Abilify belongs to a group of medications called atypical (or second-generation) antipsychotic medications. It is not entirely clear how this medication works for the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism, or major depression.
However, it is known to block or lessen the effects of several chemicals in the brain. These chemicals (such as dopamine and serotonin) may be elevated in people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression).
Keep in mind that this medication is not a cure for these conditions -- it only helps to control symptoms.
Effexor is part of a class of drugs called serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs for short. SNRIs, such as Effexor, act on specific chemicals within the brain known as serotonin and norepinephrine. Serotonin and norepinephrine are two of several chemicals used to send messages from one nerve cell to another.
As a message travels down a nerve, it causes the end of the cell to release serotonin or norepinephrine. The serotonin or norepinephrine enters the gap between the first nerve cell and the one next to it. When enough serotonin or norepinephrine reaches the second nerve cell, it activates receptors on the cell and the message continues on its way. The first cell then quickly absorbs any serotonin or norepinephrine that remains in the gap between cells. This is called "reuptake."
Normally, this process works without any problems. But when the levels of serotonin or norepinephrine become unbalanced, it can cause a variety of conditions, including depression. Effexor helps to block the reuptake of serotonin and norepinephrine so that more remains in the space between the brain's nerve cells. This gives the serotonin and norepinephrine a better chance of activating the receptors on the next nerve cell.
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