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Abilify (aripiprazole) is part of a class of psychotropic medications called atypical antipsychotics that work by altering the activity of various neurotransmitters—dopamine and serotonin in particular—in the brain. It is a prescription drug and is not available over the counter. People who take this medication may experience adverse side effects, and it is very important to follow the directions of a medical professional when using this medication. Abilify is commonly prescribed to treat symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar.
Abilify is used to control the symptoms that accompany schizophrenia and bipolar in adults and teens. It may also be used to treat depression in adults by supplementing other medications. Abilify will not “cure” schizophrenia or bipolar, but it may help control problematic behaviors associated with these conditions. In some cases this medication is also used to control emotional outbursts, mood swings, anger, irritability, self-harm, and other emotional issues in children (at least six years of age) with autism.
Your doctor and/or pharmacist should share all important safety and dosage information with you when making or filling a prescription for this drug. Expect the clinician's guidance to contain the following recommendations:
Abilify is not recommended for use by older adults with dementia or dementia-related issues as it may contribute to heart failure, pneumonia, or death. If you have or have ever had heart disease, heart failure, irregular heartbeat, stroke, low white blood cell count or seizures, you should talk to your doctor about these conditions before you take this drug.
People who take Abilify may develop neuroleptic malignant syndrome—a potentially fatal condition. Symptoms of neuroleptic malignant syndrome include altered mental states, muscle stiffness, high fevers, increased sweating, increased heart rate, irregular blood pressure, and heart irregularities.
Abilify may result in high blood sugar levels. Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your family currently has or has ever had diabetes or breast cancer. Because orally disintegrating tablets (Abilify Discmelt) contain phenylalanine, people with phenylketonuria must advise their doctor of their condition before taking this drug. Failure to do so may result in intellectual disability and other serious health problems.
Talk to your doctor if you have or have had any problems with addictive drugs, including street drugs or prescription medication. You should also mention any serious reactions you have had to other similar medications. Abilify may interact with other medications or supplements, including vitamins, antihistamines, antidepressants, antifungals, sleeping pills, HIV medications, herbal products, high blood pressure medications, and more.
Some young people who take medication for depression or psychiatric issues report having increased thoughts of suicide. If you take this drug and experience suicidal ideation, contact your doctor or a mental healthcare provider immediateley.
Psychotropic medication combined with some form of psychotherapy usually produces the best lasting results. If you are prescribed a medication such as Abilify, it is likely your doctor or psychiatrist will also recommend other treatment protocols for your condition such as working with a therapist or counselor. Therapy can help you address the underlying causes or triggers of your condition, modify your behaviors, process difficult or debilitating emotions, and/or improve your quality of life.
As significant physiological, mental, and behavioral changes may be experienced by people who are taking Abilify, there are a few important safety precautions which must be observed:
People who take Abilify may experience a variety of side effects. People who experience serious side effects should contact their doctor or emergency medical services right away. Serious side effects of this drug may include:
Less serious and more common side effects of Abilify include:
Although this medication is not classified as addictive, your body may become used to having this drug in its system. As such, you should not stop taking this prescribed medication abruptly; see your doctor before reducing or discontinuing Abilify. You can reduce unpleasant withdrawal symptoms by slowly tapering off of the drug. People who suddenly stop taking it may experience any or all of the following effects:
Page content reviewed by Dr. James Pendleton, ND
Last Update: 03-11-2015
Articles about Abilify (Aripiprazole)