Bupropion: Uses, Structure & Classification

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson is going to describe bupropion. First, you'll learn its structure and then we'll go over the way it can be classified by structure, use, or action and then finally we'll cover its major uses.

Quitting Smoking

Perhaps two of the most common ways people can try to quit smoking is via the use of nicotine patches or gum. But did you know there's another way? Yep, there are plain old pills for almost the same purpose!

These pills contain a medication known as bupropion. Let's learn more about it in this lesson.


You can find the structure of bupropion in this section. Note how it is composed of multiple different elements. The structure contains 13 carbon atoms, 18 hydrogen atoms, one chlorine atom, one nitrogen atom, and also one oxygen atom.


If you look closely at the structure, you can see that it can be broken down into several simple groups, like an amino group, which is the one with the nitrogen at its center. It also contains a ketone group, the one with the oxygen. It also contains a chlorophenyl group, which is chloride attached to benzene (the one cyclical looking part in the structure).


Keep that in mind, because it helps explain why this drug can be classified as a unicyclic aminoketone antidepressant or more generally just as an antidepressant.

Bupropion can also be classified in another way, not based on its structure or on its general effect on the mind, but also based on what it does in the body. In this manner, bupropion is a selective catecholamine reuptake inhibitor. In other words, it prevents the reuptake of certain biochemicals, increasing their levels in the brain as a result. It is selective because it doesn't affect all catecholamines. It particularly affects norepinephrine and dopamine.


As a result of its actions, bupropion can be used to treat more than one condition. You already learned one use in the introduction. It can help people stop smoking. You already learned about its other major use. It's an antidepressant, remember? So, it's used to treat depression. Depression is a serious clinical disorder. It's not just a small bout of temporary sadness. Depression can lead to a person being unable to perform their day to day activities.

Finally, bupropion is used to manage seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This is a form of depression that is in tune with the changes of the seasons. Meaning, a person with SAD will likely experience depression in the fall and winter.

Bupropion is also used to help manage a couple of other conditions, but in an off-label manner. This includes ADHD, or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. This is a condition where a person is prone to inattentiveness and impulsivity.

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