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Wellbutrin for anxiety

Written by Klarity Editorial Team

Published: Jan 26, 2024

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Zoe Russell

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If you’re struggling to find a solution to your anxiety, you should consider Wellbutrin.

Wellbutrin, an antidepressant medication, is known for its efficacy in alleviating symptoms of depression and anxiety. Its unique mechanism of action sets it apart as a valuable option for individuals seeking relief from mood disorders.

Throughout this article, we’ll explore how Wellbutrin works, its effectiveness for anxiety, and what you should know about dosages and side effects. As we unravel the facts about Wellbutrin, including debunking common myths and discussing its cost, we provide the insight you need to have an informed discussion with a healthcare provider.

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Klarity has become an invaluable resource for those seeking personalized and effective anxiety treatment. The licensed providers on Klarity will listen to your anxiety symptoms and create a customized treatment plan, which may include prescription medication like Wellbutrin.

What is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin, known generically as bupropion, stands out among antidepressants due to its unique pharmacological profile. It’s primarily indicated for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), conditions characterized by persistent and profound changes in mood and emotional state. The effectiveness of Wellbutrin in managing these mental health disorders has established it as a significant option in the field of psychiatric medication.

Its distinct mechanism, which differs from other common classes of antidepressants, has garnered attention for its use in depression and for its potential applications in other mental health conditions, including anxiety.

Different types of Wellbutrin

Wellbutrin is available in several forms, catering to varying needs and anxiety treatment plans. The two primary types are Wellbutrin SR (sustained release) and Wellbutrin XL (extended release). 

Wellbutrin SR is typically taken twice daily and is designed to maintain a steady level of medication in the body throughout the day. This version comes in 100 mg, 150 mg, and 200 mg dosages. 

In contrast, Wellbutrin XL is taken once daily, offering a more convenient dosing schedule while ensuring consistent therapeutic effects. Wellbutrin XL comes in 150 mg and 300 mg dosages. The different strengths allow healthcare providers to tailor dosages to individual patient requirements.

Type of WellbutrinFrequencyDosages
Wellbutrin SRTwice daily100 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg
Wellbutrin XLOnce daily150 mg, 300 mg

How does Wellbutrin work?

Wellbutrin’s mechanism of action primarily involves the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, which are critical for regulating mood and emotional responses. Unlike many other antidepressants that primarily target serotonin, Wellbutrin is unique in its focus on these two neurotransmitters. 

By inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine, Wellbutrin increases their availability in the brain. This increased availability is believed to contribute to mood stabilization and the reduction of depressive symptoms. Additionally, this mechanism may also impact other psychological aspects, potentially influencing factors related to anxiety and attention.

What is Wellbutrin commonly used to treat?

Wellbutrin is most commonly prescribed to treat major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder. However, its unique impact on brain chemistry has led to its off-label use in treating a variety of other conditions. For instance, it is frequently used to assist in smoking cessation, aiding individuals in overcoming nicotine addiction.

Given this impact on neurotransmitters associated with mood regulation, Wellbutrin is also explored for its potential effectiveness in treating anxiety. Wellbutrin for anxiety treatment offers those who may not respond to traditional anxiety medications an alternative solution.

How does Wellbutrin treat anxiety?

Wellbutrin’s role in treating anxiety, despite not being primarily an anxiety medication, is attributed to its unique effect on neurotransmitter regulation in the brain. By altering the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, it can help in alleviating anxiety symptoms. This is particularly beneficial for individuals who might not have found relief from traditional treatments for generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder.

How soon will I feel the effects of Wellbutrin?

The onset of Wellbutrin’s effects can vary from person to person. Generally, individuals may begin to notice improvements in their mood and anxiety levels within about two to four weeks of starting treatment. This initial period is crucial for gauging the prescription medication’s effectiveness and helping your provider determine any necessary adjustments in dosage or treatment plan.

How long do the effects of Wellbutrin last?

Wellbutrin’s effects are influenced by several factors, including the specific type of Wellbutrin prescribed (SR or XL) and individual factors like metabolism and overall health. Typically, Wellbutrin provides sustained relief from anxiety symptoms when taken as directed. Continual assessment by a healthcare provider is important to ensure the medication’s efficacy and to make adjustments as needed over time.

Who should use Wellbutrin for anxiety treatment?

Wellbutrin for anxiety treatment may be an option for individuals who have not found relief from typical anxiety medications. This includes those who may not respond well to traditional prescription medication treatments such as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) or benzodiazepines. Its unique mechanism of action can offer an alternative approach to managing anxiety symptoms.

Who should not use Wellbutrin to treat anxiety?

Wellbutrin is not suitable for everyone. Individuals with certain medical conditions, particularly those prone to seizures, should avoid Wellbutrin due to its potential to lower the seizure threshold. Additionally, those on specific medications that might interact adversely with Wellbutrin need to exercise caution.

Here’s who should not use Wellbutrin to treat anxiety:

  • Those with seizure disorders
  • Individuals with a history of eating disorders, particularly bulimia or anorexia nervosa.
  • Patients with bipolar disorder —Wellbutrin may trigger manic episodes.
  • People who are heavy drinkers, struggle with alcohol abuse, or are undergoing abrupt discontinuation of alcohol or sedatives, including benzodiazepines.
  • Individuals currently using or having recently used monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs).
  • Patients with known hypersensitivity to bupropion, the active ingredient in Wellbutrin.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women, unless the benefits outweigh the risks, according to your healthcare provider.

Can I use Wellbutrin for anxiety if I’m also a smoker?

For individuals who are smokers and also experiencing anxiety, Wellbutrin serves a dual purpose. It not only helps in managing anxiety symptoms but also aids in smoking cessation. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to have a thorough discussion with a healthcare provider to manage both conditions safely and effectively.

Are there alternative prescription medications instead of Wellbutrin for anxiety?

In cases where Wellbutrin is not an ideal choice, there are several alternative prescription medications for anxiety. SSRIs and SNRIs (Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors) are commonly prescribed. These medications target different neurotransmitters and might be more suitable depending on the individual’s health profile and specific symptoms of anxiety.

Here are other alternative prescription medications to treat anxiety instead of Wellbutrin:

  • SSRIs like Sertraline (Zoloft), Fluoxetine (Prozac), and Citalopram (Celexa).
  • SNRIs such as Venlafaxine (Effexor XR) and Duloxetine (Cymbalta).
  • Benzodiazepines (for short-term use) including Alprazolam (Xanax) and Lorazepam (Ativan).
  • Tricyclic antidepressant medication like Amitriptyline and Nortriptyline, although they are generally considered older options with more side effects.
  • Buspirone (an anxiolytic that can be used for chronic anxiety)
  • Beta-blockers, like Propranolol, are typically used for performance anxiety.

The recommended dosage of Wellbutrin for anxiety is determined on an individual basis and can vary widely. For Wellbutrin SR, the typical starting dose is 150 mg once a day, which may be increased to 300 mg once a day. Wellbutrin XL is usually started at 150 mg once a day and can be increased to a maximum of 300 mg per day. 

These dosages are adjusted based on the patient’s response and tolerance to the anxiety medication. It’s essential for individuals to follow their healthcare provider’s prescription and guidance for the best results.

What if I forget to take a dose?

If you forget to take a dose of Wellbutrin, it’s advised to take it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose to avoid doubling up. It’s important not to take extra medication to make up for the missed dose.

Can you overdose on Wellbutrin?

It is possible to overdose on Wellbutrin. Overdosing on Wellbutrin can lead to severe health complications. Therefore, it’s crucial to adhere strictly to the prescribed dosage and immediately seek medical attention if an overdose is suspected. 

Symptoms of overdose may include seizures, rapid heartbeat, hallucinations, loss of consciousness, or breathing difficulties.

Common side effects of Wellbutrin

Common side effects of Wellbutrin, particularly when used for anxiety, include dry mouth, headache, nausea, and insomnia. These side effects are relatively common with many antidepressants, and their intensity may vary. Insomnia can be particularly relevant for individuals with anxiety, as it may exacerbate their symptoms.

How can I avoid Wellbutrin side effects?

To minimize the side effects of Wellbutrin, it is crucial to adhere to the prescribed dosage from your mental health care provider. If side effects become bothersome, discussing them with your provider is very important. Sometimes, adjusting the dose or timing of medication can help mitigate side effects.

Does Wellbutrin cause weight gain or loss in anxiety treatment?

Wellbutrin is generally not associated with significant weight gain, which can be a concern with some other antidepressants. Although, it may lead to weight loss in some individuals. Any significant changes in weight while taking Wellbutrin for anxiety should be discussed with a healthcare provider to ensure your safety.

Warnings for taking Wellbutrin for anxiety

When taking Wellbutrin for anxiety, it’s vital to be aware of potential interactions with other medications. This awareness is crucial as Wellbutrin can interact with various drugs, potentially leading to adverse effects or reduced effectiveness.

List of Warnings:

  • Risk of seizures, particularly at higher doses or in individuals with predisposing factors.
  • Potential to exacerbate psychiatric conditions like bipolar disorder.
  • Increased risk of suicidal thoughts, especially in young adults.
  • Caution in patients with liver or kidney impairment.
  • Potential interactions with drugs that affect liver enzymes.
  • Risk of hypertension, especially when combined with certain medications or substances.

What substances should I avoid while taking Wellbutrin?

There are several substances that can interact negatively with Wellbutrin medication or exacerbate its side effects and, therefore, should be avoided.

Substances to Avoid:

  • Alcohol: This can increase the risk of seizures and worsen side effects like dizziness.
  • Illegal drugs: Particularly stimulants or drugs that affect brain chemistry.
  • Certain over-the-counter medications: Like cold or allergy medicines that contain pseudoephedrine.
  • Caffeine: In excess, it can exacerbate side effects like anxiety and insomnia.
  • Grapefruit juice: This can affect the metabolism of certain medications, including Wellbutrin.

How Much Does Wellbutrin Cost?

The cost of Wellbutrin can vary significantly depending on several factors. These include insurance coverage, the type of medication (generic or brand name), and the prescribed dosage. Insurance plans may cover a portion of the cost, but this can differ based on the specific plan. 

The generic version of Wellbutrin, bupropion, is typically less expensive than the brand-name version and is equally effective. Dosage also plays a role, as different dosages can have varying costs. For the most accurate and up-to-date cost information, it’s recommended to check with local pharmacies and consider consulting with your insurance provider or inquire as to how much anxiety medication could be without insurance.


Wellbutrin is a medication that’s often surrounded by various misconceptions. In this section, we aim to debunk some of the most common myths associated with Wellbutrin use. By separating fact from fiction, we can provide individuals with a clearer understanding of what to expect when considering Wellbutrin as part of their anxiety treatment plan.

  1. Wellbutrin Causes Anxiety: While some individuals may experience jitteriness or increased alertness when they first start taking Wellbutrin, it is not typically known to cause or worsen anxiety. In fact, for some people, the stimulating effects of Wellbutrin may help alleviate certain anxiety symptoms. 

However, individual responses can vary, and it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider if you have concerns about anxiety while taking Wellbutrin.

  1. Wellbutrin has the Highest Seizure Risk Among Antidepressants: Wellbutrin does carry a risk of seizures, but it’s important to note that this risk is dose-dependent. Lower doses of Wellbutrin are associated with a lower risk of seizures, and the risk increases as the dose goes up. 

While it’s not necessarily the antidepressant with the highest seizure risk, individuals with a history of seizures or other risk factors should discuss this with their healthcare provider. It’s also important to follow the prescribed dosage to minimize the risk.

  1. Wellbutrin Causes Insomnia: Insomnia can indeed be a side effect of Wellbutrin, but it does not affect all users, and its severity can vary. Proper dosage and timing of medication can help manage insomnia symptoms. For some individuals, taking Wellbutrin earlier in the day may reduce the risk of sleep disturbances. 

Discuss any sleep-related concerns, including anxiety-related night sweats, with a healthcare provider, as they can provide guidance on how to address insomnia while taking Wellbutrin.

When to talk to your doctor about Wellbutrin for anxiety

Recognizing the right time to engage in a conversation with your healthcare provider about Wellbutrin for anxiety is pivotal. It begins with early awareness of anxiety or depressive symptoms. Promptly discussing these symptoms with your healthcare provider allows for a timely assessment and the exploration of various treatment options, including Wellbutrin, to effectively address your anxiety.

Additionally, if you’re currently receiving treatment for anxiety but haven’t achieved the desired relief or have encountered intolerable side effects, it’s essential to consult your healthcare provider. They can evaluate the effectiveness of your existing treatment and explore whether Wellbutrin might be a suitable alternative or complementary therapy to help with anxiety management.

Find a provider on Klarity for anxiety treatment today

Discovering the right treatment for anxiety is a significant step toward improving your mental well-being, and Klarity is here to assist you on this journey. You can choose a licensed provider on Klarity who specializes in anxiety treatment. The healthcare providers on Klarity can guide you toward the most effective anxiety treatment options.

Find a provider on Klarity for anxiety treatment today and discuss if Wellbutrin for anxiety is right for you.


“Wellbutrin For Anxiety: Effectiveness, Dosage, & More.” Diana Rangaves, PharmD, RPh. Choosing Therapy. https://www.choosingtherapy.com/wellbutrin-for-anxiety/

“Wellbutrin for Anxiety: What You Should Know.” Dr. Anthony Puopolo. LifeMD. https://lifemd.com/learn/wellbutrin-for-anxiety-what-you-should-know

“Wellbutrin for anxiety: Can Wellbutrin be used to treat anxiety? How does it work?” Kate Hanselman, PMHNP-BC and Hannah DeWitt. Thriveworks. https://thriveworks.com/help-with/medication/wellbutrin-for-anxiety/

“Wellbutrin for Anxiety: Effects, Timing, and Considerations.” Satveet Khela, DO. Talkiatry. https://www.talkiatry.com/blog/wellbutrin-for-anxiety

“When To Take Wellbutrin For Anxiety.” HealthMatch staff. HealthMatch. https://healthmatch.io/anxiety/wellbutrin-for-anxiety

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All professional services are provided by independent private practices via the Klarity technology platform. Klarity Health, Inc. does not provide any medical services.
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PO Box 5098 Redwood City, CA 94063

100 Broadway Street, Redwood City CA, 94063

If you’re having an emergency or in emotional distress, here are some resources for immediate help: Emergency: Call 911. National Suicide Prevention Hotline: Call 988. Crisis Text Line: Text Home to 741-741
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