Remeron vs Wellbutrin

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For individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD) or other forms of depression, certain medications that modify the concentrations of neurotransmitters in the brain—which are related to mood—can aid in stabilizing depressive lows and managing symptoms. Remeron and Wellbutrin are two such drugs prescribed for depression. They each impact different neurotransmitters but both have mood-stabilizing effects for patients suffering from depression.

Remeron is classified as a noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressant (NaSSA), primarily affecting levels of norepinephrine and serotonin by blocking their receptors. This action enhances the overall level of these neurotransmitters in the nerve synapse, thus increasing their effect.

Wellbutrin, on the other hand, impacts mainly norepinephrine and dopamine levels. It's known as a norepinephrine–dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) which also has antagonistic activity at nicotinic acetylcholine receptors.

What is Remeron?

Mirtazapine (the generic name for Remeron) is a unique antidepressant that falls under the noradrenergic and specific serotonergic class of antidepressants. Mirtazapine was first approved by the FDA in 1996. Unlike many other antidepressants, which tend to decrease appetite and cause weight loss, mirtazapine is often used because it can help stimulate appetite and lead to weight gain in people who are underweight or suffering from medical conditions like cancer where maintaining or gaining weight can be beneficial. It operates by boosting levels of norepinephrine and serotonin while also blocking certain serotonin receptors – this leads to an increase in mood-boosting chemicals hanging around in the brain.

On the other hand, Bupropion (the generic name for Wellbutrin) belongs to a different class known as norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs). Instead of focusing on serotonin pathways like mirtazapine does, bupropion works mainly by increasing levels of dopamine and norepinephrine thus having fewer sexual side effects than most other classes of antidepressants including SSRIs such as fluoxetine or even mirtzapine's category.

What conditions is Remeron approved to treat?

Remeron is approved for the treatment of different variations of depression:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Sleep disorders associated with depression
  • Appetite loss related to depression

On the other hand, Wellbutrin is used in the management of:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  • As an aid to smoking cessation treatment.

How does Remeron help with these illnesses?

Remeron, also known as mirtazapine, helps to manage depression by increasing the amount of serotonin and norepinephrine available in the synapses of the brain. It does this by blocking specific adrenergic receptors that normally reabsorb these neurotransmitters, so their levels can be maintained higher for longer periods of time. Both serotonin and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters: chemicals that act as messengers in the brain and throughout the body. They play important roles in mood regulation, cognition, memory, sleep patterns and other critical functions. It is believed that individuals with depression have relatively lower levels of these neurotransmitters. Therefore, by enhancing their presence in synaptic clefts through its action on specific receptors, Remeron can limit the negative effects of depression enabling patients better manage their condition and stabilize their mood.

What is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin, also known as bupropion, is a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI), which means it increases the levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain by reducing their absorption. Additionally, Wellbutrin acts as a mild antagonist for nicotinic acetylcholine receptors thereby limiting another neurotransmitter's action - acetylcholine. This medication was first greenlit by the FDA in 1986.

Notably, unlike Remeron (mirtazapine), an antidepressant that works on noradrenergic and specific serotonergic receptors to increase serotonin and norepinephrine production but may cause sedation or weight gain, Wellbutrin does not inhibit serotonin uptake. This lack of effect on serotonin signifies that its side-effect profile differs from those drugs like Remeron; mainly it doesn't lead to sedation or weight gain — common issues with other antidepressants.

The impact of Wellbutrin on dopamine and norepinephrine can be advantageous in treating depression, particularly among patients who do not respond favorably to "typical" SSRIs such as Prozac.

What conditions is Wellbutrin approved to treat?

Wellbutrin is granted approval by the U.S. FDA for the treatment of a variety of conditions including:

  • Major depressive disorder, a condition characterized by prolonged periods of sadness or loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.
  • Seasonal affective disorder, more commonly referred to as "winter blues," which typically occurs during fall and winter months when there are fewer daylight hours.

How does Wellbutrin help with these illnesses?

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays an essential role in the regulation of mood, motivation, reward and attention. It's also involved in regulating movement and emotional responses. Unusually low levels of dopamine have been associated with depression. Wellbutrin functions by enhancing the availability of dopamine in your brain, thereby relieving some depressive symptoms. It also influences norepinephrine to a degree which may contribute to its effectiveness as an antidepressant drug. Unlike many other commonly prescribed antidepressants such as Remeron (also known as mirtazapine), Wellbutrin doesn't significantly impact serotonin levels. For this reason, it's often prescribed when patients don't respond well to other SSRI or SNRI antidepressants like Remeron or can be combined with these medications for an enhanced effect.

How effective are both Remeron and Wellbutrin?

Both mirtazapine (Remeron) and bupropion (Wellbutrin) have established histories of success in treating patients with depression. Mirtazapine was approved by the FDA in 1996, while bupropion received approval much earlier, in 1985. They act on different neurotransmitters and are generally prescribed under differing clinical circumstances due to their unique pharmacological profiles.

A comparative study conducted in 2000 found that both drugs were similarly effective at alleviating depressive symptoms, presenting promising safety profiles as well. None of the different metrics used to measure efficacy for treating depression significantly differed between patients receiving mirtazapine or those taking bupropion.

One important distinction is that mirtazapine tends to cause more weight gain than other antidepressants, which can be a significant consideration when prescribing it. On the other hand, bupropion has been noted for its lower likelihood of causing sexual side effects such as reduced libido or orgasm difficulties.

Reviews and meta-analyses show that mirtazapine starts being effective from the first week of treatment - making it one of the faster-acting antidepressants available today - and works particularly well at combating insomnia associated with depression due to its sedative properties. However, it’s not typically chosen as a first-line treatment due to its side effect profile; instead, it is often considered only after SSRIs or other first-line treatments haven’t worked out.

Meanwhile, studies indicate that bupropion appears more effective than placebo at treating depression but isn't necessarily superior when compared directly with many other common antidepressants. Most research on this drug involves co-prescribing alongside an SSRI rather than using it alone – hence definitive data confirming standalone efficacy isn’t robust enough yet. Nevertheless, because of its distinct mechanism action which makes it less likely to induce sexual dysfunction or weight gain like many SSRIs do; Wellbutrin may be ideal for certain patient populations who didn't respond adequately to SSRIs or need these specific side effects avoided.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Remeron typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Remeron (Mirtazapine) typically start at 15 mg/day, but research has shown that a dosage of 30-45 mg/day is often more effective for treating major depressive disorder in most adults. Adolescents and the elderly may be started on lower doses, such as 7.5 mg/day based on their doctor's discretion. If no response is seen after several weeks, the dosage can be gradually increased under medical supervision. In any situation, the maximum daily dose should not exceed 45 mg.

At what dose is Wellbutrin typically prescribed?

Wellbutrin therapy is typically initiated at a dose of 100-200 mg/day. Depending on the patient's response, this can be raised to a daily dosage of 300 mg which is split into two doses with an interval of 8 hours in between. In case there isn't any noticeable improvement after several weeks, your healthcare professional may consider testing the maximum dosage which is set at 450 mg/day. This would involve dividing it into three doses each containing about 150 mg and taken roughly every six hours apart. It's important to note that such adjustments should only be made under medical supervision as everyone responds differently to medications.

What are the most common side effects for Remeron?

Common side effects that you may experience with Remeron include:

  • Drowsiness/sleepiness
  • Increased appetite and subsequent weight gain
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Lightheadedness, especially when standing up from a sitting or lying position (orthostatic hypotension)
  • Higher cholesterol and triglyceride levels in your blood

Some less common but more serious side effects of Remeron can also occur. These can include confusion, unusual excitement, fever, trembling or shaking, and problems with coordination. It's important to note that these are not all the potential side effects; always consult your healthcare provider for medical advice about your specific situation.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Remeron?

When comparing Remeron (mirtazapine) to Wellbutrin (bupropion), it's important to consider potential side effects:

  • In rare cases, both drugs can increase thoughts of suicide or self-harm, particularly in people under the age of 25.
  • Both medications may provoke allergic reactions which could include hives, difficulty breathing, swelling in your face or throat.
  • Visual disturbances such as blurred vision or tunnel vision are less common but possible with both drugs.
  • Cardiovascular symptoms like fast or pounding heartbeats and shortness of breath have been reported for both medications.
  • Low sodium levels can occur with Remeron use. Symptoms may include headache, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness and unsteadiness. -Severe nervous system reactions are also a possibility with both medications - signs would be stiff muscles high fever sweating confusion rapid heartbeats tremors feeling light-headed -Serotonin syndrome is more commonly associated with Remeron than Wellbutrin due to their pharmacological differences; watch out for agitation hallucinations fever heavy perspiration shivering increased heart rate muscle stiffness twitching loss of coordination nausea vomiting diarrhea.

As always if you experience any concerning symptoms while taking either medication consult your healthcare provider immediately.

What are the most common side effects for Wellbutrin?

While Remeron can cause side effects like increased appetite and weight gain, Wellbutrin may be a preferable choice for some due to its contrasting side effect profile. Notable potential adverse reactions of Wellbutrin include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Sore throat or sinusitis
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Changes in vision
  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, loss of appetite or constipation
  • Insomnia or sleep disturbances
  • Tremors or sweating; feelings of anxiety or nervousness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Possible confusion, agitation, and hostility
  • Skin rash
  • Weight fluctuations - particularly weight loss as opposed to the weight gain more commonly associated with Remeron. -Increased frequency of urination -Potential for headaches and dizziness
    -Joint and muscle pain

If you are considering switching medications always consult your healthcare professional first.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin, while generally well-tolerated, can cause some serious side effects. These may include:

  • Allergy symptoms such as hives, skin rash and itching or difficulty breathing
  • Increased suicidal thoughts or behaviors, particularly in young adults and teenagers
  • Seizures (convulsions), which are potentially life-threatening
  • Unusual mood changes including agitation, restlessness or panic attacks
  • Sudden vision problems like blurred sight or pain in the eye
  • Rapid heart rate that feels irregular
    Lastly, it's essential to note Wellbutrin can instigate manic episodes especially in those with bipolar disorder. Symptoms might involve racing thoughts, excessive energy levels, reduced need for sleep, talkativeness and engaging in reckless behavior. If you experience any of these signs after starting on Wellbutrin therapy do not hesitate to contact your healthcare provider immediately.

Contraindications for Remeron and Wellbutrin?

Both Remeron and Wellbutrin, like most other antidepressant medications, may worsen symptoms of depression in some people. If you notice your depression worsening, or an increase in suicidal thoughts or behaviors, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Remeron nor Wellbutrin should be taken if you are taking or have recently taken monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. Always inform your physician about any medications you are currently using; MAOIs will require a gap of approximately 2 weeks to clear from the system before starting on either Remeron or Wellbutrin to prevent potentially harmful interactions.

How much do Remeron and Wellbutrin cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price of 60 tablets of Wellbutrin SR (100 mg) averages around $500, which works out to $16–32/day, depending on your dose.
  • The cost for 30 tablets of Remeron (15mg) ranges from about $250 to $300. This works out to approximately $8-$10/day.

Thus, if you are in the higher dosage range for Wellbutrin (i.e., 300 mg/day or higher), then brand-name Remeron is less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. Please note that cost should not be a primary consideration in determining which of these drugs is right for you.

For generic versions:

  • Bupropion (100 mg tablets) is available in packs of 30 capsules and above, with approximate costs ranging from $0.25 to $0.80 per day at dosages around 100mg/day and between $0.50 and $1.50 per day if taking more typical doses upwards towards 450mg daily.

  • Mirtazapine - the generic form of Remeron - can be found anywhere from approximations as low as $.44 up to around $.85 per tablet depending upon location and pharmacy used; similar quantities apply here meaning one might expect somewhere within this same range when calculating their own personal daily dose expenditure rate.

Popularity of Remeron and Wellbutrin

Mirtazapine, in generic form as well as brand names such as Remeron, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 2.1 million people in the US in 2020. Mirtazapine accounted for just under 5% of antidepressant prescriptions in the US. It is classified under a class of antidepressants known as NaSSAs (noradrenergic and specific serotonergic antidepressants), which are considered atypical due to their unique mechanism of action compared with other widely used classes like SSRIs or SNRIs.

Bupropion, including brand versions such as Wellbutrin, was prescribed to approximately 5.8 million people in the USA during the same year. In terms of overall use among patients requiring an antidepressant medication, Bupropion accounts for slightly more than 12%. Unlike mirtazapine's sedative effects that can be beneficial for individuals dealing with insomnia alongside depression, bupropion tends not to cause weight gain or sexual dysfunction - common side effects seen with most types of antidepressants- making it a more attractive option for some patients.


Both Remeron (mirtazapine) and Wellbutrin (bupropion) have considerable usage records in the treatment of depression, supported by a number of clinical studies and meta-analyses showing they are more effective than placebo. In some instances, these drugs may be used together, although this requires careful medical supervision due to potential contraindications. Their different modes of action, with Remeron primarily affecting serotonin and noradrenaline receptors and Wellbutrin mainly working on norepinephrine and dopamine receptors, mean they're often prescribed based on individual patient needs.

Remeron is frequently employed as an initial treatment option for those suffering from insomnia or lack of appetite associated with depression due to its unique side effect profile. On the other hand, Wellbutrin would usually be considered as an adjuvant therapy (addition) to Remeron or in patients who did not respond well to first-line SSRIs/SNRIs antidepressants or have a specific need to avoid common sexual dysfunction side-effects linked with many antidepressants.

Both medications are available in generic form which can lead to substantial cost savings particularly for patients paying out-of-pocket. It's important that both Remeron and Wellbutrin users understand that there might be an adjustment period where effects aren’t immediately noticeable.

Side effect profiles between the two drugs show similarities but also key differences; while both are generally well-tolerated, Wellbutrin has fewer tendencies towards weight gain compared with Remeron which is known for its appetite-stimulating properties. Regardless of medication choice it’s critical that individuals monitor any mood changes closely when starting treatment—any worsening depression symptoms or emergence of suicidal thoughts must prompt immediate professional medical consultation.