Bupropion Withdrawal Timeline

Bupropion is an antidepressant medication that falls under the category of norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI). Also known by its brand name Wellbutrin, the prescription medication is FDA-approved for treating major depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder and smoking cessation. Because this type of medication affects the central nervous system, there is a risk for dependence and quitting can be one of the most difficult substances to stop using. Bupropion withdrawal can be intense and dangerous if not carefully implemented through a professional behavioral health detox program.

Antidepressants are one of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States. Bupropion is an aminoketone antidepressant that works by inhibiting the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine. These chemical hormones located in the brain help regulate various aspects of function including mood regulation, which is often linked to symptoms of depression. It is a much weaker type of NDRI (a second-generation NDRI) compared to others. The medication blocks the reuptake of dopamine while the reuptake of norepinephrine is much weaker and less powerful.

On a dark table, white tablets surround a purple tablet labeled bupropion represent what the bupropion withdrawal timeline might look like.

This popular medication has also been prescribed for off-label usage for the treatment of obesity, ADHD and depression associated with bipolar disorder. Only available via prescription medication, the therapeutic effects of bupropion occur after the second week of taking the medication. Improved sleep, energy and appetite can take effect within the first 1-2 weeks and improved depression and general interest may need up to 6-8 weeks to fully improve.

Can you experience Bupropion Withdrawal?

Like most antidepressants, there is a potential for dependence, although not as common. Most cases of bupropion abuse were reported among people who have a history of substance abuse or addiction. Studies have also shown that other types of substance abuse such as alcohol can interact with bupropion and result in dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

In general, antidepressants work by altering the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. After long-term usage of antidepressants, the brain chemicals become accustomed to having these chemicals at a certain level in the body. When there is an abrupt change or shift in these levels, it causes the body to go into chaos as it attempts to rebalance itself. This rebalance of the brain chemicals is what causes withdrawal symptoms.

Antidepressants are known for producing intense and severe withdrawal symptoms. This makes it one of the most difficult substances to quit. However, bupropion is a less potent antidepressant where withdrawal is less common and less intense. Bupropion or Wellbutrin, has a half-life of about 14-21 hours. It is considered a long-lasting medication often used for long-term management of depression.

Infographic depicting the pros and cons of bupropion use for substance use disorder.

Common Withdrawal Symptoms can include:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Agitation and irritability
  • Worsening depression – Harmful behaviors and suicidal ideation
  • Neuropsychiatric phenomena
  • Antidepressant discontinuation syndrome – Antidepressant medication withdrawal that appears quickly but also quickly subsides once the body is able to readjust. If left untreated, it could persist for 3 weeks.
  • Digestive issues – Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea
  • Central Nervous System issues – Headache, insomnia, vivid dreams, hallucinations, changes to perception or vision, numbness and crying spells
  • Balance and movement – Dizziness, vertigo, loss of balance, coordination issues and tremors
infographic illustrating various signs of bupropion withdrawal symptoms users face when misusing the substance.

The withdrawal timeline for Wellbutrin is generally shorter compared to other antidepressants with an average time frame of about one to two weeks. However, with more severe addictions, mental health withdrawal symptoms can last up to 4 weeks. This is due to its longer half-life and the longer duration of the medication that lingers in the system. It is recommended to use the tapering system instead of quitting cold turkey from bupropion. This is the safest method that produces less intense withdrawal symptoms.

Detoxing at a substance use disorder treatment program is often recommended when dealing with an addiction to antidepressants. Professional medical detox offers safety, accountability, 24-hour supervision and care, medication-assisted treatments and drug treatment referrals if needed.

Some recommended tips to help manage withdrawal symptoms include exercising and physical activity to stimulate the natural release of mood-enhancing neurochemicals. Meditation is encouraged to help with feelings of anxiety. Having a stable support system of friends and family can also be extremely helpful when recovering from substance dependence.

Check Your Insurance Coverage for FREE

Find out if your insurance covers addiction treatment in minutes. We accept most insurance!

Bupropion Withdrawal Timeline

  • 1-3 days – During this early period of detox, serious withdrawal symptoms can occur. Symptoms such as serious risk for seizures, intense flu-like symptoms, emotional disturbances and intense mood swings. Users may also feel a sense of disordered thinking during this phase.
  • First week – During the first week of detox, withdrawal symptoms such as fatigue, feelings of depression, mental confusion, body aches and mental fog can occur.
  • Second week – During the second week of detox the physical symptoms will slowly dissipate. However, symptoms such as sleep disturbances and reoccurring nightmares can still persist. Ongoing feelings of depression may also continue.
  • 3rd and 4th week – The depressive symptoms of withdrawal can continue if not being actively treated. During this period patients can also face intense cravings, which will tempt them to use to alleviate their depressive feelings.

The withdrawal timeline for Wellbutrin will vary for each patient. Factors that can affect detox and the severity of withdrawal symptoms include the duration of drug use, the dose of drug taken, history of drug abuse or addiction, the use of other substances, history of mental health conditions, drug metabolism, history of a medical condition and the method of substance ingestion.

Bupropion is used to treat Depression

Bupropion is usually prescribed as a part of long-term depression treatment. This is due to the drug’s slow-acting nature in which it could take a few weeks for patients to see improvements in symptoms and health. Depression is one of the leading mental health conditions that affects millions across the globe. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs mainly in the autumn and winter season or the time of year when there is fewer daylight hours.

Symptoms of SAD include depressed mood, feelings of worthlessness, loss of interest in activities once loved, sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, low energy and suicidal thoughts or ideation. Two types of SAD include Fall-onset and Spring-onset. Fall-onset is also known as winter depression and begins in late fall and early winter. Spring-onset is known as summer depression. It is a much less common disorder that begins in late spring and early summer. The most common treatments for SAD include exposure to sunlight, light therapy, behavioral therapy and prescription antidepressant medications.

Reach out to Hotel California by the Sea

We specialize in treating addiction and other co-occurring disorders, such as PTSD. Our Admissions specialists are available to walk you through the best options for treating your addiction.

Treatment for Bupropion Abuse and Co-occurring Mental Health Disorders

Antidepressant withdrawal symptoms are among the most dangerous and difficult to endure. Detoxing with a professional addiction rehab program can provide a safe and comfortable environment for those who are looking to become free of bupropion dependency. At Hotel California by the Sea, we provide medical detox for antidepressant addictions and co-occurring mental health conditions such as depression.

We provide all levels of care from detox, residential, PHP and IOP. Patients will also receive access to medication management, group therapy and individual counseling sessions. Specialized treatments such as CBT, EMDR therapy and family and marriage counseling help clients understand the root causes of their addiction and how to manage distressing situations.  Hotel California by the Sea provides the resources and tools clients need to overcome their addiction and treat their co-occurring mental health conditions.