How Long Does It Take for Wellbutrin to Work?

Treating an addiction to Wellbutrin usually involves therapy, medication, support groups, and lifestyle changes. Read more about the different treatment options for you or your loved ones struggling with Wellbutrin addiction.

How Long Does It Take for Wellbutrin to Work?

Bupropion, sold under brand names such as Wellbutrin, and Aplenzin, is an antidepressant medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat the major depressive disorder (MDD), seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and nicotine addiction. How long does Wellbutrin take to work? Sleep, energy, or appetite may improve within the first 1-2 weeks. Improving these physical symptoms can be an important early signal that the medication is working. Depressed mood and lack of interest in activities may need up to 6-8 weeks to fully improve. 

How long does it take for Wellbutrin to start working? When Bupropion is used as a smoking cessation aid, typically under Zyban, it can take several weeks to begin working. Most people are advised to set a target “quit date” and start bupropion while still smoking to give time for the medication to become effective. Depending on your symptoms, general health, and other factors, your healthcare provider may recommend taking bupropion for seven to twelve weeks after you stop smoking.

How Does Bupropion (Wellbutrin) Work?

Bupropion (Wellbutrin) is a class of medications referred to as aminoketones. It affects how the body produces neurotransmitters like norepinephrine and dopamine, which are crucial to our moods.   

Neurotransmitters are a type of chemical messenger used by your body. Their job is to transport signals between neurons. You can think of them as an internal messaging system for your body, delivering instructions between neurons and from neurons to other tissue. 

Norepinephrine is a neurotransmitter that keeps your body alert and ready to act. It helps to increase your heart rate, pump blood throughout your body, and keep you awake, alert, and able to focus and recall important information.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating learning, motivation, pleasure, sleep, mood, and various other essential functions. 

Wellbutrin for Depression

How long for Wellbutrin to work for depression? Individuals with depression may have low levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. By blocking your brain from reabsorbing dopamine and norepinephrine, aminoketone medications such as Bupropion can increase dopamine and norepinephrine levels and treat the symptoms of depression.

How long does it take for Wellbutrin to kick in? When used as a treatment for depression, Wellbutrin (bupropion) usually takes around six to eight weeks before it starts fully working as a treatment for depression. However, you may begin to experience improvements in your sleep habits, appetite and energy levels as early as one to two weeks of treatment.

How long does Wellbutrin take to work for anxiety may depend on several factors. Specific anxiety symptoms, such as those associated with depression or smoking cessation, may improve from Wellbutrin within one or two weeks of starting the prescription. However, full symptoms remission may not occur for up to eight weeks.

Wellbutrin for Smoking Cessation

How long does it take to stop smoking with Wellbutrin? Currently, medical experts aren’t sure exactly why bupropion is effective as a treatment for individuals that want to quit smoking. However, they believe its effects on dopamine might be responsible for at least some of its effectiveness as a smoking cessation aid. 

Unlike many other smoking cessation treatments, bupropion doesn’t contain nicotine. Instead, it may work by mimicking some of the effects of the nicotine in cigarettes, which also causes your brain to release extra dopamine. 

Although this doesn’t necessarily make you less addicted to nicotine, it can help you more easily deal with the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal and cravings for nicotine that often develop when you quit smoking. 

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Prescription Abuse Statistics

45.8% of American adults used a prescription drug – legally or not – within the past 30 days. Healthcare specialists generally agree that a high use rate and availability drive reported rates of prescription drug abuse, addiction, and overdose.

16.3 million

People misuse prescriptions a year.

Source: NIDA [1]

2.0 million

People or 11.9% of people who misuse prescriptions are definitively addicted to the prescription drugs they misuse.

Source: NIDA [2]


Prescription drug abusers constitute 5.76% of Americans over the age of 12.

Source: NIDA [3]

Bupropion Drug Facts Sheet

Why is this medication prescribed?

Bupropion (Aplenzin, Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL) is used to treat depression. Bupropion (Aplenzin, Wellbutrin XL) is also used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD; episodes of depression that occur at the same time each year [usually in the fall and winter but rarely may occur in the spring or summer months]). Bupropion (Zyban) is used to help people stop smoking. Bupropion is in a class of medications called antidepressants. It works by increasing certain types of activity in the brain.

How should this medicine be used?

Bupropion comes as a tablet and a sustained-release or extended-release (long-acting) tablet to take by mouth. The regular tablet (Wellbutrin) is usually taken three times a day, with doses at least 6 hours apart, or four times a day, with doses at least 4 hours apart. The sustained-release tablet (Wellbutrin SR, Zyban) is usually taken twice a day, with doses at least 8 hours apart.

The extended-release tablet (Aplenzin, Wellbutrin XL) is usually taken once daily in the morning; doses of the extended-release tablet should be taken at least 24 hours apart. 

Other uses for this medicine

Bupropion is also sometimes used to treat episodes of depression in patients with bipolar disorder (manic depressive disorder; a disease that causes episodes of depression, episodes of mania, and other abnormal moods) and to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; more difficulty focusing, controlling actions, and remaining still or quiet than other people who are the same age). Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this medication for your condition.

Pharmacokinetic Data

Metabolism: Liver, intestines


  • Hydroxybupropion,
  • Threohydrobupropion
  • Erythrohydrobupropion

Elimination half-life:

  • Bupropion: 11–21 h
  • Hydroxybupropion: 20 h
  • Threohydrobupropion: 37 h
  • Erythrohydrobupropion: 33 h


  • Urine: 87% (0.5% unchanged)
  • Feces: 10%


You should not take bupropion if you have seizures or an eating disorder, or if you have suddenly stopped using alcohol, seizure medication, or sedatives. If you take Wellbutrin for depression, do not also take Zyban to quit smoking.

Do not use bupropion within 14 days before or 14 days after you have used a MAO inhibitor, such as isocarboxazid, linezolid, methylene blue injection, phenelzine, rasagiline, selegiline, or tranylcypromine.

Some young people have thoughts about suicide when first taking an antidepressant. Stay alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor.

How Long Do Side Effects of Wellbutrin Last?

The side effects of Wellbutrin may be temporary or long-lasting.  If Wellbutrin side effects occur, they will usually go away within a week or two of starting the medication as your body adjusts. While taking Wellbutrin, mild or severe side effects may happen.

Here are some examples of side effects commonly reported with Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL treatment:

  • Headache
  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia (trouble falling asleep or staying asleep)

How long do body aches last with Wellbutrin? When you first begin antidepressant treatment, depression medication side effects can be physical symptoms like headache, joint pain, muscle aches, nausea, skin rashes, or diarrhea. These are only a few side effects that can occur with Wellbutrin. The sections below review other possible mild and severe side effects the drug may cause.

How Long Does It Take for Wellbutrin to Work?  Since bupropion for nicotine addiction treatment takes several weeks to start working.
How Long Does It Take for Wellbutrin to Work? Since bupropion for nicotine addiction treatment takes several weeks to start working.

You may have mild side effects from Wellbutrin.

How long do the side effects of Wellbutrin last? Examples of mild side effects that have been reported with Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased libido
  • Abdomen (belly) pain
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Heart palpitations (fluttering, skipping, or pounding feeling in your heart)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Rash
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Sore throat
  • Sweating
  • Tiredness
  • Tremor (uncontrollable shaking)
  • Urinating more often than usual
  • Weight gains

Wellbutrin may cause serious side effects, although most are rare.

Serious side effects that have been reported with Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL include:

  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • Allergic reaction
  • High blood pressure
  • Mania or hypomania (episodes of extremely high energy and excitement)
  • Insomnia (trouble falling asleep or staying asleep)
  • Mental health changes, such as psychosis or paranoia

FDA “Black Box” Warning for Bupropion (Wellbutrin)

As is common with antidepressants, bupropion has a “black box” safety warning from the FDA — the most serious type of FDA warning. This warning is found on bupropion medications used for treating depression — bupropion smoking cessation aids do not carry the same sign. 

This warning informs users that antidepressants can increase the risk of suicidal ideation and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults. Studies do not show this risk of suicidal ideation and behavior occurs in people aged 24 and older. 

If you’re prescribed bupropion to treat depression or seasonal affective disorder and experience any sudden changes in behavior, thoughts, mood, or feelings, contact your healthcare provider immediately. 

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How Long After Taking Wellbutrin Can I Drink?

Some people who take Wellbutrin may be able to drink occasionally without any side effects. However, if an individual mixes alcohol with Wellbutrin regularly or drinks large amounts of alcohol with Wellbutrin, it can be hazardous to their health.

Some of the risks of taking Wellbutrin with alcohol include the following:

  • Poor judgment
  • Paranoia
  • Seizures
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Vomiting

Alcohol is a depressant substance and should be used with caution, especially for individuals who suffer from depression. Combining alcohol with an antidepressant prescription drug like Wellbutrin not only increases the side effects of both but can heighten the chances of developing a physical dependence or alcohol addiction.

Mixing alcohol and Wellbutrin can have long-term effects on your health, including:

  • Decreased effectiveness of Wellbutrin
  • Elevated risk of overdose
  • Increased risk of abusing alcohol or becoming addicted
  • Higher chance of becoming physically dependent on alcohol

How long after stopping Wellbutrin can I drink? Wellbutrin should never be mixed with alcohol. Doing so may increase Wellbutrin’s side effects and may cause a risk of a seizure. You may also be at risk of a seizure if you regularly drink alcohol and suddenly stop before taking Wellbutrin.

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Wellbutrin Half Life

The half-life of a drug is the time it takes for the amount of a drug’s active substance in your body to reduce by half. This depends on how the body processes and gets rid of the drug. It can vary from a few hours to a few days or sometimes weeks. Wellbutrin, also known as bupropion, is an antidepressant medication commonly prescribed for major depressive disorder. What is the half life of Wellbutrin? The half life of Wellbutrin is approximately 21 hours. Additionally, it can take around 4.4 days for Wellbutrin to leave your system altogether.

Wellbutrin XL Half Life

Wellbutrin XL (bupropion hydrochloride extended-release tablets) is an antidepressant of the aminoketone class. It is chemically unrelated to tricyclic, tetracyclic, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or other
known antidepressant agents. How long does Wellbutrin xl stay in your system? Wellbutrin XL Tablets are supplied for oral administration as 150-mg and 300-mg creamy-white to pale yellow extended-release tablets. The mean elimination half-life (half life of wellbutrin XL) of bupropion after chronic dosing is 21 (±9) hours, and steady-state plasma concentrations of bupropion are reached within eight days.

How long does Wellbutrin 150 mg stay in your system? Wellbutrin can have effects on the body for up to almost seven days.  Doctors use “half life Wellbutrin” to determine how long a drug stays in your body. Half-life means how long it takes for half of the chemicals in the medicine to move from the blood. Typically, it takes 5.5 “half-lives” to remove a drug altogether. Wellbutrin has a half-life (half life of Wellbutrin xl 150 mg) of up to 30 hours, 165 hours, or almost seven days to leave the body altogether.

Wellbutrin SR Half Life

How long does Wellbutrin sr stay in your system? Wellbutrin SR (bupropion hydrochloride) Sustained-Release Tablets are supplied for oral administration as 100 mg (blue) and 150 mg (purple) film-coated sustained-release tablets. The mean elimination half-life based on the Wellbutrin half-life calculator is up to 12 hours (half life of Wellbutrin SR). This is why Wellbutrin SR must be taken twice daily to work correctly.

How Long for Wellbutrin to Leave System?

Everyone’s body processes medications differently, so any drug has no set-in-stone half-life. If you take Wellbutrin, you may wonder, “how long does Wellbutrin stay in your system.” It could be for various Wellbutrin showing up on a pre-employment drug test. Moreover, as with many antidepressants, Wellbutrin can have some adverse side effects. Altering or stopping your dosage can lead to uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms.

Does Wellbutrin show up on a drug test? The reason it’s essential to understand how long Wellbutrin remains in your system because there is a low possibility that it can result in a false positive for amphetamines during a drug test. Researchers don’t know how long Wellbutrin can stay in your urine, hair, or blood. For that reason, it’s essential to notify your doctor and whoever is administering the drug test that you’re taking Wellbutrin before a drug screening to be safe.

How long is Wellbutrin in your system? Most antidepressant drugs like Wellbutrin stay in the urine for a few days after use. Remember, however, that most drug screening, including at-work tests, will not check for Wellbutrin because it is not a common drug of abuse. Still, Wellbutrin can cause false positives for amphetamine drugs on urine tests. If you have a prescription for Wellbutrin, you may want to notify your tester so they are not surprised if a false positive occurs.

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How Long Do Wellbutrin Withdrawals Last?

Discontinuing Wellbutrin requires the advice of a doctor and should never be stopped abruptly. A gradual decrease is necessary to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Over 50 withdrawal symptoms associated with Wellbutrin have been reported. They range in severity from mild annoyances to life-threatening conditions and generally require monitoring by a medical professional.

How long does Wellbutrin withdrawal last? Generally, however, withdrawal symptoms from Wellbutrin usually begin about two days after the last use and may last up to a week or longer. However, research also shows that withdrawal may occur even five days after the person’s last use of bupropion.

Physical Withdrawal Symptoms

Physical withdrawal symptoms include difficulties maintaining balance, lack of coordination, increased headaches or migraines, electric shock-like or tingling sensations, and general lethargy and fatigue. These may signal a more severe condition that needs medical intervention.

Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms

Wellbutrin withdrawal may trigger a host of psychological symptoms that are out of character for the user. Aggressive behavior that is not characteristic of the person taking the medication, irritability, hostility, and paranoia may occur. Anxiety, troubling thoughts, and worsening depression that circumstances cannot explain should be reported to the doctor. 

Highly emotional states, overreaction to normal situations, depersonalization, and severe internal restlessness happen for some individuals. Crying spells and nervousness may surface for no apparent reason. Notify your physician immediately if you experience psychological disturbances that are not characteristic of you or have suicidal thoughts.

How Long Does It Take for Wellbutrin to Work? Bupropion for smoking cessation is generally recommended seven to twelve weeks after quitting smoking to minimize withdrawal symptoms. 
How Long Does It Take for Wellbutrin to Work? Bupropion for smoking cessation is generally recommended seven to twelve weeks after quitting smoking to minimize withdrawal symptoms. 

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Treatment For Alcohol Abuse & Mental Health Disorder

To determine ” How Lonl Does It Take for Wellbutrin to Work? “The most effective way to treat Wellbutrin side effects, especially if it is mixed with alcohol, it’s crucial first to get an accurate assessment of all the symptoms. When a mental health professional has evaluated the symptoms, it may be determined that another form of depression is present and needs a particular treatment. Very often, some combination of psychotherapy, medication, and lifestyle changes are effective for coping with functional.

Medically Assisted Detox

Medical Detox is often considered the first stage of treatment. It will help you navigate the complicated process of alcohol withdrawal but doesn’t address patterns of thought and behavior that contribute to alcohol use. Various treatment approaches and settings can help provide the ongoing support necessary to maintain long-term sobriety after you complete detox.

Cravings are very common during detox and can be challenging to overcome. This often leads to relapse. Constant medical care provided during inpatient treatment helps prevent relapse. Clinicians can provide necessary medication and medical expertise to lessen cravings and the effects of alcohol withdrawals.

Psychotherapy for Depression

Several different modalities of psychotherapy have been used in the treatment of depression including:

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) – is an effective treatment that involves changing both the patterns of negative thoughts and the behavioral routines which are affecting the daily life of the depressed person for various forms of depression.
  • Person-Centered Therapy – a strategy that allows and encourages clients to understand and resolve their concerns in a safe, supportive environment.
  • Solution Focused Therapy – an approach interested in solutions that can be quickly implemented with a simple first step leading to further positive consequences.
Therapists who specialize in substance use can help clients identify the underlying causes of substance abuse
How Long Does It Take for Wellbutrin to Work? Therapists who specialize in substance use can help clients identify the underlying causes of substance abuse

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Alcoholism and mental health disorders often co-occur. In many cases, traumatic experiences can result in mental health disorders and substance abuse. Dual-diagnosis rehabilitation treats both of these issues together. The best approach for the treatment of dual diagnosis is an integrated system. This strategy treats both the substance abuse problem and the mental disorder simultaneously. Regardless of which diagnosis (mental health or substance abuse problem) came first, long-term recovery will depend largely on the treatment for both disorders done by the same team or provider.

Medication-Assisted Treatments

Medication-Assisted Treatments (MAT) for alcohol use and mental health disorders are commonly used in conjunction with one another. This includes the use of medications and other medical procedures. During your rehab, the staff from your treatment facility will help you identify what caused your addiction and teach you skills that will help you change your behavior patterns and challenge the negative thoughts that led to your addiction. Sometimes, the pressures and problems in your life lead you to rely on substances to help you forget about them momentarily.

If you or a loved one are struggling with long-term substance abuse and a co-occurring mental health condition such as depression and anxiety, contact one of our helpful treatment specialists today. We Level Up NJ can provide information on dual diagnosis and detox programs that may fit your specific needs.

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