Medically Approved

Abilify: the antipsychotic that dares to be different

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Optum Perks Author

By Optum Perks Author

You've cycled through every antipsychotic and antidepressant known to man. You've battled the frustrating side effects of weight gain or that horrible "flat" feeling brought on by the very drugs that are supposed to be helping you. Battling mental illness is hard enough, why should finding a medication that works be twice as difficult? Enter, Abilify. This is the antipsychotic that has entered the market ready to battle a host of mental disorders by operating in a new and different way than previous drugs.

What is Abilify?

Abilify (aripiprazole) is an atypical antipsychotic drug. In addition to treating mental disorders, it will help you to participate in normal life again. You will be able to think more clearly and have less anxiety. Sign me up!

What does Abilify treat?

Abilify is like the Swiss Army Knife of antipsychotics, treating a multitude of disorders. Most commonly doctors prescribe Abilify to patients with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Those who suffer from major depression disorder can also benefit from the use of this drug when it is used in conjunction with another antidepressant. For these conditions, Abilify is most effective in adults. However, Abilify has been used in children to treat the symptoms of Tourette’s or autism.

What makes Abilify so different?

Ok, here comes the science talk. As with most antipsychotics, Abilify works by regulating the chemicals from neurotransmitters in the brain. The difference is that while some antipsychotics simply block dopamine receptors, Abilify either reduces or enhances dopamine and seratonin production, depending on the situation. Typically this means that Abilify is used in conjunction with another drug, with Abilify acting as the “stabilizer.” Because of this stabilizing factor, many patients find that they tolerate Abilify better than many other antipsychotics.

What are the side effects?

As with most antipsychotics, there are mild side effects that you may have to tolerate. Keep in mind that unless you have severe side effects, taking Abilify generally far outweighs the minor side effects you may experience.

Side effects include:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • tiredness
  • excess saliva/drooling
  • Blurred vision
  • Weight Gain
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Trouble sleeping

If any of these side effect persist or worsen, be sure to contact your doctor immediately.

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If you have any of the serious side effects below, inform your doctor immediately:

  • Fainting
  • Increased anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Restlessness, shaking or muscle spasm
  • Mask-like expression of the face
  • Seizures
  • Signs of infection
  • High blood sugar

There have been rare cases of allergic reaction, tardive dyskinesia and neuroleptic malignant syndrome.


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