Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wellbutrin: Pros and Cons

Wellbutrin, also known by its scientific name Bupropion, is a very popular antidepressant. It inhibits the reuptake of both dopamine and norepinephrine. If you have never used Wellbutrin before, you need to familiarize yourself with the drug interactions and the side effects associated with it.

Wellbutrin is metabolized by the liver. In lab experiments performed with rats, the drug was found to cause hepatocellular hypertrophy when administed in high doses (hypertrophy is an increase in the size of the cells). Common side effects include agitation, dizziness, hypertension, dry mouth, tremors, anxiety, loss of appetite, headache, excessive sweating, increased risk of seizure, and insomnia.

Although with the recommended dosing of the drug the probability that a seizure will occur is extremely small, patients using it should still be screened for any health factors that could contribute to or increase the likelihood of a seizure. A doctor may also review other prescriptions the patient might be taking and recommend an appropriate dosage based on that information.

Also, suicidal thoughts and attempts have been reported in children and adolescents. Bupropion has been shown to increase the incidence of suicidal thoughts amongst children and adolescents. When treating major depression in this group of patients, clinical benefits should be weighed carefully against the potential hazards. Usually, Bupropion is not intended for patients under the age of 18.

Another potential side effect is an improvement in sexual function. Bupropion, unlike serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac, does not appear to reduce the libido of the patient, and more frequently enhances sexual desire. Patients who complain of an impairment in their sex drive as a result of their SSRI have sometimes been prescribed small Doses of Wellbutrin to correct it.

One controversy associated with Bupropion is its propensity to lower the seizure threshold. In combination with other medicines, it has been suspected to cause seizures in some patients who have never had a seizure before.[12] While this is not common, an increase in the number of such cases around the globe probably merits further discussion and investigation.

It is not uncommon for patients to receive treatment with other antidepressant prescriptions in combination with Wellbutrin. For this reason, a doctor should be careful when prescribing it with other medications prone to lowering the seizure threshold. Bupropion has also been known to produce seizures in combination with non-illegal drugs such as cocaine and recreational drugs such as alcohol.

I hope you have found this information helpful. Be sure to disclose to your physician any other drugs you might be taking before requesting a Prescrtiption for Wellbutrin. Although some of the side effects and drug interactions we have covered are rare, they can happen unexpectedly to even the most healthy individuals.