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Wellbutrin XL Uses for Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder is depression that is related to a particular time of the year. The most common time for the condition to appear is during winter. Seasonal affective disorder symptoms are the same as symptoms of depression, except they only occur during a specific time of year. It is thought that a lack of sunlight might be the cause of seasonal affective disorder.
Light therapy is one type of treatment available for seasonal affective disorder. Antidepressant medications such as Wellbutrin XL can also be used. Usually, the medication is started in the autumn, before symptoms begin, and is stopped in early spring.

How Wellbutrin XL Works

Wellbutrin XL is a norepinephrine and dopamine reuptake inhibitor, or NDRI for short. NDRIs such as Wellbutrin XL affect specific chemicals within the brain known as norepinephrine and dopamine. These 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 either norepinephrine or dopamine. The chemical 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 the cells. This is called "reuptake."
Normally, this process works without any problems. But when the levels of dopamine and norepinephrine become unbalanced, it can cause a variety of conditions, including depression and seasonal affective disorder. Wellbutrin XL helps to block the reuptake of these chemicals 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.
Currently, the only NDRI antidepressants approved for use are those containing bupropion. Wellbutrin XL is the longest-acting version of bupropion, taken just once a day. Bupropion also comes in several other forms, including:
  • Wellbutrin® (bupropion hydrochloride), a short-acting version


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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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