Can Wellbutrin cause problems with verbal communication?
December 8, 2006 8:20 AM   Subscribe

Can taking Wellbutrin XL cause an occasional inability to quickly verbalize cohesive thoughts?

I've been taking 300 MG of Wellbutrin XL for a few weeks now and have found that I have often found myself at a loss for words. I'll trip up on even simple statements and it destroys comedic timing completely. Could this be a side effect of taking this antidepressant? This is really frustrating because I can hear myself destroying what I'm trying to say as it comes out of my mouth and I feel it makes me seem uneducated.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I think it's possible. I found that taking Wellbutrin made me feel sort of irritable and ADD which is why I stopped taking it and switched to something else. Maybe talk to your doctor about an alternative antidepressant? There are so many options out there.
posted by tastybrains at 8:41 AM on December 8, 2006

Some of the side-effects include confusion and clumsiness, so I'd say it's highly possible.

Your doctor can help you out if it is particularly bothersome, and s/he should probably know about any side effects you experience anyway.
posted by JeremiahBritt at 8:42 AM on December 8, 2006

You really ought to tell your doctor about this. Slurred speech is a stroke symptom as well.
posted by Lockjaw at 9:27 AM on December 8, 2006

It certainly can cause the mental stumbling you describe in the first weeks while your body adjusts, and I'm not sure how many weeks a "few" is, but i'd give your system a bit more time.

I just have to know, did you take 150mg for a couple weeks first? Wellbutrin is powerful stuff, and i find a gradual stepping up easier on the system. It also seems that 200mg a day is perfect for me, anything over that indeed makes me a bit, how shall we say, agressive. And a bit spazzy. 300mg, while standard, really seems like a high starting point to me. Unless, of course, you are using it to quite smoking. In that case, deal with the temporary annoyance of being a word bungler, and save your lungs.

Give it a little time. Wellbutrin completely changed my life for the better. I'm no fan of pills, to be honest, but I am so glad I gave it a chance.
posted by metasav at 9:29 AM on December 8, 2006

Best answer: I'm in academia. I am convinced this happened to me as a result of anti-depressant medication. I had a hell of time writing papers and discussing my subject with others. I stopped all the medications over two years ago. I'm still struggling with articulation difficulties however (although I'm sure my own hyper-awareness of the problem exacerbates it).

One interesting thing of note: my comprehension was preserved. I could read bits of technical philosophy and subjectively feel like my comprehension level had not changed/diminished. Yet when it came time to regurgitate what I had read, I struggled. I felt it was "in me", just not in words. I studied for exams by writing out essays word for word and rereading them multiple times.

I tend to misuse words as a result of the need for word subsitution all the time. But the problem for me was/is not merely or primarily constant "tip of the toungue" experiences. It's more about synthesizing language into as you say cohesive, and I would add, fluent or natural sounding sentences.

This is something that is very difficult to detect (by an objective party) and measure. Most of the time in everyday speech, I can sound average to above average, despite occasional serious misuses of words, long pauses, and backtracking. Most people would not say I have a problem. But I know that the way I speak and think (when trying to think in words) is not how I used to speak and think. I get by fine in everyday interaction, but it has really slowed down my graduate work.

A few years ago, I scoured the internet for information about this, and at that time I mostly found material on severe cases (look up expressive aphasia). My case, and the cases I'm sure of many folk who are affected by anti-depressants in this way are probably too subtle for doctors and researchers to easily study and diagnose.

The worst part is the impact on one's sense of self. My verbal persona does not accurately reflect my intellect (but again, dwelling on this fact only worsens the condition--I think I'm beginnng to get over it now though). The following quoted from a forum user who experienced loss of verbal acuity among other things, really resonated with me: "When your life, your identity, your passion are circumscribed by your intellect, you are left with nothing but the consciousness of your loss".

But having said all that, I don't mean to scare you. Anti-depressants have turned lives around, saved them in some cases. The deficiencies you are experiencing may be mild and worth the benefits that welbutrin may bring you. You have to judge that for yourself.
posted by crack at 10:06 AM on December 8, 2006 [15 favorites]

I feel like Buproprion (generic wellbutrin) makes me markedly slower and less articulate. I take it for ADD and it curves my impulsivity and helps me focus, or be less distracted anyway.
posted by mecran01 at 10:42 AM on December 8, 2006

I took Wellbutrin SR a few years ago and found my ability to write poetry completely disappeared while I was on it. It was like my vocabulary had been reduced to what it was in middle school. It was a very frustrating feeling, knowing that the words were in my head, but couldn't get onto the paper. I was taking a 150mg dose and talked to my psychiatrist about it. He told me it was a common side effect. I stopped taking it altogether and it took a few months to get back to normal.
posted by blueskiesinside at 1:59 PM on December 8, 2006

I was taking Wellbutrin several years ago. I never associated the two before but, like blueskiesinside, I went through a period where I had a lot of trouble recalling words. Now it seems likely to me that the drug may have been the cause.
posted by Carbolic at 2:34 PM on December 8, 2006

I feel the same way from time to time and I'm on no medication. For me I think it is a stress/anxiety reaction. I've noticed that in certain situations (like work) it shows up. Like when someone asks you a question they know the answer to, but ask you to see if you know what you are talking about, you can sense it. For me, that's when the "" starts. I sense the hostile nature and clam up because I'm afraid that I MIGHT be saying the wrong thing. On the other hand, if someone comes to me because they think I might have the answer, my stress level doesn't rise and the words flow out smoothly.

So possibly, it is a symptom of anxiety that is not covered by wellbutrin.
posted by jeff_w_welch at 2:46 PM on December 8, 2006

<--I went over that comment like 5 times and it still sounds like shit...OH THE IRONY!
posted by jeff_w_welch at 2:47 PM on December 8, 2006

Good point, I was taking the medication because of my metal state and stopped once my mental state was more comfortable. Could have been a symptom of the original problem rather the medication.
posted by Carbolic at 3:17 PM on December 8, 2006

That kind of thing can be caused by depression, which would mean that you might notice it coincidentally with use of drugs intended to treat depression.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 3:32 PM on December 8, 2006

Yes. This is the only side effect I encountered when I started taking it, and it doesn't get any less aggravating with time.
posted by Jairus at 4:42 PM on December 8, 2006

Each anti-depressant (or any chemical for that matter) affects each person differently.

I suffered from a dull, dumbing depression and taking Wellbutrin actually made me feel a helluva lot sharper. It did, however, make my mouth dry and cause some other vaguely unpleasant physical side effects. Also, I could not drink a drop of alcohol without becoming sick while taking buproprion.

I'd like to second the suggestions to lower the dose, working up to 300 (if needed) gradually and, if you really feel Wellbutrin is wrong for you, try other types of anti-depressants. There are quite a few.

Now I am hyper-aware of my wording... did this make any sense?
posted by bobobox at 9:16 PM on December 8, 2006

I currently take Effexor XR, and I notice that I have trouble expressing my thoughts, verbally and on to written paper.

My experiences aren't ones where I cannot speak 'simple sentences' or cannot use some comedic timing, but I often have trouble expressing myself, with my thoughts and ideas.

I'm currently a sophomore in college (I was diagnosed with ADHD in 9th grade, a month or 2 after being diagnosed with depression) I understand the material, I just have trouble piecing my thoughts together, especially on papers. My professors say my content is good, but the composition is very poor. They say I use run-on and incomplete sentences pretty often in my writing.
(For example, on a test a couple weeks ago that consisted of an objective part of fill in the blank, t/f, and multiple choice, I did well on it; but on the essay part - I just ended up falling apart.
(I talked to my prof about it afterwards - she wondered aloud if I was ever diagnosed with Dyslexia).

I'd just like to say thanks - after reading your post, I registered here and wanted to share my experiences...

[i think i spent about 20-30 minutes typing this out, i dont know if thats long or not]
posted by fizzix at 6:08 PM on December 9, 2006

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