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Does Wellbutrin Cause Hair Loss?

Katelyn Hagerty

Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Published 05/22/2023

Is Wellbutrin® hair loss a thing? Here’s what you should know.

From genetics to bad hair habits, a number of things can contribute to hair loss. One that you may not think of? Antidepressants.

Yup, you read that right. Medications you take to help with symptoms of depressive disorder may have the side effect of hair loss. The good news is that this side effect is generally not permanent. 

Wondering if Wellbutrin® is one of the antidepressants associated with hair loss? Keep reading to find out if there is a connection between hair loss and Wellbutrin®. 

Does Wellbutrin Cause Hair Loss? 

Wellbutrin® is a prescription drug used to treat symptoms of depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), as well as to help people stop smoking. Sometimes, it is also used to treat bipolar disorder.

Brand-name versions include Wellbutrin®, Wellbutrin SR® and Wellbutrin XL®, while the generic version is called bupropion.

As with any medication, there are some common side effects associated with bupropion. They include:

  • Agitation

  • Blurred vision

  • Constipation or abdominal pain

  • Dizziness

  • Dry mouth

  • Excessive sweating

  • Headaches

  • Insomnia

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Weight gain

  • Weight loss

  • Allergic reactions

You may notice that Wellbutrin® hair loss isn’t listed as one of the common side effects. So, does that mean you (and your hair follicles) are in the clear? Not quite. 

A comparative retrospective cohort study looked at different antidepressants to see if they might increase the risk of hair loss. The research concluded that bupropion was associated with a higher risk of hair loss than certain other antidepressants — namely fluoxetine and paroxetine, both of which are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a different kind of antidepressant than Wellbutrin.

Despite these findings, you should know it’s really rare for people taking bupropion to experience hair loss. The FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) lists hair thinning as an infrequent side effect. This means it occurs in somewhere between one out of 100 and one out of 1,000 patients who take this medication. 

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Why Might Wellbutrin Cause Hair Loss

Just because you take bupropion doesn’t mean you’ll for sure start losing your hair. As mentioned, this is not a common side effect. However, if you do notice some excess shedding or sudden hair loss while taking Wellbutrin®, you may wonder why.

The type of hair loss infrequently caused by taking Wellbutrin® is called telogen effluvium, which is defined by the non-scarring, excessive shedding of hair.

Your hair goes through three phases in its life cycle. In the anagen phase, it grows. In the catagen stage, your strands stop growing.

Finally, there’s the telogen phase, which is the resting stage of the hair growth cycle. During telogen effluvium, your hair enters the telogen phase earlier than it should, which means hair grows less and is released earlier than it otherwise would be. That’s why you notice excess shedding.

The good news? Telogen effluvium, and therefore Wellbutrin® hair loss, isn’t permanent.

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How to Stop Wellbutrin Hair Loss

The connection between hair loss and Wellbutrin® isn’t exactly robust. That said, hair loss from medication does happen sometimes. Given that, you may want to brush up on how to stop telogen effluvium from Wellbutrin®.

One thing not to do? Don’t suddenly stop taking your medication. Anytime you’re thinking of going off of antidepressant medications, you should do so under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

They can either taper you off your medication so there’s no withdrawal or switch you to another medication so the symptoms of your depressive disorder don’t come racing back. 

If hair loss and Wellbutrin® are part of your life, there are also treatment options available. It’s best to speak to a healthcare provider about the best way to deal with your symptoms.

Below, find some of the ways you can address this unwanted effect and encourage regrowth. 

Topical Medication

Minoxidil is a topical treatment that comes in liquid and foam formulas. It is FDA-approved to treat hair loss and doesn’t require a prescription.

This medication is thought to work by stimulating hair follicles to enter the growth phase. It also boosts blood flow to your scalp, which brings more nutrients to the area and may stimulate hair growth.

Hair Loss Shampoo

You have to wash your hair, so you may as well use a thickening shampoo. Hims offers a thickening shampoo formulated with saw palmetto, a natural ingredient thought to reduce hair loss. 

Most studies on saw palmetto have only researched its use for androgenic alopecia, not for telogen effluvium. While more data is needed, the little bit that’s out there has found that topical saw palmetto did increase terminal hair count for men with androgenic alopecia.

Biotin

Have you seen those hair gummies all over Instagram? Many contain a B vitamin called biotin. Naturally found in foods like eggs, milk and bananas, biotin is thought to contribute to healthy hair.

In addition to getting biotin through a healthy diet, you can also take it in supplement form. One study done on women with thinning hair found that supplements containing biotin can help encourage hair regrowth — but we’ll add the caveat that these supplements contained other ingredients as well, making it hard to say which ones really worked. 

Hims offers a biotin gummy containing vitamin D, as being low in vitamin D may also lead to hair shedding.

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Wellbutrin and Hair Loss 

Wellbutrin® is a medication used to treat depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and other psychiatric disorders. Like any medication, Wellbutrin® comes with possible adverse effects, including muscle pain, blood pressure shifts and, more seriously, chest pain.

On top of this, there is a potential link between Wellbutrin® and hair loss. 

  • Wellbutrin® may cause hair loss. Though rare, Wellbutrin® hair loss does occur. It’s more likely than some other antidepressant medications to cause you to lose hair, but the FDA still considers this to be an infrequent side effect of taking this mental health medication.

  • Permanent hair loss isn’t likely. The type of hair loss caused by taking Wellbutrin® is called telogen effluvium. This encourages hair to go into the telogen phase, which causes excessive hair shedding. 

  • Treatments are available. From topical Minoxidil to supplements to thickening shampoo, there are various treatments you can try to encourage hair regrowth. 

If you’d like to learn more about things that can cause you to lose hair, consider reading our guide on the different types of hair loss and our blog on common symptoms of these conditions. Again, loss of hair due to Wellbutrin® isn’t common.
But if you find yourself experiencing it, you should schedule a time to speak with a healthcare provider. Hims offers online consultations with healthcare providers, making it easy to discuss any hair loss symptoms you’re noticing and potential treatment options.

13 Sources

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  2. Wellbutrin (bupropion hydrochloride) tablets label. (n.d.). Accessdata.fda.gov. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2011/018644s043lbl.pdf
  3. Etminan, M. (2018, January 1). Risk of hair loss with different antidepressants a comparative retrospective cohort study. International Clinical Psychopharmacology. https://journals.lww.com/intclinpsychopharm/Abstract/2018/01000/Risk_of_hair_loss_with_different_antidepressants_.4.aspx
  4. WELLBUTRIN. (n.d.). Accessdata.fda.gov. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/018644s039s040.pdf
  5. Asghar, F. (2020, May 27). Telogen Effluvium: A Review of the Literature. NCBI. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7320655/
  6. Physiology, Hair - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf. (n.d.). NCBI. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499948/
  7. Ramos, M. (n.d.). Minoxidil - StatPearls - NCBI Bookshelf. NCBI. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
  8. Antidepressants. (2022, January 26). MedlinePlus. Retrieved February 15, 2023, from https://medlineplus.gov/antidepressants.html
  9. Adelman, M.J, Bedford, L.M., and Potts, G.A. (2020). Clinical efficacy of popular oral hair growth supplement ingredients.International Journal of Dermatology. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Madeline-Adelman-4/publication/347565683_Clinical_efficacy_of_popular_oral_hair_growth_supplement_ingredients/links/6317b5861ddd4470213e5ab9/Clinical-efficacy-of-popular-oral-hair-growth-supplement-ingredients.pdf
  10. Wessagowit, V., Tangjaturonrusamee, C., Kootiratrakarn, T., Bunnag, T., Pimonrat, T., Muangdang, N. and Pichai, P. (2016), AGA treatment with Serenoa repens. Australasian Journal of Dermatology, 57: e76-e82. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/ajd.12352
  11. Biotin. (n.d.). MedlinePlus. Retrieved January 28, 2023, from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/natural/313.html
  12. Ablon, G. (2015). A 3-Month, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study Evaluating the Ability of an Extra-Strength Marine Protein Supplement to Promote Hair Growth and Decrease Shedding in Women with Self-Perceived Thinning Hair. Dermatology Research and Practice. Retrieved from https://www.hindawi.com/journals/drp/2015/841570/
  13. Khan, Q., Fabian, C., (2010, March). How I Treat Vitamin D Deficiency. Journal of Oncology Practice, 6(2):97-101. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2835491/
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