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Wellbutrin weight loss: Can prescription bupropion help you lose weight?

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If you’ve heard of bupropion (brand name WellbutrinTM) then your brain is probably wrangling with how Wellbutrin for weight loss could possibly work. So let’s get to it.  

Unlike antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)—which work by upping serotonin levels in the brain—WellbutrinTM is part of a different drug class called norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs). They are used to treat multiple conditions like smoking cessation, binge eating, and depression. 

NDRIs work similarly to SSRIs in that they block the reuptake of chemical messengers, but instead of serotonin, they inhibit norepinephrine and dopamine. Sometimes, these two important chemical messengers can malfunction and cause mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Wellbutrin may increase norepinephrine and dopamine and help with depressive episodes (along with the other conditions we mentioned).

In addition to easing depressive symptoms, studies have also found that in some people, Wellbutrin weight loss can occur when combined with naltrexone, a drug that has been shown to curb cravings in addiction recovery. 

Wellbutrin weight loss: is it true?

Do a Google search on antidepressants, and you often see weight gain—not loss—as a potential side effect. (Cue the added anxiety.)  One study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine found that sertraline (sold under the brand name Zoloft) showed the most weight gain, with participants putting on an average of almost 6 pounds after two years. However, the same study reported that, “bupropion is the only antidepressant associated with long-term weight loss.” In addition, it recommended that bupropion should be the first-line choice of medication for those with overweight or obesity.

Other research has found that Wellbutrin is not only less likely to cause weight gain compared to other antidepressants, but there may also be bupropion weight loss when taken over  time. In fact, it’s been shown to steadily decrease weight in those with overweight and obesity.

In a clinical study, women with obesity taking Wellbutrin lost almost 5% of their body weight after 8 weeks compared to just over 1% of those given a placebo. And those who continued taking Wellbutrin for weight loss for 24 weeks or more experienced continued progress—leading to a loss of nearly 13% of body weight, on average—as long as participants were diligent about taking their meds. So yes, bupropion weight loss can be real for certain obese adults.

How does bupropion weight loss happen?

Dopamine and norepinephrine both play a role in satiety. For many people with overweight or obesity, Wellbutrin can increase levels of these chemicals and help reduce cravings and overall food intake. It may also reduce body fat by increasing energy levels, so you’re more apt to want to exercise (hint hint: getting stronger and better at your freestyle swim stroke). 

In a systemic review of bupropion as an antidepressant published in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology , a review of six studies found significant weight loss during bupropion treatment, including two long-term follow-up studies.  Worth noting: The studies were double-blind (the gold standard in research), meaning that neither the participants nor researchers knew if the actual drug or a placebo was given.

Wellbutrin SR and XL: what’s the difference?

With all the names bupropion goes by like Wellbutrin, Zyban, Alplenzin and Forfivo XL, it’s easy to get confused about how they vary and why. Wellbutrin and the others are brand names. There’s also Wellbutrin SR and XL—they both contain bupropion—the main active ingredient—but each has a different absorption rate in the body. Wellbutrin XL is an extended-release pill that releases more slowly than Wellbutrin SR.

Your Found healthcare provider will decide which is best for you and talk to you about when to take Wellbutrin for weight loss and how often. (There are also generic versions of both of these medications.)

How long does it take Wellbutrin to work for weight loss?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI), your sleep, energy, and appetite can show some improvement within the first couple of weeks. But, they also note that it may take 6 to 8 weeks to relieve depression and anxiety. (This is a general timeframe, so be sure to work with your Found provider.) 

How long you may need to take the Wellbutrin for weight loss is also up to your Found physician. But it’s most often prescribed for an extended period for sustainable weight care. And there are no known problems with taking bupropion long-term—as long as you’re taking it as directed. 

However, you may wonder why Wellbutrin weight loss occurs and if it will work in your body, specifically. 

Are there other Wellbutrin side effects besides weight loss? 

Like other meds, it’s important to fully understand what you’re taking and what risks may be involved. One great thing about Wellbutrin for weight loss is that it doesn’t have many of the not-so-amazing side effects.

Studies report that SSRIs can cause sexual dysfunction—including erectile dysfunction in men and dry, painful sex, or the inability to climax in women. But bupropion is generally well tolerated and it, “has very low rates of sexual dysfunction,” according to a review published in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology.

The few reported side effects of Wellbutrin include headache, dry mouth, trouble sleeping, nausea, dizziness, constipation, fast heartbeat, and sore throat. According to NAMI, these will often improve over the first week or two.

Wellbutrin is only one of many medications Found prescribes for weight loss. With medical advice often unclear, your Found healthcare provider will spend the time to discuss which is right for you. Wellbutrin for weight loss has been proven to be effective for long-term use.

In a 2012 study, researchers found bupropion SR enhanced weight loss among a study of 327 participants with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 or greater. During the randomized trial, either a placebo or a bupropion SR dose of 300 or 400 mg was given. Of the participants,  227 completed 24 weeks, and 192 completed 48 weeks. Those taking the bupropion SR for 24 weeks lost 7.2% more of their body weight compared to the placebo, and those taking the drug for 48 weeks lost 10.1% when compared to the placebo. 

The results from many studies suggest that Wellbutrin weight loss is a potential game-changer in managing overweight and obesity.  Found offers a science-backed weight care approach based on your unique biology, psychology, lifestyle, and prescription medication needs. On average, Found members lose 10% of their body weight by month six and can keep it off. In total, members have lost nearly 300,000 pounds. To start your journey with Found, take our quiz.

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