Effexor vs. Wellbutrin – What Is the Difference?

By Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD

January 21, 2021

Effoxor Vs Wellbutrin

Antidepressants have been effective in treating everything from depression to anxiety and even pain. Effexor and Wellbutrin are two antidepressants that are somewhat different from many used today. Read on to learn more about what makes them different from each other and how they are similar.

What Are Effexor and Wellbutrin?

Effexor (venlafaxine) and Wellbutrin (bupropion) are medications used to treat depression and other conditions. Effexor falls into the class of drugs known as serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI), and Wellbutrin is a norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor (NDRI).

How Do Effexor and Wellbutrin Work?

Effexor and Wellbutrin work by increasing chemicals in your brain that help regulate your mood. Effexor helps increase the amount of serotonin and norepinephrine in your brain. Wellbutrin helps increase norepinephrine and dopamine.

What Conditions Do Effexor and Wellbutrin Treat?

Effexor and Wellbutrin are antidepressants, but they can also treat other conditions.

Effexor has FDA approval to treat the following conditions:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Social anxiety or phobias
  • Panic disorder

Additionally, Effexor has been used off-label (not FDA-approved) to treat the following conditions:

  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Hot flashes due to menopause, breast cancer treatment, or prostate cancer
  • Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Nerve pain due to diabetes
  • Migraine prevention

Wellbutrin is FDA-approved to treat the following:

  • Depression
  • Prevention of depression due to seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  • Smoking cessation

Wellbutrin has also been used off-label to treat the following conditions:

  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Nerve pain due to diabetes, shingles, and other conditions

What Are the Side Effects of Effexor and Wellbutrin?

Common side effects seen with Effexor include:

  • Constipation
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Sweating

If you have kidney or liver problems, your provider may need to adjust your dose of Effexor.

Common side effects seen with Wellbutrin include:

  • Agitation
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fast heartbeat or irregular heart rhythm
  • Headache
  • Hearing problems
  • Nausea
  • Rash
  • Sweating
  • Tremor
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Vomiting

You should not take Wellbutrin if you have a history of seizures or take other medications that may increase your risk of seizures.

Let your healthcare professional know if you have glaucoma before taking Effexor or Wellbutrin.

Effexor and Wellbutrin may increase your blood pressure. Be sure your blood pressure is under control before starting Effexor or Wellbutrin, and check your blood pressure regularly while taking these medications.

If you are taking any antidepressant, including Effexor or Wellbutrin, be sure to immediately let your caretaker or healthcare professional know if your depression gets worse or you are thinking of hurting yourself. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for free confidential support 24 hours a day.

What Medications Interact with Effexor and Wellbutrin?

Medications That Interact with Effexor

Serotonin syndrome is a condition in which abnormally high levels of serotonin accumulate in your body. This can happen when you take more than one medication that increases your serotonin levels.

The following medications may cause serotonin syndrome if taken with Effexor:

Taking Effexor with blood thinners or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may increase your risk of bleeding.

Medications That Interact with Wellbutrin

Wellbutrin is metabolized by your liver. Other medications that are metabolized similarly may increase or decrease the effects of Wellbutrin. Wellbutrin may also affect how these other medications act in your body. Before taking Wellbutrin, let your healthcare provider or pharmacist know if you are taking any of the following medications:

Other medications that interact with Wellbutrin include:

This is not a complete list of drugs that interact with Effexor or Wellbutrin. Always discuss all your medications with your doctor or pharmacist to check for drug interactions.

What Is the Difference Between Effexor and Wellbutrin?

Effexor and Wellbutrin work equally well in treating depression. However, they have differences in side effects and the conditions they treat. A review of studies found that Effexor and Wellbutrin are equally effective in treating adults with major depression. However, Effexor was more likely to cause side effects related to sexual function.

When deciding between Effexor and Wellbutrin, the best choice for you may depend on the conditions your prescriber is treating, the side effects of the medications, and other medicines you take. For example, if you would like to quit smoking, Wellbutrin is a better choice. If you have anxiety or social phobias, your doctor may consider prescribing Effexor.

For those who have kidney or liver problems, Wellbutrin does not require a dose adjustment like Effexor. However, if you have a history of seizures, Wellbutrin may not be the best option for you.

How Much Do Effexor and Wellbutrin Cost?

Effexor is available as immediate-release tablets and extended-release capsules (Effexor XR). Wellbutrin is available as immediate-release tablets as well as sustained-release (Wellbutrin SR) and extended-release (Wellbutrin XL) tablets. Each formulation has a generic form.

The average retail price for 30 venlafaxine ER 150 mg capsules (generic Effexor XR) is about $80. The average retail price for 30 bupropion XL 150 mg tablets (generic Wellbutrin XL) is about $75.

If your insurance does not pay for antidepressants, like Effexor or Wellbutrin, or the cost with insurance is too high, you can use a prescription savings card to get the lowest prescription prices at a pharmacy near you.

Rosanna Sutherby is a freelance medical writer who has been a practicing pharmacist in her community for close to 20 years. She obtained her Doctor of Pharmacy from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. She utilizes her clinical training in the pharmacy, where she helps patients manage disease states such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and many others. Dr. Sutherby reviews and recommends drug regimens based on patients’ concurrent conditions and potential drug interactions.

References:

https://www.wellrx.com/VENLAFAXINE%20HCL%20ER/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/BUPROPION%20XL/drug-information/

https://www.wellrx.com/health-conditions/about/health-condition/depression/~default/

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/020699s107lbl.pdf

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/018644s052lbl.pdf

https://www.pdr.net/drug-summary/Venlafaxine-Hydrochloride-Extended-Release-Tablets-venlafaxine-hydrochloride-3520#6

https://www.pdr.net/drug-summary/Wellbutrin-bupropion-hydrochloride-237#6

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/serotonin-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20354758#:~:text=Serotonin%20syndrome%20occurs%20when%20you,cells%20and%20brain%20to%20function.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3790834/

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