No…Wellbutrin does not treat panic disorder. Panic disorder is treated using antidepressant medications that increase serotonin in the CNS (Central Nervous System). Wellbutrin (generic name bupropion) is an antidepressant medication that blocks the reuptake of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the synapse, thereby increasing the concentration of dopamine in the neuronal synapses. Dopamine is not implicated in anxiety disorders such as panic disorder. Dopamine is implicated in depression, and therefore Wellbutrin is effective for major depressive disorder.
Panic disorder can be treated with medications that increase serotonin in the neuronal synapse. Examples of this include SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) and SNRIs (Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors). SSRIs include Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Celexa (citalopram), Lexapro (escitalopram), and Luvox (fluvoxamine). SNRIs include Effexor (venlafaxine), Cymbalta (duloxetine), and Pristiq (desvenlafaxine). TCAs (tricyclic antidepressants) and MAOIs (monoamine oxidase inhibitors) also increase serotonin and are effective for panic disorder, but their severe side effect profile makes it difficult to prescribe. For this reason, most psychiatrists only prescribe TCAs and MAOIs for severe cases, and are usually a last resort treatment option.
Panic disorder can also be treated by medications that modulate GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter. Medications that modulate GABA include benzodiazepines such as Ativan (lorazepam), Klonopin (clonazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), and Valium (diazepam). Benzodiazepines are effective for panic disorder and panic attacks, but their addictive potential and other problematic side effects of sedation and tolerance make them only suitable for short term use.
In summary, Wellbutrin does not treat panic disorder. Panic disorder responds to medications that increase serotonin in the neuronal synapse, and to medications that modulate GABA.