Wellbutrin is a member of the tricyclic antidepressants class of antidepressants. The most commonly prescribed antidepressants in this class are Tofranil (Fenco) and Effexor (Prozac). Tofranil and Effexor are approved for use by almost all patients with obsessive compulsive disorders, while Wellbutrin is only approved for use in patients with depression that do not respond to other forms of antidepressants. The reason for Wellbutrin’s limited availability may be related to the adverse side effects that its long-term use can produce.
Clinical trials testing the effectiveness of Wellbutrin in treating patients with major depressive disorder have failed to yield any significant results. One study testing this combination of antidepressants found that there were a significant improvement in mood and a reduction in symptoms in patients taking Wellbutrin. However, this improvement did not last and in the majority of patients, it was only short-lived. This lack of a lasting effect is probably due to certain side effects associated with Wellbutrin, such as restlessness, sleepiness, dizziness, headache, upset stomach, agitation and nausea. In addition, these effects may also be attributed to other factors such as tobacco smoking, which may also negatively affect the mood of a patient taking Wellbutrin.
Patients taking Wellbutrin should avoid smoking and should notify their doctor if they plan to begin or expand their use of antidepressants. There are several reasons for this recommendation. First, smoking cessation will reduce the likelihood of adverse drug interactions between Wellbutrin and other medications or treatment methods. Second, the use of Wellbutrin may adversely affect the efficacy of other antidepressant drugs.
It is not known whether there is a dose-dependent relation between antidepressant medications and weight gain. Most of the research to date has been on bupropion (wellbutrin, tricyclic antidepressants) and tricyclic AMP (Prozac). There is some evidence that SSRIs may increase the likelihood of developing obesity and related conditions such as diabetes. However, studies have been unable to determine whether Wellbutrin affects weight gain when used alone or when added to other antidepressants. The general consensus is that this condition may only occur in patients using bupropion extended-release or tricyclic antidepressants.
Studies of Wellbutrin and weight loss have typically included healthy men and women who were either overweight or obese and had stopped smoking. Some studies have shown that wellbutrin may help people who are trying to lose weight by aiding in the process of smoking cessation. However, in the majority of studies, there was no discernible weight loss as a result of the use of antidepressants.
As with most prescription medications, there can be a potential for a negative reaction to Wellbutrin and could even be dangerous. If you are taking this medication for the purpose of assisting with smoking cessation, your doctor will likely instruct you to gradually increase the dosage of Wellbutrin in order to minimize the potential for an allergic reaction or other side effect. Patients should also be aware that this medication is usually not recommended for use with young children or women who are pregnant. There have also been reports of depressive symptoms in children on this medication, so if you are thinking of starting a treatment regimen for a child, you should be aware of this potential risk as well.
Another potential downside to Wellbutrin and weight gain is its potential for causing an imbalance in blood sugar levels which could lead to hypoglycemia. This is especially important for people who are undergoing an insulin regulation process as well as people who are diabetic or suffering from hyperglycemia. This is a common side effect in certain anti-obesity medications including those used to treat depression and obesity. However, in this case, the reuptake inhibitor therapy actually causes an increased insulin resistance which may result in further weight gain in the long run.
In light of these potential side effects, it is important that patients discuss the use of Wellbutrin with their physician prior to taking this medication. The primary prescribing information states that the safety of this drug has been established in healthy adults and should not be considered dangerous unless there are no serious contraindications or other problems with the patient. The secondary prescribing information indicates that there are no major side effects when treating depression with Wellbutrin but this should not prevent the use of this drug in cases of obesity as the weight loss potential is greater. The important thing to remember is that the potential for side effects is far less with bupropion than it is with most anti-depressants and other medications for obesity.