Bupropion for the treatment of seasonal affective disorder

Expert Opin Drug Metab Toxicol. 2013 Sep;9(9):1229-40. doi: 10.1517/17425255.2013.804062. Epub 2013 May 27.


Introduction: Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a psychiatric illness with recurring depressive episodes during particular seasons, mostly winter. Bupropion is effective in the preventive treatment of SAD and is probably also effective in the acute treatment of SAD.

Areas covered: This review covers the pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of bupropion. The authors also evaluate bupropion's clinical efficacy as well as its safety and tolerability.

Expert opinion: Bupropion is available in an immediate release formulation, as well as a sustained release formulation and an extended release (XR) formulation. The XR formulation is recommended for SAD due to its ease of use and is the only formulation currently used as a therapy. Due to the predictable nature of SAD, the use of bupropion XR is considered a relevant treatment option. Bupropion's efficacy is shown in three trials that started in autumn at a time when SAD symptoms were not yet present although treatment effects were relatively small compared with a placebo. Bupropion was also shown to have efficacy in an open-label study. That being said, in order to reach definitive conclusions about its efficacy with acute treatment of SAD, more placebo-controlled trials are needed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antidepressive Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Bupropion / pharmacokinetics*
  • Bupropion / therapeutic use*
  • Delayed-Action Preparations / pharmacokinetics
  • Delayed-Action Preparations / therapeutic use
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Humans
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder / drug therapy*
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder / prevention & control


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Delayed-Action Preparations
  • Bupropion