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Abilify Alternatives

This entry was posted in Antipsychotic and tagged on by .
Medically Reviewed Fact Checked

Last Updated on January 11, 2024 by Diane Ridaeus

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

We look at potential misdiagnoses or over-medication issues with a discerning eye, and in 75% of Abilify cases, we find that natural Abilify alternatives provide a more sustainable program of recovery.

Antipsychotic drugs such as Abilify can cause adverse effects — serious ones — that can include seizures, stroke, and tardive dyskinesia, for example.6

Does Your Diagnosis
Require Abilify?

successful ability alternatives
Alternative to Meds has offered help to clients looking for antipsychotic alternatives for over 15 years. Please see our published evidence regarding our success for more information. Underlying issues can in many cases be addressed without toxic prescription drugs. In many cases, we discover that medical conditions were missed or left unresolved, and other contributing factors were overlooked. Tragically, this often resulted in misdiagnoses. We can help.
Watch this video of a young man who had a tragic life in and out of psychiatric wards and persistent psychosis who, after ATMC methods, has gone on to be an international speaker, author, and model of what type of transformation can occur when using strategic holistic therapies. Gordie, featured in the video has been successful over bipolar and schizophrenia without even a hint of his diagnosis for 10 years.
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Why Choose Alternatives to Abilify (aripiprazole)?

Abilify is licensed by the FDA to be prescribed to treat schizophrenia, episodes or mixed episodes of mania and psychosis associated with bipolar, major depressive disorder, irritability in autism, and Tourette’s Disorder.7

Abilify is classed as an atypical (newer) antipsychotic medication. First-generation antipsychotics affected dopamine distribution and newer antipsychotics (the atypical set) affect both dopamine and serotonin distribution.24 Atypical antipsychotics are also prescribed for a large number of non-approved (off-label) uses. These include anxiety, ADHD, severe geriatric agitation, eating disorders, insomnia, OCD, PTSD, personality disorders, dementia, addiction treatment, and for depression if antidepressants did not work.8

For some, Abilify is well tolerated and effective at treating symptoms as mentioned above, at least in the short term. However, antipsychotics have many possible adverse reactions that may occur during treatment. Unlike antibiotics given to cure pneumonia, psychiatric drugs are not designed to “cure” anything, but only to suppress or control symptoms.10 Unfortunately, in many cases, antipsychotics cannot adequately control a person’s symptoms, let alone address root causes. For many, the undesirable effects of antipsychotic drugs render them unsustainable in treatment.9 Individuals may prefer to seek natural Abilify alternatives to achieve drug-free mental health, by addressing the underlying causes of symptoms that may have been overlooked in previous treatment.

Natural Alternatives to Abilify

We know that much better alternatives to Abilify exist compared to having to take antipsychotic medication for a whole lifetime. Would you or a loved one like to become more familiar with a better way forward, one that you can have confidence in? In this article, we cover some of the supplements that are Abilify alternatives, dietary corrections, and other therapies that we have found useful in working with clients at our center.

Natural Alternatives to Abilify Include:

abilify orthomolecular treatments

  • Overhaul the diet, choose whole foods, organic where possible, avoid processed foods.15,25-27
  • Probiotics, fermented foods, and yogurt for healthy gut flora.16
  • Eliminate neurotoxic accumulations from the body.17,19,31
  • Test for and correct micro-nutrient/vitamin/mineral deficiencies.20
  • Psychotherapy/psychosocial therapy such as CBT.1,11,12
  • Holistic treatments for symptoms such as insomnia, and depression.13,17
  • Exercise.14
  • Orthomolecular treatment such as NAD+ IV treatment, high-dose vitamin C, and inositol niacinate.18,26
  • Avoid neurotoxic chemicals such as MSG or glutamate in foods.21
  • Avoid sugars and artificial sweeteners.22,23
  • Exposure to sunlight 17,32

Orthomolecular Holistic Treatments as Natural Alternative to Antipsychotics

According to a 2014 article by Dr. Prousky,25 long-term use of antipsychotic medications to treat schizophrenia can so thoroughly suppress and disrupt the normal functions of the central nervous system and the person’s life generally, that treating schizophrenia with an orthomolecular approach would be near to impossible. However, we have found ways to bridge this journey safely, and effectively, using such orthomolecular and holistic treatment approaches as described below and on our services overview page. Alternative to Meds Center first uses gentle methods of stabilizing and then withdrawing the client from medications or at least reducing the dosage as much as possible, creating a better pathway for success using holistic treatments to rehabilitate and normalize neurotransmitter function.

The same problem applies to treating other conditions, such as insomnia, depression, PTSD, and other psychiatric symptoms — an orthomolecular approach needs to also address tapering the drugs to the greatest extent possible or entirely eliminate them as part of the overall treatment plan.

Orthomolecular treatments could include NAD IV treatments, nebulized glutathione, amino acids, and other specific ortho molecules (found naturally in the body) to help the CNS regain normal function.25,26

This is a fascinating branch of medicine that you can find out more about on our orthomolecular medicine information page.

Corrected Diet as a Natural Alternative to Abilify

Improving the diet has clearly demonstrated profound improvement of psychiatric symptoms in many populations, including schizophrenic persons. Another benefit is the stabilization of blood sugar levels. Hypoglycemia is frequently overlooked entirely, in error, when treating psychiatric symptoms and is linked with symptoms that can resemble mental illness such as brain fog, depression, and lowered cognitive function.15,25-27

Healthy Microbiome as an Alternative to Abilify

The gut is often referred to as “the second brain,” due to its important role in the creation and distribution of hormones and neurotransmitters responsible for regulating and operating the myriad of systems in the body, including the CNS and brain functions. An unhealthy microbiome is associated with depression, anxiety, mood swings, fatigue, allergies, cravings, and other undesirable symptoms.28,29

Evidence shows that adding fermented foods, probiotics, green leafy vegetables and adequate fiber to the diet will help build and maintain a healthy microbiome (gut). Things to avoid are sugars, processed foods, and antibiotics (if possible) as they strip out both the good and bad bacteria from the trillions of living microbes in the gut. Antibiotics can kill the immune cells a body needs to protect itself. If you must take antibiotics, be sure to replenish the good bacteria to keep the “second brain” healthy.30

Psychotherapy as an Effective Alternative to Abilify

The summary above demonstrates that Alternative to Meds Center’s focus is not on substituting one drug for another similar drug. We also don’t engage in hoping by trial and error to find “a better drug”  that will not cause further injury. Abilify alternatives in our programs provide non-toxic, safe, and effective treatment protocols for conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and others, in a warm social setting. abilify talk therapyAlternative treatments also include psychotherapy — we offer our clients many genres of effective talk therapy at the center.

Talk therapy is a fundamental aspect of an alternative Abilify treatment plan. Such therapy is used in combination with other protocols in a well-rounded Abilify Tapering plan. Several research studies have demonstrated the efficacy of psychosocial therapies in a variety of programs that support natural healing methods.

Psychosocial therapy can successfully help persons in dealing with specific aspects of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depressive disorder.1 For example, clients may want to achieve improvements in communication skills and raise their ability to comfortably interact with others in a social setting. They may also seek to improve satisfaction with their quality of life. Gentle guidance can lead to better self-care. Individual and group-based planned activities within a structured program can provide these opportunities. Other areas that a person may wish to improve are maintaining and perhaps repairing relationships, and improved family relations, for instance.

Valid Approaches of Holistic Abilify Alternatives

equine therapy as abilify alternativeResearch has shown psychosocial interventions can lead to an increase in mood stability, fewer and shorter hospitalizations, and improvement in other areas including interactions with others. Tragically, prescribers may begin switching to other drugs as a commonly used option, but the results may not be different. This often occurs when a person cannot tolerate the side effects or the drug simply does not “work” as hoped. However, most “replacement” antipsychotic drugs will have the same or additional adverse effects as Abilify. We feel a superior approach is to find effective natural Abilify alternatives, which can consist of a wide range of different therapies. For example, natural supplements, testing for nutritional deficiencies, correct diet, equine therapy, art therapy, music therapy, relaxation techniques, and other healing activities can play important roles in a comprehensive treatment regimen. These therapies demonstrate efficacy but do not introduce further damage.   

Valid Ability alternatives include acupuncture, Qi Gong, simple changes in lifestyle, learning coping mechanisms, as well as educational components relating to mental health.

An individual’s environment and lifestyle are some of the biggest factors that can contribute to symptoms.17 With care and attention to these factors, environmental medicine can offer specific answers carefully developed for each person. We design a program based on the unique needs, tolerance, and requirements of each client.

Excessive Dopamine and Psychosis

Research on psychosis 2 shows an excessive amount of dopamine can present as psychosis and other undesirable symptoms. The CNS is a highly refined, complex system of interacting chemicals and reactions. Ongoing research tells us that other neurochemicals are likely also involved in such a multi-layered operation.3 Certainly, dopamine is the neurochemical corresponding to feelings of reward. When there is an excess it makes everything seem stimulating which may result in manic states.

Notes on Neurotoxicity

neurotransmitter rehabilitationIt is thought that neurotoxins can overstimulate or otherwise disrupt neurology.  For instance, exposure to toxins can trigger an excessive release of dopamine.  The genetics of a person are also associated with how well or how poorly the body clears toxins. A poor diet may lack vital nutrients. Zinc, niacin, vitamin B6, or vitamin C are needed for well-functioning neurochemistry.  Other factors include low blood sugar, food preservatives, allergic reactions, and other problems that are associated with symptoms such as psychosis.4  Sensitive people are especially prone to such reactions. A physician prescribes antipsychotic medication to dampen dopamine expression. While antipsychotics do this very well, this, unfortunately, leaves the person without the enjoyment of rewards in life. Our treatment center programs address these troublesome core issues.

We have an amazing staff who are highly trained in their therapeutic fields, and who are dedicated to helping clients along their healing journeys. We draw from an arsenal of techniques to successfully reduce symptoms. This approach allows individuals to gently and successfully reduce or eliminate psychiatric medications. Firstly, our rehab does comprehensive lab testing to find what could have caused or contributed to the initial symptoms. Toxicity is the most common culprit. Sometimes a person is affected by genetic factors or the environment. That is why we focus on clearing the individual of their toxic burden.  Additionally, we restrict anything that may add to toxicity, including sugar, caffeine, and processed foods. We also use supplements that are known for their beneficial effects and that truly support aspects of the neurochemistry that are out of balance.5

Inpatient Abilify Alternative Treatments at ATMC

holistic detox sedona drug rehabOur treatment center concentrates on cleaning out the accumulated toxins with a sauna cleanse.31
The treatments provide neurochemistry stabilization using natural substances and nutritional therapy such as amino treatments and a corrected diet. Other services such as peer support groups, yoga, personal training for exercise, massage, yoga, Qi Gong, and many concurrent holistic therapies soften Abilify cessation symptoms. It is not a fast process. When the client becomes calm, comfortable, and stable; their medication can be slowly reduced and they can start on a new treatment plan that incorporates healthful, natural alternatives to Abilify.

We invite you to call and speak to us, to get a more precise understanding of the types of Abilify alternatives treatment methods and inpatient programs we can provide for you or a loved one at Alternative to Meds Center for true recovery of natural mental health.

1. Bellack A, “Psychosocial treatment in schizophrenia.” Dialogues in Clinical Psychology [Internet] 2001 Jun [cited 2022 June 20]

2.  Kesby JP, Eyles DW, McGrath JJ, Scott JG. Dopamine, psychosis and schizophrenia: the widening gap between basic and clinical neuroscience. Transl Psychiatry. 2018 Jan 31;8(1):30. doi: 10.1038/s41398-017-0071-9. PMID: 29382821; PMCID: PMC5802623. [cited 2023 April 20]

3. Kerner B. (2009). Glutamate Neurotransmission in Psychotic Disorders and Substance AbuseThe open psychiatry journal3, 1–8. [cited 2023 April 20]

4.  Sahoo, S., Mehra, A., & Grover, S. (2016). Acute Hyperglycemia Associated with Psychotic Symptoms in a Patient with Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus: A Case ReportInnovations in clinical neuroscience13(11-12), 25–27. [cited 2023 April 20]

5).  Brown A. S. (2011). The environment and susceptibility to schizophrenia. Progress in neurobiology93(1), 23–58. [cited 2023 April 20]

6) NAMI authors,. “What Are Possible Side Effects Of Aripiprazole?”. National Alliance on Mental Illness, published online Jan 2016 [cited 2022 June 20]

7. FDA Label Abilify (aripiprazole) as revised 2014 December [cited 2022 June 20]

8. Maglione M, Maher AR, Hu J, Wang Z, Shanman R, Shekelle PG, Roth B, Hilton L, Suttorp MJ, Ewing BA, Motala A, Perry T. Off-Label Use of Atypical Antipsychotics: An Update [Excerpt]  Rockville (MD): Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2011 Sep. Report No.: 11-EHC087-EF. PMID: 22132426. [cited 2022 June 20]

9.  Shirzadi AA, Ghaemi SN. Side effects of atypical antipsychotics: extrapyramidal symptoms and the metabolic syndrome. Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2006 May-Jun;14(3):152-64. doi: 10.1080/10673220600748486. PMID: 16787887. [cited 2023 April 20]

10.  Pizzorno J. (2016). Can We Say “Cure”?Integrative medicine (Encinitas, Calif.)15(5), 8–12. [cited 2023 April 20]

11. Turkington D, Dudley R, Warman DM, Beck AT. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for schizophrenia: a review. J Psychiatr Pract. 2004 Jan;10(1):5-16. doi: 10.1097/00131746-200401000-00002. PMID: 15334983.[cited 2022 June 20]

12. Rector NA, Beck AT. Cognitive behavioral therapy for schizophrenia: an empirical review. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2001 May;189(5):278-87. doi: 10.1097/00005053-200105000-00002. PMID: 11379970. [cited 2022 June 20]

13. Cunningham JEA, Shapiro CM. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I) to treat depression: A systematic review. J Psychosom Res. 2018 Mar;106:1-12. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2017.12.012. Epub 2017 Dec 24. PMID: 29455893. [cited 2022 June 20]

14.  Schuch FB, Vancampfort D. Physical activity, exercise, and mental disorders: it is time to move on. Trends Psychiatry Psychother. 2021 Jul-Sep;43(3):177-184. doi: 10.47626/2237-6089-2021-0237. Epub 2021 Apr 21. PMID: 33890431; PMCID: PMC8638711. [cited 2024 Jan 11]

15.  Dharmayani PNA, Juergens M, Allman-Farinelli M, Mihrshahi S. Association between Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and Depression Symptoms in Young People and Adults Aged 15-45: A Systematic Review of Cohort Studies. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jan 18;18(2):780. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18020780. PMID: 33477603; PMCID: PMC7831325. [cited 2024 Jan 11]

16. Yuan X, Kang Y, Zhuo C, Huang XF, Song X. The gut microbiota promotes the pathogenesis of schizophrenia via multiple pathways. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2019 Apr 30;512(2):373-380. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2019.02.152. Epub 2019 Mar 18. PMID: 30898321.[cited 2022 June 20]

17. Evans GW. The built environment and mental health. J Urban Health. 2003 Dec;80(4):536-55. doi: 10.1093/jurban/jtg063. PMID: 14709704; PMCID: PMC3456225. [cited 2022 June 20]

18. Hoffer, A. Megavitamin B-3 Therapy for Schizophrenia. Canadian Psychiatric Association Journal, Volume: 16 issue: 6, page(s): 499-504 December 1, 1971 [cited 2022 June 20]

19. Learning and Developmental Disabilities Initiative of the CDC, Mental Health and Environmental Exposures. published November.2008 [cited 2022 June 20]

20. Low Dog T. The role of nutrition in mental health. Altern Ther Health Med. 2010 Mar-Apr;16(2):42-6. PMID: 20232617. [cited 2022 June 20]

21. Kraal A Z et al., Could Dietary Glutamate Play a Role in Psychiatric Distress? Journal of Neurpsychobiology 2020; 79: 13-10 published February 2020 [cited 2022 June 20]

22. Knüppel A, Shipley MJ, Llewellyn CH, Brunner EJ. Sugar intake from sweet food and beverages, common mental disorder and depression: prospective findings from the Whitehall II study. Sci Rep. 2017;7(1):6287. Published 2017 Jul 27. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-05649-7 [cited 2022 June 20]

23. Guo X, Park Y, Freedman ND, et al. Sweetened beverages, coffee, and tea and depression risk among older US adults.PLoS One. 2014;9(4):e94715. Published 2014 Apr 17. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0094715 [cited 2022 June 20]

24. Dazzan, P., Morgan, K., Orr, al. Different Effects of Typical and Atypical Antipsychotics on Grey Matter in First Episode Psychosis: the ÆSOP Study. Neuropsychopharmacol 30,765–774 (2005).  [cited 2022 June 20]

25. Prousky, Jonathan. (2014). The Clinical use of Orthomolecules in the Treatment of Schizophrenia: Critical Reflections and Commentary. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. 29. 141-153. [cited 2022 June 20]

26. Klauser, P., Xin, L., Fournier, al. N-acetylcysteine add-on treatment leads to an improvement of fornix white matter integrity in early psychosis: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Transl Psychiatry 8,220 (2018). [cited 2022 June 20]

27. Aucoin M, LaChance L, Clouthier SN, Cooley K. Dietary modification in the treatment of schizophrenia spectrum disorders: A systematic review. World J Psychiatry. 2020 Aug 19;10(8):187-201. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v10.i8.187. PMID: 32874956; PMCID: PMC7439299. [cited 2022 June 20]

28. Ridaura V, Belkaid Y. Gut microbiota: the link to your second brain. Cell. 2015 Apr 9;161(2):193-4. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2015.03.033. PMID: 25860600. [cited 2022 June 20]

29. Clapp M, Aurora N, Herrera L, Bhatia M, Wilen E, Wakefield S. Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axisClin Pract. 2017;7(4):987. Published 2017 Sep 15. doi:10.4081/cp.2017.987 [cited 2022 June 20]

30. Zhang S, Chen DC. Facing a new challenge: the adverse effects of antibiotics on gut microbiota and host immunity. Chin Med J (Engl). 2019;132(10):1135-1138. doi:10.1097/CM9.0000000000000245 [cited 2022 June 20]

31. Crinnion WJ. Environmental medicine, part one: the human burden of environmental toxins and their common health effects. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Feb;5(1):52-63. PMID: 10696119. [cited 2022 June 20]

32. Gu S, Huang R, Yang J, Sun S, Xu Y, Zhang R, Wang Y, Lu B, He T, Wang A, Bian G, Wang Q. Exposure-lag-response association between sunlight and schizophrenia in Ningbo, China. Environ Pollut. 2019 Apr;247:285-292. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.12.023. Epub 2019 Jan 14. PMID: 30685669. [cited 2022 June 20]

Originally Published Oct 30, 2018 by Diane Ridaeus

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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