Aripiprazole Withdrawal Symptoms
Aripiprazole withdrawal symptoms continue to baffle physicians and scientists, despite major clinical studies (mostly performed on monkeys, it seems, rather than on human beings) in an attempt to better understand why discontinuing both atypical and traditional versions of antipsychotic medications can cause such severe health impacts.
Pharmacologists seem to understand more about the characteristics of withdrawal reactions than the details about what exactly causes them. Studies have looked at the drug's dopamine-blocking effects on neurotransmitters that regulate and affect the CNS. It is clear that the medical community needs to do much more research on this type of medication.
There seem to be three observable ways to characterize withdrawals associated with stopping antipsychotic medications, namely abrupt (or rapid-onset) psychotic relapse, abnormal movement "disorders," and a very mixed bag of other adverse reactions.
As mentioned above, we can find no clinical trial reports from Aripiprazole studies performed on humans. In lieu of those, below we have listed some of the most written about Aripiprazole withdrawals contained in medical literature from studies done on monkeys, and from internet research where consumers self-reported their personal withdrawal experiences, and from the insert provided in the product packaging which also references the monkey studies.
Akasthisia: A word coined from the Greek "a" which means "not," and "kathizein", meaning "to sit," which together mean "cannot sit still." About half of the people on antipsychotic meds develop this disorder. Called a movement disorder, caused by certain medications. It presents a relentless inner restlessness, compulsion to be in constant motion, a need to rock back and forth either while standing or seated. Also observed are non-stop fidgeting, pacing, cannot sit still, repetitive marching movements and crossing/uncrossing the legs while seated. Excruciating emotional unease accompanies these motions and can lead to suicide due to their overwhelming relentless nature upon the person. One psychiatrist who experienced akathisia himself described it as the worst feeling he had ever experienced in his life and wouldn't wish it on his worst enemy.
Tachycardia: resting heart rate in adults of over 100 beats per minute. One of the ways drugs can stimulate the SNS (sympathetic nervous system) is by releasing the stress hormone epinephrine (adrenaline), which causes the "fight or flight" response. Drugs also have the capacity to either release or block dopamine, and these influences can result in sporadic reactions upon the heart.
Severe insomnia: Per the Athens Sleep Scale, severe insomnia is where the person reports not sleeping at all, with intense daytime sleepiness and inability to function along with decreased feelings of well-being during daylight hours. Complications vary from accidents and injuries to stress and depression.
Abrupt or rapid-onset psychotic relapse: A 2006 study published in Psychiatrica Scandinavica Journal showed that withdrawal from antipsychotic medications could create rapid-onset psychosis. This study questioned the previously held belief that such psychotic episodes were always a re-emergence of the original mental illness, and found that withdrawal-induced psychosis differed in its symptomology from the patient's initial symptoms of psychosis. In other words, entirely new symptoms emerged as a feature of withdrawal from antipsychotic medications, rather than a re-emergence of the patient's underlying illness. Multiple case studies showed patients with no previous history of psychosis developed rapid onset psychotic symptoms upon discontinuation of their antipsychotic medication. They questioned whether antipsychotic meds provoked psychosis and called for more studies on the subject.
Symptoms of psychosis can vary and include:
- visual / aural / tactile / multisensory hallucinations,
- confused and disturbed thoughts often accompanied by rapid and constant speech or abrupt changes in topics,
- delusions which are observably untrue but firmly believed, (i.e., "I am a blue fairy with special powers," "I am invisible," etc.)
- and similar characteristics.
People with psychotic symptoms are more likely to hurt or injure themselves rather than others but can become irrationally fearful and lash out at others whom they perceive to be a threat to them.
Tardive Dyskinesia: Antipsychotic medications cause a disorder characterized by jerking or other motions such as sticking the tongue out involuntarily, flapping the arms without intending to, smacking the lips, grunting, etc. This condition affects a significant percentage of those on antipsychotic medications and is considered incurable. Some people develop this condition only after they have stopped the medication. Consumers of antipsychotic drugs might be well-advised to take the AIMS test (Abnormal Involuntary Movement Scale) regularly to make sure the symptoms of Dyskinesia are well-monitored.
Dysphoria: an intense feeling of unease and dissatisfaction.
Other symptoms of Aripiprazole withdrawal can include intense anxiety, nausea, irritability, muscle weakness, and many more.
Contact Us For More Information
The Alternative to Meds Center in Sedona Arizona provides holistic help for mental health and in some cases can reduce or eliminate medications where desired. There is much to learn about our program and our comprehensive protocols, and we invite you to call the number on this page and discuss your or your loved one's Aripiprazole withdrawal treatment goals. It is possible that we can help improve quality of life for those suffering from Aripiprazole withdrawal symptoms.
Antipsychotic Withdrawal Success Video
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