Zyban vs Wellbutrin

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For patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) or those attempting to quit smoking, certain drugs that modify the concentrations of compounds in the brain associated with mood and addiction can help manage symptoms. Zyban and Wellbutrin are two such drugs often prescribed for these purposes. Both medications impact neurotransmitters within the brain and have demonstrated benefits in managing symptoms of depression as well as nicotine withdrawal. Wellbutrin is classified as a norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI), primarily affecting levels of norepinephrine and dopamine which play significant roles in both mood regulation and addiction pathways. On the other hand, Zyban, while chemically identical to Wellbutrin, is marketed specifically for its efficacy in helping individuals quit smoking by reducing cravings and withdrawal effects from nicotine cessation.

What is Zyban?

Bupropion (the generic name for both Zyban and Wellbutrin) is a type of antidepressant that belongs to a class known as norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRIs). Bupropion received FDA approval in 1985. It works by inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine, effectively increasing the levels of these neurotransmitters in the brain. It is prescribed for the treatment of depression and to help with smoking cessation. While both Zyban and Wellbutrin contain the same active ingredient, they are prescribed for different purposes. Wellbutrin is primarily used to manage symptoms of depression, whereas Zyban is prescribed as a smoking cessation aid. Bupropion has a selective influence on dopamine and norepinephrine with minimal influence on serotonin, which results in it having a different side effect profile than other antidepressants that have stronger effects on serotonin.

What conditions is Zyban approved to treat?

Zyban is approved for the treatment of different conditions such as:

  • Smoking cessation treatment
  • Prevention of seasonal major depressive episodes in patients with a diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

It's worth noting that Zyban and Wellbutrin are the same drug, bupropion, but are marketed for different uses. Wellbutrin is used primarily for depression, while Zyban is used for smoking cessation.

How does Zyban help with these illnesses?

Zyban aids in smoking cessation by influencing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain. It does this by inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine, so their levels can be maintained higher for a longer duration. Both dopamine and norepinephrine are neurotransmitters, chemicals that act as messengers in the brain and throughout the body, playing crucial roles in mood, motivation, attention, and response to stress, among other things. It is thought that nicotine dependence is associated with the short-term mood-enhancing effects of smoking, which are primarily mediated through the release of dopamine. Therefore, by increasing dopamine and norepinephrine, Zyban can limit the cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with smoking cessation, helping patients manage their condition and quit smoking. It's worth noting that Zyban and Wellbutrin are essentially the same drug (bupropion) but marketed for different uses - Wellbutrin for depression and Zyban for smoking cessation.

What is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin is a brand name for bupropion, which is known as an norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI), boosting the levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain by limiting their absorption. Moreover, it acts as a mild nicotinic receptor antagonist, hindering the function of acetylcholine at nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Bupropion was initially approved by the FDA in 1986. Unlike SSRI antidepressants such as Zyban (another brand name for bupropion primarily used to help people stop smoking), Wellbutrin does not suppress serotonin uptake. This lack of action on serotonin means that its side-effect profile differs from that of SSRIs like Zyban – specifically, it's less likely to result in drowsiness or weight gain and sexual dysfunction - common side effects associated with SSRIs like Zyban. The impact on dopamine and norepinephrine can be beneficial for treating depression, particularly among patients who don't react well to conventional SSRI antidepressant medications similar to Zyban.

What conditions is Wellbutrin approved to treat?

Wellbutrin, with its active ingredient bupropion, is a medication that's sanctioned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD), helping to alleviate symptoms of persistent and severe sadness, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, sleep disturbances and feelings of worthlessness.
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), also referred to as "winter depression," which is characterized by recurrent episodes of depression typically occurring during fall and winter months.

How does Wellbutrin help with these illnesses?

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, attention, and pleasure among other aspects of cognitive function. It's also involved in the reward system of the brain and plays an integral role in addiction. Wellbutrin works by inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine as well as norepinephrine, increasing the levels available to interact with receptors in the brain. This action helps alleviate some symptoms of depression and has also shown effectiveness in smoking cessation therapy. In contrast to Zyban which is typically prescribed solely for smoking cessation, Wellbutrin has a more versatile application due to its impact on depressive disorders. Unlike many SSRI antidepressants like Prozac that primarily increase serotonin levels but can lead to sexual dysfunction or weight gain amongst others, Wellbutrin tends not to cause these side effects making it a suitable choice for patients who don't respond well or have adverse reactions to typical SSRIs.

How effective are both Zyban and Wellbutrin?

Both bupropion (Wellbutrin) and bupropion hydrochloride (Zyban) have established histories of success, with their FDA approvals taking place only a few years apart. As they are essentially the same drug under different brand names, their differences primarily lie in the conditions they're intended to treat. Bupropion is prescribed for depression and seasonal affective disorder whilst Zyban is specifically designed as a smoking cessation aid.

The effectiveness of Wellbutrin in alleviating depression was directly studied in several clinical trials; it exhibited efficacy in managing symptoms of depression along with a promising safety profile. A 2008 clinical trial noted that Wellbutrin was somewhat less likely to lead to sexual side effects such as reduced libido and reduced orgasm compared to other antidepressants.

A 2016 review indicated that both forms of bupropion seem more effective than placebo treatments: Wellbutrin when treating depression and Zyban for smoking cessation. While data confirming its efficacy as a stand-alone treatment for depression is less robust than some other first-line antidepressants, due to its unique pharmacology, bupropion may be an optimal treatment for patients who did not respond well to SSRIs or have specific needs like avoiding common SSRI side effects such as those prone to sexual dysfunction or weight gain.

In terms of aiding smokers quit tobacco use, Zyban has been found quite successful by reducing cravings and withdrawal effects. It's typically recommended along with motivated behavioral support which significantly improves chances at quitting successfully.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Zyban typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Zyban typically start at 150 mg/day for the first three days, then increase to 300 mg/day. Research indicates that this is usually sufficient for aiding smoking cessation in most adults. Adolescents may be started on lower doses and closely monitored by a healthcare provider. The dosage can be increased after some weeks if there's no significant improvement or response. However, the maximum dosage that should not be exceeded under any circumstances is 300 mg/day.

At what dose is Wellbutrin typically prescribed?

Wellbutrin therapy is typically initiated at a dosage of 100-200 mg/day, taken as one single dose in the morning. This can then be increased to 300 mg/day, divided into two doses that are spaced about 8 hours apart. For some patients who do not respond to this regimen after several weeks, the maximum dosage of Wellbutrin may be tested up to 450 mg/day. This higher dose would be divided into three separate doses of 150 mg each and evenly distributed approximately every six hours throughout the day. As always, medication changes should only occur under the guidance and monitoring of your healthcare provider.

What are the most common side effects for Zyban?

Common side effects of Zyban include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Insomnia (difficulty sleeping)
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Anxiety and nervousness
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Decreased appetite or weight loss
  • Changes in taste
    -Tremor (unintentional trembling or shaking)
    -Sweating, rash, itching
    -Increased blood pressure
    -Disturbances of the gut such as constipation, vomiting

It's important to note that both Zyban and Wellbutrin contain bupropion. However, they are used for different purposes. While Wellbutrin is primarily used as an antidepressant, Zyban is prescribed to help people quit smoking.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Zyban?

Zyban and Wellbutrin are essentially the same drug, both containing bupropion as their active ingredient. However, they are marketed for different uses - Zyban is primarily used to aid in smoking cessation while Wellbutrin is an antidepressant.

Both medications share similar potential side effects which include:

  • Increased thoughts about suicide or self-harm
  • Signs of allergic reactions: hives, difficult breathing, swelling in your face or throat
  • Severe skin reaction: fever, sore throat, burning eyes, skin pain, red or purple skin rash with blistering and peeling
  • Vision issues: blurred vision; tunnel vision; eye pain or swelling; seeing halos around lights;
  • Heart irregularities: fast or pounding heartbeats; fluttering in your chest; shortness of breath and sudden dizziness (feeling like you might pass out);
  • Low sodium levels - symptoms can include headache, confusion, slurred speech severe weakness vomiting loss of coordination feeling unsteady. -Severe nervous system reaction - very stiff (rigid) muscles high fever sweating confusion fast uneven heartbeats tremors feeling like you might pass out

If any of these symptoms occur while taking either medication consult a health professional immediately.

What are the most common side effects for Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin, also known as Bupropion, can cause several side effects that individuals need to be aware of:

  • Dry mouth or throat
  • Nausea, stomach pain and constipation may occur along with potential changes in appetite and weight
  • Disturbed sleep patterns (insomnia) are not uncommon
  • Some users might experience tremors, sweating or feelings of anxiety and nervousness
  • Rapid heartbeat could be a concern for some patients
  • Mild confusion or agitation on occasion. Any signs of hostility should be reported promptly to your doctor
  • Skin rash is an infrequent but serious side effect that needs immediate medical attention
  • Frequent urination may occur too
  • Headache and dizziness are common complaints -Muscle or joint pain have been associated with Wellbutrin use.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the medication is right for you.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Wellbutrin?

When taking Wellbutrin, it's essential to be aware of potential side effects that could indicate a serious reaction. These may include:

  • Symptoms of an allergic reaction such as hives, itching, fever, swollen glands, difficulty breathing or swelling in your face or throat
  • Increase in suicidal thoughts or actions
  • A seizure (convulsions)
  • Unusual changes in mood or behavior leading to confusion
  • Vision problems like blurred vision, tunnel vision and eye pain or swelling; you might also see halos around lights
  • Heart issues like fast or irregular heartbeats
  • Signs indicative of a manic episode: racing thoughts, increased energy levels beyond what is normal for you, reckless behavior; feeling extremely happy one moment and irritable the next; talking excessively more than usual followed by severe problems with sleep.

If any of these occur while using Wellbutrin please seek immediate medical attention.

Contraindications for Zyban and Wellbutrin?

Both Zyban and Wellbutrin, like many other antidepressant medications, may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior in certain individuals. If you notice any escalation in depressive symptoms or a rise in suicidal ideation, thoughts, or actions while taking these medicines, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Zyban nor Wellbutrin should be taken if one is currently using monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors or has used them recently. Always disclose all medications that you are on to your doctor; MAOIs need around 14 days to clear from the body before safely starting treatment with either Zyban or Wellbutrin due to potential dangerous interactions.

How much do Zyban 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 about $16–32/day, depending on your dose.
  • In contrast, the cost for Zyban (also known as bupropion), is slightly less. Thirty 150mg Zyban tablets can range from $220 - $290, working out to roughly $7-$10 per day.

This suggests that if you are in a higher dosage range for Wellbutrin (i.e., 300 mg/day or higher), then brand-name Zyban might be less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. However, it's crucial to note that cost should not be your primary consideration when determining which of these drugs is right for you.

The generic versions for both Wellbutrin and Zyban fall under the same category - Bupropion:

  • Bupropion (100 mg tablets) are available in packs ranging from 30 capsules and above and costs approximately between $0.25 to $0.80 per day at dosages of 100 mg/day or between $0.50 and $1.50 per day if taking more typical doses such as anywhere from 200 up to even potentially high amounts like around 450mg daily.

It's important to keep in mind though that prices may vary based on location and whether insurance covers part or all of the medication cost.

Popularity of Zyban and Wellbutrin

Bupropion, available under brand names such as Wellbutrin and Zyban, has a wide range of applications in the treatment of mental health conditions. As an atypical antidepressant, it was estimated to have been prescribed to about 5.8 million people in the US in 2020. Bupropion accounted for just over 12% of antidepressant prescriptions in the country that year.

The drug is often associated with two main brands: Wellbutrin commonly used for depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and Zyban which is typically used as a smoking cessation aid. While essentially being the same medication, these are marketed differently due to their distinct indications.

In terms of prescription prevalence between these two branded versions, Wellbutrin tends to be more widely prescribed due to its broader therapeutic use compared to Zyban's specific focus on aiding smoking cessation.


Both Zyban (bupropion) and Wellbutrin (bupropion) are actually the same medication but marketed under different brand names for different conditions. They have a long history of use, and numerous clinical studies indicate that they are more effective than placebo treatments. Although it may seem strange, these drugs can be prescribed together or separately depending on the individual patient's needs.

Zyban is primarily used as an aid in smoking cessation while Wellbutrin is often prescribed for depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). The reason behind this differentiation lies in their respective FDA approvals: while both forms of bupropion act by inhibiting the reuptake of dopamine and norepinephrine to enhance mood, Zyban has been specifically approved to help reduce nicotine cravings.

Both versions come in generic form which represents significant cost savings especially for patients who must pay out-of-pocket. It's also worth noting that like many medications, there might be an adjustment period where effects aren't immediately noticeable.

The side effect profile is similar between Zyban and Wellbutrin with common side effects including dry mouth, insomnia, headache, nausea among others. Patients should closely monitor any changes in mood or behavior upon starting therapy with either drug and seek medical attention if things worsen or suicidal thoughts arise.