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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.


  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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  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 !

  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.

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