Does Wellbutrin Cause Hair Loss?

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Shruti Chavan, MBBS
By Anjali Sayee

There are growing concerns that Wellbutrin causes hair loss. But, does it really? This prescription drug is used to treat seasonal affective disorder and depression and for smoking cessation. But, it could have a few side effects, one of which is hair loss. It may hinder hair growth by deteriorating scalp health. Read on to learn everything about Wellbutrin and hair loss in this post. Scroll down!

Can Wellbutrin Cause Hair Loss

Research indicates that bupropion used in Wellbutrin may cause alopecia (1). Wellbutrin contains dopamine agonists (compounds that imitate dopamine action). These dopamine agonists tend to affect the receptors in hair follicles and eventually lead to hair loss (1).

Wellbutrin and other antidepressants may cause drug-induced hair loss. To better understand drug-induced hair loss, we need to look into the hair growth cycle.

The hair growth cycle has three main phases – anagen, catagen, and telogen (2). The anagen phase is where hair follicles begin to grow. Catagen is the regression phase, and telogen is the resting phase. At any given point in time, 90% of hair is in the anagen phase (1). Hair disorders usually involve changes to the anagen and telogen phases in the hair growth cycle (3).

Drug-induced hair loss can lead to effluvium (or hair shedding) in the anagen or telogen phases. While anagen effluvium occurs a few days or weeks from taking the drug, telogen effluvium typically occurs two to four months after you start taking the drug. This can eventually lead to patterned or diffused hair loss that can be acute or chronic.

Research shows that bupropion poses the highest risk for hair loss compared to other antidepressants (4). Studies show that there are 13 notable cases of drug-induced alopecia caused by bupropion (1). Women are more frequently affected by drug-induced hair loss than men (5).

There are ways you can reverse this hair loss. While some have been proven by research, some are believed to work from anecdotal evidence. Take a look at the following section.

What Can You Do To Help Your Hair Grow Back

  • Hair loss due to antidepressants (drug-induced hair loss) is reversible. Hair tends to grow back in a month or two after you stop taking the drug (5). Ensure you consult a doctor before discontinuing any medication.
  • Certain drugs may cause nutrient deficiencies, leading to hair loss. Taking the right nutrient supplements can help.
  • You may also try hair masks made with natural ingredients like eggs, milk, oils, yogurt, or fenugreek seeds that can help stimulate hair growth and reduce hair loss.
  • Massaging your scalp with warm oil can improve blood circulation and stimulate hair growth. This can also improve hair thickness and length (6).
  • Topical minoxidil can be used to treat hair loss and stimulate hair growth (7).
  • One major cause of hair loss is stress. Improving your lifestyle to reduce stress may also help reduce hair loss.

There are no shampoos or conditioners that can help treat drug-induced hair loss. If the hair loss you experience is worrying you, visit a doctor.

Drug-Induced Hair Loss Diagnosis: When To See A Doctor

It is normal for a person to lose 100 hair strands a day. But if you notice excessive hair loss, consult a doctor. The hair loss may not always be caused by the bupropion you could be taking. There could also be a nutrient deficiency.

Your doctor may perform a gentle pull test to confirm active hair loss (8). You may be asked to stop washing hair for five days before the test. After five days, a lock of hair is gently pulled at the end to note the amount of hair loss occurring. If more than 10% of hair loss occurs, it could be treated as alopecia. The doctor may perform other tests to confirm drug-induced hair loss (this also can include stopping drug usage temporarily to observe its impact on hair loss).

Discontinuation Of Medication To Stop Hair Loss

Your hair loss should reduce once you discontinue your medications. But if you need to continue taking the medication for your health condition, you can check for other options to treat drug-induced hair loss. Your doctor might prescribe a lower dosage of bupropion or even offer other treatment options.

Although bupropion has been shown to cause hair loss in some cases, it also can help treat a rather severe condition of hair loss.

Bupropion For Treating Trichotillomania

Trichotillomania is a disorder where the patient has a compulsive desire to pull out their own hair. Fluoxetine is one medication normally used to treat this condition. However, a study showed that bupropion could treat non-responsive trichotillomania if the condition shows no improvement with fluoxetine (9).

To recap, Wellbutrin contains bupropion, which could lead to hair loss. This drug-induced hair loss affects the hair growth phase by causing hair shedding in the anagen or telogen phase. This leads to patterned or diffuse hair loss. But, Wellbutrin can cause hair loss that is reversible, treatable, and temporary. In most drug-induced hair loss cases, once you discontinue the medication, the hair loss stops. However, consult your physician before discontinuing any medication or starting a new treatment. Other options you could try are hair masks made with natural ingredients, nutritional supplements, massaging the scalp, and stress relief.

Frequently Asked Questions

How common is hair loss with Wellbutrin?

There is a higher risk of losing hair due to the consumption of Wellbutrin than any other antidepressant (4).

Is Wellbutrin worth taking?

Though it has side effects like hair loss, it may help treat depressive disorders and help one stop smoking.

Can Wellbutrin change your personality?

It may cause behavioral changes in some people. However, it is always best to consult your doctor before starting any medication.

What happens if I skip a day of Wellbutrin?

Take the missed dose as soon as you can. If it is less than 4 hours before the next dose, do not take the missed dose (but continue with the next dose). Do not double dose.

Is Wellbutrin good for anxiety?

Yes, Wellbrutin may help reduce anxiety levels.

Can you drink coffee with Wellbutrin?

The side effects may aggravate if you consume caffeine with Wellbutrin.

Key Takeaways

  • Wellbutrin is a prescription drug used to treat depression and seasonal affective disorder and for smoking cessation.
  • Studies indicate that the bupropion used in the Wellbutrin formulation may cause alopecia.
  • You can stop taking Wellbutrin to stop and reverse the hair loss caused by it.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Check out our editorial policy for further details.
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author
Anjali specializes in hairstyles and hair and skin care and has written over 200 articles in these domains. Her philosophy... more

Dr. Shruti Chavan

(MBBS)
Dr. Shruti Chavan is a consulting dermatologist at Dr.Sheth's Skin and Hair Clinic since 6 years. She is a co-committee... more

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