Can Zyban or Wellbutrin Cause High Blood Pressure?

Hypertension Among Side Effects of Popular Drugs

person testing blood pressure
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Bupropion is a drug primarily used as an antidepressant or smoking cessation tool. It is marketed under the brand name Wellbutrin when used in the treatment of major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder. When used for smoking cessation, it is marketed under the brand name Zyban.

In either form, bupropion is associated with a number of common side effects:

  • Agitation
  • Blurred vision
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Rapid heartbeat

One of the less common heart-related side effects is hypertension (high blood pressure). Although one trial actually showed a decrease in blood pressure over the course of the study with Wellbutrin, there have been studies that report some increase in treatment-emergent hypertension with Wellbutrin, particularly when used with nicotine replacement for smoking cessation.

Understanding Hypertension

Hypertension is a condition in which the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high. The elevated pressure with these vessels places a strain on the cardiovascular system as a whole and, over time, increases a person's risk of heart attack, aneurysm, kidney disease, and stroke.

Normal blood pressure is defined as a systolic pressure below 120 mmHg and a diastolic value under 80 mmHg. Although sometimes defined differently, hypertension is blood pressure that is consistently greater than 130 systolic and 80 diastolic.

Depending on the systolic pressure (during a heartbeat) and diastolic pressure (between heartbeats), the severity of hypertension could be classified as:

  • Stage 1: between 130 and 139 systolic and 80 and 89 diastolic
  • Stage 2: 140 or higher systolic and 90 or higher diastolic
  • Hypertensive crisis: 180 or higher systolic or 120 or higher diastolic

Bupropion and Hypertension

Bupropion has the potential to increase blood pressure because it affects the levels of certain neurotransmitters, known as catecholamines, which regulate not only mood but blood pressure.

The risk of hypertension is known to increase to 6.1% (or roughly one of every 16 people) if bupropion is taken in conjunction with a transdermal nicotine patch. This appears true whether a person has had a prior history of hypertension or not.

If you must remain on Wellbutrin to control your depression, high blood pressure medication can be prescribed to counteract this side effect. Otherwise, you may need to speak with your doctor about switching to a different antidepressant.

A Word From Verywell

Bupropion can be an effective tool for treating depression or smoking addiction. Persons prescribed with Zyban or Wellbutrin should have their blood pressure tested before starting treatment and routinely monitored thereafter. If you experience any symptoms of hypertension, speak with your doctor. You can also get your blood pressure tested at most larger retail pharmacies.

Call 911 or rush to your nearest emergency room if you or a loved one experience blood pressures indicating a hypertensive crisis or any of the following:

  • Severe chest pain
  • A severe headache accompanied by confusion and blurred vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Severe anxiety
  • Shortness of breath
  • Seizures
  • Unresponsiveness
5 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Highlights of prescribing information.

  2. American Heart Association. Understanding blood pressure readings.

  3. Mathar I, Vennekens R, Meissner M, et al. Increased catecholamine secretion contributes to hypertension in TRPM4-deficient miceJ Clin Invest. 2010;120(9):3267–3279. doi:10.1172/JCI41348

  4. Patel K, Allen S, Haque MN, Angelescu I, Baumeister D, Tracy DK. Bupropion: a systematic review and meta-analysis of effectiveness as an antidepressantTher Adv Psychopharmacol. 2016;6(2):99–144. doi:10.1177/2045125316629071

  5. American Heart Association. Hypertensive crisis: when you should call 911 for high blood pressure.

Additional Reading

By Nancy Schimelpfening
Nancy Schimelpfening, MS is the administrator for the non-profit depression support group Depression Sanctuary. Nancy has a lifetime of experience with depression, experiencing firsthand how devastating this illness can be.