Trintellix vs Wellbutrin

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For patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) or other types of depression, certain medications that influence the concentrations of compounds in the brain linked to mood, known as neurotransmitters, can help stabilize depressive lows and manage symptoms. Trintellix and Wellbutrin are two such drugs commonly prescribed for depression. They each affect different neurotransmitters in the brain but share a common goal: mood stabilization in patients suffering from depression. Trintellix is classified as a serotonin modulator and stimulator (SMS), which means it affects levels of serotonin by both enhancing its release and inhibiting its reuptake into neurons. On the opposite side, Wellbutrin is categorized as a norepinephrine–dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI) and nicotinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist; it primarily impacts levels of norepinephrine and dopamine.

What is Trintellix?

Vortioxetine (the generic name for Trintellix) is a novel antidepressant that falls in the class of serotonin modulators and stimulators. It was first approved by the FDA in 2013. Trintellix works somewhat differently from other classes of antidepressants - it targets several different types of serotonin receptors, not just preventing its reuptake but also stimulating or blocking these receptors to varying degrees, effectively altering levels and activity of serotonin in the brain. It is prescribed primarily for major depressive disorder.

Trintellix has a unique influence on serotonergic modulation compared to Wellbutrin (bupropion), which primarily influences dopamine and norepinephrine neurotransmitters and does not have significant serotonergic effects. As such, side effect profiles between these two drugs can be quite different; Trintellix may cause nausea more frequently while Wellbutrin might lead to agitation or insomnia due to its stimulating properties.

What conditions is Trintellix approved to treat?

Trintellix is approved for the treatment of various forms of depression:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Treatment-resistant depression It does not have approval for use in bipolar disorder or in combination with other drugs, unlike Prozac. It should be noted that each patient's case is unique and treatments may vary. Always consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your medication regimen.

How does Trintellix help with these illnesses?

Trintellix works to manage depression by modulating the activity of serotonin in the brain. It does this through dual actions: firstly, it blocks the reabsorption (or "reuptake") of serotonin by neurons, thereby increasing its availability in synapses; secondly, it directly stimulates certain receptors while blocking others. This nuanced approach to regulating serotonergic neurotransmission is thought to provide a wider range of benefits for mood regulation and cognitive function than simply increasing synaptic serotonin levels alone. Serotonin is a crucial neurotransmitter involved in many physiological processes including mood regulation, cognition, memory, sleep patterns and appetite control among others. Depression has been linked with imbalances or dysfunctions within the serotonergic system. Thus enhancing and fine-tuning serotonin signaling via Trintellix can help patients better manage their depressive symptoms and overall emotional well-being.

On the other hand, Wellbutrin acts primarily on two different neurotransmitters - dopamine and norepinephrine - both of which play key roles in motivation, focus and pleasure-related aspects of mood regulation that are often impacted in depression.

What is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin is the commercial name for bupropion, an antidepressant that functions as a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI). This means it increases the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain by reducing their absorption. It also serves as a mild antagonist to nicotinic receptors, which inhibits the action of acetylcholine on these receptors. Bupropion got its FDA approval back in 1986 and since it's not classified as an SSRI antidepressant, it doesn't have any effect on serotonin reabsorption. This unique mechanism of action gives Wellbutrin a different side-effect profile compared to SSRIs; specifically, it doesn't cause sedation or lead to weight gain and sexual dysfunction—common effects noticed with many SSRIs like Trintellix. The impact Wellbutrin has on dopamine and norepinephrine can be especially advantageous when treating depression, particularly among individuals who show inadequate response towards more traditional SSRI antidepressants such as Trintellix.

What conditions is Wellbutrin approved to treat?

Wellbutrin, a widely-used medication in the United States, has been granted approval by the FDA for treating:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • The mood changes associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also referred to as "winter blues" or "winter depression".

In addition to these uses, Wellbutrin is occasionally used off-label for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety disorders. However, it's always important to discuss any potential off-label usage of medications with your healthcare provider first.

How does Wellbutrin help with these illnesses?

Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, plays vital roles in various processes in the body such as movement coordination, pleasure and reward system, memory and learning. It is also involved in mood regulation; low levels of dopamine have been associated with depression. Wellbutrin works by increasing the available amounts of dopamine in the brain thus mitigating some signs of depression. Its influence on norepinephrine may also contribute to Wellbutrin's antidepressant effects. Since it does not significantly impact serotonin levels like most selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) do - for instance Trintellix which increases serotonin level- it is often prescribed for patients who do not respond favorably to conventional SSRI antidepressants or can be paired with SSRIs when necessary.

How effective are both Trintellix and Wellbutrin?

Both vortioxetine (Trintellix) and bupropion (Wellbutrin) are effective treatments for depression, each with their unique mechanisms of action. Vortioxetine was approved by the FDA in 2013, years after Wellbutrin's initial approval in 1985 but has quickly gained recognition as a potential treatment option. Because they act on different neurotransmitters — vortioxetine primarily affects serotonin while bupropion acts on norepinephrine and dopamine — they may be prescribed under varying circumstances.

A clinical trial conducted in 2007 directly compared the effects of these two drugs; both medications demonstrated comparable effectiveness in managing symptoms of depression, with similar safety profiles. The study found that there were no significant differences between patients receiving Wellbutrin or Trintellix regarding metrics used to measure efficacy against depression.

Vortioxetine has proven its effectiveness at reducing depressive symptoms within the first week of treatment based upon reviews from several meta-analyses conducted since its introduction. Its side effect profile is generally mild and tolerable, making it an appealing choice over other antidepressants for certain populations including older individuals or those who have not responded well to SSRIs or SNRIs. An optimal dose can range between 10mg to 20mg per day depending on individual patient needs.

On the other hand, although bupropion shows high efficacy in treating depressive disorders when compared with a placebo according to a review and meta-analysis from 2016, it is typically considered a third- or fourth-line treatment option due to concerns about its side-effect profile when compared to first-line treatments like SSRI’s and SNRI’s such as Trintellix. However, it might be an optimal choice for patients who did not respond well to SSRI's/SNRI's or wish to avoid common side effects associated with these classes of drugs such as sexual dysfunction.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Trintellix typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Trintellix range from 5–20 mg/day, but research suggests that a daily dosage of 10 mg is adequate for treating major depressive disorder in most adults. Adolescents and children's use should be determined by a healthcare provider. If there is no response after several weeks, the dosage may be increased under medical supervision. However, it should never exceed the maximum recommended daily dose of 20 mg. Similarly, Wellbutrin's suggested initial dose for treating depression in adults is typically 150-300 mg/day with a maximum dose not exceeding 450mg/day. Children and adolescents' usage ought to be determined by a doctor.

At what dose is Wellbutrin typically prescribed?

Wellbutrin therapy typically begins with a dosage of 100-200 mg/day. If necessary, the dose can be increased to 300 mg/day, divided into two doses that are taken at intervals of about 8 hours. The maximum allowable dosage is 450mg/day, which should be split into three separate doses of 150mg each and administered every six hours. This may be considered if there's no significant improvement in symptoms after few weeks of treatment at the previous daily total dose of 300mg.

What are the most common side effects for Trintellix?

Common side effects of Trintellix include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Gas or bloating
  • Dizziness
  • Less sexual desire or ability

In contrast, the common side effects of Wellbutrin include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Headache/migraine
    -Anxiety/ nervousness
    -Increased heart rate
    -Decreased libido (sex drive) -Sleep problems (insomnia)

It's important to note that every individual may react differently to medications and these are not exhaustive lists. Always consult with your healthcare provider for a comprehensive understanding of potential side effects and any concerns you might have.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Trintellix?

Just like any medication, Trintellix can cause side effects. While most people tolerate it well, you should be aware of potentially serious side effects:

  • Thoughts about suicide or self-harm - this is particularly important for those under the age of 25
  • Signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat
  • Visual changes such as blurred vision and eye pain or swelling
  • Heart-related issues: fast heartbeats, palpitations in your chest (fluttering), breathlessness and sudden dizziness (like you might faint)
  • Low sodium levels in the body leading to symptoms like headaches, confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness, vomiting and loss of coordination that makes you unsteady on your feet
  • Severe nervous system reaction which could present as rigid muscles, high fever, sweating heavily out-of-the-blue with rapid/uneven heartbeats resulting in tremors and feeling close to passing out.

Trintellix may also lead to serotonin syndrome. Symptoms include agitation, hallucinations (seeing things that are not there), a very high temperature/fever, excessive sweating/chills/shivering; fast heartbeat rate; stiffened muscles; twitchiness/involuntary muscle movements/jerking/trembling; lack of coordination/clumsiness; and gastrointestinal upset such as nausea/vomiting/diarrhea.

If you experience these severe side effects while taking Trintellix consult your doctor immediately.

What are the most common side effects for Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin, an alternative to Trintellix, can cause a range of side effects. Some common ones may include:

  • Dry mouth and throat discomfort
  • Occasional ringing in the ears
  • Minor vision changes such as blurriness
  • Gastrointestinal issues like nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, appetite change or constipation
  • Alterations in sleep patterns that could lead to insomnia
  • Physical manifestations of anxiety including tremors and sweating
  • Mental health fluctuations such as increased nervousness
  • Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
  • Cognitive effects like confusion or agitation and even hostility in severe cases
  • Skin reactions such as rash -Unplanned weight loss due to appetite changes
    -Increased frequency of urination
    -General malaise symptoms like headache or dizziness
    -Potential muscle soreness or joint pain

Are there any potential serious side effects for Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin, though generally well-tolerated, can occasionally present with serious side effects. It's essential to seek immediate medical attention if any of the following symptoms arise:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction such as skin rash, itching or hives; swelling of the face, lips or tongue
  • Sudden changes in mood and behavior marked by increased anxiety, panic attacks, difficulty sleeping or feelings of impulsiveness
  • Severe nausea, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
  • Visual disturbances like blurred vision or eye pain
  • Seizures(convulsions), especially for those with a history of seizure disorder
  • Unusual bleeding and bruising Signs suggestive of a manic episode like hyperactivity and racing thoughts are also noteworthy.

Always remember that it is crucial to discuss all possible side effects with your healthcare provider before starting Wellbutrin.

Contraindications for Trintellix and Wellbutrin?

Both Trintellix and Wellbutrin, like many other antidepressant medications, may exacerbate depressive symptoms in some individuals. If you observe a worsening of your depression or an increase in suicidal thoughts or behaviors, it's crucial to seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Trintellix nor Wellbutrin can be taken if you are currently using or have recently used monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. It is essential to inform your physician about any medications you are taking; MAOIs require a clearance period of approximately 5 weeks from the system to avoid hazardous interactions with both Trintellix and Wellbutrin.

How much do Trintellix and Wellbutrin cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price for 30 tablets of Wellbutrin SR (150 mg) averages around $500, which translates to approximately $16.67/day.
  • However, Trintellix is far more expensive with a cost of around $425 for just 30 tablets (10mg), resulting in an average daily cost of about $14.17.

So, if you're on a higher dosage range for Wellbutrin (i.e., 300 mg/day or higher), then brand-name Trintellix may be less costly on a per-day treatment basis. Nonetheless, it's important to remember that cost should not be the primary determinant in choosing between these two medications.

As for their generic counterparts:

  • Bupropion hydrochloride (the active ingredient in Wellbutrin) is available in packs from as low as 30 capsules and up, with costs averaging between $.50 and $1 per day based on typical dosages ranging from 200 to 450 mg/day.
  • Vortioxetine – the generic equivalent of Trintellix – is currently unavailable in most markets; hence its pricing cannot be compared at this time.

Popularity of Trintellix and Wellbutrin

Vortioxetine, known by the brand name Trintellix, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 1.5 million people in the US in 2020. Vortioxetine accounted for just under 3% of antidepressant prescriptions in the US. It is classified as an atypical antidepressant due to its unique mechanism of action (serotonin modulator and stimulator). Unlike most other antidepressants, it not only inhibits serotonin reuptake but also modulates certain serotonin receptors which may contribute to its efficacy.

Bupropion, both in generic form and under brand names such as Wellbutrin, was prescribed to around 5.8 million people in the USA during the same year. In total, bupropion makes up over 12% of all antidepressant prescriptions across America and is considered one of the more common "atypical" drugs used for this purpose — a term that denotes any medication not categorized as an SSRI or within another broad class of similar treatments. The use of Bupropion has seen a consistent rise since approximately 2013.


Both Trintellix (vortioxetine) and Wellbutrin (bupropion) have been widely used in the management of depression, supported by extensive clinical studies demonstrating their effectiveness over placebo treatments. These two drugs can be used together under careful medical supervision as they may interact with each other. Their different modes of action make them suitable for various scenarios: Trintellix works mainly on serotonin receptors and transporters while Wellbutrin predominantly affects norepinephrine and dopamine levels.

Trintellix is often chosen when first-line SSRI antidepressants don't provide sufficient relief or if a patient needs to minimize common sexual side-effects associated with SSRIs. On the other hand, Wellbutrin is typically considered an auxiliary therapy to add onto SSRIs like Trintellix or for patients who did not respond well to initial SSRI treatment.

While both drugs are available in generic form offering potential cost savings, note that this might not apply to all countries or insurance plans. Both Trintellix and Wellbutrin require some time before noticeable effects set in which underscores the importance of patience during early stages of treatment.

Side effect profiles between these two medications are somewhat similar; both are generally well-tolerated but there can be differences based on individual response. For instance, unlike many antidepressants including Trintellix, Wellbutrin doesn’t usually cause sexual dysfunction or weight gain. It's crucial for patients starting either drug to closely monitor their mental state; any signs of worsening depression or suicidal thoughts should trigger immediate medical intervention.