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Aripiprazole

Generic Name: aripiprazole (AR i PIP ra zole)
Brand Names: Abilify, Abilify Discmelt

Medically reviewed by Philip Thornton, DipPharm. Last updated on Sep 23, 2020.

What is aripiprazole?

Aripiprazole is an antipsychotic medicine that is used to treat the symptoms of psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar I disorder (manic depression). It is not known if aripiprazole is safe or effective in children younger than 13 with schizophrenia, or children younger than 10 with bipolar disorder.

Aripiprazole is also used together with other medicines to treat major depressive disorder in adults.

Aripiprazole is also used in children 6 years or older who have Tourette's disorder, or symptoms of autistic disorder (irritability, aggression, mood swings, temper tantrums, and self-injury).

Important Information

Aripiprazole is not approved for use in older adults with dementia-related psychosis.

Some people have thoughts about suicide while taking aripiprazole. Stay alert to changes in your mood or symptoms. Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor.

Do not stop using aripiprazole suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

Avoid driving and doing other tasks or actions that call for you to be alert or have clear eyesight until you see how aripiprazole affects you.

High blood sugar or diabetes, high cholesterol, and weight gain have happened with drugs like this one. These may raise the chance of heart and brain blood vessel disease.

Low white blood cell counts have happened with drugs like this one. This may lead to a higher chance of infection. Rarely, infections have been deadly. Tell your doctor if you have ever had a low white blood cell count. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of infection like fever, chills, or sore throat.

Before taking this medicine

You should not take aripiprazole if you are allergic to it.

Aripiprazole may increase the risk of death in older adults with dementia-related psychosis and is not approved for this use.

To make sure aripiprazole is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • liver or kidney disease;

  • heart disease, high or low blood pressure, heart rhythm problems;

  • high cholesterol or triglycerides (a type of fat in the blood);

  • low white blood cell (WBC) counts;

  • a heart attack or stroke;

  • seizures or epilepsy;

  • trouble swallowing;

  • diabetes (in you or a family member); or

  • obsessive-compulsive disorder, impulse-control disorder, or addictive behaviors.

Some people have thoughts about suicide while taking aripiprazole. Your doctor will need to check your progress at regular visits. Your family or other caregivers should also be alert to changes in your mood or symptoms.

The liquid form (oral solution) of this medication may contain up to 15 grams of sugar per dose. Before taking aripiprazole oral solution, tell your doctor if you have diabetes.

Aripiprazole may cause you to have high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). If you are diabetic, check your blood sugar levels on a regular basis while you are taking aripiprazole.

The orally disintegrating tablet form of this medication may contain over 3 milligrams of phenylalanine per tablet. Before taking Abilify Discmelt, tell your doctor if you have phenylketonuria.

Taking antipsychotic medicine in the last 3 months of pregnancy may cause problems in the newborn, such as withdrawal symptoms, breathing problems, feeding problems, fussiness, tremors, and limp or stiff muscles. However, you may have withdrawal symptoms or other problems if you stop taking your medicine during pregnancy. If you become pregnant, do not stop taking aripiprazole without your doctor's advice.

If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry to track the effects of aripiprazole on the baby.

It may not be safe to breastfeed while using aripiprazole. Ask your doctor about any risk.

How should I take aripiprazole?

Take aripiprazole exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose.

Do not take aripiprazole for longer than 6 weeks unless your doctor has told you to.

Aripiprazole can be taken with or without food.

Swallow the regular tablet whole and do not crush, chew, or break it.

Measure liquid medicine carefully. Use the dosing syringe provided, or use a medicine dose-measuring device (not a kitchen spoon).

Remove an orally disintegrating tablet from the package only when you are ready to take the medicine. Place the tablet in your mouth and allow it to dissolve, without chewing. Swallow several times as the tablet dissolves. If desired, you may drink liquid to help swallow the dissolved tablet.

Do not stop using aripiprazole suddenly, or you could have unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ask your doctor how to safely stop using this medicine.

Your doctor will need to check your progress on a regular basis.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat. Aripiprazole liquid may be used for up to 6 months after opening, but not after the expiration date on the medicine label.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the medicine as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

Get your prescription refilled before you run out of medicine completely.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

Overdose symptoms may include drowsiness, vomiting, aggression, confusion, tremors, fast or slow heart rate, seizure (convulsions), trouble breathing, or fainting.

What should I avoid while taking aripiprazole?

Avoid getting up too fast from a sitting or lying position, or you may feel dizzy. Avoid driving or hazardous activity until you know how aripiprazole will affect you. Dizziness or drowsiness can cause falls, accidents, or severe injuries.

Avoid drinking alcohol. Dangerous side effects could occur.

Avoid becoming overheated or dehydrated. Drink plenty of fluids, especially in hot weather and during exercise. It is easier to become dangerously overheated and dehydrated while you are taking aripiprazole.

Aripiprazole side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to aripiprazole: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe agitation, distress, or restless feeling;

  • twitching or uncontrollable movements of your eyes, lips, tongue, face, arms, or legs;

  • mask-like appearance of the face, trouble swallowing, problems with speech;

  • seizure (convulsions);

  • thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself;

  • severe nervous system reaction - very stiff (rigid) muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or uneven heartbeats, tremors, feeling like you might pass out;

  • low blood cell counts - fever, chills, sore throat, mouth sores, skin sores, sore throat, cough, trouble breathing, feeling light-headed; or

  • high blood sugar - increased thirst, increased urination, dry mouth, fruity breath odor.

You may have increased sexual urges, unusual urges to gamble, or other intense urges while taking this medicine. Talk with your doctor if this occurs.

Common aripiprazole side effects may include:

  • uncontrolled muscle movements, anxiety, feeling restless;

  • weight gain;

  • nausea, vomiting, constipation;

  • increased appetite;

  • headache, dizziness, drowsiness, feeling tired;

  • sleep problems (insomnia); or

  • stuffy nose, sore throat.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect aripiprazole?

Taking aripiprazole with other drugs that make you drowsy or slow your breathing can cause dangerous side effects or death. Ask your doctor before using opioid medication, a sleeping pill, a muscle relaxer, or medicine for anxiety or seizures.

Many drugs can interact with aripiprazole. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use aripiprazole only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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