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What is Abilify?

Last Updated on September 20, 2022 by Carol Gillette

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

When people are being prescribed a medication that might have serious side effects, it is wise to research “What is Abilify and how does Abilify work?” as well as “What is Abilify Used For?”

“Abilify is an atypical antipsychotic that is used to treat such debilitating things as schizophrenia, or bipolar, or schizoaffective, sometimes sleep problems, and depression” ~Lyle Murphy
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Abilify Side Effects

Of course, Abilify side effects can cause unpredictable reactions, the same as all antipsychotics in general.

These side effects can include:
  • abilify side effectsSuicidality
  • Sleep-walking
  • Sleep-texting
  • Sleep-driving
  • Sleep-cooking

The person who experiences the phenomenon won’t remember their adventure. For safety reasons, caregivers should closely monitor Abilify dosage and behaviors of those taking the drug.

Notably, a recent review found that 95% of pharmaceutical ads clearly target women for antidepressants and Abilify for depression in particular. One campaign shows a scruffy housecoat following a woman around the house as if haunted by her “illness.” As insulting as that ad might seem to a woman, to prescribe an antipsychotic drug such as Abilify for anxiety of depression should scare the living daylights out of anyone. Women outrank men 2 to 1 for taking antidepressants.1,2

What Does Abilify Do to the Brain? How Does Abilify Work?

“What Abilify is reported to do is to hold back an excitatory neurochemical called dopamine, possibly glutamate as well, but it’s holding back the neurochemical that actually stimulates us. Dopamine stimulates us to have a sense of reward in life, stimulates us to get out of bed, or get a job. Abilify holds back that neurochemical.” ~Lyle Murphy

abilify dopamine blockersIn earlier times, researchers would have referred to Abilify as a dopamine blocker or a dopamine modulator. In today’s ever-changing psycho-jargon, the scientists hail this drug as the newest strategy in dopamine stabilization. Certainly, researchers have had 17 or so years to figure out how Abilify affects the brain, and they are the first to say they don’t really know. It is estimated that Abilify’s half-life is 75 hours.5

The medical/pharmaceutical industry has absolutely exploded in this and the last century, with new products every week being brought to market. However, the number of patients who are suffering from mental health concerns is also exploding. One would expect with such a vast array of potential medicines to prescribe, that patient numbers would dwindle once they found relief. The profits are soaring, and patient numbers are too. Is there any other reason that pharmaceutical solutions continue their hold on this health sector? Is there any motivation to look at other avenues of healthcare? Only in the alternative health sphere, it seems. Holistic caregivers are sincere in their desire to help others, which is their core motivation. Pharmaceutical products will continue their stronghold only until education catches up with both the professionals in the industry and the public at large. This is occurring, though not as quickly as we would like to see.

We recommend doing thorough research before making profound decisions about treatment.

The brain is wonderfully complex and the whole experimental concept of introducing drugs into such a beautiful mechanism has resulted in “best guesses” and theories that leave us with more questions than answers.3

Abilify Withdrawal

Any drug can cause tolerance to develop over time. Abilify withdrawal should NEVER be done abruptly. Suddenly stopping a powerful antipsychotic medication can cause adverse effects.5,6

Abilify Withdrawals Include:
  • abilify withdrawal symptomsAbnormal movement disorders (abnormal motions of jaw/tongue, hands/etc)*
  • Tachycardia
  • Dyskinesias
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Withdrawal supersensitivity psychosis, or relapse psychosis
  • Other or mixed sets of adverse effects

*Tardive dyskinesia is irreversible in most cases according to Glazer et al. in their 1990 study.

Be safe. Approach Abilify withdrawal only under medical supervision. Also, never take Abilify and alcohol together or as an “aid” to withdrawal from Abilify.

What is Abilify diet?Diet and Abilify

“The food that’s available to us does not have the capacity to balance blood sugar for one, or to create any of the neurochemical components that constitute mental health”

Along with blood sugar issues, Abilify and other drugs and alcohol rob the body of essential vitamins and minerals. Thus, when a drug contributes to nutritional deficiencies, this can cause a number of adverse effects which can worsen over time. Additionally, some persons may be wondering does Abilify cause weight gain? Abilify weight gain presents commonly as an issue of concern. The correction of this out-of-balance condition, including blood sugar, hormones, and other biochemicals is vital to restoring overall health. Diet can be a powerful healing agent for those using or recovering from Abilify.4

1. Sharpe K, A Happy Pill in Every Purse. New York Daily News [INTERNET] 2013 Mar [cited 2020 Dec 10]

2. Sundbom L, Bingefors K, Hedbord K, Isacson, D “Are men under-treated and women over-treated with antidepressants? Findings from a cross-sectional survey in Sweden.” BJ Psych Bull., NIH, US National Library of Medicine, INTERNET] 2017 Jun [cited 2020 Mar 11]

3. Bartolomeis A, Tomasetti C, Iasevoli F, Update on the Mechanism of Action of Aripiprazole: Translational Insights into Antipsychotic Strategies Beyond Dopamine Receptor Antagonism. US National Library of Medicine [INTERNET] 2015 Sep [cited 2020 Dec 10]

4. Ross, C “Alcohol or Drug Use Can Rob Your Body of Nutrients,” Psychology Today [INTERNET] 2016 Mar [cited 2020 Dec 10]

5. Sansone, R, Sawyer R, Aripiprazole Withdrawal: A Case Study. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience [INTERNET] 2013 May-Jun [cited 2020 Dec 10]

6. Glazer WM, Morgenstern H, Schooler N, Berkman CS, Moore DC.” Predictors of improvement in tardive dyskinesia following discontinuation of neuroleptic medication.” Br J Psychiatry. 1990 Oct;157:585-92. doi: 10.1192/bjp.157.4.585. PMID: 1983390.[cited 2020 Dec 10]

Originally Published Mar 16, 2020 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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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.

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