A controlled clinical trial of bupropion for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adults

Am J Psychiatry. 2001 Feb;158(2):282-8. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.158.2.282.


Objective: Despite the increasing recognition of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults, there is a paucity of controlled pharmacological trials demonstrating the effectiveness of compounds used in treatment, particularly nonstimulants. The authors report results from a controlled investigation to determine the anti-ADHD efficacy of bupropion in adult patients with DSM-IV ADHD.

Method: This was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, parallel, 6-week trial comparing patients receiving sustained-release bupropion (up to 200 mg b.i.d.) (N=21) to patients receiving placebo (N=19). The authors used standardized structured psychiatric instruments for diagnosis of ADHD. To measure improvement, they used separate assessments of ADHD, depression, and anxiety symptoms at baseline and each weekly visit.

Results: Of the 40 subjects (55% male) enrolled in the study, 38 completed the study. Bupropion treatment was associated with a significant change in ADHD symptoms at the week-6 endpoint (42% reduction), which exceeded the effects of placebo (24% reduction). In analyses using a cutoff of 30% or better reduction to denote response, 76% of the subjects receiving bupropion improved, compared to 37% of the subjects receiving placebo. Similarly, in analyses using Clinical Global Impression scale scores, 52% of the subjects receiving bupropion reported being "much improved" to "very improved," compared to 11% of the subjects receiving placebo.

Conclusions: These results indicate a clinically and statistically significant effect of bupropion in improving ADHD in adults. The results suggest a therapeutic role for bupropion in the armamentarium of agents for ADHD in adults, while further validating the continuity of pharmacological responsivity of ADHD across the lifespan.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / administration & dosage
  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation / therapeutic use*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / drug therapy*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / epidemiology
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology
  • Bupropion / administration & dosage
  • Bupropion / therapeutic use*
  • Comorbidity
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Placebos
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antidepressive Agents, Second-Generation
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Placebos
  • Bupropion