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Does Wellbutrin Cause Weight Loss or Gain?

Bupropion treatment
Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


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The medications listed on this website are provided for informational purposes only. Their inclusion does not guarantee that they will be prescribed to any individual, as treatment decisions are ultimately at the discretion of healthcare providers. This list is not exhaustive, and healthcare providers may prescribe other medications, including non-stimulant options, based on the patient’s unique health circumstances and needs. Read more

One aspect that often raises concerns regarding medications is their potential impact on body weight. For individuals considering or currently taking an antidepressant medication Wellbutrin (bupropion), questions surrounding its effect on weight can be perplexing.

The relationship between Wellbutrin and weight has been a topic of interest for a long time. Both patients and healthcare professionals seek to understand the medication’s effects on physical well-being. So, does Wellbutrin cause weight gain or loss? This article aims to shed light on the effects of Wellbutrin on body weight, considering scientific studies.

It is important to note that the information presented here is intended for educational purposes only and should not substitute professional medical advice.

Consult with a healthcare provider for personalized depression treatment tailored to your specific circumstances.

What Is Wellbutrin (Bupropion)?

Wellbutrin, also known by its generic name bupropion [1*] , is an atypical antidepressant medication. It belongs to the class of drugs known as norepinephrine dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRI).

Wellbutrin affects the balance of certain chemicals in the brain, particularly norepinephrine and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters involved in mood regulation. It is believed that by increasing the levels of these neurotransmitters, Wellbutrin helps to alleviate depressive symptoms.

There are numerous other brand names and generic versions of bupropion available, including:

  • Wellbutrin SR
  • Wellbutrin XL
  • Aplenzin
  • Forfivo XL

Difference Between Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL

Wellbutrin SR (sustained-release) and Wellbutrin XL (extended-release) are different formulations of the medication bupropion. They differ in terms of their approved indications, release mechanisms, dosing schedules, and some other aspects. Here is a breakdown of the main differences.


Wellbutrin SR

Wellbutrin XL

FDA-approved uses

Major depressive disorder

Major depressive disorder and prevention of seasonal affective disorder

Release duration

This formulation is designed to slowly release bupropion into the bloodstream over a longer period, usually 12 hours.

This formulation utilizes an extended-release mechanism that allows for a slower and constant release of bupropion over approximately 24 hours.

Dosage strengths

100 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg

150 mg and 300 mg

Dosage frequency

It is typically taken twice daily, with a gap of minimum 8 hours between doses.

It is typically taken once daily. When it comes to medication adherence in certain patients, it may be preferred by doctors due to once-daily dosing.

What Are the Uses of Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin is FDA-approved and commonly prescribed to manage major depressive disorder (MDD [2*] ) and seasonal affective disorder (SAD [3*] ), a unique type of depression usually occurring during certain seasons, more often in the fall and winter. Bupropion is also prescribed as a smoking cessation [4*] aid. It can help reduce nicotine cravings and withdrawal symptoms, making it easier for individuals to quit smoking.

Wellbutrin is also prescribed off-label for other conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obesity, bipolar disorder associated with depression, and sexual dysfunction caused by antidepressants.

It’s important to note that Wellbutrin may take several weeks to reach its full effectiveness for mental illness, and it should be taken exactly as prescribed by a healthcare provider. Dosage and treatment duration vary depending on the individual and their specific condition.

Antidepressant medication

How Does Wellbutrin Affect Weight?

When it comes to body weight, the effects of Wellbutrin vary from person to person. Unlike some other antidepressants, Wellbutrin is generally considered weight-neutral or may result in slight weight loss in most individuals. However, some people may experience weight gain while taking Wellbutrin due to various reasons.

Wellbutrin and Weight Gain

Wellbutrin (bupropion) is generally considered to have a lower risk of causing weight gain compared to many other antidepressant medications. However, it’s important to note that individual responses can vary, and some people may still experience weight gain [5*] while taking Wellbutrin.

Weight gain as a side effect of Wellbutrin is relatively uncommon. It tends to occur less frequently and to a lesser extent than such an effect of other antidepressants [6*] , more commonly associated with weight gains, such as certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like paroxetine (Paxil), and tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) such as imipramine (Tofranil), and nortriptyline (Pamelor).

Consult a medical professional to determine the best treatment for you.

Wellbutrin and Weight Loss

Some individuals may experience significant weight loss or decreased appetite while taking Wellbutrin which is more prevalent than the opposite effect. The exact mechanism by which Wellbutrin may contribute to weight loss is not fully understood. However, a few potential factors could be involved:

  1. Appetite suppression. Wellbutrin may affect the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine and norepinephrine, which can cause loss of appetite in some individuals. This can lead to decreased food intake and potentially result in weight loss.
  2. Increased energy expenditure. Wellbutrin may increase metabolic rate or energy expenditure in some people. This can cause a slight boost in calorie burning and potentially contribute to weight loss.
  3. Smoking cessation. Wellbutrin is also prescribed for smoking cessation, and quitting smoking may lead to weight loss. If Wellbutrin is being used for smoking cessation, any weight loss can be a result of quitting smoking rather than a direct effect of the medication on weight itself.

It’s important to remember that not everyone using Wellbutrin will lose weight, and its effects can differ from person to person. Additionally, any weight reduction linked to Wellbutrin is often slow and gradual. If the possibility of losing weight disturbs you, consult your healthcare provider to know how to manage this effect or choose another treatment option.

Do Other Antidepressants Cause Weight Gain?

Weight gain is a potential side effect associated with antidepressant medications. However, not all antidepressants cause weight gain, and the extent varies. The relationship between antidepressants and weight changes is complex and can be influenced by several factors, including the specific medication, the individual’s metabolism, lifestyle, and underlying medical conditions.

Certain classes of antidepressants are more commonly associated with weight gain than others. For example, tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), such as amitriptyline and nortriptyline, have a higher likelihood of causing weight gain [7*] . Similarly, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), such as phenelzine and tranylcypromine, can also lead to weight gain [8*] .

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), and escitalopram (Lexapro), are generally considered to have a lower risk of causing weight gain. However, weight changes can still occur with SSRIs [9*] , and some individuals may experience weight gain while taking these medications.

Other antidepressants, such as serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs [10*] ) like venlafaxine (Effexor) and duloxetine (Cymbalta), have been associated with both weight gain and weight loss, and the effect can vary among individuals.

What Are the Side Effects of Wellbutrin?​

Like other prescription medications, bupropion can cause side effects. It’s important to note that not everyone experiences side effects, and their severity and occurrence can vary from person to person. Below, we provide information on potential side effects associated with bupropion, but it is always best to consult with a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Common side effects:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia (difficulty sleeping) or changes in sleep patterns
  • Increased sweating
  • Constipation
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Blurred vision

Less common side effects:

  • Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
  • Muscle or joint aches
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Sexual dysfunction

Rare but serious side effects (should be reported to a healthcare professional immediately):

  • Allergic reactions can present with various symptoms, including rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, or difficulty breathing.
  • Mood or behavior changes, including major depression, anxiety, agitation, hostility, or suicidal thoughts.
  • Seizures (although the risk is generally low, it may increase at higher doses).

Consult with MEDvidi health experts to get a personalized treatment plan.

Antidepressants and weight changes

In a Nutshell

While weight changes can occur with any medication, bupropion isn’t associated with the same risk of changes in body mass as other medications for depression. However, it is essential to recognize that individual responses to medication can vary. Some people may experience weight gain while taking Wellbutrin, although this is generally less common. Factors such as personal metabolism, lifestyle, and underlying medical conditions can influence how the medication affects an individual’s weight.

If weight gain or loss is a concern, it is important to discuss it with a healthcare provider. They can offer personalized advice based on an individual’s specific circumstances and help navigate the potential benefits and side effects of Wellbutrin on body mass index or choose alternative treatment options.

Frequently Asked Questions

Weight changes as a result of taking Wellbutrin are generally modest. A systematic review [11*] has reported that a small percentage of individuals taking Wellbutrin may experience weight loss, and a small percentage may experience weight gain. The exact amount of weight gain or loss can vary from person to person, and it is challenging to predict the specific impact on an individual.

Wellbutrin (bupropion) is thought to have a minor effect on metabolism [12*] , which may contribute to its weight-neutral or even weight-reducing properties in some individuals. However, the impact on metabolism is generally considered modest, and the exact mechanism by which Wellbutrin affects weight is not fully understood.

Bupropion, the active ingredient in Wellbutrin, affects certain neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly dopamine and norepinephrine. It is believed that these effects on neurotransmitters may influence appetite and energy balance, potentially leading to weight changes.

While Wellbutrin may slightly increase metabolism in some individuals, it is important to note that the overall impact on weight is likely to be modest. Other factors, such as individual metabolism, lifestyle, diet, and exercise habits, also significantly influence weight management.

Weight management is a complex process influenced by various factors, including a balanced diet, exercise, metabolism, genetics, and individual differences. Suppose you are finding it challenging to lose weight while taking bupropion or have concerns about its impact on your weight. In that case, it is important to discuss your specific situation with your prescribing healthcare provider. They can provide personalized advice and guidance based on your needs and may suggest appropriate strategies or adjustments to your treatment plan.

Wellbutrin is not a weight loss drug. The rate of weight loss on Wellbutrin (bupropion) can vary significantly among individuals. Weight changes are generally modest and can be influenced by various factors, such as diet, exercise, metabolism, and individual differences.


12 sources
  1. Bupropion. (2023)
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  2. Spotlight on bupropion in major depressive disorder. (2008)
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  3. Bupropion for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder. (2013)
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  4. The use of bupropion SR in cigarette smoking cessation. (2008)
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  5. Bupropion-Related Weight Gain in a Fresh Depression Patient. (2014)
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  6. Weight gain and antidepressants. (2000)
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  7. Weight gain. A side-effect of tricyclic antidepressants. (1984)
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  8. Monoamine oxidase inhibitors and weight gain. (1988)
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  9. A comparative review of escitalopram, paroxetine, and sertraline: are they all alike? (2014)
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  10. Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor. (2015)
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  11. 15 Years of Clinical Experience With Bupropion HCl: From Bupropion to Bupropion SR to Bupropion XL. (2005)
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  12. Brain energy metabolism is increased by chronic administration of bupropion. (2012)
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Written by:

Rabia Khaliq

MSc in Applied Psychology


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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.