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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Weight Management arrow Wellbutrin for Weight Loss: Is It A Good Idea?

Wellbutrin for Weight Loss: Is It A Good Idea?

Written by Dennis Njoroge
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: April 7, 2023
4 min read 1154 Views 0 Comments
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Wellbutrin is an effective antidepressant medication. It, however, also leads to weight loss effects among some users. Read on to find the uses, advantages, and disadvantages of using this drug for weight loss.

Wellbutrin for weight loss

Depression primarily affects a person’s emotional mindset and mood. It can also lead to emotional eating, as some people living with depression may experience a decrease in appetite leading to unintentional weight loss.

Depression may also give one low energy levels, digestive issues, and changes in appetite, which may lead to weight changes. Some antidepressants are associated with weight gain or weight loss. Among these antidepressants is Wellbutrin.

This article will discuss the antidepressant Wellbutrin for weight loss and its effects.

Wellbutrin for Weight Loss – Would It Help?

Weight change frequently occurs due to antidepressant prescription medications. Unlike other antidepressants that make you add weight, Wellbutrin has the opposite effect. When this drug is combined with a healthy diet and exercise, it shows great weight loss results in obese adults.

Though it is unclear why this drug may cause weight loss, some research experts believe Wellbutrin works by altering dopamine and norepinephrine, which affect feeding behaviors, satiety, and appetite.
Increasing the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain may cause some changes in eating habits and, subsequently, weight loss.

More about Wellbutrin

Long-term use of Wellbutrin may lead to modest weight loss in obese individuals diagnosed with depression when combined with a healthy diet and exercise. The amount of weight lost depends on body size and body mass index (BMI).

Obesity research concluded that people with a BMI of more than 30 lost at least 5 more pounds of body weight than people with a BMI lower than 22 over 11 months.

Wellbutrin, also referred to as Bupropion or Zyban, is not used in clinical medicine to help patients lose weight. However, in 2014, the FDA approved Contrave, a combination drug between Bupropion and naltrexone for weight loss.

In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, about 70% of the overweight and obese women on Wellbutrin lost more than 15% of body mass. However, only about 15% of the people in the placebo group had the same effect.

How Does Wellbutrin Cause Weight Loss?

Wellbutrin is the brand name for the drug Bupropion, which leads to weight loss by affecting hormone levels of norepinephrine and dopamine that play a significant role in satiety, appetite, and eating habits.

Bupropion is considered an antidepressant and is a prescription medication used to treat major depressive disorders. Taking Bupropion is mainly used for antidepressant and antipsychotic use.

Most antidepressant drugs are referred to as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). They work by regulating the body’s serotonin levels and improving mood, memory, and cognition.

In contrast to other antidepressants, Bupropion is a norepinephrine–dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) that works by boosting dopamine and norepinephrine levels.

These hormones help increase energy levels and alertness and improve sleep, which may help weight loss. They may also help some patients quit smoking.

Initially, Bupropion treatment was used to alleviate depressive symptoms and treat a seasonal affective disorder. However, it later got FDA approval as a medication for smoking cessation under the brand name Zyban.

Doctors prescribe Wellbutrin SR (Bupropion SR) as a once-or-twice-a-day drug. However, it is essential to note that Wellbutrin is not a weight loss drug, and its prescription is not solely to help one lose weight.

Does Wellbutrin Lead to Weight Gain?

Though Wellbutrin is associated with weight loss, it causes people to gain weight in rare cases. There is plenty of research showing that this drug may help people lose some weight, but there are some outliers that gain weight, contrary to the evidence.

The FDA approved the Wellbutrin XL form, and they reported adding a few pounds after using the drug.

A study on long-term weight change after initiating second-generation antidepressants showed that patients taking Wellbutrin lost 7.1 pounds over two years, but the smoking participants gained weight instead.

Why am I gaining weight on Wellbutrin (Bupropion)?

Though weight gain on Bupropion SR is rare, some people gain weight on Wellbutrin. For instance, though most patients experience decreased appetite after taking Wellbutrin, some experience increased appetite, leading to weight gain.

Taking Bupropion may also increase food cravings for unhealthy foods like candy and sweets. Since this drug also alters the body’s hormonal composition, it can change the body’s metabolism and affect how your body stores fats.

Hormonal fluctuations may also lead to insomnia which gives you difficulties in sleeping and consequently weight gain. Sometimes people who were depressed prior may not have engaged in social eating, but when a person feels happier, they might go out more, leading to overeating and weight gain.

Wellbutrin Side Effects

Patients using Wellbutrin are susceptible to some common side effects. According to the prescription information, patients experienced insomnia, constipation, fever, dry mouth, palpitations, nausea, dizziness, and ringing in the ears.

Other people also experience blurred vision, rashes, panic attacks, or a sore throat. Taking an excessive dosage also poses a higher risk of having a seizure disorder.

It is also best to avoid taking Wellbutrin with alcohol as it may lead to serious side effects. There is also a risk of suicidal thoughts, especially in children and young adults.

Since Bupropion SR increases blood pressure, it should not be administered to individuals with high blood pressure.

These are just the side effects written on the prescription’s handout, and it would be best to get professional medical advice from a licensed healthcare practitioner.


Below are the answers to the frequently asked questions concerning Wellbutrin.

Does Wellbutrin suppress appetite?

Wellbutrin does not directly suppress appetite, but it affects hormone levels in the brain that play a role in feeding behaviors, appetite, and satiety.

Can you take Wellbutrin on an empty stomach?

Yes, you can take Wellbutrin on an empty stomach or with food. However, the pills should be swallowed whole, not crushed or chewed, so that they may work properly and reduce the risk of side effects.

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

Wellbutrin weight loss occurs after 6–8 weeks of using the drug. However, this drug does not give consistent results if taken solely for weight loss.

A Word From MD

The prevalence of weight loss medication use continues to rise to help in chronic weight management among obese adults. However, some of the medications used for weight management have some severe side effects that a patient would want to consider before using.

Though some drugs like Wellbutrin are used to treat depression, they are sometimes prescribed in lower doses for weight loss.

For the best results after using weight-loss drugs, you need to combine them with lifestyle changes such as a workout routine and proper eating habits.

Before considering any drugs or dietary supplements for weight loss, consult your doctor and fitness trainer for the best advice on sustainable weight loss.


Wellbutrin is an antidepressant medication that helps in weight loss. Though patients have reported losing weight after using this drug, this medication is not yet FDA-approved for weight loss.

Wellbutrin is not a quick answer to weight loss, but it might sometimes help you lose excess weight. Before taking weight-loss medications, it is best to talk to your healthcare provider to discuss your health history and the pros and cons of the drug.

Written by Dennis Njoroge
Dennis is a seasoned writer who focuses on writing health and wellness articles. His career goal is to educate people on how to reprogram their lives by breaking free from unhealthy eating habits and fostering new sustainable habits. Dennis tries to give easy-to-follow advice based on scientific research. He strongly believes that regardless of age, fitness level, a person can always learn something new and reach their health goals if they have a positive mindset.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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Written by Dennis Njoroge
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: April 7, 2023
4 min read 1154 Views 0 Comments

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