View Full Version : Wellbutrin and short term memory loss...
11-17-2003, 03:57 PM
I was hanging out with AnitaVacation this weekend when I mentioned that for the last 6 months or so I've really noticed a marked decline in my short term memory and my ability to hold onto a train of thought. In the course of our conversation I made a connection... Wellbutrin. I started taking it last spring. The timing works out.
I did some searches online and found some other people talking about short term memory loss and wondering if it was their Wellbutrin... but I don't know those people or how informed or uninformed they may be... whereas I trust y'all. Well, mostly. ;)
Anyway, I have left a message with my psychiatrist and I will talk to her about it tomorrow when she calls me back... but I want to know if anyone here has experienced anything similar, or knows of anyone who has? And if so, what they did about it?
If you did experience this... did it eventually go away? Get worse? Change medication? Change dosage? I know my doctor... she will probably offer me several options including staying on Wellbutrin or switching to something else... She always leaves it up to me to decide. So in anticipation, I'd like some sort of information to try to form my decision from.
So what do you know? I'm 31 by the way, so it's probably not general purpose aging yet. I also take Lamictal and Seroquel--do they have any effect on memory?
Disclaimer: I am not looking for a replacement for "real" medical advice--I'm getting real medical advice from my doctor. I understand that you guys aren't my doctor. I just want to gather some data and experiences from other people so that I have more of a clue when I talk to her.
...now what was I saying?
11-17-2003, 04:08 PM
I noticed much the same symptom...at least as far as keeping hold of a train of thought... I switched to Paxil and then to Prozac without much change.
With reduced dosages of Prozac it seemed to get better, but other side effects made me stop entirely. I think I do better now, but it may only be becuase I forget what I forget.
11-17-2003, 04:44 PM
I believe the symptoms you are describing are pretty normal for people with depression and/or anxiety.
During my depression i had a very hard time concentrating and remembering stuff. Sometimes bad enough that i had to drop classes at uni.
I remember an episode where i had to draw my country's flag (not a uni class ;))and couldn't remember what it looked like. Now i'm not much of a patriot but *that* freaked me out.
Even though the worst of my depression went away when i began treatment(Zoloft, about 12 months ago) the mental "lag" stayed. About a month ago i finally noticed some improvement and now it seems to get better each day.
Point is: To the best of my knowledge what you are experiencing is normal and will get better with time.
11-17-2003, 05:42 PM
My trusty Facts and Comparisons lists "memory decreases" as (a) quite low in incidence and (b) only with higher doses (> 300mg/day of SR form).
Something to think about. Doesn't sound like the med.
ps - i considered adding a third item to the list just for you.
11-17-2003, 06:06 PM
hobophobic: I've been diagnosed as bipolar for a dozen years and have been on medication for the last 9 or 10. I just switched to Wellbutrin from Celexa last spring (and previously I was on Paxil)... so this isn't a symptom of depression and/or anxiety because I never had it before. I'm not sure what you mean by it being normal and will get better with time... what is that based on? (I mean is that assuming that it is the meds or not? I'm just not following your post well. :/)
I'm taking 300mg/day of SR at the moment, miatachris.
I was on a lower dose earlier on, but it wasn't effective at that dose.
11-17-2003, 07:39 PM
Sorry, i wasn't very clear.
I only have experience with depression/anxiety and the symptoms you describe sounds all too familiar.
When i read that you were on Welbutrin i automatically connected the symptoms with depression. My mistake.
Best of luck though.
11-17-2003, 07:44 PM
Just to clarify:
What i meant was that problems with concentration/memory are common in people with depression/anxiety. I therefor wrongly assumed that your problems were not connected with the meds but with the disease itself.
11-17-2003, 09:17 PM
Ah ok. I'm very sleepy right now as I've been plagued by insomnia... my brain isn't completely 100% capacity at the moment! Heh.
11-17-2003, 10:00 PM
Wellbutrin makes me sharper, what with its stimulant properties. If I'm ever a bit spacy, it's probably because of the meds I take for my rather nasty anxiety disorder.
11-17-2003, 10:26 PM
Didn't notice any memory loss, but it did give me some terrible nightmares. Anybody else have this side effect?
11-18-2003, 11:38 AM
My wife was on it (for smoking cessation) and it made her a little nutsy. I wonder if your "short-term memorey loss" is really just caused by the increased level of distraction, inability to concentrate, etc. My wife certainly suffered from those symptoms.
11-18-2003, 11:54 AM
I took the same-thing-but-named-something-else-stop-smoking-drug for a while, and it wouldn't suprise me that you have memory loss. How about constipation, insomnia, dry mouth, nervousness.....I could go on. I'm sure some of it was nicotine withdrawl, but I had quite plenty of other times without the stranger effects. But overall, the side effects were worth it. I quit. I only took it for two weeks though, it just drove me too batty.
11-19-2003, 01:56 AM
I'm actually on an additional medication to combat the insomnia, it's so bad.
11-19-2003, 05:59 AM
What was the ineffective lower dose you were on? You could always - after consulting with your shrink and getting a new script - step down to 250 mg/day (150 mg morning, 100 mg afternoon), or to 200 mg/day (100 mg twice a day). Just how late in the day are you taking the second dose?
What are you taking for the insomnia? A benzo, or Ambien? Or a tricyclic or trazodone?
Maybe you'd be better off on Wellbutrin XL, which is taken once daily. It's a new formulation, though, so it might not yet be covered by your insurance.
I take 150 mg Wellbutrin SR in the morning as an adjunct to Celexa and the anxiety meds. In the beginning, I used to "crash" about 11 hours after taking it, but as the levels became more constant in my system, that ended. I'm hoping to switch to the XL formulation once it's approved in Canada and covered by my insurance.
The Chao Goes Mu
11-19-2003, 08:31 AM
I took Wellbutrin (Zyban) to stop smoking about 5 years ago and it really messed up my memory at the time. But after about 2 months of taking it I stopped and my memory returned right away. However, I started taking Zoloft in 2000, first 50mg/day and almost immediately had trouble with short term memory loss. My shrink said it was the depression and not the medication causing it. Funny that, since I had no memory problems even in the midst of a depression that would've made Hemmingway proud.
Last year at this time my shrink upped my dose to 100mg/day....
The memory problem became significantly worse.. It was hard to carry on simple conversations because my train of though would constantly derail and I would forget even the most mundane words. My life became dominated by post-it notes.
I stopped taking the Zoloft the beginning of July of this year and am not on any other meds . Now my memory is starting to return. It's not yeat as sharp as it was before starting the meds but is has improved. BTW I'm 31 years old. Ruling out a brain tumor or very very early onset Alzheimers, I'm convinced it was the medication that screwed up my umm....um.......what's the word?................uhhhhhhhhhhh......memory!
11-19-2003, 09:49 AM
Your psychiatrist has that handy clinical experience & no doubt will give it to you straight.
I checked the USP DI-Volume II, Advice for the Patient & PDR Family Guide to Rx Drugs.
The most common side effects listed for Wellbutrin are agitation and anxiety. Short-term memory loss was not listed.
Short-term memory loss can also be a symptom of depression or mania as well as a side effect from some medications.
Insomnia past a couple of days, for someone with bipolar disorder, is usually enough to warrant a visit to a p-doc anyway....
I have taken Lexapro for a year now & it works well for me,
however it's expensive being the newer generation of Celexa. But less side effects. :)
After seven years, (I'm 28) I tried going off my medication...for about two weeks. What a nightmare.
"Hi, my name is JungleLove & I am bipolar." I am no longer in hopeful denial.
Why did you go off Celexa, if you don't mind my asking & we aren't straying too far from GQ guidelines....
(BTW, I have always enjoyed your posts to SDMB; I had no idea we had this illness in common.)
11-19-2003, 10:59 PM
I'm currently on Wellbutrin SR but she called in the non-SR version for me yesterday and it will be in today. I didn't realize that the SR meant it was time released. I can't take time released medications--because of my surgery. (I have a much shorter intestine and most of it has no digestive enzymes in it).
I'm taking Seroquel to combat the insomnia.
I'll give the "regular" Wellbutrin a try for now and see if that fixes things... I haven't really felt like I've reached an effective dose yet--but that's probably because I'm not absorbing it all!
If it doesn't, I'm just going to ask to switch to something else.
CURIOUS GEORGIE7 -- yes I have that inability to carry on conversations thing happen sometimes. I'll just lose my train of thought. This has never happened to me before. Ever.
JungleLove - I stopped the Celexa because I wanted my sex drive back. It isn't back yet, btw. *sigh* Thanks, btw!
11-20-2003, 05:50 AM
Just be careful with the non-SR version. That's the original formulation that caused seizures in too high a percentage of patients, was withdrawn for a few years, and reformulated as SR to reduce the possibility of seizure. I hope your shrink informed you of that. No doubt the pharmacist will.
11-20-2003, 02:58 PM
Yeah I know it can cause seizures... fortunately...hehe...the other medicine I'm on is an antiepileptic!
11-20-2003, 04:43 PM
What was this thread about again?
11-20-2003, 09:26 PM
I checked all my doctors'/people's Rx reference books and can't find this listed as a side effect. Also neither I nor my partner (also a therapist, specializing in working with folks with bipolar disorder) have had clients report this. I'm hoping you'll be able to find a way to decrease it, regardless of its genesis.
11-20-2003, 10:11 PM
Me too... it's humiliating to feel so stupid :(
11-21-2003, 10:23 AM
Originally posted by OpalCat
Me too... it's humiliating to feel so stupid
I hear you, Opal. I'm bipolar on Lithium, and I have short-term memory issues too. I'm going through Post-It notes like they're Xanax. :)
Seroquel for insomnia? I can see that. I've got those for anti-anxiety, and they put me out. I, no shit, fell asleep in a business meeting because of those things. :o
11-21-2003, 12:35 PM
what i noticed is that my long term memory is very, very fuzzy. I'm not sure if it was the meds or if it was the multiple attempts at ending my own life with non rx drugs and alcohol. people will tell me about something that happened,, say, 5 yrs ago, and i have no idea what they're talking about.
i sometimes think that it because i;m getting older. life is getting longer, so i push out some thoughts...
11-21-2003, 09:19 PM
My husband will remind me of a conversation we had 3 days ago that I have absolutely no recollection of ever having taken place...
11-21-2003, 09:33 PM
It would've been funny if you had posted this thread twice.
11-21-2003, 09:38 PM
It would've been funny if you had posted this thread twice.
11-21-2003, 11:53 PM
I'm weaning off Zyban/Wellbutrin now. I took my last dose 5 days ago. I was taking it to quit smoking and it worked liked a charm: I'm now 2.5 months cig-free after a 20+ year addiction.
However: I must agree, the memory loss has been real for me; I'll be in the middle of a conversation that digresses just a bit and... I have no idea what the real conversation was about when we un-digress again. It's frickin wierd, and I'm tired of it. I've always been a bit spacey sometimes, but this is getting quite spooky.
And then there's the excess energy and almost-panic-attacks. And the inability to focus on a task. And did I mention sleeplessness?
I expect in 2-4 weeks I'll be have a better, off-Wellbutrin, perspective on this issue. I will be glad when I'm well-shut of Wellbutrin, but very grateful to be finally smokeless.
11-04-2012, 07:11 PM
I have experienced significant word retrieval issues and short term memory loss with wellbutrin. In my research I discovered that there is a side effect in about 5% of those taking wellbutrin of memory loss. I was just about to have memory testing done, I was scared I might have early onset alzheimer's. It was freaking me out. I have taken the drug for a couple of years, I am just now weaning myself off. If I come up with depression again, I'll probably restart it. I began taking an omega 3 fatty acid supplement, because I found info out there saying this could help with memory loss. I found it has helped some, but not much. I finally have the gumption to risk the fall out from kicking it. So far, I'm irritable and anxious, but it's not unmanageable.
11-04-2012, 07:27 PM
Yeah, they all say wellbutrin can make a zombie out of you.
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