Strattera vs Wellbutrin: A Comparison

In this article, we will take a close look at Strattera and Wellbutrin, two commonly prescribed medications for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We will understand their mechanisms of action, how they are administered, and their potential side effects. This comparative study will provide a better understanding of these two drugs and their roles in managing ADHD.
Natasha Puttick

Natasha Puttick

Graduate medical student at Barts and London.

A blue image with text saying "Strattera vs Wellbutrin"

What is Strattera?

Strattera, also known by its generic name atomoxetine, is a prescription medication used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is available in the form of a capsule that is usually taken daily. The active ingredient in Strattera is atomoxetine, which is what makes the drug effective. Strattera belongs to a group of drugs known as selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors. It works by changing the way your brain absorbs the chemical norepinephrine, which affects your overall mood. By altering how it works in your body, Strattera can help decrease hyperactivity, improve attention span, and reduce impulsive behaviours [1, 2].

What is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin, also known by its generic name bupropion, is a prescription medication used to treat certain mental health conditions. It is primarily prescribed to treat major depressive disorder (MDD) and to prevent seasonal affective disorder (SAD) [3, 4, 5]. It is sometimes taken with other medications. For example, your doctor may prescribe Wellbutrin and Lexapro together.

Wellbutrin belongs to a group of drugs called norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake blockers, which work by increasing certain types of activity in the brain [6]. The medication comes in two forms: sustained-release (SR) and extended-release (XL) tablets, which are swallowed. Wellbutrin SR is typically used to treat MDD, while Wellbutrin XL is used to treat MDD or to prevent SAD [3].

In addition to its use in treating depression, Wellbutrin is also prescribed to help people quit smoking under the brand name Zyban [7].

Comparing Strattera and Wellbutrin

Strattera and Wellbutrin are both medications used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but they work in different ways and have different side effects.

Strattera, also known as atomoxetine hydrochloride, is a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI). It works by changing the way your brain absorbs the chemical norepinephrine, which affects your overall mood. By altering how norepinephrine works in your body, Strattera can decrease hyperactivity, improve attention span, and reduce impulsive behaviors [2].

On the other hand, Wellbutrin, also known as bupropion, is an antidepressant of the aminoketone class and is a highly selective norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor. It is used not only for treating ADHD but also for depression, obesity, and smoking cessation. It works by increasing certain types of activity in the brain [6, 8].

Dosage and Administration

The dosage and administration of these two drugs also differ. Strattera is an immediate-release drug that begins to work quickly after you take it.

The dosage of Strattera depends on your prescription but also other factors, such as your bodyweight. For example, a common dosage is around 1.4 milligrams per kilogram of body weight (mg/kg), or up to a maximum daily total of 100 mg [2].

In contrast, Wellbutrin is usually taken three times a day, with doses at least 6 hours apart, or four times a day, with doses at least 4 hours apart. Your doctor will probably start you on a low dose of bupropion and gradually increase your dose. It may take 4 weeks or longer before you feel the full benefit of bupropion [8].

Side Effects and Risks

The side effects and risks of these two medications also vary. Strattera does not lead to dependence and is not likely to be abused [9]. However, Wellbutrin has complex pharmacokinetics and interindividual variability in metabolism and bioactivation may influence therapeutic response, tolerability, and safety [8].

...

In conclusion, while both Strattera and Wellbutrin can be used to treat ADHD, they have different mechanisms of action, dosages, and side effects. It's important to discuss these differences with your healthcare provider to determine which medication is best for you.

Natasha Puttick

Natasha Puttick

Natasha is a medical student at Barts and the London school of Medicine and Dentistry, with an interest in the social determinants of health. She graduated from the University of Oxford with a BA in Human Sciences and has obtained two publications. Her most recent work investigating clinical vaccine trials has been published in BMJ Public Health.