Which medications in the drug class Augmenting Agents are used in the treatment of Depression?

Updated: Aug 06, 2020
  • Author: Jerry L Halverson, MD; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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Augmenting Agents

Augmentation is a common strategy for treatment-resistant depression. It consists of adding a medication with a different mechanism of action to the therapeutic regimen.

Lithium carbonate (Lithobid)

Lithium carbonate can be used as an effective augmenting agent in combination with an antidepressant in cases of treatment-resistant depression. It can also be used to treat or prevent episodes of depression. Lithium is contraindicated in patients with significant renal impairment.

It is important to note that lithium interacts with many drugs. Use of lithium often requires monitoring of lithium levels and renal and thyroid function tests.


Buspirone is marketed as an antianxiety medication; however, it may have antidepressant effects at doses above 45 mg/day. The antidepressant effects may increase when buspirone is used in combination with SSRIs and TCAs in patients with treatment-resistant depression. Buspirone is a partial 5-HT1A agonist with serotonergic and some dopaminergic effects in the CNS. It has anxiolytic effects but may take up to 2-3 weeks for full efficacy.

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