Chemical Soup: Zyban and Wellbutrin

22%: Zyban/Wellbutrin Success Rate

Want to hear an interesting story?  How did Zyban come to be a stop smoking medication?

Zyban or Wellbutrin is an anti-depressant but not an SSRI and is chemically unrelated to every other antidepressant medication; researchers are still not sure how it works.

In the 25 or so years since it was first introduced, Prozac and its close chemical relatives, the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs (Paxil, Zoloft, Luvox and Celexa), have become the nation’s most popular anti-depressants. They do a great job of parting the black clouds of depression, and many people swear that SSRIs have improved their lives dramatically.

Side Effects

But others are unhappy about SSRI-induced sex problems.  Unfortunately, few people know that another anti-depressant, Wellbutrin (chemical name: bupropion), is as effective as the SSRI’s but much less likely to cause sexual side effects. And most don’t know that several studies have shown that Wellbutrin has sex-enhancing effects.

One more side effect observed was that people didn’t feel so much like smoking.  Makes more sense to target two markets with the drug that just one.  Wellbutrin is not a popular anti-depressant mostly due to the fact it had a 2 to 4 time greater risk of causing seizures than the SSRI’s, but when Viagra and similar drugs made their appearance, the sexual enhancing effects seemed less enticing.  Wellbutrin has become a less popular choice for smokers as well since most people tell me they experience lots of crazy dreams and mood swings which tend to challenge their relationships.

Below are the side effects from the product insert.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • abdominal pain
  • blurred vision
  • change in sense of taste
  • constipation
  • decrease in appetite
  • dizziness
  • drowsiness
  • dry mouth
  • feeling of fast or irregular heartbeat
  • frequent need to urinate
  • increased sweating
  • muscle pain
  • nausea or vomiting
  • sore throat
  • trembling or shaking
  • trouble sleeping
  • unexpected weight loss
  • unusual feeling of well-being

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • agitation
  • anxiety
  • buzzing or ringing in ears
  • confusion
  • extreme distrust
  • fainting
  • false beliefs that cannot be changed by facts
  • hallucinations
  • headache (severe)
  • seizures (convulsions), especially with higher doses
  • skin rash, hives, or itching
  • trouble concentrating

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • fast heartbeat
  • hallucinations
  • loss of consciousness
  • nausea
  • seizures
  • vomiting

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.