- What is Abilify, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What are the uses for Abilify?
- Abilify warnings, side effects, and patient safety information
- What is the dosage for Abilify?
- Abilify drug, food (grapefruit juice), and supplement interactions
- List of brand names available for aripiprazole
- Is this drug safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding my baby?
- What else should I know about this drug?
What is Abilify, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Abilify (aripiprazole) is an anti-psychotic medicine used for the medical treatment of psychotic conditions and disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It also is used with other medications for the treatment of major depression in adults.
The exact mechanism of action of Abilify is unknown. However, like other anti-psychotics, it blocks receptors on nerves in the brain for several neurotransmitters (chemicals that nerves use to communicate with each other). It is thought that its beneficial effect is due to its effects on dopamine and serotonin receptors. Its effects on these receptors are complex, involving stimulation of the receptors but to a lesser degree than the naturally-occurring neurotransmitters (a process called partial agonism).
Is this medication available as a generic drug?
Yes, this medication is available in generic form.
What are the uses for Abilify?
Aripiprazole is used for the treatment of:
- Bipolar disorder
- Irritability associated with autistic disorder
- Tourette's disorder
- Major depression in adults (along with other medications used for the treatment of depression)
- Mixed manic/depressive episodes (as sole or adjunctive therapy) and as adjunctive (add-on) therapy for major depressive disorder
- Agitation associated with schizophrenia or bipolar mania.
Abilify warnings, side effects, and patient safety information
- Long-term use of aripiprazole may lead to a potentially irreversible condition called tardive dyskinesia (involuntary movements of the jaw, lips, and tongue).
- A potentially fatal complex referred to as neuroleptic malignant syndrome has been reported with anti-psychotic drugs, including Abilify. Patients who develop this syndrome may have:
- All atypical antipsychotic drugs have been associated with metabolic changes such as hyperglycemia, diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia, and weight gain. Serious cases of hyperglycemia leading to coma or death have been reported in patients treated with atypical antipsychotics. Although there is no clear link between aripiprazole and diabetes, patients should be tested during treatment for elevated blood-sugars. Additionally, patients with risk factors for diabetes, including obesity or a family history of diabetes, should have their fasting levels of blood sugar tested before starting treatment and periodically throughout treatment to detect the onset of diabetes. Any patient developing symptoms that suggest diabetes during medical treatment should be tested for diabetes.
- Elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis treated with antipsychotics are at an increased risk of death and Abilify should not be used for this indication. Antidepressants increased the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in short-term studies in children and adolescents with depression and other psychiatric disorders. Anyone considering the use of this medicine or any other antidepressant in a child or adolescent must balance this risk of suicide with the clinical need. Patients who are started on medical therapy should be closely observed for clinical worsening, suicidal thoughts, or unusual changes in behavior.
Some of the most common side effects include:
What is the dosage for Abilify?
- This dose for this medication usually is once a day.
- The usual adult starting oral dose for patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder is 10 to 15 mg once daily. The dose may be increased over time up to 30 mg daily to achieve the desired effect.
- The recommended dose for patients with Tourette's disorder is 5 to 20 mg once daily.
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Abilify drug, food (grapefruit juice), and supplement interactions
- Carbamazepine (Tegretol) can markedly decrease the amount of Abilify in the body by increasing the rate at which the body's enzymes (particularly the liver enzyme, CYP3A4) degrade it. The manufacturer recommends that patients on this drug who are started on carbamazepine double their dose of Abilify, under their doctor's supervision. Other drugs that can promote the activity of CYP3A4 and decrease the body's levels of Abilify are phenytoin (Dilantin), rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane, Rifadin, Rifater, Rifamate), and phenobarbital.
increase the amount of aripiprazole in the body by blocking CYP3A4. The
manufacturer of aripiprazole recommends reducing the dose of aripiprazole by
one-half during ketoconazole therapy. Many other drugs also are known to block
CYP3A4 and potentially could increase the levels of aripiprazole, but their
actual effects on aripiprazole levels have not been studied. Such drugs include:
- itraconazole (Sporanox)
- fluconazole (Diflucan)
- voriconazole (Vfend)
- cimetidine (Tagamet)
- verapamil (Calan, Isoptin)
- diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor)
- erythromycin clarithromycin (Biaxin)
- nefazodone (Serzone)
- ritonavir (Norvir)
- saquinavir (Invirase)
- nelfinavir (Viracept)
- indinavir (Crixivan)
- Grapefruit juice
- Quinidine (Quinaglute, Quinidex) inhibits another liver enzyme known as CYP2D6 that also breaks down aripiprazole and can increase the amount of aripiprazole in the body. The manufacturer of aripiprazole recommends reducing the dose of aripiprazole by one-half during quinidine therapy. Other medicines that block CYP2D6 include fluoxetine (Prozac) and paroxetine (Paxil).
- Alpha-1 receptor blockers [doxazosin (Cardura), prazosin (Minipress), terazosin (Hytrin)], used for control of blood pressure and prostatic enlargement, may increase the chance of hypotension (unusually low blood pressure).
List of brand names available for aripiprazole
Abilify, Abilify Maintena, and Aristrada are the brand names available for apriprazole in the US.
Is this drug safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding my baby?
- Aripiprazole has not been adequately studied during pregnancy. Neonates exposed to antipsychotic drugs in the third trimester may experience withdrawal symptoms and other side effects. Your doctor or other healthcare provider may choose to use this medication if he or she feels that its benefits outweigh this potential concern.
- It is not known if this medicine is excreted in breast milk; however, since most medicines are excreted in breast milk, doctors and other health care professionals recommend that women should not breastfeed their infant/baby while taking this drug.
What else should I know about this drug?
- Preparations of this medicine include:
- Tablets in doses of 2, 5 10, 15, 20, and 30 mg.
- Disintegrating tablets in doses of 10 and 15 mg.
- Oral solution dose of 1 mg/mL
- Injection solution dosages of 9.75 mg/1.3 ml (7.5 mg/ml)
- Extended Release Injection, Abilify Maintana, in doses of 300 or 400 mg/vial
- Extended Release Prefilled Syringe, Aristrada), in doses of 441, 662, and 882 mg.
- Tablets, oral solution, and injection should be stored at room temperature, 15 C to 30 C (59 F to 86 F).
- The FDA approved aripiprazole in November 2002.
Aripiprazole (Abilify, Abilify Maintena, Aristrada) is an antipsychotic medication used to treat psychoses such as schizophrgenia, bipolar mania and mixed manic/depressive episodes, major depressive disorder in adults, irritability associated with autistic disorder, Tourette's disorder, agitation associated with schizophrenia or bipolar mania. This drug should not be taken by patients with certain diseases and health conditions.
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Related Disease Conditions
Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. The principal types of depression are major depression, dysthymia, and bipolar disease (also called manic-depressive disease).
Suicide is the process of intentionally ending one's own life. Approximately 1 million people worldwide commit suicide each year, and 10 million to 20 million attempt suicide annually.
Mental Illness in Children
About 5 million children and adolescents in the U.S. suffer from a serious mental illness such as eating disorders, anxiety disorders, disruptive behavior disorders, pervasive development disorders, elimination disorders, learning disorders, schizophrenia, tic disorders, and mood disorders. Symptoms of mental illness include frequent outbursts of anger, hyperactivity, fear of gaining weight, excessive worrying, frequent temper tantrums, and hearing voices that aren't there. Treatment may involve medication, psychotherapy, and creative therapies.
Schizophrenia is a disabling brain disorder that may cause hallucinations and delusions and affect a person's ability to communicate and pay attention. Symptoms of psychosis appear in men in their late teens and early 20s and in women in their mid-20s to early 30s. With treatment involving the use of antipsychotic medications and psychosocial treatment, schizophrenia patients can lead rewarding and meaningful lives.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that causes a person to suffer repeated obsessions and compulsions. Symptoms include irresistible impulses despite a person's realization that the thoughts are irrational, excessive hand washing, skin picking, lock checking, or repeatedly rearranging items. People with OCD are more likely to develop trichotillomania, muscle or vocal tics, or an eating disorder. Treatment for OCD includes psychotherapy, behavioral therapy, and medication.
Depression in teenagers may be caused by many factors. Symptoms of teen depression include apathy, irresponsible behavior, sadness, sudden drop in grades, withdrawal from friends, and alcohol and drug use. Treatment of depression in adolescents may involve psychotherapy and medications.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (in Children and Adults)
Autism in children and adults is a developmental disorder, characterized by impaired development in communication, social interaction, and behavior. Autism is classified as a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), which is part of a broad spectrum of developmental disorders affecting young children and adults. There are numerous theories and studies about the cause of autism. The treatment model for autism is an educational program that is suitable to an individual's developmental level of performance. There is no "cure" for autism.
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Bipolar disorder (or manic depression) is a mental illness characterized by depression, mania, and severe mood swings. Treatment may incorporate mood-stabilizer medications, antidepressants, and psychotherapy.
Bipolar Disorder vs. Schizophrenia
Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are mental illnesses that share some risk factors and treatments. Symptoms of bipolar disorder include mood changes and manic and depressive episodes. Symptoms of schizophrenia include unusual behavior, delusions, and hallucinations.
Psychotic disorders are a group of serious illnesses that affect the mind. Different types of psychotic disorders include schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, schizophreniform disorder, brief psychotic disorder, shared psychotic disorder, delusional disorder, substance-induced psychotic disorder, paraphrenia, and psychotic disorders due to medical conditions.
Schizoaffective disorder is a mental illness that features schizophrenia and a mood disorder, either major depression or bipolar disorder. Symptoms include agitation, suicidal thoughts, little need for sleep, delusions, hallucinations, and poor motivation. Treatment may involve psychotherapy, medication, skills training, or hospitalization.
Depression in Children
Childhood depression can interfere with social activities, interests, schoolwork and family life. Symptoms and signs include anger, social withdrawal, vocal outbursts, fatigue, physical complaints, and thoughts of suicide. Treatment may involve psychotherapy and medication.
Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Schizotypal personality disorder is characterized by odd behaviors, feelings, perceptions, and ways of relating to others that interfere with one's ability to function. Medication and psychotherapy can help the sufferer to manage their symptoms.
Tourette syndrome is disorder, which symptoms include involuntary facial tics, motor tics, and vocal tics. The cause of Tourette syndrome is not known. ADHD is associated with Tourette syndrome. Treatment includes medication, psychotherapy, and in severe cases surgery.
Mental health is an optimal way of thinking, relating to others, and feeling. All of the diagnosable mental disorders fall under the umbrella of mental illness. Depression, anxiety, and substance-abuse disorders are common types of mental illness. Symptoms and signs of mental illness include irritability, moodiness, insomnia, headaches, and sadness. Treatment may involve psychotherapy and medication.
Mental illness is any disease or condition affecting the brain that influence the way a person thinks, feels, behaves, and/or relates to others. Mental illness is caused by heredity, biology, psychological trauma and environmental stressors.
Postpartum depression is a form of depression that occurs within a year after delivery. It is thought that rapid hormone changes after childbirth may lead to depression. Symptoms of postpartum depression include crying a lot, headaches, chest pains, eating too little or too much, sleeping too little or too much, withdrawal from friends and family, and feeling irritable, sad, hopeless, worthless, guilty, and overwhelmed. Treatment typically involves talk therapy and medication.
Depression in the Elderly
Depression in the elderly is very common. That doesn't mean, though, it's normal. Treatment may involve antidepressants, psychotherapy, or electroconvulsive therapy.
Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens
Bipolar disorder, or manic-depressive illness, is a disorder that causes unusual and extreme mood changes. Symptoms of bipolar disorder in children and teens include having trouble concentrating, behaving in risky ways, and losing interest in activities they once enjoyed. Treatment for bipolar disorder in children and teenagers incorporates psychotherapy and medications.
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Altered Mental Status
- Poor Hygiene
- Loss of Speech
- Abnormal Facial Expressions
- Unusual Behavior
- Catatonia (Catatonic Behavior)
- Lack of Facial Expressions
- Disorganized Speech
- Inability to Regulate Emotions
- Panic Attack
- Bipolar Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Borderline Personality Disorder
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- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Brief Psychotic Disorder
Medications & Supplements
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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Medscape. "aripiprazole (Rx)."
Food and Drug Administration. "FDA Drug Safety Communication: FDA warns about new impulse-control problems associated with mental health drug aripiprazole (Abilify, Abilify Maintena, Aristada)." Updated: Jun 07, 2016.