Does Wellbutrin increase dopamine levels? (3+ effects)

In this article, we will explore whether Wellbutrin impacts the levels of the neurotransmitter, dopamine or not. We will also discuss the role of dopamine in the brain, what research suggests on the impact of Wellbutrin on dopamine levels and the potential side effects of Wellbutrin.

Does Wellbutrin increase dopamine levels?

Yes, Wellbutrin increases the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine. It does this by stopping the brain from taking back these chemicals, once they have been released. (1)

Wellbutrin is an antidepressant, it is typically used for the treatment of depression and also helps in aiding smoking cessation. It increases the level of dopamine which helps improve mood, motivation and alertness in a person.

Dopamine is a type of neurotransmitter, which is a chemical messenger in the brain and nervous system. Dopamine is like a messenger of feeling good in your brain. It is linked to happiness and getting a reward, and it can affect your mood, motivation and how you act.  (1)

What does research suggest?

Research has found that Wellbutrin can boost the levels of dopamine in the brain. This is thought to be one of the ways it helps improve mood and helps people quit smoking. (2)

By boosting dopamine levels, it can help improve mood and motivation while reducing cravings and withdrawal symptoms in individuals trying to quit smoking. (1,2)

It’s worth mentioning that even though there is evidence that suggests Wellbutrin raises dopamine levels, we don’t completely understand how it works in the brain and what it does exactly. (2)

How does Wellbutrin affect dopamine levels?

Wellbutrin affects dopamine levels in the brain by blocking the reuptake of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that carries signals between nerve cells, after it’s released it usually gets reabsorbed by the same cell to stop its message. (1)

Wellbutrin works by stopping the brain from reabsorbing dopamine, so there is more of it floating around in the spaces between brain cells. This extra dopamine can boost our mood and motivation.

It’s crucial to remember that individual reactions to Wellbutrin vary, so it should always be used under the guidance of a healthcare professional. 

What role does dopamine play in the brain?

Dopamine is responsible for several vital functions in the brain. Firstly, it is closely tied to the experience of reward and pleasure. When you engage in enjoyable activities, such as relishing a delicious meal or receiving praise, your brain releases dopamine,  reinforcing the enjoyment of these experiences. (3)

This neurotransmitter also plays a crucial role in the control of muscle movements, and a shortage of dopamine in the specific brain regions is associated with Parkinson’s disease, resulting in motor difficulties. (3)

Moreover, dopamine contributes to the regulation of mood and imbalances in its levels are linked to mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder.  (3)

It also enhances your ability to focus, stay attentive and concentrate, ensuring you remain engaged and alert. It also enables the brain to recognize and retain important information.

What are the side effects of increased dopamine levels with Wellbutrin?

The side effects of increased dopamine levels with Wellbutrin may include: (4)

  • Agitation: Some individuals can experience restlessness or nervousness.
  • Insomnia: Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep can be a potential side effect.
  • Anxiety: Increased dopamine may lead to heightened feelings of anxiety in some people.
  • Mood swings: Dopamine fluctuations can lead to mood swings or emotional variability.
  • Loss of appetite: Wellbutrin can suppress appetite, potentially leading to weight loss.
  • Headaches: Mild to moderate headaches may occur as a side effect of Wellbutrin. 
  • Nausea: Some individuals may experience nausea, particularly when first starting the medication.
  • Dry mouth: A common side effect of Wellbutrin is dry mouth.

What one should do if Wellbutrin affects dopamine levels?

If you are worried that Wellbutrin is affecting your brain’s dopamine levels, here’s what you should do:

  • Talk to your doctor:  Share your concerns with your healthcare provider who prescribed Wellbutrin, they can help with their personalized guidance and address your specific situation.
  • Regular monitoring: If your doctor believes that Wellbutrin’s effects on dopamine are a concern that should not be neglected, they may schedule regular checkups or tests to keep an eye on your progress and other potential side effects.
  • Stick to your prescribed dosage: Follow your prescribed dosage carefully. Avoid adjusting the dosage on your own, as it can have unintended consequences. 
  • Explore other alternatives: In some cases, your healthcare provider may recommend another alternative treatment or medication adjustments if the effects on dopamine levels are problematic.
  • Lifestyle considerations: Make sure you are maintaining a proper lifestyle with healthy nutritional intake, exercise and sleep, as these factors can also influence your dopamine levels. 


In this article, we have discussed the impact of Wellbutrin on dopamine levels. In my opinion, the fact that Wellbutrin increases dopamine levels is a significant aspect of its mechanism of action and its effectiveness in treating certain conditions like depression.

It’s important to seek professional guidance from your healthcare provider to ensure its benefits outweigh any potential side effects. 


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