Both Zyban and Wellbutrin are brand name prescription drugs that contain the same active ingredient, which is Bupropion. Bupropion can be used both as an antidepressant, and as an aid to giving up smoking.
As an antidepressant, it is sold under the brand names Wellbutrin, Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL. It is used to treat major depression and also seasonal affective disorder or SAD as well as some other conditions. No one really understands exactly how it works, but its beneficial effects are due to its ability to inhibit the reuptake of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, and to a much lesser extent, serotonin, which results in an increase of these chemicals in the brain. These chemicals have an impact on our moods and so by increasing the levels of these important neurotransmitters, it is possible to alleviate the symptoms of depression.
As a smoking cessation aid under the brand name Zyban, it appears to work by reducing nicotine cravings and the symptoms of nicotine withdrawal. It also helps to prevent the unwanted weight gain which often accompanies stopping smoking. One thing to remember when taking Zyban is that it is important to take it earlier in the day to help prevent insomnia at night and if two doses are taken one must be taken eight hours after the first so the first one should be taken on waking.
As with all medications there are certain factors to be considered before taking Bupropion, particularly any potential side effects and contraindications, which can have an impact on whether it is an appropriate treatment for you or not.
If you are prescribed Wellbutrin or Zyban it is essential that you tell your doctor about any other medications that you are taking as there are a number of other drugs and substances that can interact with Bupropion and this includes prescription drugs, herbal remedies, vitamins and over the counter preparations like cough medicines etc.
You should also tell your doctor if you drink a lot of alcohol, coffee or other drinks containing caffeine, if you smoke or use illegal drugs, if you are taking sedatives, or MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), or any other drug containing Bupropion, and if you suffer from any medical complaint. In particular your doctor should be fully aware if you suffer or have ever suffered from any of the following conditions as Bupropion may not be suitable or may only be advisable at a reduced dose:
o Eating disorders
o Cerebral tumours
o Kidney failure
o Liver failure
o A head injury or trauma
o An allergic reaction to Bupropion
o Suicidal thoughts
o Tourettes syndrome
o Heart disease
You should also inform your doctor if you are currently pregnant or are trying to conceive or if you are breastfeeding or if you are due to undergo surgery or any other treatment in the near future.
Some side effects are more common than others and there are some that are more serious than others. Side effects associated with Bupropion can include:
o Dry mouth
o Changes in taste
o Increased sweating
o Weight loss
o Mania, hallucinations
o Irregular heartbeat or palpitations
o Chest pain
o Abdominal pain
o Rash and eczema, hives
o Raised blood pressure
o Difficulty breathing or wheezing
o Blurred vision
o Loss of interest in sex
o Swelling of face, tongue and throat
You should tell your doctor immediately if you experience any dramatic changes in mood or behaviour, particularly if you feel depressed or have suicidal thoughts and if you are feeling overly agitated, hostile, anxious or hyperactive, and if you are having any trouble sleeping.
You should also seek urgent medical attention if you have trouble breathing, if your face, tongue and throat start to swell, if you have a convulsion, if you experience rapid or irregular heartbeats or if you develop hives or severe skin eruptions.
Other important points
Both Zyban and Wellbutrin should be taken exactly as prescribed by your doctor. This means you mustn't increase or decrease your dose unless your doctor tells you to; in particular, don't suddenly stop taking the medication as this can have serious side effects. If you happen to forget to take one, take it as soon as you remember again unless it is nearly time for you to take the next dose, if this is the case then just take the next dose as normal, and don't bother taking the one you forgot.
It is important to note that drinking a lot of alcohol and taking some other medications once you begin to take Bupropion can increase the risk of seizures and other side effects, as can starting or indeed abruptly stopping alcohol, and any other medications, including stopping to take Bupropion, so it isn't advisable to make any changes whatsoever without first seeking medical advice.