Peter Hibberd, M.D., is a doctor whose advice is based on more than 28 years of hospital outpatient and inpatient experience. He is an experienced emergency medicine physician, surgeon, and consultant. Dr. Hibberd is certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine. He is also a fellow and active member of the American Academy of Family Physicians, an active member of the American College of Emergency Physicians, and a member and fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine. Dr. Hibberd has earned numerous national and international professional certifications, memberships, and awards.

Is It Safe to Take Antidepressants Long-Term?

Monday, 07 June 2010 03:06 PM

Question: Five years ago after I started taking bupropion for depression, I noticed that the number and severity of migraine headaches that I have had for 40 years was greatly reduced. I'm very reluctant to stop the bupropion, but is there a problem with using this medication long-term?

Dr. Hibberd's Answer:
Bupropion is the active component of Wellbutrin that is used for depression treatment. The same medication is called Zyban, and is used for smoking cessation.
Bupropion can safely be used long term under physician supervision. The "off label" use for chronic pain and migraine is clearly successful in your case. Most of the problems seen with this medicine are seen in the first few months of use, and it is not intended for those with cardiac disease, seizures, liver, or renal disease.
There are a number of drug interactions, so be sure all your doctors are aware you are using it. Avoid alcohol while using this medication, and monitor your blood pressure which may increase in some individuals. While long-term safety data is scant, there are many patients who have been using this agent under physician direction and supervision for many years.

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