Concerns Taking Wellbutrin For Panic Attacks (2024)

Quick Answer

Wellbutrin (bupropion) isn't typically prescribed for the treatment of panic disorders due to the lack of available evidence proving its effectiveness.

While side effects such as agitation, anxiety, and insomnia have been reported with essentially all antidepressant drugs (including SSRIs like Zoloft), these types of side effects are seen more commonly in those taking Wellbutrin, especially when starting therapy.

If you are concerned about the potential side effects of Wellbutrin or are worried it may not appropriately treat your condition, I highly urge you to speak with your doctor to discuss your options.

Detailed Answer

Wellbutrin (bupropion) is an antidepressant medication and while its exact mechanism of action isn't completely understood, it likely works by increasing levels of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain.

While it is commonly used to treat major depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and smoking cessation, it is not typically prescribed for the treatment of panic disorders and is not FDA-approved for treating them.

One reason for this is the lack of scientific evidence proving its effectiveness for these particular conditions. Most studies investigating the use of Wellbutrin have been focused on its use in treating depression, and the data on its efficacy for anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, is limited.

The following excerpt is from the 'Practice Guidelines for the Treatment of Patient With Panic Disorder':

Bupropion (including extended release formulations) was effective in one small trial and ineffective in another. Although it might be useful in some cases, given the limited and mixed systematic data regarding its efficacy, bupropion cannot be recommended as a first-line treatment for panic disorder.

The trial in which bupropion was found to be effective, referenced in the excerpt above, was published in "Psychopharmacology Bulletin" and can be found on PubMed.

However, this was a small trial of only 20 patients and was an 'open' trial, meaning both the researchers and the participants were aware of the treatment being given and there was no placebo group.

It's also important to note that medical guidelines generally don't explicitly state that bupropion can't be used to treat a panic disorder, it just isn't recommended as a first-line agent and there is very little evidence to support its use in this regard. It may still be an option for some individuals.

Be Cautious: Wellbutrin Can Worsen Anxiety & Agitation In Some Individuals

Some studies have found that Wellbutrin can cause side effects such as agitation, anxiety, and insomnia, which are symptoms commonly associated with panic disorder. Clinical trials note these types of side effects are more likely to occur when starting therapy.

It is certainly true that allantidepressants have a precaution regarding the potential to cause these types of side effects, but they are far more common with Wellbutrin. In fact, the prescribing information for the drug reports that during treatment initiation in a clinical trial, 31.9% of individuals reported symptoms of agitation, and 3.1% experienced anxiety.

Concerns Taking Wellbutrin For Panic Attacks (1)

The mechanism behind these side effects is not fully understood, but it is believed to be related to the increase in norepinephrine and dopamine levels in the brain. Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that is involved in the body's "fight or flight" response, which is activated during times of stress or danger. One theory is that by increasing norepinephrine levels in the brain, Wellbutrin may exacerbate these symptoms.

Similarly, the increase in dopamine levels may also contribute to the development of anxiety and agitation.

Other Treatment Options?

There may be other antidepressant medications that are better suited for treating panic disorder, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Zoloft, Prozac, or Lexapro.

These drugs (SSRIs) work by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, which can help to regulate mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety. They are often considered a first-line treatment for panic disorder and may have fewer side effects than Wellbutrin.

However, you did mention that you already tried Lexapro and were bedridden. You don't get into details about what side effects you were experiencing, so it's tough to provide guidance on that point. It may be an option to try a differentSSRI, or drugs in other classes that are recommended to treat panic disorders, such as Effexor (venlafaxine) and Elavil (amitriptyline).

In addition to medication, other treatments for panic disorder may include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), relaxation techniques, and lifestyle changes such as exercise and a healthy diet.

Other Thoughts From The Pharmacist

It's a challenge to give more specific guidance in regard to medication options as I don't know your medical situation.

Based on what you wrote in your question, it sounds like Wellbutrin is having positive effects, but you're worried about what could happen in regard to your symptoms getting worse based on what you've been reading.

My thoughts here are that taking medication to treat a condition comes down to a decision of risk versus benefit.

Every drug has the potential to cause side effects, and it's important to be aware of what those side effects are, what to look out for, and how to respond to them should they occur.

Healthcare providers are there to guide us and provide us with the information we need to make informed decisions about our health. It's crucial to understand that every drug has potential side effects, but that doesn't necessarily mean we shouldn't take them. Often, the benefits of a medication outweigh the potential risks.

Ultimately, the decision to take medication is a personal one that depends on a variety of factors, including an individual's health, the severity of their condition(s), and their personal values and preferences.

Therefore, it is important to work with your healthcare provider to develop a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses your condition and overall concerns.

Final Words

Thanks for reaching out to us! I hope this answer was helpful and I'm always more than happy to provide additional information.

Concerns Taking Wellbutrin For Panic Attacks (2024)


Does Wellbutrin help panic attacks? ›

Does Wellbutrin Help With Panic Attacks? There's a chance Wellbutrin could work to prevent panic attacks for people with very specific symptoms, but it's more likely that it could make them worse. However, it's possible to use Wellbutrin alongside an SSRI in order to treat side effects of SSRIs, such as low sex drive.

Can Wellbutrin worsen anxiety? ›

Wellbutrin is the brand name of a drug called bupropion hydrochloride. Some people may experience new or worsening anxiety while taking Wellbutrin. If anxiety does occur as a side effect of Wellbutrin, it is usually at its worst shortly after a person begins taking the drug or in the period following dose increases.

How long does anxiety last when starting Wellbutrin? ›

How long does Wellbutrin take to work for anxiety? Certain anxiety symptoms, such as those associated with depression or smoking cessation, may improve from Wellbutrin within one or two weeks of starting the prescription. However, full remission of symptoms may not take place for up to eight weeks.

What is the downside of Wellbutrin? ›

The bottom line

Common Wellbutrin side effects include tremors, agitation, and dry mouth. It can also cause dizziness, constipation, and increased sweating. But Wellbutrin is less likely than other antidepressants to cause sexual side effects and weight gain.

What is the best antidepressant for panic attacks? ›

Across individual SSRIs, sertraline and escitalopram were identified as the most efficacious agents with low risk of adverse events.

What is an alternative to Wellbutrin for anxiety? ›

Some alternatives to Wellbutrin include other prescription medications such as escitalopram, sertraline, fluoxetine, duloxetine, aripiprazole, and quetiapine. Natural remedies like exercise, bright light therapy, nutrient-dense diet, and herbal supplements such as St.

What is the Wellbutrin controversy? ›

The risk of seizures increases, in part, with higher-than-recommended doses. Additionally, the energy-boosting effect can make some people feel more anxious, Gold said. Like other approved antidepressants, Wellbutrin also carries a serious FDA warning about the risk of suicidal thoughts or actions.

What to pair with Wellbutrin for anxiety? ›

Combining Wellbutrin and Zoloft can help provide a broader spectrum of antidepressant benefits for many patients. Some patients report that when combining Wellbutrin and Zoloft, they experience improved moods and a sense of overall well-being in addition to increased energy levels.

Which antidepressant worsens anxiety? ›

Some patients experience a temporary increase in anxiety when they begin SSRI and SNRI medications and serotonin levels go up. More recent studies show that SSRI and SNRI medications are less effective than we previously thought.

Why did my doctor prescribe Wellbutrin for anxiety? ›

Those who are diagnosed with depression and experience anxiety as a side effect may experience positive results when using Wellbutrin for treating their anxiety. While the FDA has not approved Wellbutrin as an anxiety medication, a licensed doctor may give you a prescription for Wellbutrin to treat your anxiety.

When is the best time to take Wellbutrin for anxiety? ›

Bupropion SR is usually taken twice daily in the morning and mid-afternoon. The dose usually ranges from 100 mg twice daily up to 200 mg twice daily. Bupropion XL is usually taken once daily in the morning. The dose ranges from 150 mg to 450 mg.

Does Wellbutrin make you feel weird at first? ›

This medicine may cause some people to have a false sense of wellbeing, or to become drowsy, dizzy, or less alert than they are normally. Make sure you know how you react to this medicine before you drive, use machines, or do anything else that could be dangerous if you are drowsy, dizzy, or less alert.

Can Wellbutrin make anxiety worse? ›

Can Wellbutrin worsen your anxiety symptoms? If you live with an anxiety disorder, it's not uncommon to experience increased anxiety symptoms shortly after you start taking Wellbutrin. These symptoms can be mild, or in rare cases, they may be severe enough to feel mimic or cause a panic attack.

Who should avoid Wellbutrin? ›

You should not take Wellbutrin if you are allergic to bupropion, or if you have: a seizure disorder; an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia; or. if you have suddenly stopped using alcohol, seizure medications, or a sedative (such as Xanax, Valium, Fiorinal, Klonopin, and others).

Why is Wellbutrin not recommended? ›

Wellbutrin may be used in the treatment of depression; however, side effects may include insomnia, neuropsychiatric adverse events, or seizures. It carries a black box warning because it may cause changes in behavior and increase the risk of suicidal thoughts..

Does Wellbutrin calm the nervous system? ›

Wellbutrin as an anti-anxiety treatment

While Wellbutrin is typically used in the treatment of depression, research tells us that it can help to reduce anxiety. One study², in particular, found that bupropion significantly improved anxiety scores in patients.

What does it feel like when Wellbutrin starts working? ›

You should start feeling some combination of the following positive side effects from Wellbutrin: increased mood, increased focus and concentration, better sleep, renewed interest in hobbies, activities, and social events, less anxiety, increased confidence, and feeling more in control of your emotions.

Does Wellbutrin give you energy right away? ›

Summary. Antidepressant medications can sometimes take a few weeks to work, and improvements in your symptoms might be gradual. Wellbutrin is no exception. In the first few weeks after taking it, you might notice improvements in your appetite and energy levels.

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