Aripiprazole (Abilify): A Quick Look

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Aripiprazole (Abilify) is a medication that belongs to the atypical antipsychotic drug class. It is used for treating symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression in adults.

Aripiprazole may be given alone or with other medications including antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and anti-anxiety drugs.

This article will review what you should know about the medication before taking it, how it should be taken, possible side effects of prolonged use, and more to help ensure your safety when using this prescription drug.

What Is Aripiprazole (Abilify)?

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Aripiprazole (Abilify) is a prescription medication used to treat certain mental illnesses. Aripiprazole was approved for use by the U.S Food and Drug Administration in 2002.

It has been on the market since 2007 under the brand name Abilify. The active ingredient in this medication belongs to a category of drugs known as atypical antipsychotics.

What Does It Treat?

The biggest benefit of Aripiprazole is that it works for several different mental illnesses, including:

  • Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in adults,
  • Mania or mixed episodes associated with bipolar I disorder in children ages 13 to 17 years old,
  • Irritability associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in children and adolescents, and
  • Tourette’s Disorder
  • Major depressive disorder (MDD) when used with antidepressant medication

NOTE: Aripiprazole (Abilify) is not approved to treat dementia-related psychosis.

What Should I Discuss With My Doctor Before Taking Aripiprazole (Abilify)?

Some people should not take aripiprazole because of certain health conditions they have or may have. Make sure to tell your doctor if you:

  • Are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding,
  • Have or have a family history of heart problems,
  • Suffer from seizures,
  • Take medications for depression, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or other chronic illnesses

How Should I Take Aripiprazole (Abilify)?

Aripiprazole should be taken orally (by mouth), with or without food, once a day. Your doctor may start you on a low dose of Aripiprazole and gradually increase your dose, depending on how well it works for you and any side effects you experience.

How Aripiprazole (Abilify) Is Available?

Aripiprazole is available as an oral tablet or liquid that can be swallowed or given by injection. The typical dose of Aripiprazole for adults with schizophrenia is 15 mg to 30 mg once a day.

Dose For Bipolar Disorder

For bipolar disorder, the starting dose is usually 15 mg once a day, but it may be increased to 30 mg per day if needed.

Dose For ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder)

The starting dose for ASD is usually 20 mg per day given in two divided doses, which can be increased to 30 mg or 40 mg per day as needed.

What Happens If I Miss A Dose Of Aripiprazole (Abilify)?

If you forget to take your daily dose of Aripiprazole, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue on your regular schedule.

NOTE: Do not take two doses of Aripiprazole at the same time.

What Should I Avoid While Taking Aripiprazole (Abilify)?

Aripiprazole can cause side effects. Some of these side effects may impair your judgment or reactions. As such, you should avoid driving a car or operating heavy machinery until you know how Aripiprazole affects you. Furthermore, make sure to use caution when drinking alcohol while taking this drug as well.

What Happens If I Overdose With Aripiprazole (Abilify)?

If you believe that you or someone else may have taken too much of Aripiprazole, seek a medical emergency.

Important Information You Should Know About Aripiprazole (Abilify)

There are a few things you should keep in mind before starting treatment with Aripiprazole:

  • Aripiprazole (Abilify) can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults.
  • Aripiprazole (Abilify) may cause a serious heart problem called QT prolongation, which can lead to fainting and sudden death.
  • Keep in mind that Aripiprazole (Abilify) is not for treating patients with dementia-related psychosis or those who have attempted suicide within the past few months.

NOTE: Call your doctor right away if you have any new or worsening mental symptoms. Such as:

  • Agitation,
  • Panic Attacks,
  • Insomnia,
  • Irritability,
  • Hostility,
  • Aggressiveness,
  • Impulsivity,
  • Akathisia (severe restlessness), or
  • Mania

Specific Concerns About Aripiprazole (Abilify) And Pregnancy

Although there is no conclusive evidence that aripiprazole can harm an unborn baby, doctors and patients should always consider the potential risks when making decisions about treating or preventing conditions during pregnancy. As such, if you take Aripiprazole while pregnant, your doctor may choose to closely monitor you and your baby.

Possible Side Effects Of Aripiprazole (Abilify)

Common Side-effects

Call a doctor right away if you experience any of the following less serious side effects:

  • Dizziness,
  • Drowsiness,
  • Headache,
  • Nausea or vomiting,
  • Constipation, or
  • Weight gain

Severe Side-effects

If you have a history of seizures or are taking medication for seizures before starting Aripiprazole, this drug may cause serious side effects including:

  • Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is uncontrollable muscle movements that can look like tics;
  • Dystonia – prolonged abnormal contractions of muscles;
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is a rare,
  • A life-threatening condition that can cause fever, confusion, muscle stiffness, sweating, and changes in heart rate and blood pressure

Seek emergency medical attention if you experience any of the following serious side effects:

  • An allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives);
  • Trouble walking or speaking due to stiff muscles in the arms and legs.

Risks For Taking Aripiprazole (Abilify) For Long Periods Of Time

No evidence taking aripiprazole for an extended period increases your risk of getting a blood clot. However, because this medication can cause abnormal heart rhythms that could result in sudden death if combined with certain other medications or underlying health conditions.

Medications That May Interact With Aripiprazole (Abilify)

Some medications can interact with aripiprazole, which may increase the risk of side effects or make the medication less effective.

NOTE: Make sure to tell your doctor about all medications you are taking, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

How Long Does It Take For Aripiprazole (Abilify) To Work?

Do not stop taking Aripiprazole without first talking to your doctor. As it can cause serious or life-threatening side effects if stopped suddenly. So, you should continue to take aripiprazole even when you feel better. It may take several weeks before you notice an improvement in your symptoms.

NOTE: You should never stop taking Aripiprazole for any reason without first talking to your doctor.

Conclusion

Aripiprazole is a medication helpful to treat various mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and Tourette’s syndrome.

It is important to note that this drug may cause serious side effects in some people. So it is essential to discuss all potential risks and benefits with your healthcare provider before starting treatment.

Additionally, pregnant women should carefully weigh the potential risks and benefits of taking aripiprazole before making a decision.

Finally, it is important to continue taking this medication even when you feel better as stopping abruptly can cause serious side effects.

A Word From Mantra Care

Your mental health — your psychological, emotional, and social well-being — has an impact on every aspect of your life. Positive mental health essentially allows you to effectively deal with life’s everyday challenges.

At Mantra Care, we have a team of therapists who provide affordable online therapy to assist you with issues such as depressionanxietystressrelationshipOCDLGBTQ, and PTSD. You can take our mental health test. You can also book a free therapy or download our free Android or iOS app.

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