Why You Should Consider Taking Wellbutrin For ADHD

If you or someone you love has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), you can empathize with how having the disorder can substantially impact someone's life. Living with ADHD often means having difficulty concentrating, becoming easily distracted, experiencing restlessness, and struggling with emotional regulation (per U.K. National Health Service).

As you could imagine, experiencing these symptoms on a daily basis would be stressful for anyone to manage. As depicted in ADDitude, people with invisible illnesses like ADHD can feel misunderstood by those around them because their disorder is not as easily recognizable from an outsider's perspective.

When most people think of the psychiatric medications used for treating ADHD, they may visualize stimulant medications like Adderall or Ritalin. These medications work to control dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the brain, and approximately 80% of people who take stimulants to treat their ADHD report improvements (per WebMD). However, Yale Medicine explains that stimulants carry a greater risk of dependency. This makes it important to find alternative options.

The fact that an antidepressant, Wellbutrin, could be prescribed off-label to treat ADHD may surprise you. As explained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the antidepressant has also been linked to smoking cessation, and may benefit individuals who are trying to quit smoking. Is there any evidence that Wellbutrin might also have a positive effect on individuals with ADHD?

Can Wellbutrin improve ADHD symptoms?

Although Wellbutrin is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Healthline explains that a doctor may prescribe the medication off-label for that purpose. A medication can be prescribed off-label if there is promising research suggesting its effectiveness for the treatment of a disorder.

The medication Wellbutrin gets a 6.1 out of 10 rating on Drugs.com in terms of the rater's experience with the medication for ADHD, which illustrates possible improvement for some individuals.

Additionally, some clinical trials have demonstrated potential for Wellbutrin in terms of treating ADHD. A 2017 review of six studies, including 438 adult participants, found that Wellbutrin appeared to facilitate improvements in ADHD symptoms when compared to placebo treatment. However, more research is needed to build upon the results of this review, as the evidence is of low quality.

Like stimulants, Wellbutrin works on the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine, as reported in ADDitude. Wellbutrin may be worth trying if an individual hasn't experienced significant relief of symptoms, or has experienced negative side effects, from treatment with stimulant medication. In addition, someone with a co-morbid mental health condition like depression or anxiety may benefit from treatment with this antidepressant. 

Everyone's treatment plan for ADHD is unique, and what works for someone else may not work for you. Your doctor can help you create an individualized treatment plan if you are considering Wellbutrin or another medication to treat your ADHD.