Last Updated on May 19, 2022 by
Last Updated on May 19, 2022 by
Vraylar withdrawal symptoms, like those of all antipsychotic medication withdrawals, can be difficult to manage. Without constant and careful assistance, the process can often result in repeated hospitalizations. There can be some extreme reactions and impacts on the person. Drugmakers state they don’t know how these drugs work, beyond what seems like suggested theories, based on a few very short drug trials.19
Studies suggest that antipsychotics like Vraylar target certain key receptors in the brain and CNS. These are areas that, in a healthy state, transport and regulate essential natural hormones and neurotransmitters needed for life to function. Antipsychotic medications are thought to block these and turn off psychotic symptoms. But there can be costs to health over time. Significant changes can occur in how one’s natural neurotransmitters and hormones function, and this also affects the functioning of receptors and other changes over time, which are not completely understood. 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 brain and 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 may be nutritionally starved and may show signs of further dysregulation unless these deficiencies are resolved.
A massive review of medical literature published in the World Journal of Psychiatry showed the extraordinarily positive effects of both dietary and psycho-social interventions in successfully treating schizophrenia patients.22 In contrast, a person taking antipsychotics experiences emotional numbness, and 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. If these were never addressed, they are likely to re-emerge as problematic, when the drug is withdrawn. Understanding as much as possible about the mechanics of how and why withdrawal symptoms might emerge can help inform how to best prepare so that these can be softened, making the process of Vraylar withdrawal much smoother and easy to navigate.
At the Alternative to Meds Center, thorough investigative work is always done prior to Vraylar withdrawal. A person’s program consists of testing, and treatments to identify and address these underlying conditions before, during, and possibly continuing after Vraylar withdrawal is completed. 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, somnolence, extrapyramidal disorders, tremor, restlessness, dyspepsia (stomach pain or discomfort), and vomiting.28,32-34 (See below for more definitions.)
According to the drug’s label and black box warnings,1 all antipsychotic drugs including Vraylar are associated with increased mortality in the elderly dementia population.
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 approval by the FDA. Vraylar is thought to suppress certain dopamine receptors’ functionality, which can leave the person in an emotionally numb condition along with the physical discomforts that may occur taking Vraylar.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:
Each individual is a uniquely complex, beautiful expression of creation. Therefore, there really cannot be one best approach that fits all persons wanting to safely withdraw from Vraylar. However, Alternative to Meds Center has devised a palette of comprehensive testing and other assessments that help design an individual’s Vraylar titration program. The test results and of course interviews with the client will inform their best pathway forward.
In general, the slow road is the best road when it comes to Vraylar withdrawal, and discontinuing antipsychotics in general. Research tells us the effects of antipsychotic medications are primarily dopaminergic.24 At the risk of oversimplifying a complex and not completely understood phenomenon, we can say 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. In a roughly similar way, the CNS and brain become “thirsty” for dopamine. And when you stop the drug, a great surge of dopamine is let loose, which increases stimulation effects. And that can trigger 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 shortcuts the process beyond what the CNS may be able to handle. This is true even when comfort drugs temporarily mask the after-effects. Switching medications can be useful in some instances, but must be done extremely cautiously, with continuous 24/7 monitoring for safety.
The process of Vraylar withdrawal 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 of great importance during tapering from Vraylar, and any drug.3 Over time, perhaps through years of poor food choices, 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. It is not uncommon for toxicity reactions to be misinterpreted as a mental disorder. Toxicity can be checked, so steps can be put in place to resolve what was found. Removal of neurotoxic accumulations in the body can provide great relief. Neurotransmitter rehabilitation is an important step for many, who report feeling calmer, more “alive”, more focused and interested in life, better overall mood, a better quality of sleep, and many other benefits from just these actions alone. Much research has been done supporting the mental health benefits of addressing toxic accumulations in the body.25,26
Support actions used at the Alternative to Meds Center include therapeutic massage and other spa services, sauna, colon hydrotherapy, personal counseling such as CBT and other genres, equine-assisted therapy, art therapy, yoga, acupuncture, holistic pain management, peer group support, orthomolecular medicine, environmental medicine, Qi Gong and exercise, nebulized glutathione treatments, IV + NAD treatments, and many other adjunctive therapies popular with our clients. Please review more details on our services overview pages.
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 the holistic, strategic treatments we offer to soften the process. Vraylar withdrawal does not have to be another nightmare. Call us. We would be happy to discuss the benefits of antipsychotic alternatives used during Vraylar withdrawal, and how these could benefit your or a loved one’s health, plus answer any questions about costs and insurance coverage and any other important information you need.
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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.