Bupropion is a unique antidepressant used to aid in smoking cessation. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1996, and marketed under the brand name Zyban, this prescription-only medication is an easy-to-use pill with few side effects. Bupropion increases the effects of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly dopamine, which may play a strong role in nicotine addiction.
The medication enhances brain chemistry to bring on the same pleasurable effects that nicotine has in a smoker. Bupropion is not habit-forming and does not alter mood — it gives no "high" feeling. Also, don't be deceived by the term "antidepressant." Bupropion is still effective in the cessation process even for those who don't suffer from depression. Bupropion may be right for you, but before you discuss it with your healthcare provider, consider the following:
- Bupropion may take 2-3 weeks to begin working, so should be started before the actual targeted stop-smoking date.
- Bupropion can be used alone or with nicotine replacement therapy. Studies show high success rates in people who used bupropion along with a nicotine patch for long term smoking cessation.
- Bupropion has been used for several years as an anti-depressant under the name Wellbutrin, but is an effective smoking cessation aid even in people with no depression. Those who do not suffer from depression that use bupropion for smoking cessation will have no noticeable effect on mood.
- Bupropion is not addictive, and unlike nicotine replacement therapy can be used long-term.
- Although most people tolerate bupropion well, some people experience a few side effects such as dry mouth, nausea, headache, nervousness, excessive sweating and insomnia. Most of these side effects occur the drug is started and subside with continued use.
- If you have a history of seizure or epilepsy, bupropion may not be the best choice. Make certain that your doctor is aware of any history of seizures before prescribing bupropion.