Medication Mondays: Abilify

It is Monday, which means it is time for another installment of Medication Mondays. This week, I take a look at Abilify (Aripiprazole). 

Abilify is an anti-psychotic. Like other mental health medications, it works to restore the chemical balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. It is used for a variety of mental health conditions including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and Tourette’s. 

While it might be primarily a medication for schizophrenia, evidence suggests that because of the way it interacts with dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain, it could be effective for individuals who use it in conjunction with another antidepressant or anti-anxiety medication. However, because there can be serious side effects of mixing medications, it is important to let your doctor know what medications you are on when discussing Abilify. 

Even if taken in its own, Abilify has a variety of side effects, including dizziness, lightheadedness, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, excess saliva/drooling, blurred vision, headache, weight gain, constipation, and trouble sleeping.

Nevertheless, the evidence of Abilify’s success with other medications, or even on its own as a treatment for schizophrenia or as an off label treatment for depression and anxiety, demonstrates the many different options for patients who might be bouncing from one medication to another. Sometimes it takes a combination of treatments, and sometimes that combination of treatments includes a combination of drugs. 

As always, Medication Monday is not meant as medical advice. If you have medical questions about any of the medications I discuss in this series, I encourage you to discuss them with your doctor or a mental health professional. Medication Monday is simply meant as a brief informative introduction to various medications, which will hopefully reduce the stigma around mental health medications in general.

 

Sources: WebMDAripiprazole in the treatment of depressive and anxiety disorders: a review of current evidence, Pae et al. 2008; The National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI).

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