Free & Confidential Drug Hotline. Call NOW:

Wellbutrin vs Zoloft And Other Alternatives to Bupropion

Last Updated: November 26, 2021

Authored by Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Reviewed by Michael Espelin APRN

Wellbutrin, under the brand name Bupropion, belongs to the drug classification called norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRI). This drug’s primary use is for the treatment of major depressive disorder. In 2018, around 24.5 million prescriptions of Bupropion were issued in the United States. Although this statistic is considered high, there are times when patients and doctors tend to look for alternatives. According to the FDA, this drug can cause generalized seizures with a 0.4% prevalence rate. Aside from Bupropion side effects, the other reason may include the patient’s sensitivity and tolerance to the drug, risk of Wellbutrin overdose, and the possibility of polypharmacy.

In this article, information about safe and effective Wellbutrin alternatives will be provided.

Wellbutrin vs Zoloft

In Wellbutrin vs Zoloft comparison, the former belongs to the drug class norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRI) while the latter belongs to the drug class selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Although they do not come from the same classification, both of these drugs are used as an antidepressant.

Moreover, in the Wellbutrin vs Zoloft mechanism of action comparison, the former works by inhibiting the recycling of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, as this may lead to depression, while the latter increases the levels of serotonin in the brain.

To understand more about this comparison, take a look at the information provided below:

DRUG BRAND NAME WELLBUTRIN ZOLOFT
GENERIC NAME Bupropion Sertraline
DRUG CLASS Norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor Selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor
AVAILABILITY OF GENERIC VERSIONS Yes Yes
APPROVED AGE OF USE Can be used by patients 18 years old above. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe this drug to a patient below 18 years old, depending on the patient’s health condition Can be used by patients 6 years old and above
TREATMENT LENGTH Up to 12 weeks Up to 52 weeks
PRESCRIPTION FORMS

STANDARD DOSAGE

Comes in sustained-release and extended-release tablets.

The standard dosage is 150 mg per day. However,  depending on the treatment, only a doctor can tell the right dose needed for a patient.

Comes in tablet and oral concentrate forms.

The standard dosage is 25-50 mg per day. However,  depending on the treatment, only a doctor can tell the dose needed for a patient.

RISK OF WITHDRAWAL OR OVERDOSE Yes Yes

Comparing Wellbutrin vs Zoloft side effects, the common ones include: nausea (13% prevalence rate), vomiting (4%), dry mouth (17%), sweating (6%), diarrhea (5%), constipation (10%), dizziness (7%), somnolence (2%), and decreased appetite (5%). Moreover, both of these drugs may cause decreased libido but Bupropion causes lesser sexual dysfunction compared to Zoloft. When it comes to their differences in terms of side effects, a patient using Bupropion may experience altered weight (Bupropion weight gain or loss) while a patient using Zoloft may not experience this. On the other hand, a patient using Zoloft may experience dyspepsia while a patient using Bupropion may not experience this.

In terms of Zoloft vs Wellbutrin efficacy, according to the Doctors from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, both Zoloft and Bupropion are said to have the same efficacy. For patients and doctors considering Zoloft as an alternative, the focus should be on the side effects, considering if the patient can tolerate the known adverse reactions.

Lexapro vs Wellbutrin

In Lexapro vs Wellbutrin comparison, the former belongs to the drug class SSRIs while the latter belongs to the drug class NDRIs. Both of these drugs’ common primary use is antidepressants. Additionally, Bupropion is also used to help patients quit smoking while Lexapro is useful for the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Furthermore, in Lexapro vs Wellbutrin mechanism of action comparison, the former works by increasing the dopamine levels in the brain while the latter inhibits the recycling of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, just like the principle behind Bupropion and Zoloft comparison.

DRUG BRAND NAME WELLBUTRIN LEXAPRO
GENERIC NAME Bupropion Escitalopram
DRUG CLASS Norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor Selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitor
AVAILABILITY OF GENERIC VERSIONS Yes Yes
APPROVED AGE OF USE Can be used by patients 18 years old above. In some cases, a doctor may prescribe this drug to a patient below 18 years old, depending on the patient’s health condition Can be used by patients 8 years old and above
TREATMENT LENGTH Up to 12 weeks 8 weeks to 1 year
PRESCRIPTION FORMS

STANDARD DOSAGE

Comes in sustained-release and extended-release tablets.

The standard dosage is 150 mg per day. However,  depending on the treatment, only a doctor can tell the right dose needed for a patient.

Comes in tablet and oral solution.

The standard dosage is 10 mg once a day. However, depending on the treatment, only a doctor can tell the right dose needed for a patient.

RISK OF WITHDRAWAL OR OVERDOSE Yes Yes

Comparing Lexapro vs Wellbutrin side effects, the common ones include nausea (13% prevalence rate), dry mouth (17%), sweating (6%), diarrhea (5%), constipation (10%), agitation (3%), restlessness, insomnia, and tremors. When it comes to their differences in terms of side effects, Lexapro causes sexual dysfunction and that condition is rare when it comes to Bupropion. On the other hand, Bupropion may cause hair loss and that is less common when it comes to Lexapro.

In terms of efficacy, both are said to be effective for the treatment of depression. However, according to the Doctors from UCLA, for patients with attentional dysfunction symptoms such as anxiety and low-self esteem, Bupropion works better.

Zyban vs Wellbutrin

In this comparison, both Zyban vs Wellbutrin are under the generic name Bupropion. This means that they both belong to the drug class NDRIs and they work by inhibiting the recycling of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine. When these neurotransmitters get recycled, this may actually lead to depression. Both Zyban vs Wellbutrin are used for the treatment of major depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and used as an aid for those who want to quit smoking.

Aside from Bupropion sexual side effects, both of these drugs come with the following side effects:

  • Tachycardia
  • Rhinitis
  • Pharyngitis
  • Insomnia
  • Headache
  • Agitation
  • Dizziness
  • Weight loss
  • Tremors

For those who are wondering which of the two is more effective, it is safe to say that both drugs are equally effective for the treatment of digestion. However, if the purpose of the treatment is for smoking cessation, Zyban is highly recommended over Bupropion.

Zyban vs Wellbutrin.

Wellbutrin vs Paxil

In Wellbutrin vs Paxil comparison, the former is an NRDI while the latter is an SSRI. Although they both belong to different drug classifications, their use is the same: antidepressants. If there is a low level of serotonin, this could lead to depression. With this, SSRIs work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain to counteract this condition. In terms of uses, Paxil is also effective for the treatment of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

In terms of side effects, Wellbutrin vs Paxil has the following common side effects: headache, dizziness, insomnia, nausea, constipation, dry mouth, and ringing in the ears. Moreover, patients using Paxil may experience decreased sex drive and impotence while patients using Bupropion may experience seizures and tremors.

In terms of efficacy, both are equally effective for anxiety and depression. However, Doctors from Washington prefer Bupropion over Paxil as the former comes with tolerable side effects and is safer especially for the elderly.

Wellbutrin vs Prozac

Bupropion is an NDRI while Prozac is an SSRI. Although these two come from different drug classifications, they are both used for the treatment of depression. An NDRI works by inhibiting the recycling of the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine while an SSRI works by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain to avoid depression. Moreover, Prozac is also used for mental health conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorders.

In Wellbutrin vs Prozac side effects, the common ones include nausea, indigestion, dry mouth, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, somnolence, and rashes. However, patients using Bupropion may experience dystonia or muscle pain while patients using Prozac may experience decreased libido.

In terms of Wellbutrin vs Prozac efficacy, according to doctors from the United Kingdom, Bupropion is more effective in treating depression compared to Fluoxetine. In this study, the signs and symptoms of depressed patients who are using Bupropion significantly reduced compared to those who used Prozac.

Chantix vs Wellbutrin

In Chantix vs Wellbutrin comparison, the former belongs to the drug class smoking cessation aids while the latter belongs to the NDRIs. Although the latter is an NDRI, one of its uses is also a smoking cessation aid. Moreover, Chantix, under the generic name Varenicline, works by blocking the ability of the nicotine being smoked by the patient. Nicotine activates the receptor alpha-4 beta-2 nicotinic receptor. However, when nicotine is blocked, the user will have a lesser urge to smoke again.

In terms of side effects, the common ones include headache, dry mouth, nausea, insomnia, constipation, and dizziness. In their differences, patients using Chantix may experience having abnormal or vivid dreams while patients using Bupropion may only experience sweating.

In terms of Chantix vs Wellbutrin efficacy, both drugs are said to be effective in helping patients quit smoking. However, according to a respiratory doctor from the University of Nottingham, Bupropion is found to be a better choice compared to Chantix as this drug provides long-term abstinence. In the same study, 19% of the smokers had complete abstinence from smoking.

Wellbutrin vs Adderall

In Wellbutrin vs Adderall comparison, the former is an NDRI while the latter belongs to the drug class called stimulants. Although these two drugs come from different drug classes, both of them work by increasing the levels of neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. In terms of uses, Adderall can be used as an antidepressant although this is just an off-label use. Other uses of Adderall are for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and narcolepsy. On the other hand, Bupropion has an off-label use for ADHD.

In terms of side effects, these two drugs almost have the same side effects and these include dizziness, constipation, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, excessive sweating, headache, agitation, tremors, insomnia, and blurred vision. Moreover, in Wellbutrin vs Adderall comparison, both are associated with withdrawal. Adderall and Wellbutrin withdrawal signs are dangerous and this is why self-medication is never advised.

So, which one is a better choice? If the patient has no history of substance abuse, Adderall is more preferred, especially if the patient has other mental health conditions such as ADHD. Importantly, take note that the best medication for a patient’s condition can only be determined by a medical doctor.

Wellbutrin vs Adderall.

Consult Your Doctor Before Switching To Alternatives

Indeed, there are many alternatives to Bupropion when it comes to treating depression, quitting smoking, and other health conditions such as ADHD. However, although these alternatives are available, it is always important to seek medical professional help before switching from Bupropion to another medicine, as riskful Bupropion drug interactions must be avoided. In this context, patients should also always keep in mind how long Bupropion stays in the system to avoid overdose.

Since there is a possibility of Bupropion abuse and addiction, admission to a substance abuse rehab facility is an essential step towards the abruption of the addiction cycle. A variety of specialized treatment programs are designed to suit patient’s needs, and allow both in-patient and outpatient treatment. Patients will start the treatment with detox, followed by a series of therapy sessions (CBT, DBT, Motivational Enhancement, etc.).

Hope Without Commitment

Find the best treatment options. Call our free and confidential helpline

Most private insurances accepted

Marketing fee may apply

Page Sources

  1. Baldwin, D. S., Huusom, A. K. T., & Mæhlum, E. (2006). Escitalopram and paroxetine in the treatment of generalised anxiety disorder: randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind study. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 189(3), 264-272.
  2. Demyttenaere, K., & Jaspers, L. (2008). Bupropion and SSRI-induced side effects. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 22(7), 792-804.
  3. Fava, M., Rush, A. J., Thase, M. E., Clayton, A., Stahl, S. M., Pradko, J. F., & Johnston, J. A. (2005). 15 years of clinical experience with bupropion HCl: from bupropion to bupropion SR to bupropion XL. Primary care companion to the Journal of clinical psychiatry, 7(3), 106.
  4. Kučukalić, A., Bravo-Mehmedbašić, A., & Džubur-Kulenović, A. (2008). Paroxetine in the treatment of post traumatic stress disorder: Our experiences. Bosnian journal of basic medical sciences, 8(1), 76.
  5. Leuchter, A. F., Lesser, I. M., Trivedi, M. H., Rush, A. J., Morris, D. W., Warden, D., ... & Stewart, J. W. (2008). An open pilot study of the combination of escitalopram and bupropion-SR for outpatients with major depressive disorder. Journal of psychiatric practice, 14(5), 271.
  6. Miller, L., & Griffith, J. (1983). A comparison of bupropion, dextroamphetamine, and placebo in mixed-substance abusers. Psychopharmacology, 80(3), 199-205.
  7. Montejo, A. L., Prieto, N., de Alarcón, R., Casado-Espada, N., de la Iglesia, J., & Montejo, L. (2019). Management strategies for antidepressant-related sexual dysfunction: a clinical approach. Journal of clinical medicine, 8(10), 1640.
  8. Patel, K., Allen, S., Haque, M. N., Angelescu, I., Baumeister, D., & Tracy, D. K. (2016). Bupropion: a systematic review and meta-analysis of effectiveness as an antidepressant. Therapeutic advances in psychopharmacology, 6(2), 99-144.
  9. Reddihough, D. S., Marraffa, C., Mouti, A., O’Sullivan, M., Lee, K. J., Orsini, F., ... & Kohn, M. (2019). Effect of fluoxetine on obsessive-compulsive behaviors in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders: a randomized clinical trial. Jama, 322(16), 1561-1569.
  10. Reimherr, F. W., Hedges, D. W., Strong, R. E., Marchant, B. K., & Williams, E. D. (2005). Bupropion SR in adults with ADHD: a short-term, placebo-controlled trial. Neuropsychiatric Disease And Treatment, 1(3), 245.
  11. Roddy, E. (2004). Bupropion and other non-nicotine pharmacotherapies. Bmj, 328(7438), 509-511.
  12. Savage, R. L., Zekarias, A., & Caduff-Janosa, P. (2015). Varenicline and abnormal sleep related events. Sleep, 38(5), 833-837.
  13. Trivedi, M. H., Rush, A. J., Carmody, T. J., Donahue, R. M., Bolden-Watson, C., Houser, T. L., & Metz, A. (2001). Do bupropion SR and sertraline differ in their effects on anxiety in depressed patients?. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 62(10), 776-781.
  14. Weihs, K. L., Settle, E. C., Batey, S. R., Houser, T. L., & Ascher, J. A. (2000). Bupropion sustained release versus paroxetine for the treatment of depression in the elderly. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 61(3), 0-0.
  15. Wilkes, S. (2008). The use of bupropion SR in cigarette smoking cessation. International journal of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 3(1), 45.
  16. Yuan, S., & Deban, C. E. (2021). SSRI-Induced Hypersexuality. American Journal of Psychiatry Residents' Journal, 16(3), 9-12.

Published on: November 26th, 2021

Updated on: November 26th, 2021

About Author

Dr. Ahmed Zayed

Dr. Ahmed Zayed is a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery. He is graduated from the University of Alexandria, Egypt. Dr. Ahmed Zayed has a passion for writing medical and health care articles and focuses on providing engaging and trustworthy information to readers.

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.