Patients with major depressive disorder (MDD), both adult and pediatric, may experience worsening of their depression and/or the emergence of suicidal ideation and behavior (suicidality) or unusual changes in behavior, whether or not they are taking antidepressant medications, and this risk may persist until significant remission occurs. Suicide is a known risk of depression and certain other psychiatric disorders, and these disorders themselves are the strongest predictors of suicide. There has been a long-standing concern that antidepressants may have a role in inducing worsening of depression and the emergence of suicidality in certain patients during the early phases of treatment.
Pooled analyses of short-term placebo-controlled trials of antidepressant drugs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors [SSRIs] and others) show that these drugs increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults (ages 18 to 24) with major depressive disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders. Short-term studies did not show an increase in the risk of suicidality with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults beyond age 24; there was a reduction with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults aged 65 and older.
The pooled analyses of placebo-controlled trials in children and adolescents with MDD, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or other psychiatric disorders included a total of 24 short-term trials of 9 antidepressant drugs in over 4400 patients. The pooled analyses of placebo-controlled trials in adults with MDD or other psychiatric disorders included a total of 295 short-term trials (median duration of 2 months) of 11 antidepressant drugs in over 77,000 patients. There was considerable variation in risk of suicidality among drugs, but a tendency toward an increase in the younger patients for almost all drugs studied. There were differences in absolute risk of suicidality across the different indications, with the highest incidence in MDD. The risk differences (drug vs. placebo), however, were relatively stable within age strata and across indications. These risk differences (drug-placebo difference in the number of cases of suicidality per 1000 patients treated) are provided in Table 1.
|Age Range||Drug-Placebo Difference in Number of Cases of Suicidality per 1000 Patients Treated|
Increases Compared to Placebo
14 additional cases
5 additional cases
Decreases Compared to Placebo
1 fewer case
6 fewer cases
No suicides occurred in any of the pediatric trials. There were suicides in the adult trials, but the number was not sufficient to reach any conclusion about drug effect on suicide.
It is unknown whether the suicidality risk extends to longer-term use, i.e., beyond several months. However, there is substantial evidence from placebo-controlled maintenance trials in adults with depression that the use of antidepressants can delay the recurrence of depression.
All patients being treated with antidepressants for any indication should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, and unusual changes in behavior, especially during the initial few months of a course of drug therapy, or at times of dose changes, either increases or decreases [see Boxed Warning and Use in Specific Populations (8.4)].
The following symptoms, anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, and mania, have been reported in adult and pediatric patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder as well as for other indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric. Although a causal link between the emergence of such symptoms and either the worsening of depression and/or the emergence of suicidal impulses has not been established, there is concern that such symptoms may represent precursors to emerging suicidality.
Consideration should be given to changing the therapeutic regimen, including possibly discontinuing the medication, in patients whose depression is persistently worse, or who are experiencing emergent suicidality or symptoms that might be precursors to worsening depression or suicidality, especially if these symptoms are severe, abrupt in onset, or were not part of the patient’s presenting symptoms.
Families and caregivers of patients being treated with antidepressants for major depressive disorder or other indications, both psychiatric and nonpsychiatric, should be alerted about the need to monitor patients for the emergence of agitation, irritability, unusual changes in behavior, and the other symptoms described above, as well as the emergence of suicidality, and to report such symptoms immediately to healthcare providers. Such monitoring should include daily observation by families and caregivers. Prescriptions for Wellbutrin XL should be written for the smallest quantity of tablets consistent with good patient management, in order to reduce the risk of overdose.
Wellbutrin XL is not approved for smoking cessation treatment; however, bupropion HCl sustained-release is approved for this use. Serious neuropsychiatric adverse events have been reported in patients taking bupropion for smoking cessation. These postmarketing reports have included changes in mood (including depression and mania), psychosis, hallucinations, paranoia, delusions, homicidal ideation, aggression, hostility, agitation, anxiety, and panic, as well as suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, and completed suicide [see Adverse Reactions (6.2)]. Some patients who stopped smoking may have been experiencing symptoms of nicotine withdrawal, including depressed mood. Depression, rarely including suicidal ideation, has been reported in smokers undergoing a smoking cessation attempt without medication. However, some of these adverse events occurred in patients taking bupropion who continued to smoke.
Neuropsychiatric adverse events occurred in patients without and with pre-existing psychiatric disease; some patients experienced worsening of their psychiatric illnesses. Observe patients for the occurrence of neuropsychiatric adverse events. Advise patients and caregivers that the patient should stop taking Wellbutrin XL and contact a healthcare provider immediately if agitation, depressed mood, or changes in behavior or thinking that are not typical for the patient are observed, or if the patient develops suicidal ideation or suicidal behavior. The healthcare provider should evaluate the severity of the adverse events and the extent to which the patient is benefiting from treatment, and consider options including continued treatment under closer monitoring, or discontinuing treatment. In many postmarketing cases, resolution of symptoms after discontinuation of bupropion was reported. However, the symptoms persisted in some cases; therefore, ongoing monitoring and supportive care should be provided until symptoms resolve.
Wellbutrin XL can cause seizure. The risk of seizure is dose-related. The dose should not exceed 300 mg once daily. Increase the dose gradually. Discontinue Wellbutrin XL and do not restart treatment if the patient experiences a seizure.
The risk of seizures is also related to patient factors, clinical situations, and concomitant medications that lower the seizure threshold. Consider these risks before initiating treatment with Wellbutrin XL. Wellbutrin XL is contraindicated in patients with a seizure disorder or conditions that increase the risk of seizure (e.g., severe head injury, arteriovenous malformation, CNS tumor or CNS infection, severe stroke, anorexia nervosa or bulimia, or abrupt discontinuation of alcohol, benzodiazepines, barbiturates, and antiepileptic drugs [see Contraindications (4)]. The following conditions can also increase the risk of seizure: concomitant use of other medications that lower the seizure threshold (e.g., other bupropion products, antipsychotics, tricyclic antidepressants, theophylline, and systemic corticosteroids), metabolic disorders (e.g., hypoglycemia, hyponatremia, severe hepatic impairment, and hypoxia), or use of illicit drugs (e.g., cocaine) or abuse or misuse of prescription drugs such as CNS stimulants. Additional predisposing conditions include diabetes mellitus treated with oral hypoglycemic drugs or insulin, use of anorectic drugs, excessive use of alcohol, benzodiazepines, sedative/hypnotics, or opiates.
Incidence of Seizure with Bupropion Use
The incidence of seizure with Wellbutrin XL has not been formally evaluated in clinical trials. In studies using bupropion HCl sustained-release up to 300 mg per day the incidence of seizure was approximately 0.1% (1/1000 patients). In a large prospective, follow-up study, the seizure incidence was approximately 0.4% (13/3200) with bupropion HCl immediate-release in the range of 300 mg to 450 mg per day.
Additional data accumulated for bupropion immediate-release suggests that the estimated seizure incidence increases almost tenfold between 450 and 600 mg/day. The risk of seizure can be reduced if the Wellbutrin XL dose does not exceed 450 mg once daily and the titration rate is gradual.
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