Can Wellbutrin Be Used To Treat OCD?

OCD sufferers struggle with non-stop, unwelcomed and intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and ritualistic behaviors (compulsions). As a result, OCD sometimes requires one or more medications, like SSRIs, atypical antidepressants, etc., to effectively manage it.

One such medication used “off-label” to treat OCD is Wellbutrin. Although SSRIs are designed to treat mood disorders, like depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and bipolar disorder, studies suggest it is also effective for anxiety conditions, like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, panic attacks, social anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and OCD.

Suffering from OCD can be hard, especially when other OCD treatments have failed. As a result, many OCD sufferers are constantly looking for that right treatment combination – one that will finally bring them relief. The truth is dealing with constant obsessions and compulsions can be extremely tiring, confusing, and frustrating, so it makes sense that many people with OCD are willing to try different treatment approaches, like Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, to get their OCD symptoms under control.

The good news is that antidepressants (usually SSRIs) have shown tremendous success in the treatment of OCD – even though most are not designed to treat the condition. And, for some Wellbutrin (not an SSRI) has been a blessing in disguise for their conditions. The good news is with the right treatment, OCD is manageable.

If you are wondering if you should take Wellbutrin for your OCD symptoms, you have come to the right place. This article will provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision on whether or not Wellbutrin is the right OCD treatment for you.

Content

What is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin is the brand name for bupropion. It is an antidepressant prescribed for mood disorders like major depressive disorder (MDD) and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Wellbutrin may also be used for “off label” purposes like OCD, GAD, panic disorder, panic attacks, PTSD, etc.

Is Wellbutrin an SSRI?

No, actually Wellbutrin is a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) – not an SSRI.

NDRIs block specific transporter proteins in the brain and trigger the production of extra norepinephrine and dopamine (neurotransmitters in the brain).

In other words, NDRIs, like Wellbutrin, prevent the reabsorption of norepinephrine and dopamine, so that more neurotransmitters remain available to transfer messages throughout the brain and body. The consensus is that over time these blockages can lead to changes in the brain that may lessen depression, anxiety, and OCD symptoms.

Are There Different Versions of Wellbutrin?

Yes, there are two different versions of Wellbutrin – Wellbutrin XR (extended-release) and Wellbutrin SR (sustained-release).

What Should I Do If I Miss a Dose of Wellbutrin?

If you miss a dose of Wellbutrin, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is close to the time that you normally take it, skip the dose you missed. In other words, do not take two doses too close together.

Does Wellbutrin Have Any Side Effects?

Yes, some people, who take Wellbutrin for OCD, may experience side effects, such as:

  • Allergic Reaction – i.e., hives, swollen lymph nodes, breathing difficulties, itchiness, swelling in your throat or face, fever, burning eyes, sore throat, a purple/red skin rash, sensitive or painful skin, blistering or peeling skin, skin rashes, etc. Note: If you believe you are having an allergic reaction to Wellbutrin call 911 immediately or go to your nearest ER.
  • Sudden Change in Mood or Behavior
  • Anxiety or Nervousness
  • Depression
  • Panic Attacks
  • Insomnia
  • Impulsivity
  • Irritability
  • Agitation
  • Hostility
  • Aggression
  • Restlessness
  • Hyperactivity
  • Self-Harm
  • Seizures
  • Mental Confusion
  • Blurred Vision, Tunnel Vision, Eye Pain or Swelling, and/or the Presence of Halos Surrounded by Light
  • Accelerated or Irregular Heartbeats
  • Acute manic episodes – i.e., Racing Thoughts, Boundless Energy, Recklessness, Excessive Talking, Euphoria, etc.
  • Dry “Cotton” Mouth
  • Sore Throat
  • Stuffy Nose
  • Ringing in the Ears
  • Gastrointestinal Distress – i.e., Nausea, Vomiting, Upset Stomach, Abdominal Pain, Loss of Appetite, Constipation, and/or Diarrhea
  • Tremors
  • Profuse Sweating
  • Skin Rashes
  • Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Increased Urination
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle or Joint Pain

Are There Any Medicines or Supplements I Should Not Take with Wellbutrin?

Yes, some over-the-counter (OTC) medications, prescription medications, herbal supplements, and vitamins can interact with Wellbutrin, so it is important to let your doctor and pharmacist know if you are taking herbal supplements, vitamins, prescription medications, or OTC drugs.

How is Wellbutrin Offered?

Wellbutrin is offered in tablet form for oral ingestion.

Do I Need a Prescription for Wellbutrin?

Yes, you do.

To legally obtain Wellbutrin for your OCD, you will need a prescription from a medical doctor.

What Should I Do If I Think I Have Taken Too Much Wellbutrin?

If you think you have taken too much Wellbutrin, seek emergency medical attention at your local hospital or call 911 or the Poison Helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Understand that overdosing on Wellbutrin can be life-threatening so it is important to call 911, a poison control helpline, or go to your local ER for observation and treatment.

Did you know, our our self-help course has helped thousands of OCD sufferers better manage their symptoms?

"My OCD is finally manageable"

Jennifer S

What are the Signs of a Wellbutrin Overdose?

The signs of a Wellbutrin overdose are:

  • Stiff Muscles
  • Hallucinations and Delusions
  • Accelerated Heartrate
  • Heart Palpitations
  • Shallow breathing or Breathing Difficulties
  • Lightheadedness or Fainting

Can Wellbutrin Make Anxiety Better?

It is possible…

While it is possible to experience anxiety, even severe anxiety, while taking Wellbutrin, limited research suggests that Wellbutrin may be effective at treating anxiety conditions like OCD. Studies indicate that Wellbutrin is just as effective as escitalopram (Lexapro) for the treatment of anxiety conditions. Thus, researchers have concluded that Wellbutrin is an effective second or third-line treatment for anxiety conditions like GAD and OCD.

Can Wellbutrin Make Anxiety Worse?

It could…

According to a 2005 study, some people with anxiety may experience side effects after starting Wellbutrin. These side effects tend to worsen when the medication was used for a long time and when the dosage was increased, especially when the increase was too quick. The most common side effects in people, who suffer from anxiety were worsened anxiety, insomnia, restlessness, and/or agitation or aggression.

According to the FDA, approximately 2% of the people, who experience one or more of these side effects, stop using Wellbutrin. For these individuals, these side effects are so severe that other anti-anxiety meds and/or sedatives are required to counter the effects of it. The good news is your anxiety should diminish or go away after a few weeks – as your body adjusts to the medication.

Can Wellbutrin Help with OCD?

It could…

Researchers have found that Wellbutrin may be effective for some OCD sufferers, however, the jury is still out as to its effectiveness overall. Antidepressants, like Wellbutrin, have shown limited success in the treatment of some “off label” conditions like OCD. However, it is a potent antidepressant with some serious side effects, so it should be prescribed with caution.

Is Wellbutrin FDA-Approved for OCD?

No, Wellbutrin is not FDA-approved for OCD.

The FDA has approved Wellbutrin for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) or clinical depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and smoking cessation. It has not been approved for OCD likely because researchers have been unable to prove its effectiveness, primarily because some of the properties in SSRIs are vague or unknown.

Researchers have also been unable to determine its overall effectiveness in the treatment of OCD. However, studies have shown that combining conventional SSRIs (Luvox, Paxil, Prozac, or Zoloft) with antidepressants, like Wellbutrin, that boost dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain and body is the most effective OCD treatment, especially for people, who struggle with OCD and major depressive disorder (MDD).

How Much Wellbutrin Should I Take for OCD?

The dosage of Wellbutrin varies for each OCD sufferer; however, the standard dosage is listed below:

  • Wellbutrin (Extended-Release Tablets)

    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Adults

    Wellbutrin XL – Initially, 150mg 1x a day, in the mornings – not to exceed 300mg a day

  • Wellbutrin SR (Sustained-Release Tablets)

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Adults

Wellbutrin SR – Initially, 150mg, 1x a day, for 3 days – not to exceed 300mg a day

  • Wellbutrin (Tablets)

    Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) – Adults

    Wellbutrin – 100mg, 2x a day – not to exceed 300mg a day

  • Can I Take Zoloft with Wellbutrin for My OCD Symptoms?

    Yes, you can!

    Zoloft and Wellbutrin can be taken together for OCD. This combo has shown tremendous success in the treatment of OCD. Some OCD sufferers experience relief in as little as 4 days, however, others may not see noticeable results for 4 weeks or more.

    How Should I Take Wellbutrin for My OCD Symptoms?

    You should take Wellbutrin exactly as prescribed by your doctor. In other words, follow the directions on your prescription label. And, do not take more of the medication than prescribed. Taking too much Wellbutrin can lead to seizures.

    Also, do not crush, chew, or break Wellbutrin XL (extended-release tablet) – swallow it whole. Refrain from abruptly stopping the medication because doing so may trigger drug and OCD withdrawal symptoms. If you decide you want to stop taking Wellbutrin, ask your doctor about the safest way to do so.

    This medicine may cause your blood pressure to spike to dangerous levels, especially if you are also using a nicotine replacement patch or gum. As a result, your doctor will frequently check your blood pressure while you are taking the medication. Lastly, Wellbutrin may cause you to fail a drug screen (false positive result). If you are asked to provide a urine sample for a drug screen, alert the nurse and lab technician that you are taking Wellbutrin for OCD.

    How Can I Tell If Wellbutrin is Working for My OCD Symptoms?

    Now that you have been taking Wellbutrin for a while you may start to wonder if it is truly working for your OCD symptoms. Well, that is a reasonable question, primarily because if it is not working, you will either need to have your dosage changed or need a new medication altogether.

    Does Wellbutrin start working immediately? Unfortunately, no.

    Similar to other antidepressants, it could take 4 weeks or more for you to see a noticeable change in your OCD symptoms. And, during those first couple of weeks, you may need to have your dosage tweaked several times. While some OCD sufferers may experience some improvement in 2-3 weeks, others may take much longer to see a reduction in their obsessions and compulsions.

    Keep in mind, however, that antidepressants work differently for everyone, which means determining if it is working for your OCD may be challenging. Understand that any improvement in your OCD symptoms is a sign that Wellbutrin is working, which is why keeping a journal to track your progress is a good idea.

    Still, there are some signs that the medicine is working, such as:

    • Better Quality Sleep
    • Healthy Appetite
    • More Energy
    • Calmness and Composure in Stressful Situations
    • Better Focus and Memory
    • Fewer Intrusive Thoughts and Ritualistic Behaviors

    Note: Sleep quality, appetite, and/or energy improvements may occur within the 1st or 2nd week after starting Wellbutrin. 1-2 weeks of taking Wellbutrin. However, it may take longer to see significant improvement in your OCD symptoms.

    What is it Like to Take Wellbutrin for OCD?

    Whether or not Wellbutrin will work for your OCD symptoms depends on a variety of factors, such as your overall health, the dosage and frequency, the length of time on the medication, your body chemistry, symptoms, age, and gender.

    Listed below are personal testimonies on the effectiveness and side effects of Wellbutrin for OCD:

    Melissa

    “Hi everyone, I have been doing really well on Prozac for my OCD. I was taking 60mg a day, but I started seeing someone and noticed harsh sexual side effects that I am not happy with, so I talked to my nurse practitioner about what to do, and we decided to lower my dosage, which made my anxiety worse. So, that was a “no go” for me. But I have been doing research, and apparently, a lot of people experience sexual side effects with SSRIs.

    So, my nurse practitioner decided to switch me to Wellbutrin for my OCD symptoms. And, I must say it has increased my libido. Wellbutrin is working for me. I also read that a Prozac/Wellbutrin combo can worsen anxiety, so I am not sure if I want to take it, although researchers say it works for OCD. I am not convinced though. What do you guys think? Do any of you have experience taking Wellbutrin for OCD, and did it help your anxiety? I am interested in hearing about personal experiences. Thanks!!”

    John

    “Wellbutrin made a major difference. I began to eat food again, and it increased my libido. I took it with Prozac at one point, but I went up to 80mg with the Prozac. Prozac gave me terrible tremors. Once, one of my friends pointed out that my hands were really shaky. I also remember having less anxiety, in general, when Wellbutrin was added to my OCD treatment plan. The amount of Prozac was so high that I was not motivated to do anything.

    Moreover, I was so off-balance that I could not walk straight. I also could not walk downstairs well. I am no longer taking Prozac now off of it, but am looking for another SSRI to add to Wellbutrin for maximum OCD relief. Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, and Luvox have failed, although they appear to work for most people. I was also on clomipramine at one point, but that failed too. I am still looking for the right second medication for my anxiety and OCD.”

    Damon

    “I have been taking Wellbutrin for eight weeks without any long-lasting effects on my OCD. I experienced a slight improvement in the fourth week of taking the medication, but it quickly disappeared. It was likely just a placebo/honeymoon. Then my dosage was to 300mg (two weeks ago), but I still feel zero effects. There’s no point trying 450mg. Right?

    So now I have tried: Lexapro, Effexor, Abilify, Zoloft, and Wellbutrin. Lexapro also stopped working. Effexor only made me worse. Abilify had a good effect but developed akathisia from it, so I had to cut it out. Wellbutrin gave me momentary improvement then disappeared.

    So, what do I do now? Is there anything else I really can do?”

    Can I Combine Self-Help Tools, Natural Remedies, and/or Lifestyle Changes with Wellbutrin?

    Yes! Using multiple treatment methods to treat your OCD symptoms may be the key to success. Lifestyle changes, like getting more sleep, consuming healthy foods, and getting plenty of exercise not only help your body but also your mind.

    Self-help tools like books on OCD, support groups, apps, and Impulse Therapy, an online OCD treatment program, can provide some much-needed support and relief to OCD sufferers – in the comfort of their homes.

    Natural remedies like journaling, homeopathy, acupuncture, mindfulness meditation, being hypnotized, taking vitamins or herbs (check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if your vitamins or herbs will interact with Wellbutrin), and/or practicing deep breathing exercises or yoga may also be beneficial for people suffering from OCD.

    With the right OCD therapist and the right OCD treatment, you can break free from OCD and return to a life free of obsessions and compulsions.

    References

    Our self-help OCD therapy course has helped 1000s of OCD sufferers since 2018.

    "My OCD is finally manageable"

    Jennifer S

    Author

    DR. R. Y. Langham

    Dr. R. Y. Langham has a B.A. in English, an M.M.F.T in Marriage and Family Therapy (Psychology), and a Ph.D. in Family Psychology. She is currently a medical, health & wellness contributor, copywriter, and psychological consultant

    Share Post