3 Truths and 3 Myths of Wellbutrin Weight Loss

Last Updated: June 20, 2024

David Levin Reviewed by David Levin
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Weight loss has been a topic of interest for centuries. From herbs, fruits and smoothies to several marketed “miracle diets,” people have tried everything to lose some pounds. Losing weight isn’t solely about looking better but is also an indicator of general health.

This journey can be challenging, particularly for individuals with underlying conditions that hinder their ability to lose weight effectively. To provide a viable option for this challenge, healthcare professionals have explored multiple options, including Wellbutrin (Bupropion).

Clinical trials have shown how obese adults under doses of 300 and 400 mg/day of Bupropion SR experienced weight losses of 7.2% and 10.1% over 24 weeks, with sustained weight loss at 48 weeks.

Read on to learn if Wellbutrin is an option for your weight loss efforts, as well as its effectiveness and medical considerations to keep in mind.

Wellbutrin Weight Loss – How Does it Work?

Calling obesity an “epidemic” may seem exaggerated. However, the numbers say otherwise. According to 2017–2018 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), nearly one-third of American adults (30.7%) are overweight, while over two-fifths (42.4%) are obese and approximately one in eleven (9.2%) have severe obesity.

For obese adults, the hunger signaling system can be dysregulated, leading to disruptions in appetite regulation and energy balance. Here’s how hunger signals may be affected in obese people:

  • Despite high leptin levels, obesity can reduce sensitivity to satiety signals, increasing appetite.
  • Obesity may decrease ghrelin (hormone regulating appetite), causing constant hunger.
  • Obesity can reduce sensitivity to food rewards, stimulating overeating to feel gratification.
  • Higher insulin levels in obesity can disrupt appetite regulation.
  • Chronic inflammation in obesity may impair hunger signaling and contribute to leptin resistance.

One of the potential bupropion side effects is weight loss. Wellbutrin can help stabilize these food reward pathways through its actions on neurotransmitters in the brain. Wellbutrin boosts dopamine and norepinephrine levels, suppressing appetite and increasing energy spending. Its antidepressant properties may also address mood issues that may lead to binge eating, overeating or seeking comfort food.

Yet, factors such as comorbidities, genetics, and daily habits may impact the individual’s responses to Wellbutrin outcomes for weight loss.

3 Truths and 3 Myths of Wellbutrin for Weight Loss

Wellbutrin is reported to help people to lose weight effectively. However, several misconceptions still surround this drug. Let’s clarify some of them:

3 Truths about Wellbutrin for Weight Loss

  1. Wellbutrin’s impact on brain neurotransmitters may lead to weight loss by suppressing appetite and boosting energy spending.
  2. Wellbutrin may work better for depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD) weight gain.
  3. Wellbutrin has side effects such as nausea, insomnia and increased heart rate. Abrupt discontinuation may lead to withdrawal symptoms.

3 Myths about Wellbutrin for Weight Loss

  1. Wellbutrin won’t cause weight loss for everyone; outcomes vary due to dosage, lifestyle, and overall health.
  2. Wellbutrin isn’t an individual solution for weight loss; weight management needs a balanced diet, exercise and habit changes.
  3. Wellbutrin isn’t a “miracle pill” for weight loss; success depends on individual discipline in the treatment.

Side Effects of Wellbutrin

As with any other medications, adverse effects have been reported for Bupropion, with many occurring in more than 10% of patients using Wellbutrin. These side effects include:

  • Tachycardia
  • Rhinitis, pharyngitis
  • Insomnia, headache, agitation, dizziness
  • Diaphoresis
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation, dry mouth, nausea
  • Tremor
  • Blurred vision

Severe adverse effects include a reduced seizure threshold and potential exacerbation of suicidal ideation. These severe side effects were encountered in higher doses of Bupropion. However, one of the main advantages of Bupropion is its lowest rate of sexual dysfunction as a side effect.

Do You Should Use Wellbutrin for Weight Loss?

Deciding whether to use Wellbutrin for weight loss requires more thought than you think, particularly as some may lose weight while others may not be so lucky.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before committing to Wellbutrin for weight loss:

  • Have I explored other weight loss strategies (i.e., dietary changes and exercise)?
  • Am I OK with the potential side effects of Wellbutrin?
  • Have I talked with a healthcare professional to know if Wellbutrin is a suitable option for me?
  • Have I considered the potential interactions of Wellbutrin with other medications?
  • Can I address any underlying psychological factors that may contribute to weight gain?
  • Am I being realistic about the expectations and limitations of using Wellbutrin for weight loss?

Final Considerations

Wellbutrin can assist with weight loss, but we recommend approaching this option with care and realistic expectations.

Lifestyle adjustments should be made for a more effective weight management plan, and healthcare professionals should always supervise Wellbutrin administration. Particularly since Wellbutrin is a prescription drug that comes with warnings about potential health risks, interactions with other medications and accidental overdoses. If you suspect an overdose or experience severe side effects, seek immediate medical assistance.

For a different approach to weight loss, there is also a drug called Ozempic, mostly used for diabetes but with effects on weight loss.

People Also Ask

How fast is weight loss on Wellbutrin?

Weight loss on Wellbutrin varies significantly among individuals. Some may experience rapid weight loss, while others may not see significant changes. A healthy diet and exercise regimen are still essential for successful weight management.

What is the downside of Wellbutrin?

Common downsides of Wellbutrin (bupropion) may include potential side effects such as insomnia, dry mouth, headache, and increased risk of seizures, especially at higher doses. It may also interact with other medications, and abrupt discontinuation can cause withdrawal symptoms.

Does Wellbutrin cause weight gain?

Wellbutrin (bupropion) is generally associated with weight loss rather than weight gain, which contrasts with other antidepressants that often lead to weight gain. However, individual responses to medications can vary, so while weight loss is more common, and Wellbutrin and weight gain are often not in the same sentence, some people may experience weight gain or no change in weight at all.

How does Wellbutrin cause weight loss?

Wellbutrin (bupropion) often leads to weight loss by suppressing appetite, increasing energy levels, and reducing cravings for food and nicotine. Its effects on neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine can also enhance mood and motivation, promoting healthier lifestyle choices. However, individual responses vary; some people may not experience weight loss.

Does Wellbutrin suppress your appetite?

Yes, Wellbutrin appetite suppression is a side effect in some individuals. This effect is one reason it’s sometimes prescribed for weight management. This effect varies among users and it’s not guaranteed for everyone. Always consult a healthcare professional before taking any medication.

Page Sources

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  2. Alberter, A. A., Chambers, A. J., & Wills, B. K. (2022, December 12). Bupropion toxicity. StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK580478/
  3. Office of the Commissioner. (2023, April 13). Understanding the regulatory terminology of potential preventative and therapeutic drugs for COVID-19. U.S. Food And Drug Administration. https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/understanding-regulatory-terminology-potential-preventative-and-therapeutic-drugs-covid-19
  4. Overweight & Obesity Statistics. (2023, June 8). National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-statistics/overweight-obesity
  5. Obradovic, M., Sudar-Milovanovic, E., Soskic, S., Essack, M., Arya, S., Stewart, A. J., Gojobori, T., & Isenovic, E. R. (2021). Leptin and Obesity: Role and Clinical Implication. Frontiers in Endocrinology, 12. https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2021.585887
  6. Tek, C. (2016). Naltrexone HCI/bupropion HCI for chronic weight management in obese adults: Patient selection and perspectives. Patient Preference and Adherence, 10, 751-759. https://doi.org/10.2147/PPA.S84778
  7. 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), 106-113. https://doi.org/10.4088/pcc.v07n0305
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Retrieved on March 21, 2024.

Published on: July 5th, 2019

Updated on: June 20th, 2024


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