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Wellbutrin vs Lexapro: What are the Similarities and Differences?

wellbutrin vs lexapro

Depression is a prevalent illness worldwide. According to WHO, approximately 3.8% of people are affected globally, including 5% adults and 5.7% by people older than 65 years of age. Around 280 million people in the world have depression. Women are at a higher risk of getting depressed than men. However, some medications can help reduce the levels of depression.

Wellbutrin is a medication used against depression. This medication belongs to a class of drugs called norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitors (NDRI). The drug improves the moods and feelings of wellbeing in patients. Wellbutrin works by restoring neurotransmitters in the brain. Wellbutrin is also known as Bupropion.

Lexapro is an antidepressant drug used for depression and anxiety. Lexapro works by helping to restore the neurotransmitters in the brain. This medication belongs to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) class. Lexapro improves the energy level and feeling of wellbeing and decreases nervousness. Lexapro is also known as Escitalopram.

Age Restriction

Children under 18 should not take Wellbutrin unless the doctor has prescribed it. The safety of Wellbutrin to treat depression in children and young adults under 18 has not been established.

Lexapro is prescribed only to patients who are 12 years old or older.

Conditions Treated by:

Wellbutrin is used to treat depression as well as smoking cessation. Wellbutrin has also been trialed for treating ADHD, weight loss, bipolar depression. But there aren’t any significant pieces of evidence to prove its effectiveness.

Lexapro works for the anxiety associated with depression. It is also used to treat major depression in adults and adolescents. Lexapro is used off-label to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, and insomnia.

Availability and Cost:

Wellbutrin requires a doctor’s prescription. It is readily available at local and online pharmacies. The cost of Wellbutrin (60 tablets) is £41.76.

Most Medicare and insurance plans cover generic Escitalopram (Lexapro), but some pharmacy coupons or cash prices may be lower. The average cost for 30 Tablets, 10mg each of the generic (escitalopram oxalate), is $61.59. Lexapro is also a prescription-only medication available readily at local and online pharmacies.



  • Wellbutrin is available in three forms: immediate-release, extended-release, and sustained-release.
  • Initially, the dosage for immediate release tablets is 100mg every 12 hours and may be adjusted to 100mg every 8 hours.
  • The dosage for sustained release tablet is 100mg once a day and maybe adjusted to 150mg every 12 hours after three days.
  • The initial dosage of extended-release tablets is 150 mg once a day and maybe adjusted to 300mg after day 4.


  • Lexapro is available in both tablet and oral solution forms.
  • Lexapro tablets are available in the strengths of 5mg, 10mg, and 20mg.
  • For adolescents, the recommended dose of Lexapro is 10 mg once daily.
  • For adults, the recommended dose of Lexapro is 10 mg once daily

Mechanism of Action:

Bupropion prevents dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine from being reabsorbed, resulting in more dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine being available to send messages to other nerves.

Lexapro increases the amount of the chemical serotonin in your brain. An increase in serotonin helps to decrease anxiety and depression.
Lexapro prevents the reuptake of serotonin into the presynaptic neuron, and Escitalopram raises extrasynaptic levels of the neurotransmitter.

How to Take the Medication?

Wellbutrin is commonly given three times a day, with doses separated by at least six hours or four times a day, separated by four hours. The sustained-release tablet is typically used twice daily, with doses separated by 8 hours. The extended-release tablet is generally used once a day in the morning, with doses separated by 24 hours.

Lexapro is usually used once a day, with or without food, like a tablet or oral solution in the morning or evening.
If you forget to take a specific dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember unless it’s very close to your next dose, in which case, take your regular dose instead. When taking Lexapro, never take two or more doses simultaneously.

Common Side Effects:

Dry mouth, Abdominal pain, Drowsiness, Appetite loss, Constipation, Flushing, Headache, Insomnia, Joint aches, Gas, Hair loss are some side effects.

The most common side-effects are: Blurred vision, Dry mouth, Diarrhea, Sleep disturbances, Nausea, Headaches, Stomach pain, Constipation, Heartburn, Lightheaded and faintness, Irritability and nervousness, Dizziness.

Drug Interactions:


Bupropion interacts strongly with 22 different medications. Bupropion interacts moderately with at least 91 other medications. The most common drugs that interact with Wellbutrin are,

  • Eliglustat
  • Isocarboxazid
  • Phenelzine
  • Pimozide
  • Rasagiline


  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs),
  • tryptophan
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs)
  • tramadol
  • triptans
  • warfarin
  • aspirin
  • St. John’s wort, meperidine
  • lithium

Drug Warnings:

The FDA hasn’t approved Wellbutrin. Antidepressants increase suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults.
If you are allergic to Bupropion or any of the substances in Wellbutrin, do not take it.
Keep out of children’s reach. In an overdose, seek medical attention or contact a Poison Control Center right away. This medication is not to be used by children.

People under 25 may suffer from negative suicidal thoughts and other mood problems.

Wellbutrin vs Lexapro: Which is More Effective?

While Wellbutrin and Lexapro improved depression symptoms, a study revealed that Wellbutrin was considerably less likely to cause sexual dysfunction.
Wellbutrin and Lexapro affect different neurotransmitters. Thus they’re generally used in conjunction. According to a study, using both drugs results in significantly higher response and symptom remission rates than using SSRIs alone.

Aim: To compare effects on sexual functioning and the antidepressant efficacy of Wellbutrin ( bupropion XL) and Lexapro (Escitalopram)

Method: Participants suffering from MDD were randomly assigned in different groups of bupropion XL, Escitalopram, or placebo for up to 8 weeks in 2 identically designed, randomized, double-blind, parallel-group studies.

Finding: The incidence of orgasm dysfunction at week 8 (primary endpoint) and deteriorated sexual functioning after the treatment period were significantly lower with bupropion XL than with Escitalopram in both individual studies and the pooled dataset.

Conclusion: Bupropion XL showed a much better sexual tolerability profile than Escitalopram.

Differences Between Wellbutrin and Lexapro

Wellbutrin and Lexapro have similar side effects and are used for the same illness. The only difference between Wellbutrin and Lexapro is that these drugs target different neurotransmitters in the brain. Wellbutrin increases available dopamine and norepinephrine, while Lexapro increases available serotonin.

Similarities Between Wellbutrin and Lexapro

Wellbutrin and Lexapro have the following similarities:

  • Both these medications are used for treating depression
  • Wellbutrin and Lexapro cause similar side effects such as insomnia, constipation, dizziness, weight loss, etc.


Both Wellbutrin and Lexapro are the most common anti-depression and prescription-only medications to treat depression. Wellbutrin is an NDRI, while Lexapro is an SSRI. Wellbutrin is usually better sexually tolerated than Lexapro. These medications are used to treat depression and are widely prescribed by doctors. These medications are readily available at local and online pharmacies.