Adding or Increasing Medication


Is more always better? Does increasing medication get better results? When we’re talking about recovery and mental health, typically less is more. We have many patients come to treatment at CeDAR on 3, 4 or 5 psychiatric medications. The usual end result is someone feeling sedated. That doesn’t help them embrace good recovery!

If you are taking a medication to treat a condition such as clinical depression, the goal is relief. If that med is helpful, but you still feel depressed, it might be a good idea to increase the dose before looking into another full pill. In this way, you are trying to optimize the medication you’re currently receiving.

Side Effects

Many medications are available in low, middle or high dosages. One of the benefits of increasing the dose of a med is greater benefit. The potential cost of this includes more experience of side effects. There are some medications for which a greater dose can lead to an atypical response. An example of this is the med venlafaxine, or Effexor. When the dose of this drug gets high, the person often feels more of an energy boost. This is because Effexor starts to have a dopamine effect at higher doses. It has more of a serotonin effect at lower doses. Talk to your doctor about some of these unique med properties.

Different Transmitters

If you are instead looking to add a medication to your plan, you would want to consider a medication that acts on a different transmitter in the brain. For instance, the medication bupropion, or Wellbutrin, is often a good add-on pill to a serotonin medication such as fluoxetine, or Prozac. The Wellbutrin provides a bit of a boost to the Prozac and there is a minimal risk for them interacting poorly together.

There is a good role for medications in recovery, but it’s wise to be cautious with meds. Often times, finding the right dose for a single medication is the best approach, but combination approaches are helpful too, in the right situation.

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