Skip to Content

Wellbutrin Used to Treat Bulimia


On the surface, the logic seems sound. Since one of the suspected causes of bulimia is depression, why not give an anti-depressant to see if the behavior improves? In fact, there is evidence that SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are useful in treating bulimia. Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft and others have shown a 50% rate in reducing the number of purges in studies, with some treatments leading to remission, according to continuing education materials from the U.S. Psychiatric and Mental Health Congress.

Studying the effectiveness of Wellbutrin in bulimics

So why not Wellbutrin? The answer comes from testing the drug in bulimics, and it’s not good news. In four out of 69 patients with bulimia treated with Wellbutrin, gran mal seizures were the unfortunate result. A gran mal seizure is a medical emergency and can be fatal. The manufacturer mentions this in their literature:

“WELLBUTRIN is contraindicated in patients with a current or prior diagnosis of bulimia or anorexia nervosa because of a higher incidence of seizures noted in patients treated for bulimia.”

In spite of this clear warning and evidence of harm, some bulimics still think Wellbutrin might be helpful. It is not uncommon to see the drug mentioned in forums where bulimics and anorexics trade stories.

Treatment takes therapy, hard work, and maybe medication

There is an even more general rule that applies when bulimics are out shopping for a drug to try: Don’t rely on medications alone. There is no magic pill to fix bulimia. It takes therapy and hard work—and maybe a medication.

The idea of taking Wellbutrin for bulimia turns out to be a very bad one indeed, so any self-experimentation should be avoided. A doctor’s supervision is warranted in all cases involving powerful medications, and each patient needs a complete evaluation before starting a drug.

That said, many doctors will try SSRIs as part of a treatment package. In the positive results mentioned above, all patients were undergoing therapy while on the drugs. Even those who got placebos in the test did better, simply because of the therapy.