Last Updated on August 4, 2021 by
Last Updated on August 4, 2021 by
Antipsychotic withdrawal symptoms are notoriously difficult to tolerate. Therefore, without constant and careful assistance, the process often results in repeated hospitalizations. This is due to the extreme reactions and impacts on the person. Drugmakers state they don’t know how these drugs work, beyond ambiguous statements and theories, but sell them anyway after a few very short drug trials.19
However, studies have shown that antipsychotics like Vraylar likely target certain key receptors in the CNS. These are the areas that transport (or block) essential hormones and neurotransmitters needed for life to function. The effects that a person experiences on a Vraylar withdrawal program come about, at least in part, due to the deficient and dysfunctional state of the CNS that the drug has left in its wake.19,20,21
There are other factors, if unresolved, that can contribute to the severity of Vraylar withdrawal symptoms. There may be a history of lifestyle considerations, or poor diet, where the affected neurochemistry seems to be nutritionally or emotionally starved and shows signs of degrading. A massive review of medical literature published in the World Journal of Psychiatry showed the extraordinarily positive effects of dietary and psycho-social interventions in successfully treating schizophrenia patients.22 In contrast, a person taking antipsychotics commonly relies on stimulants to feel any pleasure and interest in life. This can create a whole other dependence issue. Ignoring whatever underlying factors were present when mania or other mental health events occurred could unnecessarily complicate antipsychotic drug withdrawal. However, this investigative work is always done at Alternative to Meds Center, and a person’s program consists of treatments for these underlying conditions before, during, and even after Vraylar withdrawal. You can learn more about the many withdrawal protocols used at Alternative to Meds by reviewing our antipsychotic withdrawal page.
The FDA drug label contains zero information on Vraylar withdrawal symptoms except regarding withdrawals for an infant after birth, where the mother took Vraylar. Studies and clinical trials can help fill in some of this vital information, as well as researching antipsychotic medications generally for common antipsychotic withdrawal adverse effects.2 For your info, below you will find some important data to know.
While drugmakers use slick ads and demonstrate a disturbingly cavalier attitude toward heavy-hitting drugs like Vraylar (cariprazine), medical school leaves physicians completely in the dark as to how to help someone through Vraylar withdrawal safely.
The atypical antipsychotic drug Vraylar is heavily marketed for the treatment of schizophrenia, as well as manic or mixed forms of bipolar. Antipsychotics are sometimes confused with antidepressants but are far more difficult to taper from, despite a person’s intense desire for relief from the horrific side effects.
In several 3-week trials, the most commonly emerging side effects of Vraylar were akathisia, extrapyramidal disorders, tremor, dyspepsia (stomach pain or discomfort), and vomiting.28 According to the FDA,1 and like virtually all of the antipsychotic drugs, Vraylar comes with a significant load of potential risks and warnings (including the black-box warnings) under the umbrella of Vraylar side effects. The FDA reports that “late-onset” adverse effects can begin well after 3 or 6 weeks. In a 2017 review of research on cariprazine drug trials, Campbell et al point out that some adverse effects may not show up until the drug exposure reaches stability at the 12th week, well beyond the length of trials mentioned on the drug’s label.1,4 One becomes curious as to the absence of long-term testing before giving the green light to market a potentially ruinous drug. Vraylar is thought to suppress certain dopamine receptors’ functionality, possibly leaving the person in an emotionally and mentally bankrupt, numb condition not to mention the physical discomforts that go along with this drug.27
In truth, there are too many Vraylar side effects to list here in anything like a complete form. However, a sample of these Vraylar side effects follows, with a brief description and some medical references for better understanding:
Clearly, each individual is unique and unlike any other complex and beautiful expression of creation. Therefore, there can be no cookie-cutter approach guaranteeing the best results. However, Alternative to Meds Center has devised a palette of comprehensive testing and other assessments before starting any titration program. These test results and of course interviews with the client will inform their best pathway forward.
Nonetheless, we can say that in general, the slow road is the best road when it comes to discontinuing antipsychotics. Research tells us this type of drug is primarily dopaminergic.24 In other words, Vraylar starves the CNS of dopamine. The body responds to this starvation by building more dopamine receptors, just as when the temperature goes up, you get thirsty and seek water. The body gets “thirsty” for dopamine. So, now when you stop the drug, there can be a great surge of dopamine and an increase in the intensity of stimulation effects. And that can cause psychosis and other overstimulation-type reactions that typically are associated with abrupt Vraylar withdrawal. These risks are also associated with so-called “rapid detox” which we do NOT recommend as it carries too much risk, even when comfort drugs temporarily mask the after-effects. Switching medications can be useful in some instances, but must be done extremely cautiously, with absolutely 24/7 monitoring for safety.
The process must be, in a very real sense, micro-managed. Making small and precise tweaks can be much more effective than relying on a mathematical “formula” that just won’t fit every person, on any given day or hour. The center has had great success in softening Vraylar withdrawal symptoms during the tapering process using a strategic and exacting approach tailored to the individual’s needs and their changing conditions.
Correcting the diet is also of great importance during tapering from Vraylar, and any drug for that matter.3 Over time, perhaps through bad eating habits and also the quest for stimulants like sugar and caffeine, the body can become depleted of what it needs for normalizing neurochemistry.
Testing shows where the deficiencies are, so they can be corrected with proper diet and food-grade supplements. Also, the presence of neurotoxins can skew a person’s biochemistry to the point where the person is actually symptomatic from accumulated poisons, rather than suffering from some mental disorder. All of these things are checked and corrected. Removal of neurotoxic accumulations in the body provides great relief for many, who report feeling calmer but higher energy, more focused, more interested in life, better mood, better sleep, and many other benefits from this action alone. Much research has been done on the mental health benefits of addressing toxic accumulations in the body.25,26
Please contact us at Alternative to Meds Center for more details on the programs we offer, how we use testing to develop the individual’s treatment plan, and other treatments we offer to soften the process. Vraylar withdrawal does not have to be another nightmare, and we would be happy to discuss how the use of antipsychotic alternatives could benefit your or a loved one’s health, plus answer any questions about insurance coverage or other important information you need when you call.
1. FDA label Vraylar [INTERNET] [cited 2020 May 27]
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4. Campbell RH, Diduch M, Gardner KN, Thomas C. Review of cariprazine in management of psychiatric illness. Ment Health Clin. 2018;7(5):221-229. Published 2018 Mar 23. doi:10.9740/mhc.2017.09.221 [cited 2021 Aug 3]
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Originally Published May 27, 2020 by Diane Ridaeus
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.
Diane is an avid supporter and researcher of natural mental health strategies. Diane received her medical writing and science communication certification through Stanford University and has published over 3 million words on the topics of holistic health, addiction, recovery, and alternative medicine. She has proudly worked with the Alternative to Meds Center since its inception and is grateful for the opportunity to help the founding members develop this world-class center that has helped so many thousands regain natural mental health.