients aimed at inhibiting the factors that contribute to hair thinning. One of the most common ingredients is ketoconazole, an antifungal agent known for its capacity to reduce scalp inflammation and lower DHT (dihydrotestosterone) levels. 

In addition to ketoconazole, look for other beneficial ingredients like biotin, caffeine, and saw palmetto, which also offer scalp-stimulating and hair-strengthening properties. It’s advisable to opt for a shampoo that aligns with your specific hair type, be it curly, straight, oily, or dry, for optimal results. Also read product reviews and perhaps consult with your healthcare provider to ensure that the product you’re considering is reputable and effective.

Oral finasteride

Oral finasteride is particularly popular for treating male pattern baldness. It works by inhibiting the hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone), a known culprit in hair loss cases. The medication is usually available in tablet form and requires a prescription. However, finasteride does come with a set of side effects, such as sexual dysfunction, and therefore must be used under medical supervision. 

It’s essential to have a comprehensive discussion with your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits before starting finasteride. Women are generally advised not to use finasteride due to its association with potential birth defects. Additionally, it may take several months of consistent use to notice significant improvements, and discontinuing the medication can result in a reversal of any gains in hair growth.

Antiandrogens for hair loss 

Antiandrogens like spironolactone can be beneficial if your hair loss is related to hormonal imbalances, which can sometimes be a complex side effect of medications like Wellbutrin. These medications block androgen receptors, reducing the impact of male hormones, such as testosterone, on hair loss. They are especially useful in conditions like androgenetic alopecia, which is characterized by hormone-driven hair thinning. 

Before starting this medication, a thorough hormonal panel and consultation with your healthcare provider are needed to assess suitability. It’s also essential to discuss any other medications you’re taking to avoid potential interactions. The treatment’s effectiveness varies from person to person, and it may take a few months to observe noticeable improvements in hair density and hair growth.

Corticosteroids for Wellburtin hair loss

Corticosteroids can be effective for severe inflammation that contributes to hair loss, particularly in cases of autoimmune hair loss conditions like alopecia areata. These medications can be taken orally, as a topical cream or gel, or injected directly into the scalp to provide localized treatment. While corticosteroids can offer fast relief, they are usually used as a short-term solution. Long-term use is generally avoided due to potential side effects like skin thinning, immune system suppression, and adrenal gland issues. 

Additionally, it’s essential to note that not all forms of hair loss are inflammation-based, so corticosteroids may not be suitable for everyone. A thorough evaluation by a healthcare provider is recommended to determine if corticosteroids are an appropriate treatment option for your specific type of hair loss.

Other Wellbutrin side effects

When it comes to prescription medications like Wellbutrin, understanding the complete profile of potential side effects can help you make an informed decision and monitor your use. Wellbutrin is generally prescribed for depression and smoking cessation, in addition to off-label uses to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

But like all medications, Wellbutrin comes with its own set of side effects. Some are common and relatively mild, while others are more severe or rare, but still very important to know. Here’s more about Wellbutrin’s side effects:

Common side effects

  • Dry mouth: One of the most commonly reported side effects, dry mouth, can often be relieved by drinking water or chewing sugarless gum.
  • Insomnia: Difficulty sleeping is another frequent complaint and may require adjustments in the timing of medication or additional medications to counteract it.
  • Nausea: Feeling nauseous is a potential initial reaction to Wellbutrin, usually dissipating after the body get used to the medication.
  • Increased heart rate: This side effect is generally rare but should be immediately reported to a healthcare provider.
  • Dizziness: Dizziness is especially common when standing up from a sitting or lying position.
  • Weight loss: While you may see this as a benefit, it’s essential to monitor any significant weight changes while on this medication.

Severe and rare side effects

  • Seizures: One of the more severe side effects of Wellburtin is seizures. They are a rare but serious risk. Those with a history of seizures or other predisposing factors should consult their healthcare provider before starting Wellbutrin.
  • Suicidal thoughts: There’s an increased risk of suicidal thoughts when initially starting antidepressant medication like Wellbutrin, especially among young adults and adolescents, Monitoring for changes in behavior or mood is essential.
  • Hallucinations: Extremely rare instances of auditory or visual hallucinations while on Wellbutrin have been reported. If you experience this side effect, seek professional medical advice immediately.
  • Allergic reactions: Symptoms, such as itching, hives, or difficulty breathing, can indicate an allergic reaction to Wellbutrin. Immediate medical attention is needed.
  • Hair loss: As covered in this article.

How to take Wellbutrin (bupropion) safely

When it comes to taking Wellbutrin, or its generic form, bupropion, safety is the top priority. Wellbutrin comes in various forms, including immediate-release tablets, extended-release tablets, and sustained-release tablets. Dosage and frequency will vary depending on your healthcare provider’s recommendations, which are usually based on the specific condition being treated. 

Keep in mind that abruptly stopping Wellbutrin can lead to withdrawal symptoms, so consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medication. It’s crucial to take Wellbutrin exactly as prescribed, and deviating from the recommended dosage can increase the risk of side effects. It’s advisable to avoid alcohol while on Wellbutrin, as the combination can heighten side effects and potentially pose greater risks. 

As with any medication, always check for potential interactions with other medications you’re taking. Your healthcare provider can give you personalized advice on how to take Wellbutrin safely while also managing other health conditions and medications.

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If you find yourself with questions or concerns about your condition or medication, the Klarity platform lets you find a board-certified, state-licensed mental health or psychiatric medication provider for tailored advice and treatment. 

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Ro. “Wellbutrin (bupropion) and hair loss.” Ellyn Vohnoutka, BSN, RN. April 8, 2022.

AddictionResource. “Wellbutrin Hair Loss: Causes, Treatment and Prevention.” Nena Messina, Ph.D. Feb. 27, 2024.

Hims. “Does Wellbutrin Cause Hair Loss?” Hims Editorial Team. May 22, 2023.

Verywell Mind. “What to Know About Wellbutrin (Bupropion).” Nancy Schimelpfening. Nov. 3, 2023.

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