Wellbutrin XL Side Effects
Generic Name: bupropion
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Aug 26, 2020.
Note: This document contains side effect information about bupropion. Some of the dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Wellbutrin XL.
Common side effects of Wellbutrin XL include: dizziness, insomnia, nausea, pharyngitis, weight loss, and xerostomia. Other side effects include: abdominal pain, agitation, anxiety, arthralgia, chest pain, migraine, myalgia, palpitations, skin rash, tinnitus, tremor, urinary frequency, hypertension, anorexia, diaphoresis, dysgeusia, and flushing. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.
For the Consumer
Applies to bupropion: oral tablet, oral tablet extended release, oral tablet extended release 12 hr, oral tablet extended release 24 hr
Oral route (Tablet, Extended Release)
Suicidality and Antidepressant Drugs
Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term trials. These trials did not show an increase in the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior with antidepressant use in subjects aged 65 and older.In patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy, monitor closely for worsening, and for emergence of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Advise families and caregivers of the need for close observation and communication with the prescriber.
Oral route (Tablet; Tablet, Extended Release)
Suicidality and Antidepressant Drugs
Although Zyban® is not indicated for treatment of depression, it contains the same active ingredient as the antidepressant medications Wellbutrin®, Wellbutrin® SR, and Wellbutrin XL®. Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term trials. These trials did not show an increase in the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior with antidepressant use in subjects over age 24; there was a reduction in risk with antidepressant use in subjects aged 65 and older. In patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy, monitor closely for worsening, and for emergence of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Advise families and caregivers of the need for close observation and communication with the prescriber BuPROPion hydrochloride extended-release tablet is not approved for use in pediatric patients.
Side effects requiring immediate medical attention
Along with its needed effects, bupropion (the active ingredient contained in Wellbutrin XL) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking bupropion:
- dry mouth
- irregular heartbeats
- trouble sleeping
- false beliefs that cannot be changed by facts
- having extreme distrust of people
- seeing, hearing, or feeling things that are not there
- trouble concentrating
Incidence not known
- Actions that are out of control
- assaulting or attacking others
- being aggressive or impulsive
- chest pain or discomfort
- fast or pounding heartbeat
- inability to sit still
- need to keep moving
- talking, feeling, or acting with excitement
Get emergency help immediately if any of the following symptoms of overdose occur while taking bupropion:
Symptoms of overdose
- Lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting
- loss of consciousness
- slow or irregular heartbeat
- unusual tiredness
Side effects not requiring immediate medical attention
Some side effects of bupropion may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.
Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- decrease in appetite
- increased sweating
- stomach pain
- unusual weight loss
- Blurred vision
- change in sense of taste
- frequent need to urinate
- sore throat
- unusual feeling of well-being
For Healthcare Professionals
Applies to bupropion: oral tablet, oral tablet extended release
In placebo-controlled clinical studies, the specific adverse events that led to discontinuation in at least 1% of patients treated with either 300 mg or 400 mg per day of Wellbutrin SR (R)included rash, nausea, agitation, and migraine. Additional events leading to discontinuation in the immediate-release formulation included mental state abnormalities, vomiting, seizures, headaches, and sleep disturbances, many of which occurred at doses greater than the recommended daily dose.
Adverse events leading to treatment discontinuation with Zyban (R) included tremors, and rashes. The most commonly observed adverse reactions were dry mouth and insomnia. Smoking cessation is often associated with nicotine withdrawal symptoms, some of which are also recognized as adverse events associated with bupropion (the active ingredient contained in Wellbutrin XL) [Ref]
Very common (10% or more): Insomnia (up to 45%), agitation (up to 31.9%), abnormal dreams (up to 13%)
Common (1% to 10%): Anxiety, confusion, decreased/increased libido, decreased memory/memory impairment, delusions, depression, disturbed concentration, dysphoria, euphoria, hallucinations, hostility, impaired sleep quality, irritability, mania/hypomania, nervousness, thinking abnormality
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Aggression, bruxism, depersonalization, emotional lability, formal thought disorder, frigidity, mood instability, nightmares, paranoia, paranoid ideation, psychosis, suicidal ideation
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Derealization, impaired attention
Frequency not reported: Abnormalities in mental status, post-ictal confusion, sleep disturbances
Postmarketing reports: Completed suicide, delirium, manic reaction, restlessness, suicidal behavior, suicide attempt[Ref]
The Australian Adverse Drug Reaction Advisory Committee reported that 285 of the 780 reports it received in association with bupropion through mid-May 2001 involved psychological disturbances.
Two cases of tactile hallucinations ("bugs crawling over skin") have been reported in association with bupropion extended-release (200 mg twice daily) therapy. In both cases the symptoms abated following a reduction in the total daily dose of bupropion (300 mg daily).
Insomnia may also be dose-dependent. In a dose response clinical study for smoking cessation, 29% of patients receiving bupropion 150 mg/day versus 35% of those receiving 300 mg/day reported insomnia. Insomnia may be minimized by reducing the dosage or avoiding administration at bedtime.[Ref]
The Australian Adverse Drug Reaction Advisory Committee reported that 268 of the 780 reports it received in association with bupropion (the active ingredient contained in Wellbutrin XL) through mid-May 2001 involved nervous system disorders.
Grand mal seizures have been reported in 0.4% of patients undergoing bupropion therapy at dosages up to 450 mg daily. The incidence of seizures increases dramatically at higher dosages. The seizure rate in patients taking sustained-release bupropion up to a dosage of 300 mg/day (e.g. for smoking cessation) has been approximated at 0.1%.
The risk of seizure appears to be dose-related. Other risk factors are related to patient factors e.g., severe head injury, arteriovenous malformation, CNS tumor or CNS infection, or severe stroke, concomitant medications that lower the seizure threshold (e.g., other bupropion products, antipsychotics, tricyclic antidepressants, theophylline, and systemic corticosteroids), metabolic disorders, illicit drug use, abuse or misuse of prescription drugs such as CNS stimulants, diabetes mellitus treated with oral hypoglycemics or insulin, treatment with anorectic drugs, and excessive use of alcohol, benzodiazepines, sedative/hypnotics, or opiates.
Two cases of elderly patients falling backwards have been attributed to the effects of bupropion on the basal ganglia.[Ref]
Very common (10% or more): Headache (up to 34%), migraine (up to 25.7%), dizziness (up to 22.3%), tremor (up to 21.1%), sedation (up to 19.8%)
Common (1% to 10%): Akathisia, ataxia/incoordination, central nervous system stimulation, dyskinesia, dystonia, feeling jittery, myoclonus, paresthesia, seizure, sensory disturbance, somnolence, syncope, taste disturbance, taste perversion
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Abnormal coordination, dysarthria, hypesthesia, hyperkinesia, hypertonia, vertigo
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Abnormal electroencephalogram, amnesia, parkinsonism
Frequency not reported: Generalized tonic-clonic seizures
Very common (10% or more): Weight loss greater than 2.3 kg (up to 28%), weight gain greater than 2.3 kg (up to 11%)
Common (1% to 10%): Anorexia, decreased appetite, increased appetite, thirst/thirst disturbance
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Blood glucose disturbances
Very rare (less than 0.01%): Hyponatremia
Very common (10% or more): Dry mouth (up to 27.6%), constipation (up to 26%), nausea (up to 22.9%), vomiting (up to 22.9%)
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Edema of the tongue, intestinal perforation
Frequency not reported: Esophagitis
The Australian Adverse Drug Reaction Advisory Committee reported that 307 of the 780 reports it received in association with bupropion (the active ingredient contained in Wellbutrin XL) through mid- May 2001 involved skin reactions. Urticaria was the most commonly reported event (167 cases). Other rashes (86 cases) were also reported.[Ref]
Very Common (10% or more): Excessive sweating (up to 22.3%)
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Alopecia, ecchymosis, photosensitivity
Frequency not reported: Skin reactions
Very common (10% or more): Application site reaction (up to 15%)[Ref]
Very common (10% or more): Blurred vision (up to 14.6%)
Common (1% to 10%): Diplopia, visual disturbance
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Accommodation abnormality, dry eye, mydriasis
Very common (10% or more): Nasopharyngitis (up to 13%), rhinitis (up to 12%), pharyngitis (up to 11%)
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Bronchospasm, pulmonary embolism
In clinical practice, hypertension, in some cases severe, requiring acute treatment, has been reported in patients receiving bupropion (the active ingredient contained in Wellbutrin XL) alone and in combination with nicotine replacement therapy. These events have been observed in both patients with and without evidence of preexisting hypertension.
Very Common (10% or more): Tachycardia (up to 11%)
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Electrocardiogram abnormalities, nonspecific ST-T changes, peripheral edema, postural hypotension, premature beats, stroke, vasodilation
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Myocardial infarction
Common (1% to 10%): Accidental injury, asthenia, auditory disturbance, chills, cutaneous temperature disturbance, fever, nonspecific fever, pain, temperature disturbance, tinnitus
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Inguinal hernia, nonspecific pain
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Malaise, overdose
Postmarketing reports: Deafness[Ref]
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Painful erection, polyuria, prostate disorder, retarded ejaculation, testicular swelling, vaginal irritation
One study in which 150 patients received the sustained released form of bupropion reported the incidence of orgasm dysfunction at 8% in patients receiving a 300 mg daily dose and 10% in patients receiving a 400 mg daily dose.
Among antidepressants, bupropion may be associated with the lowest incidence of sexual dysfunction (i.e., impotence, abnormal ejaculation, changes in libido).[Ref]
Common (1% to 10%): Arthralgia, arthritis, myalgia, neck pain, pain in extremity, twitch/twitching
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Leg cramps
Postmarketing reports: Muscle rigidity, muscle weakness, musculoskeletal chest pain, rhabdomyolysis[Ref]
Common (1% to 10%): Allergic reaction, hypersensitivity reactions
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Fever with rash and other symptoms suggestive of delayed hypersensitivity
Common (1% to 10%): Flu-like symptoms, infection
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Serum sickness-like reaction[Ref]
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Abnormal liver function, jaundice, liver damage
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Gynecomastia
Frequency not reported: Syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone[Ref]
Rare (0.01% to 0.1%): Glycosuria
Frequency not reported: Anemia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia
1. "Product Information. Wellbutrin XL (buPROPion)." GlaxoSmithKline, Philadelphia, PA.
2. "Product Information. Wellbutrin SR (bupropion)." Glaxo Wellcome, Research Triangle Park, NC.
3. "Product Information. Zyban (bupropion)." Glaxo Wellcome, Research Triangle Park, NC.
4. "Product Information. Aplenzin (buPROPion)." sanofi-aventis , Bridgewater, NJ.
5. Cerner Multum, Inc. "UK Summary of Product Characteristics." O 0
6. "Product Information. Wellbutrin (bupropion)." Glaxo Wellcome, Research Triangle Park, NC.
7. Cerner Multum, Inc. "Australian Product Information." O 0
Frequently asked questions
- Does Wellbutrin XL/SR cause weight gain or loss?
- How long does it take for Wellbutrin XL and SR to work?
- What's the difference between Wellbutrin XL and SR?
- Does naltrexone cause weight gain?
More about Wellbutrin XL (bupropion)
- During Pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Dosage Information
- Drug Images
- Drug Interactions
- Compare Alternatives
- Support Group
- Pricing & Coupons
- En Español
- 373 Reviews
- Generic Availability
- Drug class: miscellaneous antidepressants
- FDA Alerts (5)
Related treatment guides
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.