Aripiprazole, sold under the brand name Abilify, is an oral and injectable medication used to treat mental disorders such as schizophrenia, Tourette’s, bipolar disorder, and in some cases, depression. Abilify is thought to restore the balance of naturally occurring chemicals within the brain to reduce symptoms such as hallucinations and improve concentration. In general, it can be used to help people with mental disorders more actively participate in everyday life.
- What is Abilify (aripiprazole) used for?
- How Does Abilify Work?
- What are the side effects of Abilify (aripiprazole)?
- Does Abilify cause weight gain?
- How long does Abilify withdrawal last and what does it entail?
- How long does it take Abilify to work?
- How much does Abilify cost?
- Can I combine Abilify and alcohol?
1. What is Abilify (aripiprazole) used for?
Abilify is used to treat the symptoms of mental or mood disorders (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, Tourette’s disorder, and irritability associated with autism spectrum disorder) but it does not cure the actual disease. It can be used alone or alongside other medications. Abilify is an antipsychotic drug, antimanic agent, making it a common prescription for those who suffer from manic episodes or hallucinations.
2. How Does Abilify Work?
It is not completely understood how aripiprazole, Abilify’s active ingredient, actually works. However, studies have suggested that the drug works by activating the serotonin and dopamine receptors in the brain which in turn stabilizes moods, behavior, and thinking. Dopamine regulates the way we think and feel, and serotonin influences your mood and behavior. Many people suffering from mental conditions have too much or too little of one or both chemicals. By stabilizing the levels of these chemicals, Abilify is thought to improve thoughts, behaviors, and mood.
3. What are the side effects of Abilify (aripiprazole)?
Abilify is a second-generation psychotic, also known as an atypical antipsychotic. In comparison to first-generation psychotics, side effects are milder. However, Abilify can still cause side effects ranging from mild to severe. Mild side effects typically go away after a few days or weeks of consistent medication-taking, but if they persist or worsen you should speak with your doctor.
Mild Side Effects:
- Memory loss
- Cold-like symptoms
- Hair Loss
- Libido Changes
Severe Side Effects:
- Stroke – If you notice numbness or weakness on one side of your body, a feeling of confusion, or trouble walking, seek immediate medical attention.
- Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) – Symptoms include high fever, a rapid heartbeat, and stiff muscles. NMS is a medical emergency and you should seek immediate medical attention if you notice these symptoms.
- Changes in metabolism – This is usually marked by feeling unusually thirsty or hungry, feeling confused, and gaining weight.
- Feeling unusual urges – Urges do something you would not ordinarily do or to do something excessively, constitute an unusual urge. These can range from binge eating to sexual urges.
- Extrapyramidal disorder – This is a movement disorder that can cause symptoms such as tremors, trouble speaking , and anxiety.
If you experience any of these serious side effects you should speak with your doctor or seek immediate medical attention if it is an emergency.
In some rare cases, patients can experience allergic reactions. Seek emergency medical care if you experience any of the following symptoms after taking Abilify.
- Skin rash
- Tightness in the throat or chest
- Difficulty talking or breathing
- Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
4. Does Abilify cause weight gain?
Oftentimes patients being treated for mental conditions such as bipolar disorder are used to weight gain as a potential side effect. For that reason, a common question from patients who are prescribed Abilify is “will I gain weight?” A potential side effect of Abilify and other atypical antipsychotics is weight gain. If you notice your weight increasing, speak with your healthcare provider about ways to best manage your weight.
5. How long does Abilify withdrawal last and what does it entail?
There are a variety of reasons why a person may stop taking Abilify and as with any other antipsychotic, it is possible to experience withdrawal. The limited research that has been conducted on this topic suggests that around 40% of people who stop taking antipsychotics will experience some form of withdrawal. Symptoms may include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Panic attacks
- Cold-like symptoms
- Muscle spasms or uncontrolled movements
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you’re almost certainly wondering when you can expect them to end. Typically, the symptoms will reach a peak after approximately one week, and will decline gradually over time.
A safer way to stop taking Abilify is to gradually do so under the direction and care of your healthcare provider. He or she can help you slowly reduce your dose so that you are less likely to experience severe withdrawal symptoms.
6. How long does it take Abilify to work?
Due to the nature of Abilify and the severity of symptoms it may be used to treat, it isn’t uncommon to wonder how long it will take to be effective. Since everyone is different, there is no one definitive answer. It can start making a noticeable difference in just a couple days or it may take a few weeks. However, most people will have felt the full effects of the medication within four to six weeks of beginning treatment. It is important not to stop taking Abilify just because you begin feeling better. Continue your dose as instructed by your healthcare provider to maintain the benefits.
7. How much does Abilify cost?
The price of Abilify will vary greatly depending on location and insurance coverage. However, the cash price of Abilify is $940.71 for 30 tablets of 2mg, 5mg, 10mg, or 15mg. The price for 30 20mg or 30mg tablets is $1,326.65. Regardless of the dosage, Abilify is typically taken once a day so these prices are for a one-month supply.
8. Can I combine Abilify and alcohol?
Typically, drinking is not recommended while taking Abilify, as alcohol can increase the effects of Abilify on the nervous system. This can lead to dizziness, drowsiness, and difficulty concentrating. It may also result in poor judgment and impaired thinking. Drinking alcohol can also have negative effects, depending on the medical condition you are taking Abilify to treat. If you intend to drink while taking Abilify you should first speak with your doctor.
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