Wellbutrin (buproprion) gets me wired!

Originally Published: June 25, 2004 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: December 20, 2006
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Dear Alice,

I'm a senior, and for the past three years, I've been using an antidepressant called Celexa to treat my chemical depression. Recently, I asked my doctor if I could switch to Wellbutrin, because it has lower sexual side effects. I feel much better emotionally on Wellbutrin, and I am experiencing much more sexual drive and pleasure these days. However, the stupid pill makes me very jittery — slightly nervous and very twitchy, you know, like a bunny's nose. What should I do? I'm feeling so much better on this drug, but I can't go through life feeling jittery all the time.

Thanks!

Dear Reader,

Wellbutrin, otherwise known as buproprion, is a medicine used to treat depression. Unlike many other antidepressants, buproprion doesn't regulate the mood-affecting chemical serotonin — instead, it affects multiple other neurotransmitters, chemicals that affect brain and nerve functions. And as you mention, buproprion also is known for having relatively few sexual side effects that sometimes occur with other anti-depressant medications.

A good number of people who take buproprion experience jitteriness as you describe, and/or sometimes the following effects, soon after they start using it:

 

  • restlessness
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • headache
  • agitation

In roughly 2 percent of people taking this medicine, these effects are intense enough to make them stop using it. In most cases, however, a low starting dosage and gradual increase over a period of days allows the person to get used to the side effects gradually, making them mild enough to live with. Sometimes, early in a course of treatment, people also are prescribed sedative drugs to counter particularly strong cases of the "bunny-nose" effect you describe. When this is needed, the use of sedatives usually lasts only for about a week, after which symptoms normally become less intense.

Since different people react to medicines in different ways, it's important that you talk with your health care provider, the person who prescribed your medication, about your jitteriness. Sometimes you can do this in a phone call; sometimes a visit is necessary. Your provider can work with you to find the right dose, the right time for you to take buproprion, and/or the right combination of medications to work for you. All of these factors affect your level of agitation. Also, if you're still new to this medication, side effects may disappear over time with regular use as prescribed by your health care provider.

Your provider can help you find medication that will treat your depression, keep you chill, and minimize the sexual side effects you mention. It just might take some time.

Alice