ClickCease

Wellbutrin: How Long Does It Stay In Your System

Authored by Granite Recovery Centers    Reviewed by James Gamache    Last Updated: September 17th, 2021


James Gamache Medical Reviewer
Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Licensed Masters Level Addictions Counselor (MLADC). He has been working in the field of mental health/addiction treatment since 1995. Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2000, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 2002. In 2002 Jim was hired by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester holding the position of Clinical Case Manager. From 2004-2019, Jim was employed at WestBridge Inc. During his time at WestBridge, Jim held the following positions; Clinician, Team Leader, Director, & Chief Operations Officer. In 2019 Jim transitioned employment to GateHouse Treatment Center as the Clinical Director for 10 months. In October of 2020 Jim transitioned to Granite Recovery Centers and is currently serving as the Senior VP of Clinical Services and Quality Assurance.

Wellbutrin is a brand-name medication most commonly prescribed as an antidepressant. The generic name for this medication is bupropion. Like many other antidepressants, this medication works by changing some of the neurochemicals in your brain so that you experience improved mood.

You might be wondering how long Wellbutrin stays in your system. We will answer that below and provide you with other information, such as side effects, overdose symptoms, and how long it affects your mood. You will also learn about recovery if you find yourself taking too much Wellbutrin.

What Is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin is a unique antidepressant. Most antidepressants affect your serotonin levels to improve your mood. While this is common and usually effective, it doesn’t work for everyone. Wellbutrin is a norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor, or NDRI. This means that it actually affects your norepinephrine and dopamine levels rather than serotonin. Both serotonin and dopamine affect your mood, so some people might find that Wellbutrin is more effective.

Your brain is constantly sending out neurochemicals to affect your mood. Not only that, but it will then reabsorb the neurochemicals shortly after. Medications like this block the reabsorption process so that you experience higher overall levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. If your mood concerns are due to low levels of these neurochemicals, then Wellbutrin should be able to regulate your mood.

What Is Wellbutrin Prescribed For?

Wellbutrin is prescribed for several different conditions. Your doctor will know if Wellbutrin is right for your mental health concerns or if another similar medication might fit your needs better. Wellbutrin is most commonly prescribed for depression.

It also treats several other conditions. Wellbutrin XL is another form of this medication that is often prescribed for seasonal affective disorder. It may also be used to help with the depressive side of bipolar disorder. Another use is with ADHD. It has been found that Wellbutrin assists with focus and attention in some patients.

Wellbutrin Half-Life

A medication’s half-life is a measure of how long it will affect your system. Although you are no longer affected, the medication has not left your body; it can take hours or days until the medication fully leaves the system. In terms of Wellbutrin, the half-life refers to how long this medication affects your dopamine and norepinephrine levels.

Wellbutrin has a fairly long half-life of around 21 hours for most people. Keep in mind that this is only the average. Your body might experience a longer or shorter half-life depending on how you process the medication.

How Long Does Wellbutrin Stay in Your System?

If Wellbutrin affects you for 21 hours, then how long does it take to fully leave your body? A medication can still be in your body for days even after you stop feeling its effects.

Wellbutrin typically leaves the body after four and a half days. It is the average amount of time for 99% of the medication to process out of your system. As with the half-life, it is important to remember that this is the average time. Your body might take longer or shorter depending on how you process Wellbutrin.

Wellbutrin Side Effects

Nearly every medication includes some side effects. This depends on how your body processes the medication. Wellbutrin’s side effects are often considered minor, but it is always important to monitor yourself when taking this or any other medication. You should let your prescriber know if any side effects occur.

The most common Wellbutrin side effects:

Nausea
Vomiting
Headache
Dry mouth
Joint aches
Constipation
Strange tastes
Blurred vision
Dizziness

Keep in mind that these are only the most common side effects. It is possible that you may experience a side effect not listed here. If any symptoms occur after taking Wellbutrin or having a dosage change, then let your doctor know, and they can tell you how to proceed.

Wellbutrin Overdose Symptoms

A Wellbutrin overdose is considered very rare as relatively few people take doses high enough to cause this. At the same time, it’s still useful to know these symptoms. This can happen if you are taking very high doses, accidentally take extra doses, lose control of your use or take other medications that affect your dopamine or norepinephrine levels.

The most common Wellbutrin overdose symptoms:

Seizures
Loss of consciousness
Rapid heartbeat
Hallucinations, or hearing and seeing things that aren’t there

If any of these symptoms occur, then get emergency medical help immediately. This can help you get through the overdose symptoms in a safe environment. While this is considered rare, it does occur, so you should be mindful of these symptoms just in case.

Wellbutrin Withdrawal Symptoms

Some people stop taking their antidepressants as soon as their depression lifts. This is often a bad idea because you may suffer from withdrawal symptoms that are similar to depression itself, but there are often some added symptoms as well. While withdrawal symptoms are not guaranteed with antidepressants, you should still be mindful of them in case you experience any while discontinuing Wellbutrin.

The most common withdrawal symptoms:

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and loss of appetite
Difficulty sleeping, nightmares or unusual dreams
Loss of balance and dizziness
Uneven walking and unusual tremors
Mood swings such as agitation, depression, anxiety or confusion
Pain and numbness
A zapping sensation in the brain

These withdrawal symptoms are common for most antidepressants. While this may happen with Wellbutrin, this medication is known for having fewer and more mild withdrawal symptoms than most other antidepressants. There’s a chance that you won’t experience any. In either case, it’s still a good idea to work with your doctor to ensure that you come off Wellbutrin safely and with minimal or no withdrawal symptoms.

Medical Detox

If you are taking very high doses of Wellbutrin, using other medications or substances that affect your mood or facing unusually difficult withdrawal symptoms, then you may want to consider a medical detox. This isn’t always needed for Wellbutrin since the withdrawal symptoms tend to be mild, but this can be useful in some situations.

Medical detox is when one of our qualified doctors watches over you as the Wellbutrin processes out of your body. It is common for a tapered dose to be used in order to help your body adjust to the lower levels of dopamine and norepinephrine. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.

While you may think that you can taper your dose at home, it’s best to get medical guidance in case things don’t go as planned. For example, you might experience significant withdrawal symptoms even if you’re taking a tapered dose. A doctor will know how to adjust the tapering schedule, and they can prescribe other medications if needed.

Outpatient Therapy

Wellbutrin addiction rates are considered fairly low when compared to other medications and antidepressants, but you may still find yourself losing control of your use. The drug changes your mood, and you might be tempted to take more than your prescribed dose in order to feel better.

If you find yourself in this situation, then outpatient therapy services could help you regain control of your usage. Outpatient therapy comes in two levels of care depending on your needs.

On the other hand, if you are facing mild difficulties controlling your use of Wellbutrin, then outpatient therapy will likely be best for you. This level of care has you meet weekly with your assigned therapist for about an hour. These individual sessions allow you to explore your cravings, behaviors, triggers and stressors.

A licensed therapist will lend you an empathetic ear and will also help you find new coping skills. This can reduce your stress, which often leads to reduced use and then abstinence.

If this doesn’t seem like enough treatment, or if your cravings are on the moderate to severe side, then you may want to consider intensive outpatient treatment. This is a special type of group therapy designed for those who struggle with cravings.

Intensive outpatient groups meet three times a week. You’ll be able to talk with others facing similar difficulties, and you will all work towards recovering. This allows you to learn from others while also being able to connect with people who understand your struggles. Groups meetings last three hours per session.

Dual Diagnosis

Many people do not recognize the term dual diagnosis, but it’s very common for clients suffering from substance use disorder. The term refers to any client who is suffering both from substance use concerns and a mental health issue. Many people have both, and you need to ensure that your treatment provider is able to work on both simultaneously.

In the case of Wellbutrin, you might be suffering from depression or another related condition. Some people use Wellbutrin to calm down without knowing if they have a depression diagnosis. If you are concerned about this and find it difficult to control your use, then we can assess you to see what your proper diagnosis is.

Whether you are only seeing us for substance use disorder or you are worried about underlying mental health issues, we want to assure you that we can help with your case. Be sure to let us know all your concerns during the intake, and we can create the proper treatment plan for your needs.

Male or Female Groups

Some people only feel comfortable talking to other men or women during therapy. This can be especially true when being vulnerable and talking about feelings. We want you to feel comfortable during your therapy, so we have designed groups for clients like this in mind.

You can request to join one of the men’s groups or women’s groups during your intake. Be sure to ask about this when you contact us. We can tell you more about these programs and help you decide whether this would be a good option for you.

Seeking Help at Granite Recovery Centers

Wellbutrin is an antidepressant that has a half-life of 21 hours and commonly stays in the system for just over four days. Compared to other antidepressants, Wellbutrin often has mild side effects and withdrawal symptoms. It also tends to have a very low addiction rate. However, you might have a hard time controlling your use and may need help.

We at Granite Recovery Centers have been helping clients for over 10 years with substance use and mental health concerns. Whether you are interested in Wellbutrin, find it hard to control your use, feel that you are suffering from depression or have any other similar concerns, we are here for you. Contact us and let us know how we can help with your recovery.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to provide accurate information about health and addiction so that our readers can make informed decisions.

We have credentialed medical doctors & clinicians who specialize in addiction treatment review the information on our website before it is published. We use credible sources such as government websites and journal articles when citing statistics or other medically related topics.