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Home arrow Health arrow Mental Health arrow Wellbutrin for OCD: Exploring the Efficacy of This Drug

Wellbutrin for OCD: Exploring the Efficacy of This Drug

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: September 25, 2023
5 min read 1251 Views 0 Comments
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Finding the right treatment for OCD is important. You might come across Wellbutrin, but does this medication improve your symptoms? We explain what Wellbutrin is, what it might be used for, and whether it can help you effectively manage your long-term mental health.

Wellbutrin for OCD

Struggling to find the best treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) can be frustrating. 

There are many medications available, but they don’t always work. You might get adverse side effects or feel no improvements when taking them. Over time, this can make people give up hope on finding treatment that reduces intrusive thoughts and ritualistic behaviors. 

One possible option could be Wellbutrin – a prescription antidepressant. This has been a tried and tested medication for relieving OCD symptoms. Learning about how it works and whether it’s suitable for your mental well-being is important in finding your desired treatment. 

Continue reading now to discover whether Wellbutrin supports those with OCD. 

Wellbutrin for OCD: Does It Help?

Some research suggests that Wellbutrin might be an effective treatment for OCD. This has only been proven in a small study, meaning it still needs testing. You should be aware that potent antidepressants have side effects and won’t work for everyone.

The FDA has not approved Wellbutrin for the treatment of the obsessive-compulsive disorder. Any form of antidepressant medication only works well for treating depressive symptoms or those with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). 

Another small study found that Wellbutrin is not an effective treatment at all. Eight out of the twelve participants experienced heightened OCD symptoms when taking the medication. You should always talk to a medical professional before seeking antidepressants like this one. 

Researchers have discovered that Wellbutrin only works better when paired with conventional SSRIs. These are called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – a class of drugs that boost dopamine and norepinephrine to ease clinical symptoms of OCD and depression. 

What Is Wellbutrin?

Bupropion is an antidepressant that sells under the brand name Wellbutrin. Doctors prescribe this medication for depression or to help people quit smoking. It works by increasing natural chemicals in the brain that control dopamine and norepinephrine. 

Wellbutrin is a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) that transports norepinephrine and dopamine back into your brain cells. These neurotransmitters improve your stress response while regulating blood pressure and boosting pleasurable experiences. 

You have to obtain Wellbutrin tablets from your doctor legally. They can prescribe treatment if they feel as though you need them in the long term. Some people might have to take a lower dose with food, depending on their digestive system or reaction to antidepressants. 

What Is Wellbutrin Used for?

Wellbutrin is used for major depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder, and smoking cessation. Some doctors might prescribe it for “off-label” purposes like OCD, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. 

The main purpose of this brand-name prescription drug is to relieve depression. This is due to how natural chemicals react in your brain after taking the NDRI. Smoking cessation isn’t a popular reason, but it’s believed that Wellbutrin reduces the effects of nicotine withdrawals. 

Of course, you could also take Wellbutrin to treat OCD symptoms. Pairing it with Zoloft, Luvox, Paxil, or Prozac may ensure neurotransmitters work efficiently in your brain. Always speak to a medical professional about this treatment, as you don’t want to experience OCD attacks

You might get a unique dose depending on your mental state. Wellbutrin comes in SR (sustained release) and XL (extended release) forms. Both of these options release the active ingredients slowly to ensure your body adjusts and reacts positively to NDRI drugs. 

Does Wellbutrin Make OCD Worse?

There is a chance that Wellbutrin can make OCD and anxiety disorders worse. This just depends on your mental well-being and reaction to taking medication. Some antidepressants also have side effects that might trigger intrusive thoughts. 

Consuming Wellbutrin on a daily basis could worsen OCD or do nothing at all. One small study found that this medication can negatively impact those with anxiety. Being anxious may lead to paranoid thoughts, insomnia, restlessness, aggression, chronic stress, and depression. 

According to a document by the FDA, 2% of people who experience these side effects stop taking any form of bupropion. This is because their health declines over a few weeks. It’s important you stop taking Wellbutrin if you feel like the medicine is worsening your OCD. 

Side Effects of Wellbutrin

There are many side effects that, unfortunately, derive from Wellbutrin. A doctor will usually go through potential symptoms before prescribing any form of treatment. Depressed patients might opt for other antidepressants to ensure their body chemistry is both healthy and safe. 

Here are some of the side effects:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Panic Attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Aggression
  • Restlessness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Seizures
  • Confusion
  • Blurred Vision
  • Heart palpitations 
  • Acute manic episodes 
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore Throat
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Serious constipation 
  • Migraines
  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Increased urination
  • Muscle pain 

Always seek urgent medical attention if you experience three or more of these side effects. You should especially receive care when getting an allergic reaction. This might produce symptoms like hives, swollen lymph nodes, shortness of breath, throat swelling, or burning eyes. 

Does Wellbutrin cause intrusive thoughts? 

Yes, it’s possible that taking Wellbutrin causes intrusive thoughts. Certain forms of bupropion can make some people agitated, irritable, and even aggressive. You should stop taking this prescription drug immediately to avoid making OCD symptoms worse. 

Common antidepressants prescribed by clinical psychiatry practices might not react well with your current mental state. Feeling constantly paranoid naturally leaves room for intrusive thoughts – unwanted images or thoughts that can appear both disturbing and distressing. 

You should let your doctor know that you get upset easily or feel overwhelmed by damaging thoughts. This ensures they give you the right treatment for OCD. Also, it’s best to avoid Wellbutrin if you suffer from suicidal tendencies or even repressed childhood trauma

Just be aware that there are certain medicines and supplements you shouldn’t take with bupropion drugs. These comprise over-the-counter (OCT) medications, opioids, TCAs, antipsychotics, cyclobenzaprine, diphenhydramine, herbal supplements, and vitamins. 

How to Deal with OCD?

There are many natural coping strategies to relieve OCD symptoms. One of them includes sleeping well enough every night. You can improve your sleep quality by reducing your screen time on electronic devices, limiting your caffeine intake, and avoiding those daytime naps. 

Remember to build a support system when improving your mental state. Reach out to close family and friends by telling them exactly what’s going on. Studies prove that social connection is basically a lifestyle medicine that empowers good health and positive thinking. 

You may also try out natural nootropics that aid in stabilizing mood or mental health apps that are based on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and can help in relieving OCD-related obsessions and compulsions.

A Word From a Psychologist

You might discover new medication during your search for an effective treatment. Certain prescription drugs don’t hold enough research when it comes to relieving OCD. It’s important that you find available medicine that specifically reduces bad thoughts or erratic behaviors.

Remember that everyone is different when it comes to medication. One person might notice positive changes while taking antidepressants, and others may have serious side effects. Medical professionals are there to determine what works for the treatment of OCD.

Consider natural treatments that don’t involve taking medicine. This could be psychological therapy – a type of therapy that encourages you to face your fears. It might be an uncomfortable experience, but it’s a great way of banning those stubborn thoughts.

Simple exercises like going for morning walks could prevent self-destructive behavior. Research has proven that physical activity improves your mood and helps you break free from bad habits. You can aim to exercise for at least 30 minutes every day to relieve OCD symptoms.


So, should you take Wellbutrin to relieve OCD?

There isn’t enough research to suggest that Wellbutrin relieves OCD symptoms. It isn’t an FDA-approved drug when it comes to other disorders that aren’t depression. You should consult with your doctor about this medication to determine whether it’s suitable for your health. 

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: September 25, 2023
5 min read 1251 Views 0 Comments

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