Wellbutrin is an antidepressant that is prescribed to treat major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder. This drug has also been used to help patients stop smoking by reducing cravings and other withdrawal effects. Wellbutrin is manufactured by GlaxoKline Smith and was approved by the FDA in 1985. It was rereleased in smaller doses in 1996. Wellbutrin is classified as a non-tricyclic antidepressant.
Reports have begun to emerge that link Wellbutrin with serious birth defects. It has been found that infants who were exposed to this drug during the first trimester may suffer from severe malformations to areas such as blood vessels and the heart. Wellbutrin has also been linked to premature birth and miscarriages. In an article published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, 5.5 percent of women taking antidepressants while pregnant have experienced spontaneous abortions. The infant may also suffer from withdrawal symptoms after there are born such as breathing difficulties, low blood sugar, convulsions and more. Clubbed foot, cleft lip and palate, delayed development, Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension (PPHN), gastroschisis, an enlarged heart, septal heart defects, left outflow tract heart defects, marcocephaly, craniosynostosis, neural tube defects, and spina bifida have all been associated to taking antidepressants while pregnant. When looking at 12,000 infants born between 1997 and 2004 whose mothers were taking antidepressants while pregnant, 6,000 of these babies had major heart defects, while 5,000 were born with a non-cardiac birth defect.
The use of Wellbutrin has also been linked to an increased risk in suicidal thoughts and actions, especially in patients in ages 18 to 25. Another study at Duke University linked the use of Wellbutrin with an increased risk of death if the patient suffered from coronary artery disease.
Serious side effects may include:
- Seizure (convulsions)
- Severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash
- Fever, swollen glands, rash or itching, joint pain, or general ill feeling
- Confusion, trouble concentrating
- Hallucinations, unusual thoughts or behavior
Less serious Wellbutrin side effects may include:
- Headache or migraine
- Sleep problems (insomnia)
- Nausea, vomiting, constipation, dry mouth
- Dizziness, tremors (shaking)
- Appetite changes, weight loss or gain
- Mild itching or skin rash, increased sweating
- Loss of interest in sex