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What Is Bupropion SR Used For?

Bupropion SR for Smoking Cessation
Quitting smoking has many beneficial effects. It improves lung function, decreases cancer risk, lowers blood pressure, and decreases your chance of heart disease -- just to name a few of the health benefits. Unfortunately, most people find quitting smoking to be very difficult. This is most likely due to the addicting effects of nicotine. It usually takes people several attempts to successfully stop smoking.
Bupropion SR (Zyban) has been shown to increase your chances of quitting smoking. It can be used alone or along with nicotine replacement products (such as nicotine patches or gum). Bupropion SR can also help to reduce nicotine withdrawal symptoms, such as:
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Frustration
  • Anger
  • Anxiety
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Depression.
Because bupropion has been shown to cause weight loss when used to treat depression, it is thought that bupropion SR may also prevent or decrease the weight gain that often happens when people stop smoking (see Zyban and Weight Loss).

How Bupropion SR Works

Bupropion SR is a norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor, or NDRI for short. NDRIs, such as bupropion SR, affect specific chemicals within the brain known as norepinephrine and dopamine. Norepinephrine and dopamine are two of several chemicals used to send messages from one nerve cell to another.
As a message travels down a nerve, it causes the end of the cell to release norepinephrine (or dopamine). The norepinephrine (or dopamine) enters the gap between the first nerve cell and the one next to it. When enough norepinephrine or dopamine reaches the second nerve cell, it activates receptors on the cell and the message continues on its way. The first cell then quickly absorbs any norepinephrine or dopamine that remains in the gap between cells. This is called "reuptake."
Normally, this process works without any problems. However, when the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine become unbalanced, it can cause a variety of conditions, including depression and seasonal affective disorder. Bupropion SR helps to block the reuptake of norepinephrine and dopamine so that more remains in the space between the brain's nerve cells. This gives the norepinephrine and dopamine a better chance of activating the receptors on the next nerve cell. These effects are thought to improve depression symptoms and help people to quit smoking.
Currently, the only NDRI antidepressants approved for use are medications containing bupropion. Bupropion SR is a sustained-release version of bupropion, usually taken twice a day. Bupropion also comes in other forms, including:
  • Wellbutrin® (bupropion hydrochloride), a short-acting version, taken three or four times a day
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Bupropion HCl SR

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