Wellbutrin-Induced Tinnitus Success Story — Dramatic Improvement

Discussion in 'Success Stories' started by Wellbutrin_Case, Oct 26, 2021.

    1. Wellbutrin_Case

      Wellbutrin_Case Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Wellbutrin
      After reading this forum when I was at my lowest, I feel morally obligated to post my story to give some hope to other Wellbutrin tinnitus sufferers.

      I (29 y/o male) took Wellbutrin for 12 days, titrating up quickly at the following dosages:

      150mg
      300mg
      300mg
      300mg
      450mg!!! (accidental third dose)
      300mg
      300mg
      300mg
      300mg
      150mg
      150mg
      150mg

      My ringing started immediately with the drug and increased with the dose - becoming most intense and alarming at 450mg. It was always a higher pitched ring/eeeeeeee noise for me. I was able to make the noise change by bending my head forward, and getting stressed would make it spike for a second, until I calmed down with deep breathing. Bending over quickly once also make it spike for me, but it went back down fast (not gone, just back to normal).

      After stopping the drug (and not taking any other ADs), I can confirm dramatic improvement in the ringing after 7 weeks. It is so low currently that I need to plug my ears to hear it, and cannot hear it unless in total silence (even an electric light buzzing will cancel it out). I tracked my progress by comparing the ringing to my fans (1 fan vs 2), and other noises I could rely on to be consistent (bathroom fan, etc). The ringing used to be way worse. There was a time when it very loud and distracting - especially in the afternoon - and I could even hear it over my 2 fans at night. But after all the improvement I have experienced, I have complete confidence it will be fully gone by 3 months. I'm posting this story a bit early (before it's fully gone) because I will forget to do this by then.

      After reading some of the horror stories on here, I felt sure I was doomed. But I asked a friend of mine who also had ringing during and after using ADs, and he told me it's totally normal and does go away. I read other forums - especially depression forums - and saw the same thing reported. Get used to the idea that it might take 2-3 months to fully subside or longer, and only if you're off all the meds. Don't panic and stop cold turkey if you can avoid it. I have also been taking vitamins during this time. I took Vitamin 2 at 2500IU, and 400mg of Magnesium to help absorb the Vitamin D and avoid a Magnesium deficiency because of the Vitamin D. Don't OD on vitamins and supplements - be deliberate and be aware that taking one vitamin can cause a deficiency in another one.

      Here are some observations I made during the worst of my ringing that helped calm me down. Maybe they can help you too:
      1. Moving my head in certain ways made it change (this was comforting because it made me realize I had some influence over the noise. Do the neck exercises and don't dismiss them).
      2. Stress/ anxiety made it spike (this was comforting because I could work on reducing stress/ anxiety).
      3. It was improving over time (trust in the trend).
      It's important to get good sleep to help your brain heal. Stressing and being anxious will hurt that process. Stress literally has negative effects on the brain, and if you have AD-associated tinnitus, its time to focus on brain health, and BE PATIENT. Some days might be worse than others - but the trend with be towards improvement. Hang out with friends. Play video games. Take time off from work. Spend time with your family. GO FOR A RUN. Fixating on the noise will only strengthen the neural pathways that generate it. Stop obsessing. Manage your anxiety with self-talk, and focus on positives.

      Remember: tinnitus is super super common when taking ADs and afterwards. Most of what you read on forums like these are people at their worst, but you never see how they turned out in the end. One guy reached out to them, and said 70-80% had their tinnitus go away eventually, but they never posted on this forum about the improvement... And who knows if Wellbutrin actually caused it in the remaining 20-30%. Trust your body to heal itself, and help it by being kind to yourself.

      Last note: Controversial opinion time - I am not convinced that Wellbutrin is ototoxic in the traditional sense. Ototoxicity causes physical/structural damage to the systems involved in hearing (i.e. damaging the hair cells), from what I understand. Wellbutrin modifies brain chemical abundances that can impact how excitable the neurons are, but doesn't damage them in any meaningful way. They can reset if given the chance. I suspect that people reporting permanent tinnitus from Wellbutrin are mistaken about the cause of their tinnitus. They may have had loud noise exposure and just didn't realize it, or don't remember. For Wellbutrin to be 100% the cause of your ringing, it must have started immediately after taking the drug or upping the dose. It's possible for it to be the cause in other situations, but I suspect it's much less likely.
       
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    2. Guest9207

      Guest9207 Guest

      It is in the information that comes with the prescription that says Wellbutrin can cause tinnitus. I developed tinnitus from Wellbutrin during the pandemic when I had not heard loud music for months. I spoke with the pharmaceutical company about my side effects and they acknowledged it’s a documented side effect. Every doctor I have seen knows Wellbutrin to be ototoxic. I’m super glad to hear your tinnitus is getting better. It gives me hope. But it is well documented Wellbutrin can cause tinnitus. Please don’t dismiss other people’s experiences.
       
    3. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Wellbutrin_Case

      Wellbutrin_Case Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Wellbutrin
      Hey, my intention was never to dismiss anyone. I fully agree Wellbutrin can cause tinnitus. It definitely caused mine. What I'm saying is that I doubt it causes permanent tinnitus because I'm not sure that altering neurotransmitters can cause damage to the inner ear. Unless someone can tell me the mechanism for how that physical change happens, I will keep to my theory. I've seen clinical research that showed a few cases that took up to 6-9 months to fully resolve. I think the fact that Wellbutrin-induced tinnitus people like me can make the noise change by moving our heads (mine changes if I crane my head to look downwards) shows it might be due to an effect on the neck muscles and the way they interact with the dorsal cochlea thingies. Mine also increases with stress - which is just neurotransmitters and neck tightening again as well - which would mean Susan Shore's Auricle device will be helpful when it comes out. Either way, we should be thankful it hasn't caused physical damage - most likely just temporary scrambling of neurons that takes some longer to fix than others. Again - very common among all antidepressants. I see you joined in May 2021? Still early for us both. We both gotta be patient. The improvement is up and down, but it's trending the correct direction.
       
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    4. Uklawyer

      Uklawyer Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      03/2020
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Medication - antidepressants
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    5. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Wellbutrin_Case

      Wellbutrin_Case Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Wellbutrin
      Happy to chat with @T_Almost_Gone if he wants to post here. I've noticed some interesting variation in my ringing lately. There seems to be two noises - 1 is the high pitched eeeee that seems associated with stress (can control with deep breathing), but the 2nd one is what I call the "Wellbutrin tone" which is deeper sounding and has been trending lower at a fairly consistent rate. This 2nd sound also changes with neck movement to look downwards. Happy to compare notes.
       
    6. cls

      cls Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      06/2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Wellbutrin
      I appreciate the positivity in your post, but I have to disagree with your assumption that it cannot be permanent. I have had no improvements since September 2019 and went through the whole ENT, MRI, MRA, massage therapist, chiropractic, NUCCA treatment with no improvements (I also had something on the books with a TMJ specialist as a last resort, but had to postpone due to cost). An audiologist was unable to pitch match me correctly (admittedly, part of this was my fault for not telling him the pitch he matched was incorrect the second time, but my tinnitus is not constant and fluctuates in tone and quality dramatically). I still suspect idiopathic somatosensory tinnitus, but have not found any evidence beyond a moderate correlation (and cannot reproduce on-demand).

      In addition, I guarantee it is not acoustic trauma in my case. I've been using earplugs since middle school (I'm late 20s now) and have avoided concerts and clubs at all costs. The few times I went, I was either wearing max-NRR earplugs and far from the source of the sound or refused to go inside. I don't work in a loud environment either. All of my hearing tests have come back normal or about normal from what I've been told. I'm also treating for clinically-diagnosed anxiety and depression, and I admit that helps, but I still have my bad days.

      What I do agree with is that my case is incredibly rare and for a large majority of people, it is probably a somatosensory issue that can be treated or will go away on its own.
       
    7. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Wellbutrin_Case

      Wellbutrin_Case Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Wellbutrin
      Were you taking Wellbutrin? If you are continuing to take medication for depression/anxiety, the tinnitus is likely to remain. It's very common during and after medicine treatment for anxiety and depression. I had to stop all meds. If you have little or no hearing loss, it's very likely to be the meds you're taking. My friend had ringing all during his medicines for depression, and only subsided several months after he stopped the meds. Obviously the ringing will continue if you're still on the meds.
       
    8. AUTHOR
      AUTHOR
      Wellbutrin_Case

      Wellbutrin_Case Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      08/2021
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Wellbutrin
      Update: I've been doing research and I think I understand how Wellbutrin causes tinnitus. Dopamine and norepinephrine are increased in the brain by Wellbutrin. These two neurotransmitters affect potassium ion channels which are used to reduce neuron excitability. Too much excitability = tinnitus.

      This is interesting because neuron excitability is also the cause of epilepsy/ seizures - another Wellbutrin side effect...

      My theory is this: reducing neuron excitability by reactivating potassium ion channels should reverse the excitability causing AD-induced tinnitus. There are already drugs approved that treat epilepsy using this idea. Neurotransmitter GABA is responsible for opening potassium ion channels and lowering excitability. So in theory, epilepsy drugs that increase GABA should fix tinnitus caused by ADs. Does anyone know if this has been tried?

      One last note: Even people with epilepsy can eventually become resistant to the medications used to treat them. This suggests the brain is constantly changing and I take as a positive sign that - given time and without any drugs - our brains can change. Have faith.
       
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