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Wellbutrin and Fear of Death?
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whiteoleander posted:
I really hope someone can help me with this.

I'm about to become a lawyer. I'm 23 and I was recently diagnosed with dysthymia with some major depressive episodes. I was originally put on Zoloft with fantastic results, however I had some sexual side effects (loss of libido and ability to orgasm) and so I was switched to Wellbutrin.

The Wellbutrin hasn't had any side effects that I've noticed, but one thing in my life has changed. For the past month (while I've been on the 300mg dose), I seem to be having VERY frequent thoughts of death. Note, not thoughts of suicide. Fear of death. For example, if someone dies in a movie/book/tv/news story, I start to think about what happens when we die, when it will happen to me, when it will happen to my boyfriend and friends, is there really nothing after?

I know these thoughts are common to all of humanity, but I've never had them in such a frequency or intensity. It gives me almost miniature panic attacks where I feel really afraid for up to 20-30 minutes. I'm having them about 5-6x daily now.

Is this a side effect of Wellbutrin? I know that suicidal thoughts can increase with anti-depressants (I've never seriously considered suicide), but I was wondering if this is normal. As you can imagine, it's terrifying and extremely unpleasant.
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Caprice_WebMD_Staff responded:
Hi Whiteoleander,

I don't know if this is due to the Wellbutrin or not but, either way, it IS worth reporting to your prescribing doctor. It's possible some adjustments may be needed. So talk with him/her before it worsens any further.
 
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Thomas L Schwartz, MD responded:
I suspect anything, including your thoughts may be a side effect, but I have not heard or seen this from wellbutrin.. When did you switch to it? If it was in the last 1-2 weeks wait it out a bit as it could be a zoloft withdrawal and not a wellbutrin side effect. if it converts to suicidal thoughts see someone asap.
One way to fight this is to be aware when these thoughts hit and 'talk yourself through' them. For example counter them with 'this is a strange weird thought, it's just a thought, it will go away in a few minutes.... this is also a way to get thru panic.
Sometimes we psychiatrists will mix meds together ie zoloft wellbutrin- sometimes we get better good effects and the drugs counter each other's side effects out in a 'win-win' situation. Consider asking your prescriber about this option.
Also there are 4 types of 'wellbutrin'
wellbutrin IR generic
wellbutrin SR generic
wellbutrin XL generic or brand name
Aplenzin
perhaps ask your doc to change you to a slightly different version and see if the thoughts go away!
 
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crzyshane replied to Thomas L Schwartz, MD's response:
I wanted to chime in here... I literally said "oh my god!" out loud here in bed at 1:44AM when I read this discussion. (BTW: I found this discussion while Googling "wellbutrin fear of death" and I am so glad that I did.)

I am a 31 yr old about two weeks into a new prescription of generic Wellbutrin SR 150mg. Starting about three days ago, I have become consumed with thoughts of death and what happens after - but only at night when I try to sleep. All my religious beliefs go out the window and I start thinking about death as an "off switch" and what if there's nothing after. I fill with "nervous energy" and start to have what I'd consider a "mini panic attack" and have to slow my breathing to calm down and prevent further escalation.

Now that I've found this post, I'm very inclined to believe that there's a connection between my recent prescription and these feelings.

My fear at this point is that my doctor will disown me given that I experienced tachycardia with Prozac, other issues with Zoloft, and felt that Paxil didn't affect me at all. Wellbutrin was one of my last hopes. I guess I'll see what else is out there... One thing's for sure - I don't think I'll be able to keep taking Wellbutrin with these thoughts/fears taking center stage.

Thanks again for all your posts - I'm strangely comforting to know someone else out there knows what it's like and I'm not the only one experiencing this.
 
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lastjuly responded:
hi,
i just read your post. by now i suppose you've found an answer to your question. (i didn't read all the replies and you've probably seen your doctor since your post) but i can tell you this with great certaintly-- it is the Wellbutrin. i was on it years ago and what you describe happened but i didn't necessarily associate it with the drug. recently i went back on it, and when my doctor increased my dose to 300mg, i began having obsessive thoughts about death. like a souped up death realization, which most people have from time to time. a true terror about death and its inevitability.

in fact, i am only just now getting past the worst part of an episode that began about a half hour ago--. so i googled "wellbutin/death fear" which led me here.

so you're not alone... best wishes to you. i hope you'll find the right med/dosage.
 
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whiteoleander replied to lastjuly's response:
Oh my god, it's so good there are other people experiencing this! I'm going to call my doctor now and either get off it or switch. My boyfriend kept thinking this had to do with a recent death of a family pet, but the thoughts got so obsessive... they aren't as bad as before but they're still there. I need to get off them.

Thank you for replying, all. It made me feel much better!
 
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rebelxdiamond responded:
Oh, god, I don't even know where to begin with this. I cannot believe that I'm not the only person who FEELS this way! I saw your post and the replies and I was literally CRYING.
The only thing is- I haven't ever taken Wellbutrin or any depression meds. I've just had this problem my whole life. Its gotten worse in the past couple months - I thought it had something to do with my recently starting birth control, but looked up the symptoms and haven't found much. (any info, anyone?)
Either way, this disturbing preoccupation with death is TERRIFYING. I am left literally helpless when I start thinking about how I'm going to die one day, and it'll all be over, etc. etc. recently its become and issue during the day- It just comes to mind how pointless everything is if we're all going to die. It makes you feel all empty and hopeless. I'm in college, trying to decide a major, but how is a girl supposed to do that when it feels like every decision she makes will be worthless, in the end?
I sincerely hope you find help for your problem. THANK YOU so much for posting this, so people like me know that we aren't the only ones out there feeling this way! I can hardly process that I'm really not the only person going through this, that other people have this problem in the EXACT same way I do!
 
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lastjuly replied to rebelxdiamond's response:
bless your heart. i'm tellin' ya, this is horrific stuff. i think i'm losing my mind--trying to process a concept that i know my brain can even begin to fathom. and my mind just won't shut off about it. so then panic ensues.

i'm certain that the meds have triggered this in me. though i do remember going through these feelings as a child sometimes. if your birth control is contributing, your doctor might know. but i have found my pharmacist to be a better source for answers about uncommon, seldom reported side effects. do you have a counselor? someone you can talk to about this?

chemically induced or not, you are not alone, sweetie. this obsessive thinking is wrecking me lately.

hang in there. i will too.

lastjuly@yahoo.com
 
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rebelxdiamond replied to lastjuly's response:
Thank you. It is really good to hear from other people going through this same thing. Its insane to me, almost, that I'm honestly not alone in this. Honest to god I never even fathomed that someone out there might actually have this panicking issue. My whole life I just felt kind of disgusted with myself/embarrassed about the whole thing, so I never told anyone before. Its... really an amazing feeling to know that I'm NOT alone
I'm glad to hear that you know what's causing it in you, for sure. I certainly hope your doctor can help you find something else that works without causing these horrible feelings/fears!
This whole panic thing has only ever effected me when it was dark, and generally only if I'm alone. Its terrible- this feeling so helpless. Its almost like I *am* dead, or about to be or something. I think that's what my body reacts to; its why the panic sets in. I don't know if you've tried this, but what the doctor said (second response) about talking yourself through it has been the only way I've found to get beyond it. That and turn on a freakin' light. I've gotten to the point when I can see my thoughts heading down the path towards causing one of those panics and I can try to think about other things, to stop it, sometimes.
For me I think it might be more than just the death thing, now. I'm gonna try calling up my college's student mental health services on Thursday morning if these other symptoms (no appetite, having no motivation, hopelessness, negativity) don't go away by then. This blanket of... emptiness (I guess? That's what it seems like. Lack of emotion, this weird feeling of everything being pointless. Like, I know I should be happy as a clam driving around on such beautiful days as these past few have been, but... there's just been nothing.) has settled over everything I do lately. I'd like to say it has something to do with this whole transition to college, but I've been here nearly a year now, and this really only started these past couple weeks!
I hope to hear back from you, and I'll let you know what happens with me on this. Thank you for replying to me in the first place, too. I still can't believe there's someone else out there with this, and hearing back makes it feel more real.
Thanks for your help. =>
 
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lastjuly replied to rebelxdiamond's response:
gosh, everything you're saying sounds so much like what i'm experiencing/have experienced. i'll check back in here from time to time to see how you're doing.

take care,
a.r.
 
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rufuspooch responded:
Hello All,
I too arrived here via a Google search, specifically for "Wellbutrin and Fear of Death." I too can report the panic attack feeling accompanied by the overwhelming fear of death/ dying and everything (as I experience it) coming to an end.

I am 43, and have certainly contemplated death before, and I have made some peace with it. These thoughts and feelings are unprecedented in my experience-- I have never had panic attacks before. This feels as if I cannot get my breath, and I cannot get the thoughts/ feelings to subside.They are worse at night.

24 hrs. later: I take a low dose of Wellbutrin and today I only took a third of that. (I will call the Dr. office tomorrow; today is Sunday.) The panic has subsided; now I am just numb. But welcome "numb" over the prior sensations!

It is so difficult to monitor your own thoughts sometimes-- I have been on Wellbutrin for 2 weeks, and at first the nausea and headaches commanded all my attention.(By the way, acupressure points for nausea and those over the counter wrist bands you can buy to create steady pressure on them saved me!) But now that I reconsider, I do remember increasing thoughts about death creping in-- but I attributed it to the fact that the nausea reminded me of the difficulties that people undergoing chemotherapy endure ( I am sure my nausea was mild by comparison!). Now I think it likely that these thoughts were building steadily for the last two weeks. When the nausea finally subsided, I was so relieved, I didn't want to consider that the meds might be causing other issues.

Like others in this forum, I want to emphasize that these terrifying thoughts have been about death, rather than suicide.

Thank you for sharing. I feel less "crazy" and alone now.
I hope that we all find the health we seek--
 
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region responded:
Whiteoleander - cried when I saw your post. I have been on 300 mg Wellbutrin XL for about a month and have major anxiety and horrible panic attacks about death for the last week. Also not suicide, but just being scared of dying, others around me dying, and that that there is no afterlife. It is particularily bad at night. I don't want to let my husband or son out of my sight to the point I am hugely annoying them. I felt so unsupported as my husband is convinced that I developed mental health issues even though these thoughts are so out of character. I suspected it was the Wellbutrin but had nothing to support this. Have changed to Celexa and will monitor this post. I really think there is a link and this should be added to other possible effects of this drug.
 
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An_203106 responded:
Just want to say I'am on it too, but I am not scared of death just have thoughts about it. Read "think of not being here" if you care to.
 
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shallowwaters responded:
I was diagnosed with ADD (inattentive) and related baggage. I have been trying all the meds with bad results. I started 300mg of Wellbutrin about 3 weeks ago.

I was watching a news story on tv about the terminally ill and a freight train of the strangest thoughts and feelings overwhelmed me! I was just absolutely paralyzed and so scared.

I, obviously, thought this might be related to the Wellbutrin and did a search for this side effect. I was glad to find this forum and surprised that there are not more posts here or elsewhere on the internet.

I have discussed death and dying many times before, I am not a religious person so I have always really just was hoping for the best when the day comes. I have always enjoyed the philosophical discussions. But this was so totally freaky. It takes you right 'there' --Like you are on the ledge of a skyscraper stepping off and you reach the 'tipping point.' It is a feeling of such loneliness! It's indescribable. Someone here used the word "inevitability" and "finality" - It just made life feel extremely brief.

I have three kids, 2 very young, and I just felt this overwhelming fear and sadness when I thought of leaving them. When I got home a couple days after this first episode, and saw my 2 year old girl, I just balled! It ripped my heart out.

I walked around 'seeing dead people' just seeing life speed by for everyone. I imagined all my friends and family who have died. So empty. And it made the life experience seem like such a waste. If I saw a photograph of someone, I could imagine fast forwarding to when it was just a picture of a distant memory, all gone.

It is the feeling of nothingness, "goneness." Just unbelievable! And if you have not had this happen to you - there is no way to understand it. It is something more than a feeling or a thought, it is a state of being or knowing. Anyway, you can't understand it unless it happens to you. Hard to explain.

The first night it happened, I lay in bed with my wife, in a daze, just staring at her, thinking of her and the kids and being gone and alone. She said it's like a part of your brain has opened that never should. Yes, you should never be 'aware' of this. it needs to be blocked. Denial.

In a very strange way, I feel as though something has been revealed to me. Not necessarily in a good way. But there was a frightening insight to life and death. My mind was also thinking of how bizarre life is in the first place. What are the chances we are 'here' and where exactly is here? What is it that we are experiencing?

I also had some guilt and regret about having children, I was able to 'fee'l the brevity of their life. Why would I do that to them? They are so happy and then it's over. I felt how fragile life is and again, so brief, this rush of emotion sped everything up to that awful moment. We are building a house and I was looking at the plans at the construction site, it all seemed like such a waste - pointless.

Perhaps a bad attempt to describe the feeling. I just wanted to try.

I called the doc and he thinks I should stay with it for a few days and see if the 'side effects' subside. I skipped a dose anyway, just couldn't bring myself to take another. But I will try to stay on and see what happens and I will report back.

What is the update for all of you?
 
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shallowwaters replied to region's response:
ditto


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