Reviewed by Jill Johnson, DNP, APRN, FNP-BC
Written by Our Editorial Team
If you deal with anxiety, know this: You are not alone. Anxiety is actually the most common mental health disorder there is.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 40 million adults deal with an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders are extremely treatable. Unfortunately, only 37% of people who suffer from them seek treatment. If you want to avoid falling into that statistic, there are a variety of options available to you.
Anxiety is commonly treated with psychotherapy, but it also can involve the use of medication.
One of the medications sometimes prescribed is bupropion—more specifically, the brand name version Wellbutrin®. To learn more about Wellbutrin and its effectiveness, keep reading.
As previously mentioned, Wellbutrin is the brand name version of bupropion. It’s an antidepressant sold in tablet form that works by increasing certain types of activity in the brain.
It’s most commonly prescribed to treat depression or seasonal affective disorder, and along with its Wellbutrin moniker, it’s also sold under the brand names Wellbutrin SR® and Wellbutrin XL®.
Bupropion is also sometimes prescribed to help someone stop smoking. Research has found that bupropion can reduce tobacco cravings and withdrawal symptoms, making it easier for people to give up cigarettes.
Sometimes people who take Wellbutrin for depression experience anxiety as a side effect. Interestingly, the drug has also been found to help people who suffer from anxiety associated with depression. Your healthcare provider can help you monitor how the drug is working for you.
How might this anxiety present itself? There are many ways it may show up. Examples include anxious or negative thoughts, social anxiety or anxiety attacks.
The anxiety can be short term, but if it lasts longer than six months, it’s considered an anxiety disorder. This is the type of anxiety that benefits from treatment of some sort.
Wellbutrin is in a class of drugs called aminoketones, and it affects the way your body produces certain neurotransmitters—specifically, dopamine and norepinephrine.
Both of these are crucial to your mood.
Dopamine regulates a variety of functions—most notably, sleep, pleasure, motivation and mood.
Norepinephrine keeps your body alert, pumping blood through your system, keeping you awake, and more.
People with depression may have low levels of dopamine, which is why Wellbutrin is thought to help.
For this reason, it’s also used for people who deal with anxiety as a result of depression.
It’s important to note that generic bupropion can be just as effective in treating depression and anxiety as the name brand—and it’s often most cost effective.
If you are interested in exploring taking bupropion for your anxiety, the first step is to talk to a healthcare professional and schedule an online psychiatry evaluation.
Good news: Compared to many other antidepressants, bupropion is less likely to cause side effects like drowsiness, weight gain and sexual issues.
Of course, like with any medication, there is a chance you may experience some minor adverse reactions.
Potential bupropion side effects include:
If you experience any side effects, however minor, consult with your healthcare provider to discuss what’s right for you.
There are sometimes more severe side effects that can occur when taking bupropion. These include:
Mental health issues such as changes in mood, panic attacks, and worsened depression or anxiety.
Hypertension. Bupropion can contribute to high blood pressure. If you already deal with blood pressure issues, be sure to tell your healthcare provider before taking bupropion.
In rare instances, bupropion can cause risk of seizure. This occurs in less than 1% of people who take the medication. If you have a history of seizures, be sure to mention it to your healthcare professional.
Both generic bupropion and the brand name Wellbutrin (along with many other antidepressants) have what is called a “black box” safety warning from the FDA.
This is the most serious type of warning and it lets users know that antidepressants can increase the risk of suicidal ideation and/or behavior in children, adolescents and young adults.
Research shows this risk can especially exist for people up to the age of 24.
Anxiety may feel overwhelming, but it is highly treatable. In addition to medication, there are a few other approaches you can take to deal with anxiety. Here are some common treatment options:
In addition to meds, psychotherapy can be an effective treatment for anxiety. While one can explore any type of therapy to treat anxiety, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure therapy are common go-tos.
In CBT you work with a mental health professional to identify unhealthy or problematic thoughts and habits that may contribute to your anxiety.
Then you work on ways to change those negative thoughts and behaviors.
With exposure therapy you confront things that cause anxiety with the goal of making those things less worrisome.
This type of therapy is best for phobias, post traumatic stress disorder and situational anxiety.
If you’d like to explore therapy as a way of dealing with your anxiety, find a mental health professional in your area or consider online counseling.
Talking to people going through similar things can make you feel less alone. The benefit of going with an anonymous group?
You don’t have to worry about feeling judged and may feel more comfortable sharing.
Hearing how others deal with their anxiety won’t just give you peace of mind, you may pick up a few tips, too.
Hims has anonymous online support groups you can join.
In addition to talking it out and medications, there are a number of research-backed life habits you can implement that may help ease anxiety. Common ones include:
Exercise: The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has found that breaking a sweat on a regular basis helps to boost your mood and ease anxiety and depression. Keep in mind, your workout doesn’t have to be intense to reap the psychological benefits—just taking a long walk or light jog regularly can help.
Healthy Eating: Research has shown that a diet packed with fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean protein may result in lower risk of developing anxiety. Oh, and think twice about drinking cup after cup of java. According to studies, excessive amounts of caffeine can worsen anxiety.
Sleeping well: Sleep is important for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that bad sleep is connected to anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, people who deal with chronic sleep issues are at a high risk to develop an anxiety disorder. The goal: to get at least seven to nine hours of snooze time per night.
No matter what, remember this: Anxiety doesn’t have to rule your life. Wellbutrin can help with anxiety, but check with a healthcare professional to see if it’s right for you.
Whether you take medication or partake in talk therapy or both, there are a variety of ways to deal.
Anxiety might be common, but it’s possible to manage it so you can feel more balanced every day.
Dr. Jill Johnson is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner and board-certified in Aesthetic Medicine. She has clinical and leadership experience in emergency services, Family Practice, and Aesthetics.
Jill graduated with honors from Frontier Nursing University School of Midwifery and Family Practice, where she received a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialty in Family Nursing. She completed her doctoral degree at Case Western Reserve University.
Jill is a national speaker on various topics involving critical care, emergency and air medical topics. She has authored and reviewed for numerous publications. You can find Jill on Linkedin for more information.