- What is Abilify, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- Is this medication available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for this medication?
- 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).
Do I need a prescription for this medication?
Yes, you need a doctor or other medical health professional to write a prescription for it.
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.
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).
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:
- 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
Common side effects include:
This drug should not be taken by patients with certain diseases and health conditions.
Multimedia: Slideshows, Images & Quizzes
Learn to Spot Depression: Symptoms, Warning Signs, Medication
What is depression? Get information on symptoms, signs, tests, and treatments for many types of depression including major...
Bipolar Disorder (Mania) Quiz: Test Your Emotional Wellness IQ
Who is at risk for developing bipolar disorder? Are you? Take this Bipolar Disorder Quiz to learn more about bipolar disorder, if...
Depression Quiz: Signs & Symptoms
Many people do not recognize the symptoms and warning signs of depression and depressive disorders in children and adults. With...
Schizophrenia Quiz: What is Schizophrenia?
Schizophrenia is a complex psychiatric disorder. Learn more about the challenges of mental illness with the Schizophrenia Quiz....
Physical Symptoms of Depression in Pictures
Depression can cause physical problems such as insomnia, chest pain, fatigue, headaches, and more. Learn the signs of depression...
Bipolar Disorder: Symptoms, Testing for Bipolar Depression
Bipolar disorder (once called manic depression) causes extreme mood shifts and can be disorienting. Our experts define bipolar...
Schizophrenia: Symptoms, Types, Causes, Treatment
What is schizophrenia? Learn about schizophrenia symptoms, signs, and treatment. Read about schizophrenia types such as paranoid...
Foods That Help Fight Depression
Food cannot prevent depression, but a healthy diet may boost your mood. Foods like salmon, carrots, Brazil nuts and even...
Depression Tips: Exercise, Diet, Stress Reduction, and More in Pictures
The right exercise, diet, and activities -- even playing with a pet --can help you recover from depression. Learn simple...
Healthy Aging: Sneaky Depression Triggers in Pictures
There are many causes and triggers of depression. From too little vitamin B12 to too much time alone, look at these surprising...
Depression Myths: Overwork, Recklessness and More in Pictures
Folk remedies and half-truths still prevent many from getting treatment for depression. WebMD's pictures show unusual symptoms in...
Long Life in Pictures: Tips on Sleep, Diet, and More
Did you know making friends can help you live longer? Our experts explore ways to increase your longevity such as making friends,...
Depression Therapy: Myths, Facts, and More in Pictures
False ideas scare many depression suffers away from therapy and the quick relief and help these pros can provide. Let our experts...
Related Disease Conditions
Depression in teenagers may be caused by many factors. Symptoms of teen depression include apathy, irresponsible behavior,...
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...
Depression is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one...
Second Source article from Government...
Schizophrenia is a disabling brain disorder that may cause hallucinations and delusions and affect a person's ability to...
Depression in Children
Childhood depression can interfere with social activities, interests, schoolwork and family life. Symptoms and signs include...
Autism Spectrum Disorder (In Children and Adults)
Autism in children and adults is a developmental disorder, characterized by impaired development in communication, social...
Mental illness is any disease or condition affecting the brain that influence the way a person thinks, feels, behaves, and/or...
Psychotic disorders are a group of serious illnesses that affect the mind. Different types of psychotic disorders include...
Bipolar disorder (or manic depression) is a mental illness characterized by depression, mania, and severe mood swings. Treatment...
Schizoaffective disorder is a mental illness that features schizophrenia and a mood disorder, either major depression or bipolar...
Suicide is the process of intentionally ending one's own life. Approximately 1 million people worldwide commit suicide each year,...
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that causes a person to suffer repeated obsessions and compulsions....
Schizotypal Personality Disorder
Schizotypal personality disorder is characterized by odd behaviors, feelings, perceptions, and ways of relating to others that...
Tourette syndrome is disorder, which symptoms include involuntary facial tics, motor tics, and vocal tics. The cause of Tourette...
Postpartum depression is a form of depression that occurs within a year after delivery. It is thought that rapid hormone changes...
Mental health is an optimal way of thinking, relating to others, and feeling. All of the diagnosable mental disorders fall under...
Bipolar Disorder vs. Schizophrenia
Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are mental illnesses that share some risk factors and treatments. Symptoms of bipolar disorder...
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...
Depression in the Elderly
Depression in the elderly is very common. That doesn't mean, though, it's normal. Treatment may involve antidepressants,...
Treatment & Diagnosis
- Altered Mental Status
- Poor Hygiene
- Loss of Speech
- Abnormal Facial Expressions
- Catatonia (Catatonic Behavior)
- Unusual Behavior
- Inability to Regulate Emotions
- Lack of Facial Expressions
- Bipolar Disorder
- Panic Attack
- Doctor: Checklist to Take To Your Doctor's Appointment
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Medications & Supplements
Prevention & Wellness
- Do Antipsychotic Meds for Kids Raise Diabetes Risk?
- Antipsychotic Meds Pose Little Danger to Fetus, Study Finds
- 'Managing' Elderly Patients Without Powerful Antipsychotics
- FDA Clears Long-Lasting Drug for Schizophrenia
- This Treatment May Help Depression in Older People
- Brain Scans May Take Guesswork Out of Schizophrenia Treatment
- The 10 Most-Prescribed and Top-Selling Medications
- First Generic Abilify Approved
- Top 10 Most Prescribed, Top-Selling Drugs
- Too Many Foster Kids With ADHD Treated With Antipsychotic Drugs: Study
- Crestor Tops List of Best-Selling Drugs
- Many Kids With Autism on Multiple Medications, Study Finds
- Antipsychotic Meds Not That Helpful for Depression: Study
- Long-Term Use of Some Antipsychotics Not Warranted in Older Adults: Study
- Research Lacking on Drugs for Older Children With Autism, Study Finds
- Older Antipsychotics May Work as Well as Newer Ones: Review
- More Kids Taking Antipsychotics for ADHD: Study
- Dementia: Some Antipsychotic Drugs Riskier Than Others
- Antipsychotics in Pregnancy Risky for Newborns
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
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.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) aripiprazole patient packaging information. Revised: Dec 2014. ABILIFY is a trademark of Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company.
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.