Call Mon-Sun:
1 (800) 301-3753
Alternative to Meds News & Blog Articles

Abilify Long-Term Effects | Good News Inside

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

Last Updated on October 31, 2023 by Carol Gillette

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

Are you concerned about the long-term effects of Abilify? Like many antipsychotic medications, prescriptions can go on for years, and some adverse effects can begin to outweigh the benefits.

The good news is that there may be a better solution to symptoms of schizophrenia or bipolar conditions. Using safe, proven methods, we have helped thousands of clients to successfully reduce symptoms without having to rely on drug-based therapy.

Do Your Symptoms Require Long-Term Abilify?

abilify long term effects

Alternative to Meds Center has spent nearly 20 years assisting clients where prescription drugs such as antipsychotics have not delivered the treatment results that were hoped for. Many of our staff have emerged from similar difficulties themselves, understand the depths of the frustrations of our clients and we have experienced the joy and relief that recovery brings. Our documented success continues, giving hope to many suffering in quiet desperation and hopelessness. There is hope. We are here to help.
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
Up to 87 ½% Long-Term Success Rate.
Click to Call7 Days a Week

  • By completing this form, you will be added to our mailing list. You may opt out at any time.
  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Why do people remain on Ability for a very long time?

Antipsychotics such as Abilify have been the subject of much research, spanning decades. This is fortunate because it offers the chance to draw on a substantial body of information that can help plan one’s future journey that for some, may benefit from more natural mental wellness strategies.

prescription reevaluation is criticalThe eruption of a crisis situation such as mania or psychosis does not allow for much else than bringing the situation under control as quickly as possible. Abilify is prescribed for such reasons as to control mania, psychosis, agitation, and irritability in autism.6 It is not uncommon that a diagnosis may be imperfect during such a period of acute turbulence. Often, a prescription drug may have been the only practical choice at that time. However, after the crisis has passed, a more thorough assessment of all the factors involved may enable transitioning to other treatment methods moving forward. It is quite common, however, that once a diagnosis is made and a prescription is initiated, no further investigation is done. In fact, long-term use of antipsychotic medication has become the immovable cornerstone of treatment for schizophrenia despite the APA suggesting that when the patient has stabilized, discontinuing treatment with antipsychotics should be considered.2 A person may thus end up continuing to take medication for a very long time, despite having achieved adequate stabilization or remission of symptoms.

What are the Long-Term Effects of Abilify?

From quite a large body of information, we can clearly observe some of the common as well as rare long-term effects of Abilify that have been reported over many years.2,3,5-9 Further in this piece, we will discuss possible reasons that have been cited for why some of these adverse effects come about. Not every person has the same experience as others while taking a prescription drug, and some studies show contrasting results that remain poorly understood.

It is commonly reported in the medical literature that in schizophrenia patients, antipsychotics are associated with less likelihood of relapse, within a threshold of 1-3 years. However, after this duration of drug-based therapy, positive outcomes are less clear.5,19

For example, one 20-year-long study out of Chicago found 92% of the unmedicated persons had no symptoms of psychosis, compared to 68% of the participants who still suffered symptoms of psychosis after 20 years of continuous medication.20

A 14-year study out of rural China involving over 123,000 patients noted that those who had access to medication did “substantially better” than those who with no access to medication. However, the study also notes that those who had no access to medication were significantly older, with significantly fewer family members, or lived alone, and were more likely to be homeless, without access to caregivers or other types of mental health care. Without more details from observations of the patients, it becomes difficult to select preferred protocols for treatment.10

The following is a partial list of potential adverse effects associated with Abilify as given on the drug’s label information as well as from other sources as indicated.1

Long-term effects of Abilify may include:
  • abilify serious long term effectsChanges in brain volume 11
  • Dopamine supersensitivity, associated with psychosis and other adverse effects 24
  • Newly emergent suicidality 14
  • Feelings of self-doubt, emotional numbing, and social withdrawal 27
  • Weight gain, other metabolic dysfunction including diabetes (though to a lesser extent than some other antipsychotics) 1,25
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Declining efficacy after long-term, continuous antipsychotic treatment 9,19
  • Clinical worsening after long-term use 9,20
  • Extrapyramidal effects (involuntary movement disorders) such as tardive dyskinesia, NMS, and others.
  • Covert dyskinesia — a form of movement disorder that may emerge after cessation of Abilify 13
  • Adverse effects on the heart, and adverse effects on blood pressure
  • Conditions relating to low white blood cell count such as leukopenia
  • Sedation
  • Akinesia (lack of movement)
  • Akathisia (compulsive movement)14
  • Compulsive gambling, sexuality, and other uncharacteristic behaviors 1,12
  • Stroke or other cardiovascular events in elderly dementia patients

Can Abilify Long-Term Effects Change Brain Structure?

Regarding changes in brain tissue volume, the results of clinical studies are equally baffling with some persons experiencing loss of brain volume after medication, or brain volume increasing in other areas of the brain, and not in all cases but in some cases, this was associated with mental decline. These long-term studies on brain volume cannot be considered conclusive due to their inconsistent outcomes, but suggest that antipsychotic medication may change the structure of the human brain in ways that are poorly understood.11 In summary, it can be determined that some persons did better when continuously medicated, and some did better remaining unmedicated, or after reducing or eliminating medication. These inconsistencies underscore the importance of individualized treatment decisions, based on carefully assessing the needs and circumstances of each unique person.

Whether a drug changes brain volume or not, many other factors should be included in designing the best individual treatment protocols for the best outcomes possible. There should never be a one-size-fits-all approach that can be considered equally effective for all. Time, observation, and testing are some of the things that are needed to determine the best approach for each individual in the planning of a path to recovery.

Cannabis-Induced Psychosis and Misdiagnosis

A common occurrence in some medical crises is a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia after an episode of drug-induced psychosis. Cannabis has become one of the most widely used recreational drugs today. A misdiagnosis after a drug-induced psychotic episode can lead to incorrect treatments and cascading harm that can be long-lasting. If a prescription of Abilify was given, it may become difficult to differentiate the long-term effects of Abilify from other causality factors.15

cannabis-induced psychosisOf note, recreational cannabis use in society is on a steep incline, with access to much more potent products than ever before. As opposed to medical marijuana, the recreational use of cannabis increases the risk of drug-induced episodes of psychosis. In today’s world where cannabis has become popularized within the mainstream, this phenomenon may become more prevalent as time goes on.

The prevalence of recreational cannabis use suggests a growing number of persons may be diagnosed as “schizophrenic” when in fact the person experienced drug-induced psychosis. According to a Lancet review, compared to non-users, a 5-fold increase in psychotic episodes was found associated with daily use of high-THC content cannabis.16

Also important to note, for persons who do suffer from schizophrenia or similar conditions, cannabis use should be altogether avoided as it has been shown to exacerbate symptoms and may trigger a relapse.17

An interesting study published in the International Review of Neurobiology has reported that a certain dysfunctional cannabinoid receptor, CB1, is suggested as a contributing factor in schizophrenia from postmortem, genetic, and other studies. Though more analysis is needed, the suggested relationship is a fascinating one and researchers are hopeful that it may lead to more effective treatment in the future, potentially avoiding unwanted long-term effects of Abilify and other antipsychotic drugs.18

Are Safer Treatments Available to Avoid the Long-Term Effects of Abilify?

The good news is that there are many treatment methods that can help reduce or eliminate unwanted symptoms, that may outperform long-term drug-based therapy. Alternative to Meds provides natural treatments tailored to each client’s unique profile.

Natural mental health therapies have provided a broad base of evidence-based treatment options that may help avoid the long-term adverse effects of medication. Alternative to Meds has been the leader for decades in the domain of natural therapies for mental health and we are thrilled to see such trends now clearly emerging and taking their rightful place in mainstream medicine.4,26

Natural mental health therapies can include:

*A note about holistic detox:  it is imperative that the safest way to reduce antipsychotic medication requires a very slow process. Dopamine supersensitivity is thought to be the reason for many problems that may be encountered if the process is done too fast, such as rebound psychosis, or an uncontrollable psychotic episode. Much like taking the brakes off while descending down a steep and slippery hill, the reduction must be very gradual, and very closely monitored to avoid an out-of-control situation from developing. Safe gradual cessation is the safest route.24

Find Out About Natural Mental Health Treatment at Alternative to Meds Center

For about 20 years now, Alternative to Meds Center has been the foremost holistic treatment center in the world offering inpatient natural mental health treatment. Please take some time to review the treatments offered by browsing through our services overview pages to get a more detailed description of the broad range of therapies available to our clients. We have the resources you or your loved one may have been searching for all under one roof, right here nestled at the foot of the majestic red rocks of Sedona. Please call and speak to us about your treatment goals and other questions you may have about insurance coverage, the length of the program, and any other areas you would like to know more about. Our treatment protocols are designed for each unique client, and may well be the key to recovery from the long-term effects of Abilify and lingering symptoms, without relying solely on prescription drugs.

1. FDA drug label Abilify (aripiprazole) Orally Disintegrating Tablets, Oral Solution, Injection for intramuscular use only Approv 2002 [cited 2023 Jan 2]

2. Harrow M, Jobe TH. Does long-term treatment of schizophrenia with antipsychotic medications facilitate recovery? Schizophr Bull. 2013 Sep;39(5):962-5. doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbt034. Epub 2013 Mar 19. PMID: 23512950; PMCID: PMC3756791. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

3. Harrow M, Jobe TH, Faull RN. Do all schizophrenia patients need antipsychotic treatment continuously throughout their lifetime? A 20-year longitudinal study. Psychol Med. 2012 Oct;42(10):2145-55. doi: 10.1017/S0033291712000220. Epub 2012 Feb 17. PMID: 22340278. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

4. Matei VP, Mihailescu AI, Davidson M. Is non-pharmacological treatment an option for certain schizophrenia patients? Psychiatr Danub. 2014 Dec;26(4):308-13. PMID: 25377364. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

5. Correll CU, Rubio JM, Kane JM. What is the risk-benefit ratio of long-term antipsychotic treatment in people with schizophrenia? World Psychiatry. 2018 Jun;17(2):149-160. doi: 10.1002/wps.20516. PMID: 29856543; PMCID: PMC5980517. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

6. Gettu N, Saadabadi A. Aripiprazole. [Updated 2022 May 21]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: [cited 2023 Jan 2]

7. Swainston Harrison T, Perry CM. Aripiprazole: a review of its use in schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. Drugs. 2004;64(15):1715-36. doi: 10.2165/00003495-200464150-00010. PMID: 15257633. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

8. Bola JR, Mosher LR. Treatment of acute psychosis without neuroleptics: two-year outcomes from the Soteria project. J Nerv Ment Dis. 2003 Apr;191(4):219-29. doi: 10.1097/01.NMD.0000061148.84257.F9. PMID: 12695732. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

9. Goff DC, Falkai P, Fleischhacker WW, Girgis RR, Kahn RM, Uchida H, Zhao J, Lieberman JA. The Long-Term Effects of Antipsychotic Medication on Clinical Course in Schizophrenia. Am J Psychiatry. 2017 Sep 1;174(9):840-849. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.16091016. Epub 2017 May 5. Erratum in: Am J Psychiatry. 2017 Aug 1;174(8):805. PMID: 28472900. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

10. Ran MS, Weng X, Chan CL, Chen EY, Tang CP, Lin FR, Mao WJ, Hu SH, Huang YQ, Xiang MZ. Different outcomes of never-treated and treated patients with schizophrenia: 14-year follow-up study in rural China. Br J Psychiatry. 2015 Dec;207(6):495-500. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.114.157685. Epub 2015 Sep 17. PMID: 26382951; PMCID: PMC4664855.

11. Lieberman J, Chakos M, Wu H, Alvir J, Hoffman E, Robinson D, Bilder R. Longitudinal study of brain morphology in first episode schizophrenia. Biol Psychiatry. 2001 Mar 15;49(6):487-99. doi: 10.1016/s0006-3223(01)01067-8. PMID: 11257234. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

12. Mété D, Dafreville C, Paitel V, Wind P. Aripiprazole, jeu pathologique et sexualité compulsive [Aripiprazole, gambling disorder and compulsive sexuality]. Encephale. 2016 Jun;42(3):281-3. French. doi: 10.1016/j.encep.2016.01.003. Epub 2016 Feb 26. PMID: 26923999. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

13. Moseley CN, Simpson-Khanna HA, Catalano G, Catalano MC. Covert dyskinesia associated with aripiprazole: a case report and review of the literature. Clin Neuropharmacol. 2013 Jul-Aug;36(4):128-30. doi: 10.1097/WNF.0b013e31829b99d9. PMID: 23860346. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

14. Padder T, Skodnek K, Hashmi S, Samad M, Udyawar A, Azhar N, Jaghab K. Acute akathisia with suicidal ideation associated with low dose aripiprazole. Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2006 Apr;3(4):40-3. PMID: 21103170; PMCID: PMC2990567. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

15. Bacon A, Granholm E, Withers N. Substance-Induced Psychosis. Semin Clin Neuropsychiatry. 1998 Jan;3(1):70-79. PMID: 10085193. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

16. Hasan A, von Keller R, Friemel CM, Hall W, Schneider M, Koethe D, Leweke FM, Strube W, Hoch E. Cannabis use and psychosis: a review of reviews. Eur Arch Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2020 Jun;270(4):403-412. doi: 10.1007/s00406-019-01068-z. Epub 2019 Sep 28. PMID: 31563981. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

17. Di Forti M, Quattrone D, Freeman TP, Tripoli G, Gayer-Anderson C, Quigley H, Rodriguez V, Jongsma HE, Ferraro L, La Cascia C, La Barbera D, Tarricone I, Berardi D, Szöke A, Arango C, Tortelli A, Velthorst E, Bernardo M, Del-Ben CM, Menezes PR, Selten JP, Jones PB, Kirkbride JB, Rutten BP, de Haan L, Sham PC, van Os J, Lewis CM, Lynskey M, Morgan C, Murray RM; EU-GEI WP2 Group. The contribution of cannabis use to variation in the incidence of psychotic disorder across Europe (EU-GEI): a multicentre case-control study. Lancet Psychiatry. 2019 May;6(5):427-436. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(19)30048-3. Epub 2019 Mar 19. PMID: 30902669; PMCID: PMC7646282. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

18. Sewell RA, Ranganathan M, D’Souza DC. Cannabinoids and psychosis. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2009 Apr;21(2):152-62. doi: 10.1080/09540260902782802. PMID: 19367509. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

19. Alvarez-Jimenez M, O’Donoghue B, Thompson A, Gleeson JF, Bendall S, Gonzalez-Blanch C, Killackey E, Wunderink L, McGorry PD. Beyond Clinical Remission in First Episode Psychosis: Thoughts on Antipsychotic Maintenance vs. Guided Discontinuation in the Functional Recovery Era. CNS Drugs. 2016 May;30(5):357-68. doi: 10.1007/s40263-016-0331-x. PMID: 27106296. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

20. Harrow M, Jobe TH, Faull RN. Does treatment of schizophrenia with antipsychotic medications eliminate or reduce psychosis? A 20-year multi-follow-up study. Psychol Med. 2014 Oct;44(14):3007-16. doi: 10.1017/S0033291714000610. Epub 2014 Mar 24. PMID: 25066792. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

21. Green AI, Burgess ES, Dawson R, Zimmet SV, Strous RD. Alcohol and cannabis use in schizophrenia: effects of clozapine vs. risperidone. Schizophr Res. 2003 Mar 1;60(1):81-5. doi: 10.1016/s0920-9964(02)00231-1. PMID: 12505141. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

22. Samochowiec J, Misiak B. Gut microbiota and microbiome in schizophrenia. Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2021 Sep 1;34(5):503-507. doi: 10.1097/YCO.0000000000000733. PMID: 34155149. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

23. Taliercio J, Bonasera B, Portillo C, Ramjas E, Serper M. Physical Activity, Sleep-related Behaviors and Severity of Symptoms in Schizophrenia. Psychiatry Res. 2020 Dec;294:113489. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113489. Epub 2020 Oct 2. PMID: 33038793. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

24. Nakata Y, Kanahara N, Iyo M. Dopamine supersensitivity psychosis in schizophrenia: Concepts and implications in clinical practice. J Psychopharmacol. 2017 Dec;31(12):1511-1518. doi: 10.1177/0269881117728428. Epub 2017 Sep 19. PMID: 28925317. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

25. Holt RIG. Association Between Antipsychotic Medication Use and Diabetes. Curr Diab Rep. 2019 Sep 2;19(10):96. doi: 10.1007/s11892-019-1220-8. PMID: 31478094; PMCID: PMC6718373. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

26. Jonas WB, Eisenberg D, Hufford D, Crawford C. The evolution of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the USA over the last 20 years. Forsch Komplementmed. 2013;20(1):65-72. doi: 10.1159/000348284. Epub 2013 Feb 25. PMID: 23727764. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

27. Moritz S, Andreou C, Klingberg S, Thoering T, Peters MJ. Assessment of subjective cognitive and emotional effects of antipsychotic drugs. Effect by defect? Neuropharmacology. 2013 Sep;72:179-86. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2013.04.039. Epub 2013 May 3. PMID: 23643756. [cited 2023 Jan 2]

Originally Published January 3, 2023 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.

Social Profile: LinkedIn

View Bio

Abilify Long-Term Effects | Good News Inside
Medical Disclaimer:
Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

We Accept Most PPO Insurance Plans for Partial Coverage of Fees

Call Now to Verify BlueCross BlueShield Cigna Aetna

Our Success Stories

Medication Withdrawal Success Stories

Can you imagine being free from medications, addictive drugs, and alcohol? This is our goal and we are proving it is possible every day!

Read All StoriesView All Videos