Wellbutrin Weight Loss Correlation: Why The Drug Causes Body Mass Fluctuations

Last Updated: November 26, 2021

Authored by Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Bupropion, also known by the branded formulations Wellbutrin XL, SR, and IR are medications used for the treatment of major depressive disorder. Wellbutrin is also prescribed for reducing the symptoms of nicotine addiction. In 2018, around 5 million patients in the United States used Wellbutrin. Moreover, one of the side effects of this medication is attributed to changes in a patient’s body mass. Primarily this drug may cause Wellbutrin weight loss, but it can also cause Wellbutrin weight gain in some patients. In this article, information about the relationship between Wellbutrin and weight loss, gain, and its safety as a diet pill will be provided.

Bupropion And Body Mass Fluctuations

Weight gain, also known as fat redistribution, is a common side effect of many drugs. According to doctors from Belgium, up to 10% of body fat may be added when a patient starts to take drugs related to body mass alteration. Moreover, doctors from Spain reported that antidepressants have been related to very large weight gain, giving up to 5% addition to body mass. However, in the same study, Wellbutrin is an exception as this drug causes weight loss.

Additionally, a group of medical professionals from Washington and Boston USA found that patients under Wellbutrin treatment were able to reduce almost 7 pounds compared to those patients who are using other antidepressants. With these statistics, they have concluded that Bupropion is an effective mass loss medication therapy.

So, why does this medication affect body mass? Take a look at the information below:

  • Increased levels of dopamine make the patient have lesser cravings (appetite suppression)
  • As the patient experiences higher, healthy dopamine levels, the patient tends to be more energetic. Thus, this will make the patient become more productive and do more strenuous activities that can actually cause mass loss
  • When Bupropion is consumed, it works by increasing the levels of Norepinephrine. When a patient has high levels of this neurotransmitter, the patient may feel satisfaction leading to decreased appetite. Therefore, patients using this drug may experience Wellbutrin weight loss

Bupropion works by increasing the levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. Although it may cause alterations, take note that it is not indicated for weight loss and only a medical doctor can determine the indication of this drug for a patient.

Bupropion And Body Mass Fluctuations.

Does Bupropion Cause Weight Loss?

With research through clinical observation, the results showed that patients who had obesity issues experienced body mass loss while on Wellbutrin. However, take note that Wellbutrin weight loss is just a side effect of the drug’s treatment. This happens because an increased level of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain may cause appetite suppression, especially in obese individuals. This is possible because, for instance, a patient who is an ardent smoker or suffers from depression may be consuming too much food or alcohol with Bupropion due to these issues.

How Fast Is Weight Loss On Wellbutrin?

In a preliminary study by the doctors from North Carolina about the association of body mass loss with  Wellbutrin vs placebo drug, it was reported that the former is actually an effective medication in achieving body mass loss compared to the placebo. Within 8 weeks of using Wellbutrin, obesed adult women have experienced Wellbutrin weight loss compared to those using the placebo who did not experience any changes.

A study conducted by some doctors from the United States reported that patients taking the 300 mg and 400 mg of the SR form of Wellbutrin lost 7.2% and 10% of their body mass, respectively. On the other hand, in the same study,  Wellbutrin XL weight loss is also possible. Patients using Wellbutrin XL reported that they have experienced losing around 5% of their body mass after the first week of using the medication.

Does Wellbutrin Cause Weight Gain?

For those who are wondering, does Wellbutrin cause weight gain? The answer is yes. Unlike Wellbutrin weight loss, which is very common, Wellbutrin weight gain is possible but is very rare to occur. In 2003, the FDA released the XL form of Bupropion and in this announcement, it was reported that this drug offers a very low risk of Wellbutrin weight gain and sexual effects. Like its reasons for the loss in body mass, patients diagnosed with depression and anxiety suffer many different symptoms. With this said, it is pivotal to understand that different individuals experience and suffer from depression, anxiety, or smoking cessation in various ways. Some patients might be inclined to eat more while going through an episode, which may cause body mass gain, while others might not eat at all, which may cause body mass loss.

Dealing With Changes In Weight While On Bupropion

Indeed, Bupropion is related to body mass changes and with regards to dealing with this, the first thing a patient should know is his or her side on the alterations effect of the drug: Will the patient be fine if he or she would experience Wellbutrin XL weight loss? If the patient is not favorable of the association of Wellbutrin and weight loss while on Bupropion, the following health tips may be considered:

  • Protein smoothies – these are healthy snacks and are convenient to eat in order to gain healthy body mass.
  • Carbohydrates – consuming carbs such as rice is also a smart choice for patients who want to gain mass.
  • Nuts and peanut butter – these two are calorie-dense foods that are also easy to consume and prepare.
  • Red meat, salmon, and oily fish – to gain mass, one must consume healthy amounts of protein and these foods are excellent sources of protein.

Although some patients may be fine with body mass loss, it is a must to always do mass monitoring in order to make sure that the immune system and overall health are not affected by this medication.

Taking Bupropion For Weight Gain or Loss

Due to the widespread popularity of Bupropion and its mass-changing properties, individuals have chosen to go on this medication with the goal of either gaining mass or losing body mass. This is because it helps to curb food cravings or allows for regular food intake completely. Taking this medication for body mass loss can help patients, but when the medication is stopped, there is a possibility that gain might begin again. This is because Bupropion works by increasing the reaction of two chemicals in the brain called norepinephrine and dopamine.

Body mass-changing effects don’t mean that the medication should be avoided if it was taken to reduce depression symptoms, and lose body mass was noticed during that period. If a patient is suffering from weight problems alongside mental health issues, this medication may work as a pill to reduce or increase body mass while a patient is on it. Also, one should keep in mind that it is possible for the opposite effect to occur when stopping Wellbutrin.

Taking Bupropion For Weight Gain or Loss.

Is It Safe To Take Bupropion For Weight Gain or Loss?

Bupropion is not recommended for patients who are struggling with anorexia, bulimia, or those who have a history of seizures, as it can put the patient at a higher risk. According to the FDA, this medication may cause seizures and this may trigger the health condition of the patient. In one study Bupropion induced hypersexuality is said to be possible but later, it was concluded that this is caused by the SSRIs and not Bupropion. So, does Wellbutrin make you hornier?

Moreover, it is also possible to overdose on Bupropion, as taking more than the prescribed dosage daily can cause a fatal reaction in a patient. Studies show that this overdose can cause anything from hypoxia and seizures to loss of life in the patient.

The medicine and its alternatives, like Zoloft vs Wellbutrin, were created to help treat depression and NOT for gaining body mass or losing it. As a whole, it might be safe to take Wellbutrin as a diet pill in patients struggling with depression or anxiety. It might not be safe to take it for only body mass-changing purposes. Patients who want to use this drug to lose or gain mass are advised to contact a medical practitioner and ask for a prescription of an adequate body mass loss pill. Furthermore, patients should know all the possible dangers and adverse reactions associated with the drug use, as for example Bupropion induced hair loss.

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Published on: July 5th, 2019

Updated on: November 26th, 2021

About Author

Nena Messina, Ph.D.

Nena Messina is a specialist in drug-related domestic violence. She devoted her life to the study of the connection between crime, mental health, and substance abuse. Apart from her work as management at addiction center, Nena regularly takes part in the educational program as a lecturer.

Medically Reviewed by

Michael Espelin APRN

8 years of nursing experience in wide variety of behavioral and addition settings that include adult inpatient and outpatient mental health services with substance use disorders, and geriatric long-term care and hospice care.  He has a particular interest in psychopharmacology, nutritional psychiatry, and alternative treatment options involving particular vitamins, dietary supplements, and administering auricular acupuncture.