The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology


History, background, concepts and current use of comedication and polypharmacy in psychiatry

H.-J. Möllera1 c1, F. Seemüllera1, R. Schennach-Wolffa1, S. Stübnera2, E. Rüthera1 and R. Grohmanna1

a1 Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Nussbaumstr.7, 80336 Munich, Germany

a2 Bezirkskrankenhaus Augsburg, Dr-Mack-Straße 1, 86156 Augsburg


Based on a careful literature search a review is presented of the history, background, concepts and current use of comedication and polypharmacy in psychiatry. The pros and cons of comedication and polypharmacy are presented, as well as their apparent increase in recent times. Possible reasons for the increase of comedication/polypharmacy are described. Both the potential advantages as well as the potential risks are discussed. The one sided view that all comedication/polypharmacy is nothing but problematic is questioned. Comedication/polypharmacy seems to be, among others, the current answer to the well-known limited efficacy and effectiveness of current monotherapy treatment strategies.

(Received January 24 2013)

(Reviewed January 28 2013)

(Revised February 04 2013)

(Accepted June 23 2013)

(Online publication September 18 2013)

Key words

  • Comedictaion;
  • concepts;
  • frequency;
  • pharmacopsychiatry;
  • polypharmacy


c1 Address for correspondence: Professor H.-J. Möller, Department of Psychiatry, Ludwig-Maximilians-University München, Nussbaumstrasse 7, 80336 Munich, Germany. Tel.: +49 89 5160 5501 Fax: +49 89 5160 5528 Email: