Compare Wellbutrin vs. Elavil

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Wellbutrin
(Bupropion)

Elavil
(Amitriptyline)

Improves mood. Wellbutrin (Bupropion) is good for treating depression and has fewer sexual side effects than other antidepressants, but you need to be okay with avoiding alcohol.Improves mood and relieves certain kinds of pain. Elavil (Amitriptyline) is an older antidepressant that's sometimes used to treat pain and sleep problems, but it can have more side effects than similar medications.
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
4.610027855153203Wellbutrin
Reviews for Wellbutrin (Bupropion)
58%
of people say Wellbutrin (Bupropion) is worth it
38%
say it works well
13%
say it's a big hassle
Reviews for Elavil (Amitriptyline)
52%
6% vs. Wellbutrin (Bupropion)
34%
4% vs. Wellbutrin (Bupropion)
23%
10% vs. Wellbutrin (Bupropion)
Side effects
WellbutrinElavil
  • Tremor 13%
  • Dry mouth 10%
  • Agitation 10%
  • Constipation 9%
  • Excessive sweating 7%
  • Dizziness 6%
  • Blurred vision 5%
  • Nausea/vomiting 4%
  • Headache/migraine 4%
  • Menstrual complaints 4%
More Wellbutrin side effects »

The Elavil FDA package insert doesn’t have numbers about how common side effects are.

More about Elavil side effects »
How it works
WellbutrinElavil
Wellbutrin (Bupropion) is an atypical antidepressant. Researchers don't know exactly how it works, but it seems to change dopamine and norepinephrine activity in the brain, which regulate mood.Elavil (Amitriptyline) is a tricyclic antidepressant (TCA). Researchers don't know exactly how it works. It may change serotonin and norepinephrine activity in the brain, which regulates mood and pain perception. It also has sedative effects.
Type of medication
WellbutrinElavil
Antidepressant
Norepinephrine-dopamine reuptake inhibitor
Prescription only
Antidepressant
Tricyclic antidepressant (TCA)
Prescription only
Available as
WellbutrinElavil
  • Pill
  • Extended release
  • Pill
Used for (click to learn more)
WellbutrinElavil
How well it works for depression
The free Iodine Start program helps people track how well they are improving, and find the right antidepressant faster.

After 4 weeks using Start and Wellbutrin (Bupropion), here’s how much better people feel.

The free Iodine Start program (personal reports and coaching) is currently only for antidepressants. For now, you can read our pharmacist info about this medication.Learn more about Elavil (Amitriptyline)
Risk factors for serious side effects
WellbutrinElavil
  • Age 24 years or younger
  • History of depression
  • History of bipolar disorder
  • At risk for bipolar disorder
  • Withdrawing from nicotine
  • History of seizures
  • Alcoholism
  • Eating disorder
  • Higher dose
  • Drug interactions
  • History of bipolar disorder
  • At risk for bipolar disorder
  • Current kidney problems
  • Current liver problems
    Detailed Wellbutrin (Bupropion) risks & warnings »
    • Age 24 years or younger
    • History of bipolar disorder
    • At risk for bipolar disorder
    • History of cardiovascular disease
    • Age 65 years or older
    • Age 65 years or older
    Detailed Elavil (Amitriptyline) risks & warnings »
    Pregnancy category
    WellbutrinElavil
    CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

    Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

    See the FDA package insert
    CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

    Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

    See the FDA package insert
    Alcohol
    • Has a higher risk of causing seizures, especially if you have a seizure disorder, eating disorder, or if you drink alcohol. So, it's not a good medication if you drink a lot.
    No specific alcohol-related info.
    Food
    No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
    Kidneys and liver
    • Wellbutrin (Bupropion) is processed by the kidney and liver. If you have kidney or liver problems, you may need a different dose to prevent increased risk for side effects.
    No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
    Sex
    • Causes fewer sexual side effects than other antidepressants. Can actually boost sex drive for some people.
    • Can be taken with other antidepressants to counteract their sexual side effects.
    • There are no sexual side effects from this medication.
    No specific sex-related info.
    Sleep
    • Wellbutrin (Bupropion) makes you energized, so take it in the morning to avoid difficulty sleeping later that night.
    • Low doses of Elavil (Amitriptyline) start working in 45 minutes to help you sleep better.
    • Can cause dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and weight gain.
    Weight
    • It's less likely to cause weight gain than other antidepressants.
    • Wellbutrin (Bupropion) may cause weight loss. Talk to your doctor if weight loss is not desirable.
    • It's more likely to cause sleepiness, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and weight gain (1 to 5 pounds) than other antidepressants.
    • Can cause dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and weight gain.
    Upsides and benefits
    WellbutrinElavil
    • Effective at relieving depression symptoms.
    • Causes fewer sexual side effects than other antidepressants. Can actually boost sex drive for some people.
    • Can be taken with other antidepressants to counteract their sexual side effects.
    • Has some stimulant effects, so it can be energizing.
    • Can help with ADHD symptoms.
    • Also used to suppress appetite and help you quit smoking.
    • Six out of ten people who use an antidepressant for the first time find that it works for them.
    • Low doses work well to treat certain kinds of chronic pain. It can take 2 weeks to feel the full effects of the medication.
    • Low doses of Elavil (Amitriptyline) start working in 45 minutes to help you sleep better.
    • Six out of every ten people who use an antidepressant for the first time find that it works for them.
    Downsides and risks
    WellbutrinElavil
    • Wellbutrin (Bupropion) can be stimulating, so it can cause anxiety or insomnia the first few days you're taking it.
    • Generally not as good as other antidepressants for people who have anxiety.
    • It's less likely to cause weight gain than other antidepressants.
    • Has a higher risk of causing seizures, especially if you have a seizure disorder, eating disorder, or if you drink alcohol. So, it's not a good medication if you drink a lot.
    • It contains the same ingredient as a medication that helps you to stop smoking, (Zyban), so these two meds can't be used together.
    • Like most antidepressants, it can cause a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior for people younger than 24.
    • The first antidepressant you try doesn't always work or it can cause side effects you really don't like. You might need to try a few different medications until you find one that works for you.
    • When used for depression, Elavil (Amitriptyline) causes more side effects and has a higher risk of overdose than other antidepressants. It's usually used when other medications haven't worked.
    • It's more likely to cause sleepiness, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, and weight gain (1 to 5 pounds) than other antidepressants.
    • People age 65 and older have a higher risk for this medication's side effects.
    • Like most antidepressants, it can cause a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior for people age 24 and younger.
    • The first antidepressant you try doesn't always work or it can cause side effects you really don't like. You might need to try a few different medications until you find one that works for you.
    Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
    WellbutrinElavil
    • Wellbutrin (Bupropion) makes you energized, so take it in the morning to avoid difficulty sleeping later that night.
    • Takes about 8 to 12 weeks to see the medication's full effects on your mood.
    • There are no sexual side effects from this medication.
    • The extended-release tablet shell can show up unchanged in your stool, but don't worry since the medication was still absorbed by your body.
    • Stop taking it slowly to avoid getting withdrawal symptoms.
    • Tell your doctor if you notice sudden mood changes or unusual thoughts.
    • Take at bedtime to avoid some of its side effects.
    • Can cause dizziness, drowsiness, constipation, and weight gain.
    • Stop taking it slowly to avoid getting withdrawal symptoms.
    • Tell your doctor if you notice sudden mood changes or unusual thoughts.
    Learn more
    More about WellbutrinSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
    More about ElavilSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert