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All about: Abilify

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Generic name: Aripiprazole
Brand names: Abilify

Why is Abilify prescribed?

Abilify is used in the treatment of schizophrenia, the psychological disorder that causes its victims to lose touch with reality, often triggering hallucinations, delusions (false beliefs), and disorganized thinking. The drug is thought to work by modifying sensitivity to two of the brain's chief chemical messengers, serotonin and dopamine.

Most important fact about Abilify

Abilify can cause tardive dyskinesia, a condition marked by involuntary movements in the face and body, including chewing movements, puckering, puffing the cheeks, and sticking out the tongue. This condition may be permanent and appears to be most common among older adults, especially women. Ask your doctor for more information about this possible risk.

How should you take Abilify?

Abilify should be taken once a day. It may be taken with or without food.

--If you miss a dose...

Take the forgotten dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and return to your regular schedule. Do not take two doses at once.

--Storage instructions...

Store at room temperature.

What side effects may occur?

Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe to continue using Abilify.

  • More common side effects may include:
    Anxiety, blurred vision, constipation, cough, headache, insomnia, light-headedness, nausea, rash, restlessness, runny nose, sleepiness, tremors, vomiting, weakness, weight gain

Why should Abilify not be prescribed?

If Abilify causes an allergic reaction, you'll be unable to use it.

Special warnings about Abilify

The risk of tardive dyskinesia (see "Most important fact about Abilify") increases with the total amount of Abilify that you've taken. To reduce the risk, the doctor will prescribe the lowest effective dose and resort to long-term therapy only if necessary. If you develop symptoms of tardive dyskinesia, see your doctor immediately. Therapy with Abilify may have to be discontinued.

In rare cases, Abilify has been known to cause a potentially fatal condition called Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS). Symptoms include high fever, rigid muscles, irregular pulse or blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, excessive perspiration, altered mental status, and changes in heart rhythm. If you develop these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. Abilify should be discontinued.

Certain antipsychotic drugs, including Abilify, are associated with an increased risk of developing high blood sugar, which on rare occasions has led to coma or death. See your doctor right away if you develop signs of high blood sugar, including dry mouth, unusual thirst, increased urination, and tiredness. If you have diabetes or have a high risk of developing it, see your doctor regularly for blood sugar testing.

Because Abilify tends to make some people sleepy, you should be cautious about operating hazardous machinery such as cars until you are certain the drug will not impair your ability.

In a few people, Abilify can cause an abrupt drop in blood pressure when they stand up, leading to light-headedness or even fainting. Use Abilify with caution if you have any kind of heart or circulatory problem, take blood pressure medication, or tend to become dehydrated.

Abilify has triggered seizures in a very small number of patients, and can also interfere with the swallowing mechanism. The risk of either problem is greater among older adults. If you've ever had a seizure, be sure to tell the doctor. Abilify should be used with caution.

Drugs such as Abilify can cause the body to overheat. Be cautious in hot weather and when exercising strenuously, and be sure to get plenty of liquids.

Abilify has not been tested in children or teenagers. Older adults should use the drug with caution.

Possible food and drug interactions when taking Abilify

The doctor will need to reduce the dosage of Abilify when you take the following additional drugs:

Fluoxetine (Prozac)
Ketoconazole (Nizoral)
Paroxetine (Paxil)
Quinidine (Quinidex)

On the other hand, the dosage of Abilify should be increased when you take carbamazepine (Tegretol).

Be cautious when taking Abilify with blood pressure medications classified as alpha-adrenergic blockers, including Hytrin and Cardura. Caution is also advised when combining Abilify with drugs that act on the brain, including tranquilizers, antidepressants, sleeping pills, narcotic painkillers, and other schizophrenia medications.

Although Abilify does not interact with alcohol, the manufacturer recommends avoiding the combination.

Special information if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

The effects of Abilify during pregnancy have not been adequately studied. The drug is recommended only if its benefits are thought to outweigh the potential risk to the baby. If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, inform your doctor immediately.

Breastfeeding is not recommended during Abilify therapy.

Recommended dosage

ADULTS

The usual dose is 10 or 15 milligrams taken once a day. The doctor will wait at least 2 weeks before prescribing an increased dosage.

Overdosage

Any medication taken in excess can have serious consequences. If you suspect an overdose, seek medical attention immediately.

  • Symptoms of Abilify overdose may include:
    Sleepiness, vomiting

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