Can Wellbutrin and zolpidem be taken at the same time? And what would cause my doctor to prescribe them together?
Yes, this can be an appropriate combination.
Bupropion (brand name is Wellbutrin) is an antidepressant, while zolpidem (brand name is Ambien) is a sleeping pill. Zolpidem is loosely related to the benzodiazepines (such as Valium, Ativan, and Klonopin) with a few chemical differences. This type of combination is used in several situations.
First, antidepressants take a few weeks to work, while sleeping pills may work very quickly. If insomnia is a major symptom in a person's depression, a sleeping pill may help during the first few weeks until the depression begins to lift; then sleeping may return to normal and the extra sleeping pill can be stopped.
Second, some people with depression have persistent sleep problems even when their mood is better, and may need a sleeping pill.
Third, some antidepressants may be energizing or stimulating and cause a bit of trouble falling asleep. This can happen with buproprion, so using a sleeping pill may also be helpful for this reason.
It is important to emphasize that sleeping pills are NOT substitutes for antidepressants, and will not treat symptoms of depression by themselves.