Abilify (aripiprazole) is a commonly prescribed atypical antipsychotic medication. It treats symptoms of mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. While it can effectively treat these and other conditions, like all antipsychotics, Abilify may cause side effects or result in an adverse reaction. Talking to your doctor will help you understand the potential risks before starting treatment.
If you’re unsure if this medication is the right fit for you, Talkspace offers virtual appointments with psychiatrists who can discuss the potential side effects. With their medical advice, licensed professionals can prescribe Abilify online if it’s right for you.
From mild reactions — like nausea or headache — to more severe symptoms — such as seizures or neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) — knowing what signs to look for will help you have the best experience with your Abilify treatment.
What are the side effects of Abilify? Continue reading as we explore possible Abilify side effects in detail so you can decide whether it’s the right drug for you.
Common Side Effects of Abilify
Common side effects of Abilify include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, anxiety, insomnia, constipation, and movement disorders like restlessness, tremors, or tardive dyskinesia (a disorder that causes uncontrollable movements).
“Some common side effects of Abilify may include vomiting, nausea, and headaches. As with prescribed medication, it’s important to keep in touch with your prescriber or doctor to ensure safety and optimal effectiveness.”– Talkspace therapist Elizabeth Keohan, LCSW-C, LICSW, LCSW
Nausea and vomiting
One of the most well known side effects from Abilify is nausea. This risk can increase when Abilify is taken on an empty stomach. You can try to avoid nausea by taking Abilify with food or a snack and drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day. If nausea persists, talk to your doctor about your options.
Another Abilify side effect common in some people is constipation, which may lead to abdominal pain and discomfort. To reduce this risk, get enough fiber in your diet and drink plenty of water daily. Your doctor may also recommend medicine like over-the-counter laxatives or stool softeners to ease this discomfort.
Some people experience drowsiness while taking Abilify, so it’s important not to drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how the prescription drug might affect you. Avoid activities that require alertness, like reading or watching television, until after the effects have worn off completely.
Headaches are a common side effect of this antipsychotic medication use. However, they typically dissipate within a few days of beginning treatment. If your headaches persist or worsen after over 2 weeks, contact your healthcare provider promptly.
Psychiatry and Prescriptions Online
Receive an evaluation and prescription for mental health medication (if needed) from a psychiatry-trained medical provider.
Taking this antipsychotic medicine may result in dizziness due to its effects on blood pressure levels. Use caution when standing up quickly from sitting positions and avoid driving or operating machinery until these symptoms subside entirely.
Feeling agitated can be a side effect from Abilify and may present as an uncontrollable urge or feeling of restlessness, irritability, increased energy levels, difficulty sleeping, or racing thoughts. It’s essential to report any agitation experienced while on this medication so a medical professional can adjust your dosage if necessary.
Abilify side effects also might include insomnia or difficulty falling asleep at night even if you feel tired during the daytime. You can attempt to combat insomnia caused by Abilify by going outside during daylight hours (even if it’s just for 10 minutes) every morning and practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga before bedtime.
Less Common Side Effects of Abilify
There are also some less common side effects you should be aware of. Additional side effects of Abilify can include:
- Weight gain: In studies, weight gain is a potential side effect of Abilify in some people. Abilify weight gain may occur due to changes in appetite or metabolic rate caused by the drug. If you experience weight gain while taking Abilify, talk to your doctor about ways to manage it safely and effectively.
- High blood sugar: High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) is yet another possible side effect of Abilify use. You may face an increased risk of symptoms including fatigue, blurred vision, lightheadedness, and nausea or vomiting. If you experience these symptoms while taking Abilify, contact your doctor immediately for further evaluation and treatment.
- Low blood pressure: Low blood pressure (hypotension) can occur with Abilify due to its ability to affect the body’s regulation of fluids and electrolytes. Symptoms may include dizziness when standing up quickly from a sitting or lying position and lightheadedness or fainting spells. Contact your doctor if you experience any signs or symptoms of low blood pressure so they can adjust your dosage accordingly if needed.
Serious Side Effects of Abilify
Some of the side effects from Abilify can be severe and should be considered before taking the drug.
“Always discuss with your clinician the possibility of negative side effects, as Abilify can have serious side effects that include but are not limited to suicidal thoughts and behaviors and issues with movement, breathing, heartbeat, and high fever.”– Talkspace therapist Elizabeth Keohan, LCSW-C, LICSW, LCSW
Seizures are a rare but potentially dangerous side effect of Abilify. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you have a history of seizures or epilepsy before taking this medication. If you experience any seizure-like symptoms while on Abilify, contact your doctor immediately.
H3: 2. Involuntary muscle movements (Tardive dyskinesia)
Involuntary muscle movements can occur with Abilify use. They may include tremors or twitching of the face or tongue, shuffling gait, stiffness in the arms and legs, mask-like facial expressions, and jerking motions of the arms and legs. Let your doctor know immediately if you experience involuntary muscle movements while on Abilify.
3. Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS)
NMS is a rare but life-threatening condition that can occur when certain medications, such as Abilify, affect dopamine levels in the brain too much.
Symptoms of NMS include fever, rigid muscles, confusion, irregular pulse rate, sweating, and changes in blood pressure. Additionally, rapid heart rate and increased creatinine phosphokinase (CPK) levels may be present, which can lead to kidney failure if left untreated.
It’s vital that you share with your doctor if you develop any unusual signs or symptoms while taking this medication.
4. Suicidal thoughts
Antipsychotics like Abilify can cause an increase in suicidal thoughts. Family members should closely monitor a loved one during treatment with this medication for any signs of worsening mood swings or suicidal thoughts. This is particularly important at the start of therapy, when dosage adjustments are more likely to occur.
5. Impulse control disorders
Abilify is associated with impulse control issues — like compulsive gambling behavior. It can affect physical functioning and cognitive processes involved in decision-making, which could lead someone down a dangerous path.
How to Manage Abilify Side Effects
“Negative side effects can be alarming while prompting the urge to stop taking your prescriptions. It is important to consult with your doctor first to understand best how to do so safely. Together, you can discuss and develop a treatment plan that’s careful to ensure safe titration.”– Talkspace therapist Elizabeth Keohan, LCSW-C, LICSW, LCSW
To manage the potential common side effects associated with taking Abilify, try:
- Eating smaller meals throughout the day to reduce nausea
- Drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration
- Exercising regularly to maintain energy levels despite fatigue from insomnia
- Avoiding alcohol consumption as it increases feelings of restlessness or agitation due to a depressant effect on brain activity
- Monitoring blood sugar levels closely if hypoglycemia is suspected
- Keeping an eye on cholesterol levels in case hyperlipidemia is present
See If Abilify Is Right for You with Talkspace Psychiatry
If you’re concerned about Abilify side effects, take the time to research them. Talk with your doctor about any worries you have so they can help you decide if this medication is right for you. With Talkspace Psychiatry, you can get an evaluation from a licensed online psychiatrist who’ll discuss your options and provide personalized treatment recommendations tailored to your individual needs.
Have you or someone you know taken Abilify and experienced side effects? Take control of your mental health today by accessing quality care from the comfort of your own home. If you do decide you’re interested in Abilify, get connected with us. If prescribed, you can get it covered with insurance or find an affordable Abilify cost without insurance.
- ÜÇOK ALP, GAEBEL WOLFGANG. Side effects of atypical antipsychotics: A brief overview. World Psychiatry. 2008;7(1):58-62. doi:10.1002/j.2051-5545.2008.tb00154.x. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2327229/. Accessed February 10, 2023.
- Dayabandara M, Hanwella R, Ratnatunga S, Seneviratne S, Suraweera C, de Silva V. Antipsychotic-associated weight gain: Management strategies and impact on treatment adherence. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. 2017;Volume 13:2231-2241. doi:10.2147/ndt.s113099. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5574691/. Accessed February 10, 2023.
Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors; they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists and psychiatrists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.
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