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Understanding Depression and Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder with Wellbutrin XL®

News October 10, 2019 | CanadaOnlineHealth

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA more than 322 million people worldwide live with depression.

Types of Depression: Not all depression is the same

There are several types of depressive disorders.  While some may present similarly, they each have their own unique symptoms.

Major Depressive Disorder - This type is the most commonly diagnosed form of depression.  One of the common symptoms is the overwhelming feeling of sadness and loss of interest in anything pleasurable.  This depression also has diagnostic symptoms such as hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness), constant fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, thoughts of dying or suicidal thoughts.  People with this depression will stop social activities, stop working, or stop going to school.  This type of depression lasts more than two weeks and represents a big change from the individual’s usual self and activities.  Major Depressive Disorder is often treated with Wellbutrin XL ®

Persistent Depressive Disorder (dysthymia) – While not as severe as major depression, this type of depressive disorder is marked by a persistent sad or depressed mood that lasts for at least two years.  There are several diagnostic symptoms, which include low self-esteem, poor appetite or over eating, feelings of hopelessness, hypersomnia or insomnia, and low energy.

Adjustment Disorder with Depressed Mood – This type of depression begins within three months of a person experiencing a stressor. A stressor may be either positive or negative, and usually involves a change in someone’s life that he or she finds stressful. Examples of a stressor includes loss of a job, a family crisis, marriage  or other life change.  Symptoms typically disappear within 6 months when life returns to normal.

Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) – This disorder is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).  While they are similar, PMDD presents stronger physical and emotional upset.  Both have symptoms that occur within the week to ten days before a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Seasonal Affective Disorder – This type of depression is related to the change of seasons and lack of sunlight. It sometimes affects shift workers who work overnight and sleep in the day.  Learn more about Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Depressive disorders due to another medical condition – There are times when other medical conditions can trigger depression.  An example is hypothyroidism.  Another example is Cushing’s syndrome, which can cause depressive symptoms due to the high levels of the hormone cortisol.  The ADAA suggests that other medical conditions can lead to depression including Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and HIV/AIDS.

How is depression treated?

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that there are several types of depression. The treatment and its effectiveness depend both on the type of depression and the severity.

Psychotherapy - Also known as ‘talk therapy’, this therapy occurs when the patient visits a therapist to discuss his or her problems and a lifestyle plan is developed for coping and working through the issues.  This therapy may include:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Interpersonal therapy (IPT)
  • Psychodynamic therapy

Psychoeducation and support groups - This therapy helps a patient understand his or her own condition, how to treat it, and recognize when there is a relapse about to occur. 

Treatment with medication – Most patients will find that using medication such as anti-depressants along with psychotherapy can be beneficial in controlling their symptoms of depression.

Prescription Wellbutrin XL® (bupropion hydrochloride) for Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder

Wellbutrin XL® (bupropion hydrochloride) is an anti-depressant used to treat major depressive disorder. It is also used to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is a type of depression that is brought on by lack of sunlight during winter.  


Prescription Wellbutrin XL® works by restoring the balance of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain. Both are naturally occurring neurotransmitters in the body.

How do you use Wellbutrin XL®?

Prescription Wellbutrin XL® is a pill that is usually taken once a day, usually in the morning.  The dosage depends on how much is prescribed by your doctor.   Your doctor may start you on a low dose and gradually increase it until you have reached an effective dosage.

Brand-name Wellbutrin XL® – 150 mg

Brand-name Wellbutrin XL® – 300 mg

Generic Bupropion XL – 150 mg

Generic Bupropion XL – 300 mg 

To gain the benefits of this medication it needs to be taken at the same time each day and taken regularly.  It is recommended this medication be taken in the morning, as taking it late in the day could lead to insomnia.

Do not crush or chew prescription Wellbutrin XL® as it is a time released medication. Chewing  it may release the medication into your system all at once causing negative side effects.

It may take up to 4 weeks or more to see the full benefit of this medication.  Do not stop Wellbutrin XL® or increase it without consulting your doctor.

What are the side effects of Wellbutrin XL®?

Many medications have side effects and most are mild.  Some common side effects of prescription Wellbutrin XL® include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Vomiting/nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Sore throat
  • Dry mouth
  • Headache
  • Tremors

This prescription medication may increase your blood pressure, so check your blood pressure regularly.

Serious side effects to be aware of include eye pain, seizures, or vision changes. Seek medical assistance immediately if you experience any of these serious side effects.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. Speak to your pharmacist about other possible side effects.

Was this article helpful? Other related articles:

Treating depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder with Lexapro (escitalopram)

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