In the following article, we will discuss its uses, its mode of action, the side effects and any pertinent warnings.
Contents of this article:
Fast facts on Wellbutrin
Here are some key points about Wellbutrin. More detail and supporting information is in the main article.
- Wellbutrin does not act in the same way as other popular antidepressants
- Technically, Wellbutrin is an aminoketone
- It was first discovered in 1969 and approved for use as an antidepressant in 1985
- Some studies show that Wellbutrin might be useful in treating methamphetamine dependence
- Risk of seizures increases with the use of Wellbutrin
- Wellbutrin helps individuals quit smoking tobacco
- Side effects can include dizziness, rashes and confusion
- People taking monoamine oxidase inhibitors should avoid taking Wellbutrin.
What is Wellbutrin?
Wellbutrin is most commonly used as an antidepressant, but it also works well as a smoking cessation aid.
Wellbutrin is classed as an aminoketone and its full chemical name is 3-chloro-N-tert-butyl-β-ketoamphetamine. Wellbutrin is one of the most frequently prescribed antidepressants in the English-speaking world.
The drug was first synthesized and patented by Burroughs Wellcome (now part of GlaxoSmithKline) in 1969 and was first approved for clinical use in the US in 1985.
Wellbutrin has a different mode of action to other common antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Because of its different approach, Wellbutrin is often prescribed as an add-on medication for those with depressive episodes that do not respond sufficiently to SSRIs.
Wellbutrin is chosen in preference over other antidepressants because its use is less likely to cause weight gain or sexual dysfunction. However, it does carry a risk of inducing seizures; this seizure risk forced the drug off the market for a short time and the recommended dosage was suitably reduced.
How does Wellbutrin work?
Wellbutrin's action is complex and only partly understood. SSRIs work by selectively blocking the reuptake of serotonin. Wellbutrin, however, is referred to as a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI).
The drug's effects on norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake are not the only actions the drug takes; Wellbutrin is also an antagonist at nicotinic receptors. In other words, the drug blocks receptors at which nicotine normally binds, explaining its use in smoking cessation.
The interactions mentioned above seem to be just part of the picture. Other mechanisms are also thought to play a role in its pharmacology.
On the next page, we look at the medicinal uses of Wellbutrin (bupropion).