Wellbutrin Brain Fog: What is it and Why Does It Occur?

Wellbutrin, also known as bupropion, is a common antidepressant that acts on dopamine and noradrenalin circuits in the brain. Community reports have complained of persisting brain fog when taking Wellbutrin, although brain fog is not listed as a common side effect of Wellbutrin. To tackle the gap in the consolidated literature, this blog summarizes the scientific literature on different causes of Wellbutrin brain fog.
Klara Hatinova

Klara Hatinova

Klara is postgraduate researcher in experimental psychology at the
University of Oxford.

A blue image with text saying "Wellbutrin Brain Fog"

What Is Wellbutrin?

Wellbutrin is the brand name for the dopamine and noradrenalin reuptake inhibitor antidepressant bupropion. It is commonly prescribed with Lexapro, as their complementary antidepressant mechanisms [1, 2].

Wellbutrin increases the availability of dopamine and noradrenalin in the central nervous system. Dopamine is an important neurotransmitter for reward and movement. In contrast, noradrenalin is the key molecule for arousal, a component of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system and increases prefrontal cortex activity [3].

Due to this function, Wellbutrin is superior to other antidepressants in improving cognitive function. This was demonstrated through patients, who initially had low mental processing speed and visual memory, showing improvement in these functions after taking 150mg/day of sustained release Wellbutrin (Wellbutrin XL) [1]. These effects can also generalize to Wellbutrin SR, the faster releasing form of Wellbutrin [4].

Wellbutrin Brain Fog: What Is It?

What Is Brain Fog?

While Wellbutrin (bupropion) is not typically associated with causing brain fog, some patients may experience cognitive side effects that could be described as brain fog-like symptoms.

Klara Hatinova

Klara Hatinova

Klara is a postgraduate researcher in experimental psychology at the University of Oxford. She has worked across a spectrum of hot topics in neuroscience, including her current project measuring reinforcement learning strategies in Parkinson’s disease. Previously, she studied the efficacy of psilocybin as a therapy for critical mental health conditions and examined molecular circadian rhythms of migraine disorders. She completed her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience at the University of Glasgow and participated in a year abroad at the University of California, where she worked on a clinical trial for spinal cord injury.