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Difference Between Wellbutrin SR and Wellbutrin XL

Wellbutrin SR vs Wellbutrin XL

Feeling sad is natural for most people especially when there is good reason to be. Some things might not go the way we originally planned them. It’s natural to feel sad, but when sadness becomes extreme and getting back up on your feet seems to be a difficult thing, it could become a real problem. If sadness persists even after a week and is interfering with your ability to socialize or mingle with other people and have fun, then it’s likely that you are going through depression. Fortunately, depression is not the end of everything; it can be treated. Various treatment methods are available, and this includes psychotherapy, group discussions, and even the use of medications. Several antidepressants are now available and have been proven effective in making symptoms of depression disappear. One of the medications prescribed for depression is Buproprion, under the trade name Wellbutrin. Wellbutrin is available in XL and SR formulations, but what is the difference between the two?

Wellbutrin contains the active ingredient Bupropion. Bupropion is an antidepressant and, at the same time, a smoking cessation aid. It works by increasing the levels of certain chemicals in the brain which are responsible for pleasurable feelings. With a proper dosing regimen, the drug is effective in treating the condition. The risk of developing serious side effects is low, but if the drug is misused and abused, potentially life-threatening effects may occur.

Wellbutrin is the antidepressant formulation of Bupropion while Zyban is the formulation used to help people quit smoking. Bupropion is available in XL and SR formulations. Both formulations are called time-controlled release formulations. “XL” attached to the end of the drug name stands for “extended release” while “SR” means “sustained release.”
Wellbutrin SR means that the dose of Bupropion is slowly released into the body throughout the day with the goal of maintaining a constant drug concentration in the bloodstream. Wellbutrin XL releases the dose for an extended period of time in a day. The SR formulation is slowly released in 12 hours while the XL doses are released for a period of 24 hours.
The dosing recommendations for both Wellbutrin formulations also differ since both drug delivery systems are controlled by time. Wellbutrin SR is initially given as 150mg once daily, and after 4 days the dose can be increased to twice daily to achieve a constant drug concentration in the blood. On the other hand, the extended release form is usually given once a day since the dose is being released in a 24-hour time frame.

There are benefits to using time-release medications like Wellbutrin XL and SR. These include:

  • Uniform release of the drug dose in the body.
  • Minimized side effects.
  • And better patient compliance.

These benefits are common to both formulations, but more benefit is obtained through Wellbutrin XL.

The most obvious advantage of the extended release formulation is the reduced frequency of drug intake which will result in better patient compliance. Patients find it inconvenient to have to take the drug at certain periods of time, especially for such drugs like Wellbutrin where it needs to be taken for a certain period of time. There may always be instances where a patient will forget a dose and will simply skip it which can affect the overall effectiveness of the drug regimen.

In the case of Wellbutrin, the XL formulation is taken only once a day compared to Wellbutrin SR where it is taken twice daily. Of course, the more convenient formulation will be the one where the patient will have a reduced frequency of popping medications. In addition, you don’t need to take Wellbutrin XL as often so there would be fewer side effects. When using these kinds of medications, always consult your doctor.

Summary:

  1. Wellbutrin XL is the extended release formulation while Wellbutrin SR is the sustained release form.
  2. Both drugs are time-controlled release formulations.
  3. The Wellbutrin SR dose is released in a 12-hour period while the Wellbutrin XL dose is released in a 24-hour period.
  4. Both drugs produce, more or less, the same side effects but to a lesser extent with Wellbutrin XL.
  5. The dose for Wellbutrin XL is once daily, while the Wellbutrin SR dose is usually taken twice a day.

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54 Comments

  1. I searched many responses to my question regarding prescription differences between Bupropion XL and SR and didn’t get a clear and thorough answer until I hit this website. This posting was very helpful. Thank you!

  2. I never remember this difference

  3. Thank you sooo much ! I just switched from bupropion sr to Xl and this article is answered all of my questions !

    • How have you felt since switching? Any noticeable differences? Any side effects ??
      Thinking of doing the same. Thanks!

      • I feel a lot more depressed but our insurance company, United Healthcare wouldn’t authorize the 450mg of purple SR because I took two in morning one in afternoon and it amounted to 450mg. NOW I’ve been switched to the 450 XL with was $38.00 vs $4.00 copay prior and I’ve been so depressed like its making me feel worse.

  4. Thank you your website explained it very well. There is no other website that explained it the way yours did. The l you again

  5. I agree with other respondents that this article explain the difference between the SR and XL very well. I’m also interested to know if the XL has caused sleep disturbances for anyone.

    • Hey Betsy. I have been taking the XL for a while now and I have not had any sleep problems related to this drug. In fact, it has helped me lose weight which I needed. It took a little while to get in my system good and to start working but the last 3 months I have lost 33 lbs. Hope this has helped you.

      • Wow Lori! That is great news. I’m on the XL now and it is working well for me for sustained energy throughout the day. I need to lose weight from being on Depakote so I’m thrilled that you’ve had such great success in that area. I’m off Depakote and look forward to weight loss. Thank you so much.

      • Lori, were you on the SR prior to starting the XL?

    • My current doctor switched me from Prozac, which I was taking for over 5 yrs., and was causing me to feel so bla and useless and tired, to Bupropion 300XL once a day. It has been a miracle for me! Not only do I feel great and like my old good self, but my joint pain has mostly disappeared….and I am 70 yrs old!
      To answer your question about sleep, it has not disturbed my sleep at all and in fact sleep seems to have improved, plus I wake up on my own and feel good!!! As I said, it was a miracle for me.
      Good luck!!

      • Hi Dia I’m 71 and on 150 xl Wellbutrin …. I have Hashimoto Thyroid and isn’t under control so I was thinking of asking my doctor if I should up my Wellbutrin. I have NO energy, never leave home unless it’s doctor appointment, can’t remember last time I had fun or laught …. I just want my life back so I can enjoy life again …. 300 seems like a lot did it make you nervous, anxiety etc. thank you for listening. God bless you. ❤️

    • Yes, I have definitely had trouble with sleeping since I recently started taking welbutrin 150XL
      I was relieved reading your post…to hear my problem was not just myself! I am actually going to speak with my Dr. about switching to welbutrin 12hr.SR instead of the wellbutrin 24hr. XL.
      I’m hoping that the
      12hr. SR
      will naturally have less interference with my sleep than this 24hr. XL. I hope this post was a bit helpful.

    • TheXL was partly to blame for my shakiness and agitation
      I just switched from XL to SR and seems to work better for me
      Remember though that we’re all different

    • Hello Betsy, I have had sleep disturbances with 150 mg of the XL. Vivid dreams and nightmares every night. And I have way too much energy in the evening, laziness during the day.My doctor has switched me to the SR 100mg 2x per day to see if that will make a difference. She said I may be metabolizing the XL too slowly. I was also taking 100 mg of seroquel and have been raised to 150 now to try and combat the sleep issues that wellbutrin has caused. She said she has never heard of anyone having this problem but sees how it is possible. My medication was adjusted today, the date that I am responding to your post.

      • seroquil is the worst medication I ever took, well next to lithium. seroquil made me gain weight and my ass dragged all day until about 6pm. I don’t like being drugged out all day. get off seroquil it’s bad. I now take geodon and it’s great.

    • I was taking it at night and stayed awake. I started it in the am and it is better.

    • Yes, XL seemed to reduce my ability to get a good night’s sleep, big time. I take SR and sleep better. Note: I love how bupropion makes me feel better. My pharmacist said that SR relies on a different way of releasing the med in your body/brain than the XL does. Something to do with “clumps” vs. little round granules. Btw. Also I get a pronounced allergic reaction to brand-name Wellbutrin – but no problem when taking generic SR. Go figure!

    • Yes, I had big trouble sleeping when I took the XL, even a small dose! I was so exhausted from lack of rest . So I take Bupropion SR once a day (in the morning of course!)

    • My husband takes the XL .. he sleeps like a baby, if he is over tired however he can wake up and talk in his sleep, he is more restless but other than that its great .

    • I have recently switched from SL to XL. I was only taking SL once a day and would have a big dip around 3pm. Did not know about taking it twice a day. So I switched to XL and loved it. Until I started having sleep problems. I can’t stay asleep. I have enough energy to get through the day now but sleep disturbances. Don’t know what to do so I made an appointment with my Dr to discuss.

  6. I’m wondering if anyone has had success taking the XL and SR together in the morning. The XL has worked well for me for the past couple of years but I’m finding that I have plateaued and need an extra boost. Is it possible to take a smaller dose of the SR in addition to the XL?

    • I was on the 300 XL in the morning and 150 SR in the afternoon/evening. So it’s possible.
      My dr switched me to 2 SR 150 in the morning and 1 150 SR in the afternoon but I don’t really like it. I find it wears off too quick for me.

    • This is my question too

  7. Hello,
    Does anyone have any advice? I have been taking Fluoxetine (generic of Prozac) for three years with terrible side effects (muscle and joint pain, fatigue, low energy, feeling cold, weight gain). My doctor suggested Wellbutrin and I took my first 150mg XL dose. I felt great. I immediately had energy to exercise (didn’t on Fluoxetine, had increased appetite so put on 22 lbs). On Wellbutrin, I did not feel hungry at all. However, when it came to sleeping, I couldn’t (I am a long-term insomniac). So I bit the pill in half the next morning, and took half before going to work. Only when I read the package insert this evening, did I see you are not supposed to split them. I am thinking of going on to 75 mg Sustained Release (SR), because at least that wears off after 12 hours, or taking a 50mg immediate release one twice a day. Has anyone any suggestions? I loved this medication – feel great on it except for the sleeping part.

    • If you cant sleep just have yout dose lowered to where you can.

    • wellbutrin is a great drug. it helps u lose weight and originally it was used to quit smoking and weight loss. I was taking 200mg in the am and 200mg in the afternoon. it was the sr. but I asked to go on the co 300mg in morning. I like it better. you just have to give it a chance

  8. So i have been taking 2 xl 150 every am and now i pick up sr 150 as my new dr prescribed this…should i still take 2 in the am?

  9. This is the best explanation I’ve found, thank you. Any idea if xl is equally as effective for smoking sensation vs sr or the original one?

  10. Why the doctor presribe for some patients sr and for others er ?

  11. I have been on both XL & SR, I do better with XL.. The SR makes me feel like I’m throw up drunk for some reason, maybe it’s going into my system too fast on SR since it’s 150mg SR going in my system over 12 hours instead of 24 hours

  12. Thanks for this simple & informative write up. I’ve been off & on antidepressants for about 5 years that began when I was diagnosed with relapsing/remitting multiple sclerosis. Of course the depression hit me hard at first, mainly because I had a 2 year old daughter at the time and was terrified of the unknowns. Pain management doctors kept me on antidepressants in order to hopefully control some of my various pains and random symptoms. I was on a ridiculous amount of pain pills and nerve blockers and everything else you can imagine. The side effects from some of these drugs (I’m looking at YOU, Cymbalta) were FAR worse than any other issue I had experienced with my diseases. It was horrible!! I ended up being prescribed even MORE pills in order to treat the stupid Cymbalta withdrawals! (Including Celexa- another antidepressant. And anti-convulsants) Finally I was able to get down to .25 of a milligram and felt well enough to jump off from there. YES, ONE FOURTH OF A MILLIGRAM, folks! It was really scary realizing just how horribly horrible that drug had been effecting me, my body, my weight, my emotional numbness to things I should’ve been enjoying with my daughter & family, my job…my overall health and well being.
    (pardon my rambling, but you get the point: I hated Cymbalta and Cymbalta hated me. I’m a huge anti-Cymbalta advocate)
    Anyway now I’m down to only 2 pills a day (one’s birth control to keep my hormones in check, and that is a huge help when it comes to pain control, my pain & flares are very hormonally influenced.) I had been antidepressant free for a while, maybe a year, but I wasn’t motivated. Always in pain & tired. My dad passed away in April last year, and that sent me into a horrible depression. Luckily I found a great doctor (Dr. Clayton Royder – Oklahoma City) and he slowly titrated my dose up to the 300 mg of Bupropion XL I’m on now. I wrote a novel to finally ask this one tiny question…i have some of the

  13. Can wellbutrin help you stop smoking?

    • Yes! It really helps. And not just smoking. It seems to have put all my bad habits and check. It really helped. I mAt Sports Clips in Boca losing it on the lady demolishing my sons head.
      Praying I keep perspective.an big time. I still take it. It also really curbs your appetite in the beginning, which for me was a good thing. Best of luck to you.

    • Yes it is also prescribed for people who wants to stop smoking

    • yes…chantix is the best way to quit smoking

  14. I’ve been on BurpropionXL 150 for almost a year and my weight just keeps going up. I think I could sleep twenty fours a day! I feel foggy most of the day. My thyroid results are all normal. Most people have the opposite effect. Any thoughts on this?

    • I am having the same problem. Been o. Wellbutrin xl 150mg for two months I eat more and smoke more. I was wondering if increasing to 300mg would help!

    • I’m going through the same. Completely depleted of any energy during day. Sleepy …like pregnancy sleepy. I never nap, in fact I have too much to do so I can’t nap, but I’m forced to while taking XL. I started on SR and it seemed better. After a month, doctor put me on xL. I’m off of it now for the past 4 days, and taking SR. Let’s see if my irritability dissappear’s and sleepiness diminishes as well!

    • Interesting. I’ve been losing weight. You should try Lexapro. That made me gain weight. But maybe we have the opposite effects

  15. I, too, feel foggy and only have moments of energy; definitely not enough to function normally. Was on 300 SR, then 300 XL, & now the max dose of 450. Wondering why I”m experiencing such a different reaction. Going to talk to my doctor about starting the SR again. Hope things get better for both of us, Glenda.

  16. Has anyone had cluster-like or migraine-like headaches from the XL? I seemed to, then went to the SR, and seem to be fine. I’m wondering if it was indeed the XL, or something else I wasn’t accounting for. Anyone else?

  17. I am having the same problem. Been o. Wellbutrin xl 150mg for two months I eat more and smoke more. I was wondering if increasing to 300mg would help!

  18. Which dosage contains largest and/or most effective application of bupropion without sleep or weight effects? SR for several years has not caused problems in these areas.

  19. Taking generic wellbutrin xl 450mg for 6 months. .The metal taste won’t go away. Have good result . but can’t take this constant taste. Just won’t go away !

    • I have been in the SR 150mg x2 a day for 3 weeks. I also develope a horrible taste, in the a.m. after awaking is horrible! I’ve also notice is worse if I eat certain things like ice cream or spicy. I’ve requested to be switched to 300xl and hope it helps. Otherwise I’m asking for something else.
      Anyone else with this bad mouth taste?

  20. I was in the XL 450 a day due to an absorption problem, was on it for years. It seemed to stop working. My dr now has me on the quick release 3x’s a day 150 each time but now it seems to give me headaches. Not affecting my sleep as I have insomnia and on sleep RX.
    Does anyone else take such I high dose and if so does it give you headaches? I’m wondering if because it’s quick release compared to the XL it’s causing the headaches? Thank youb

    • Yes. I took 450mg xl and found it gave me massive headaches. I had been on 300mg for years and felt it had plateaued. I had to go back to 300mg, I couldn’t take it. I’ve yaken 450mg of SR and it gave me facial twitches and anger outbursts. I love wellbutrin, lost weight but I just still feel blah. We added Celexa recently but I have a chronic yawn!

  21. Hello, my doctor has me taking 150mg XL twice a day. Should this be a concern since it is in fact the XL, not the SR, and I am taking it twice a day?

    Any feedback at all will be helpful and appreciated. Thx!

  22. I have been taking Wellbutrin XL 300mg and my mood is mostly good. However, I am having a hard time eating. I don’t feel like eating even if my stomach is physically hungry. It’s becoming a challenge

  23. I’ve been on 150sr twice a day for a long time. A lot of times I don’t remember to take the second dose. I’m going to doc this morning. I’m going to ask to switch to xl. I don’t know if I should ask for 300xl or start lower. I just no longer have any energy. I also have a severe sweating problem. All the blood work doesn’t show any reason why I’m like this. This has been going on for years. Does anyone else experience sweating. I’ve been in this drug for about 8 years and the sweating has been going on for about 3 years.

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