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Abilify Side Effects Can Be Scary!

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Abilify (aripiprazole) is one of the most successful drugs in the pharmacy. Last year this medication had sales of over $5,000,000,000, making it the # 2 medication on the top 10 hit parade of best selling drugs (in dollars). 

One of the reasons for such popularity might be the amazing direct-to-consumer advertising campaign for Abilify. Perhaps you have seen the commercials on television.

In one, a cartoon woman complains that although her antidepressant works hard to help with her depression, it just wasn't up to the task. She still "struggled to get going, even get through the day." So, the cartoon character is seen confiding to her doctor that she has been "stuck for a long time."

The cartoon doctor recommends adding a cartoon Abilify (in the form of a big letter A with eyeballs) to the poor inadequate cartoon Rx pill antidepressant. Now the cartoon woman is seen smiling together with a smiling Abilify and a smiling antidepressant pill. They leave the cartoon doctor (who is also smiling) with the hope that the combination would make her feel better soon. Her only regret: "I wish I had talked to my doctor sooner."

Then, in the classic voice-over, we hear about some of Abilify's side effects:

"Abilify is not for everyone.

Call your doctor if your depression worsens or if you have unusual changes in behavior or thoughts of suicide...

Elderly dementia patients taking Abilify have an increased risk of death or stroke.

Call your doctor if you have high fever, stiff muscles and confusion to address a possible life threatening condition or if you have uncontrollable muscle movements as these can become permanent. High blood sugar has been reported with Abilify and medicines like it and in extreme cases can lead to coma or death.

Other risks include increased cholesterol, weight gain,, decreases in white blood cells which can be serious, dizziness on standing, seizures, trouble swallowing, and impaired judgment or motor skills."

While this long list of scary side effects is being read by the announcer we see our cartoon woman interacting with her smiling cartoon character colleagues at work and then serving lemonade to her smiling cartoon family at a backyard barbecue. It's hard to worry about life-threatening drug complications when everyone seems to be having such a good time.

Abilify was developed as an antipsychotic medication to help people with schizophrenia. For such patients it may be quite appropriate and help them maintain functionality. But it is a powerful medication with many serious side effects. To better understand how this drug and other "atypical antipsychotics" (Risperdal, Seroquel, Geodon, Zyprexa) affect people we offer some stories from real patients who have posted their comments to this website, without the distraction of smiling cartoon characters.

Judy writes:

"I was on a low dose of Abilify for a year and a half. The drug was discontinued but I still developed tardive dyskinesia of the mouth that has persisted for over a year. It is debilitating.

"My psychiatrist who prescribed it was so surprised that I developed this. He said he never had anyone else with it.

"How can he be so clueless? I can only guess that with time, he will find more people who develop serious side effects as well. The TV ad lists the side effects casually, as if they are minor, or will go away if the drug is stopped. Please warn others!"

 PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE:

Tardive dyskinesia (TD) can be incredibly debilitating. It results from drug-induced damage to the brain and can cause uncontrollable muscle movements such as lip smacking, tongue protrusion and grimacing. Some people develop rapid eye blinking or other involuntary movements. Most of the antipsychotic medications can cause this, and we are surprised that your psychiatrist was unaware of this potentially irreversible neurological complication.


Chica shares her experience:

"I was put on a very low dose of Abilify yet had severe weight gain and developed diabetes. I wasn't on this drug for more than 3 months. I am very disappointed and Abilify didn't help relieve my depression either."


Bryan provides this account of TD & akathisia:

"I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and was placed on a mood stabilizer and antidepressant. The psychiatrist indicated that Abilify would be helpful to add to my regimen to assist towards reaching the desired therapeutic effect.

"I began to pace and was unable to sit still. I literally walked the halls for three days straight. I was desperate for relief and felt in order to keep myself safe I needed to be hospitalized during that time.

"The symptoms persisted long after the medication was taken away. I also had uncontrollable movements with my tongue and slurred speech. None of these side effects were discussed with me.

"May I strongly encourage that you develop a strong alliance with your psychiatrist. If you feel your doctors are not proactive and forthright about the effects of your meds, find a health professional who is. Your quality of life could be adversely and permanently affected."

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE:

It sounds as if you experienced something called akathisia as well as tardive dyskinesia. Trying to explain akathisia to someone who has not experienced it can be challenging. It is characterized by an inner restlessness that won't stop. Your description of having to walk the halls continuously just begins to get at this devastating side effect. Other people report pressure on their knees that forces them to pace nonstop or jiggle their legs for hours or even days. It is incredibly debilitating. As mentioned above, symptoms of tardive dyskinesia (uncontrollable muscle movements) can be permanent.


This from Stan:

"Abilify was a horrific drug for me. Used as an adjunct to my antidepressant regimen at the time, it seemed to 'dumb me down' severely, and was detrimental to my memory and cognitive abilities. Didn't work for me. This may be a less reported side effect."


Jewel's experience with Seroquel for insomnia:

"I am a 40 year-old female. After suffering a rare stress-induced heart attack I was given Seroquel. I wasn't asked of course or told what it was.

"I was very stressed and agree I needed the rest for sure, however I was out of it on this medication. Someone from smoking cessation came to talk to me and I would have thought it was a dream but he left paperwork beside my bed.

"I was amazed as I have never had a medicine that just literally paralyzed me physically and mentally. Had they admitted me to a facility and continue on Seroquel until I died I would have opened my mouth and took the pill and did as instructed. My ability to think and/or say no was gone. I am a single mother of 3 and they actually sent me home with a script for this stuff. No way was I going to continue taking it."


A tragic death reported by E.N.

 "Risperdal killed my mother. In 2002 she was in her mid-eighties and in assisted living. The psychiatrist on call put her on Risperdal [risperidone] because she was "argumentative."

"My mother was also a type 2 diabetic and had been on oral meds for that condition for over 20 years. She was only on Risperdal for a short time, maybe two months, when she tested very high for sugar one day. She was given an injection of insulin that evening and not checked on for several hours. At that time, she was "unresponsive" and taken to the hospital where she died a short time later, never having regained consciousness.

"The doctor said she died of natural causes. In researching her meds, I came upon the information about Risperdal being dangerous for diabetics."


There is a black box warning about Risperdal (and other antipsychotic medications):

"Elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis treated with antipsychotic drugs are at an increased risk of death. RISPERDAL® is not approved for use in patients with dementia-related psychosis."

 

ABILIFY (ARIPIPRAZOLE) SIDE EFFECTS

  • Digestive tract distress, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, constipation, incontinence
  • Weight gain, increased appetite
  • Headache, dizziness, lightheadedness
  • Anxiety, agitation, restlessness, tremor, akathisia: uncontrollable urge to move or pace
  • Insomnia, fatigue, sedation
  • Dry mouth, excessive salivation, drooling
  • Blurred vision
  • Arthritis, muscle pain
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Fever (a potentially life-threatening symptom requiring immediate medical attention)
  • Tardive dyskinesia, uncontrollable muscle movements, lip smacking, grimacing, neck twisting
  • Stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • Low blood pressure, especially when standing, dizziness
  • Diabetes, elevated blood sugar
  • Seizures
  • Irregular heart rhythms, palpitations,
  • Pancreatitis, gall bladder problems
  • Blood disorders
  • Low sodium, high potassium
  • Worsening depression, suicidal thoughts

SUDDEN DISCONTINUATION SYNDROME (WITHDRAWAL): A Dirty Little Secret!

 The track record of psychiatry has been abysmal when it comes to studying sudden withdrawal from commonly prescribed medications. It took years for researchers to discover that when patients suddenly stopped benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium) or lorazepam (Ativan) they often experienced very unpleasant withdrawal symptoms. Ditto for antidepressants like citalopram (Celexa), duloxetine (Cymbalta), escitalopram (Lexapro), sertraline (Zoloft) and venlafaxine (Effexor).

Stopping atypical antipsychotics suddenly may also lead to withdrawal symptoms, but this phenomenon has not been well studied. Some possible reactions that have been reported include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, anxiety, agitation, confusion, uncontrollable muscular movements and sweating.

Because withdrawal from antipsychotic medications is underappreciated, there are few guidelines given to physicians on how to wean patients off such drugs. The FDA has not been very helpful. No one should ever stop such drugs suddenly, though. Please discuss this potential complication with a health professional before beginning this journey.

What has your experience been with medications like aripiprazole (Abilify), risperidone (Risperdal), quetiapine (Seroquel), ziprasidone (Geodon) or olanzepine (Zyprexa)? We recognize that such medications can be very valuable, especially for patients with schizophrenia. Others, however, may find such drugs difficult to handle. Please comment below so that other people can benefit from your story.

 

 

 

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My grandmother had been under a lot of anxiety and stress, and had not been sleeping well for a while. She became highly agitated and confused, speaking gibberish. The ER doctors put her on Haldol, which caused tremors in her head and hands after a month or so. The next year, she had another similar episode and the ER doctors put her on Seroquel. She developed head nodding, and a strange tongue and lower lip protrusion movement. She has just had another episode recently, and her doctor gave her Risperdal. I am very concerned about these drugs even though she has a low dosage. They do help her sleep and keep her calm, but the side effects are scary and can be permanent. They should be weaned off very slowly as soon as they are no longer needed.

my friend was on Prozac without much relief, the doctor added Abilify and his face froze up, his tongue acted swollen, it was hard to speak, he was disoriented, I insisted he was over-medicated, the doctor insisted he was extremely depressed, I got on the internet and asked friends, one mentioned the tardive dyskinesia and sure enough, with the "name" of what I knew was going on, I was able to speak to his doctors on his behalf and they removed the Abilify, then they cut the Prozac in half, and he began to get better slowly, I was so afraid when I read on line that the face issues could be permanent, thank God it was not, can't believe they hand this stuff out like candy and then want to argue with the effects... so until I could "prove" he was over-medicated by knowing the "name" of what was happening TD, they might have tried another drug on top of that!

As a school psychologist I have seen this drug and the list of others used with very young children. Often the children who were already aggressive and difficult to manage became worse or suffered many of the side effects that were noted. I am wondering what readers experience has been with young people on these medications.

My son, who suffered schizophrenia for over 20 years, participated in an early trial of aripiprozole in Terrell state hospital in Texas. He reported homicidal thoughts & no lessening of symptoms. He killed a dog and then himself. I couldn't believe it when I saw this drug being pushed onto patients through TV commercials years later.

I have never seen homicidal thoughts listed as a contraindications for this drug--it makes tardive dyskinesia, which is listed, look very insignificant.

I wonder how many other horrible consequences of taking this drug have not been reported as it went through the "approval" process? I would really like to hear of other failures to inform patients & their families (maybe even on TV advertising) about the most horrible consequences that are possible.

My son was participating in an official pre-approval study conducted by a state mental hospital which was designed to discover problems with the drug, & his significant problem was duly reported. Mental illnesses, including depression, deserve true respect for the patient, & unsafe drugs have for years been commonly prescribed. Maybe money spent on advertising could be used to discover better more humane alternatives than the present methods.

The pharmaceuticals are often stupefying & merely the least debilitating of the choices physicians have to chose from. Perhaps the research process should be completely separate from the pharmaceutical industry so there would not be such an imperative to push a drug through to the commercial, including the television, market presumably due to the cost of research & then initiating unfathomably expensive marketing schemes. (This is pretty delusional to even wish for.)

Non-drug treatments might be considered worthy of researchers attention if they didn't have to worry about the overwhelming presence of pharmaceutical companies in obtaining funding for treatment ideas that wouldn't be lucrative for the companies. A bit long, but I'm glad to have an opportunity to speak. MLR

My 77 year old husband was on Abilify, among other medications, for perhaps 2 years, to help him with treatment resistant severe depression... he developed Parkinsonian side effects (mincing foot steps, tiny handwriting, extremely slow movements, stooped posture). All of these symptoms had alternative explanations, given his recent medical history, so we did not associate these symptoms with the medication.

A relative who is a psychiatrist observed him and let us know these symptoms might be related to the Abilfiy. After consultation with the treating psychiatrist he was taken off the medication, and all of these symptoms have resolved! However, his depression worsened markedly and he developed the tardive dyskenesia (involuntary open mouthed tooth clenching).

I am happy to report that 6 months later the TDK is gone most of the time, and with a new antidepressant he is better than ever. I do think the doctor took him off the Abilify too quickly (about a 10 day taper)--perhaps he would not have had the depression relapse and TDK with a slower withdrawal.

Thank you for asking me to relate some of my experience with antipsychotics. I was first under psychiatric treatment when 17 years old and put on very large doses of Thorazine. (1 gm. I believe) I was diagnosed as having an acute psychotic episode and many months later with bipolar affective disorder (type 1). I experienced severe akathisia and could not sit down and paced most of the day in the psychiatric hospital even with Cogentin prescribed.

I have been tried on most of the antipsychotics except the newer ones because Zyprexa does work well for me. In many ways, I owe having a life outside of a psychiatric hospital due to that medication and some very good psychiatrists. So, I am not anti-medication because I know how awful psychosis is. It is like living a waking nightmare. That being said, the side-effects can be horrendous. Akathisia, when deliberately induced in political prisoners, is considered actual torture. It feels like you want to jump out of your skin constantly and drives me to want to pace constantly.

I have gone for three days straight pacing in my apartment without sleep, with my feet swollen to the extreme, while taking the maximum amount of the antipsychotic prescribed--but it still was not enough. I did get prescribed more antipsychotic and finally the manic episode subsided, but I lost my psychiatrist in the process because I was so demanding. He was the man who taught me how to regulate my medication under his direction and medicate for manias and hypo-manias. I will be forever grateful to him because I can and do know when I start an episode and have to take antipsychotics (and also to the psychoanalyst who taught me to know my warning signals many years ago, the late,great Dr. Roy Alan Ginsburg of Stanford Univ.) My current psychiatrist has truly gone the extra mile with me in helping me manage my illness. He put me on Zyprexa and it is the best antipsychotic I have taken.

I still do have psychosis when in manias but they are lessened significantly and eventually subside. When I was hospitalized before, my doctor, who taught nursing students about psych meds, used to have them talk to me about my experiences with medications. I was in manic psychoses, but I could and did teach them and they always thanked me, so I feel grateful to be able to write something here. I now am on a regime where my dose of Zyprexa is from 0-40 mg. Since you are pharmacists, you know what a span that is and it is indicative of the severity of my affliction. I adhere to a macrobiotic plan of eating and it has greatly helped to balance my mood disorder, but I still must be vigilant for manias and I *must* medicate accordingly when they occur.

My number one warning signal is my sleep. I live alone and although I graduated college, I have been considered disabled because at the drop of the hat, I can go into a mania in which I do not function and believe things that are unreal. Although I have no history of violence, I become fearful of most anyone and just retreat into the living nightmare world of the disease.

I cannot take antidepressants because they all make me go manic and have had to find ways to cope with severe depression. I have been helped by macrobiotics, working with horses, therapy and most especially my faith, The Summit Lighthouse. The rosary has helped me endure this affliction and I would suggest that there is no medication that can ever be developed that will help more. Still, I was encouraged by Elizabeth Clare Prophet, co-founder of my church, to stay under the care of a psychiatrist and take my medication as directed. This was invaluable advice for me because I as I told my previous psychiatrist once, "if I was not able to regulate my medication under your direction, I would have to be permanently hospitalized in a state hospital." He said, "that is right."

So, there you go--this is a long piece, but I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to work with your doctor if you have as a severe psychiatric condition as I have. That is what my spiritual teacher taught me and I would like to pass it on--and also how much macrobiotics can help. I attended a week-long program at the Kushi Institute in 2003 and it was a life-changing experience, I was on daily Zyprexa at that point and gradually am not on any except for during manic episodes. At Kushi, they, too, emphasized working with my doctor, I'd like to add. I used to be 240 pounds and now am 145 and have a 100/70 blood pressure and 122 total cholesterol and am 54 years old, so those numbers would mean something to you as well. I am exceedingly grateful to be able to bear witness to my journey here. Thank you so much!

I have flipped between Risperdal and Seroquel. The Seroquel especially has been a Godsend to me except for the continuing tremors. Seroquel keeps me calm and slows my BP mind down so I can think. Unfortunately, I also take Depakote- which I hate-I'm surprised I don't have Diabetes from this drug that has made me gain 60lbs in the first year.

My doc refuses to let me off of it. My current cocktail is Seroquel generic, Seroquel XR, Depakote brandname (the generic tore up my stomach like sandpaper) and Lithium. The Seroquel XR exacerbates the diarrhea the other drugs gave me so during certain times of the month I cannot leave the house. I hate all these drugs with a passion and I am sure they have taken 20 years off my life.

People with High end Mental diseases need mechanical solutions to our illnesses, such as surgery not moneymakers, like "medicine". We are hated and shunned in society and no one wants to stand up for people like us. The general public thinks "Oh take a drug and you'll be fine" but in actuality we acclimate to all drugs eventually- some quickly, some not. This means a whole new battery of drugs must be tested and changed throughout our lives.

This is assuming you can get the Chronically Mentally Ill, Homeless people, those in Prison and those who fall through without any care (Jared Loghner). I am also convinced that these drugs at the very least should be tested for women as we acclimated to medicine differently. BTW I tried Geodon and Zyprexa. They gave me hallucinations. Yuck! Scary!

I was prescribed Zoloft (sertraline) in 1997 for OCD and moderate depression. As the years went by, I gained weight and started falling more often; maybe once or twice a month. Eventually I broke my leg near my ankle while walking across a lawn! After a while, I also realized how passive I had become and it started to really bother me.

With my doctor's blessing I tapered off the Zoloft. It took about nine months, but I think the gradual method is the best. I became aware of my "angry" self and started getting help to deal with my emotions. I have also lost about 65 pounds as a good side effect of this decision.

If you want to learn more about psychiatric drugs, side effects and withdrawal I would like to recommend Peter R. Breggin's latest book - Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal (2013). He has written a number of books - google his name or visit - peterbreggin.org.

I also like Robert Whitaker´s books:
The anatomy of an epidemic
Mad in America (I think there`s a site with the same name)

There are several videos, but the only one I can think of rigth now is - "Who Cares in Sweden". Google "Who Cares in Sweden" or visit artimus.se.
You will find the video under "produktioner". it's divided in 3 parts and I think it`s good to see them little by little (total of 3 hours).

I would also like to recommend davidhealy.org.

I started to learn things about psychotropic drugs when my father was drugged at a nursing home ten years ago. Some years later, a friend of mine was given Risperdal for sleeping problems, but by then I knew it had to stop. I couldn't have "fought that battle" if it weren't for the Internet, the information, patient stories and the books that I found there.

Last, but not least, remember psychiatric problems can also be due to disease (non psychiatric) and side effects.

I am a licensed clinical social worker in private practice with over 25 years in mental health. In the last few years I have encountered clients who were prescribed Abilify and Seroquel for depression by their primary care practitioners (not psychiatrists). In my opinion, each time it has not been an effective medication. I have worked in medical settings and witnessed company pharmaceutical representatives market these drugs (among others) as "experts" to the doctors. It is a business and it is marketing to encourage doctors with tactics that increase pharmaceutical company profits. Even in private practice, there are times I can make a good guess which reps have been through the area. Thank you for this article and your frankness.

My oncologist prescribed Effexor for the severe hot flashes caused by cancer treatment. It was very effective for that, but it caused total sexual dysfunction. Because of that I decided to stop taking it. I knew to taper off the drug slowly, but even so, I wound up nearly psychotic and suicidal. I am mortified when I think back on what I put my husband and family through because of that drug. I have never found such a simple solution for the original problem, but Effexor was definitely not worth the risks. These anti-depressants are potentially very, very dangerous. It sounds like the anti-psychotics are even worse.

I was first diagnosed 36 years ago; my problem was hearing voices. I was heavily over-drugged by my bad first doctor (a decade of traumatized women later, the other doctors ran him out of town). My second doctor tried a number of drugs, but finally reverted to Stelazine, one of the drugs I was on when I came to him. My third doc recommended risperidone, which I have taken since 1997. Risperidone is effective for me, and much less stupefying than Stelazine. Docs seem to come and go, but the three since then have all kept me on risperidone.

Until the last few years, I was refused counseling and told to just take my pills. I wasn't getting better, however. In 1984, shortly after I started with my second doctor, I learned about a self-help group for mentally ill people called GROW, which I found very helpful for more than six years.

Starting about 1985, I began trying various strategies that my husband calls mind-management. Here’s an early one: Rather than constantly trying to silence/ignore the voices, every day or two I would sit down and convene a conference with them, to find out what I was thinking and feeling. Both my doc and my husband were horrified with this tactic, but I got lots better. I continued to experiment on myself and found what worked for me. I got even better.

In 2008, I told my then-doctor I wanted to try reducing the risperidone. With mind-management, I had had more than a year of success at preventing voices altogether. I described my proposed protocol to the doctor, and he made some dosage recommendations. I was much more cautious than he was; I took five years of careful, patient self-monitoring to reach zero. I had no difficulty with voices during those five years. The mind management skills were working fine. They continued to work fine at zero.

Then symptoms appeared that I had never experienced before in such magnitude: mood swings, and problems with what I call sensory overload. I toughed it out, but the mood swings became worse. Since this was outside my previous experience, mind management couldn't take over fast enough. After four and a half months at zero, I went back on risperidone, choosing the dosage which had been successful a year before reaching zero (1/8th of the original dose). I remain at that level, and I’m quite stable now. But it took six months for me to trust that I was okay.

For me, risperidone has been of great service. I do have side effects, such as some involuntary muscle movements. I also have gained some 50 additional pounds (beyond the 40 pounds on earlier medications). I experience "bruising," which the doc acknowledges sometimes means hemorrhagic stroking. But with all my previous drug history, it is hard to know where to assign these effects. My current dose is so low it is at the margin of what one doc called the therapeutic threshold. Sometime in the future I may take another try at reaching zero. In the meantime, although effects of taking drugs for so long are still with me, I am grateful for the control risperidone provides. It lets me lead a fairly normal and satisfying life.

I was put on Abilify 2 years ago for off-label treatment of trichotillomania: compulsive hair-pulling. I did not have anxiety or depression or any mental conditions prior to this.

The Abilify itself worked great; I thought it was a miracle pill. It improved my mood which had already been great, and reduced my chronic hair-pulling significantly. When I started gaining weight, I considered stopping until I could get a better job to afford a gym membership and the pill itself--it was kind of pricy even with insurance. So I just stopped. My doctor knew this, and did not warn me to titrate; she didn't tell me anything about the drug, its effects, its withdrawal dangers, nothing. And I was so desperate to stop pulling, I didn't do any research. I wanted to believe only good things about this pill.

By that point I was on 10-15 mg a day. About a week after stopping, I experienced the worst 5 days of my life: constant adrenaline, physical but not mental anxiety, a racing and pounding heart all day, constant urges to weep and vomit out of nowhere, no appetite, depression and a feeling of "what's the point of life," and shakiness. I took 5 mg of Abilify hoping to stop this on Day 3, but it did nothing except cause depersonalization--I felt like I was living in a dream, going through the motions, and nothing, not even myself, was real.

This ended on Day 5 just as suddenly as it began. I was in college at the time, about to graduate, and my doctor attributed it to stress. Never mind the fact I was happy to leave school, and was coping with my normal "what am I going to do after I graduate" stress just fine before that.

Fast-forward two years later and these episodes are still going on. 3-10 days, on average (sometimes 1, sometimes as high as 3 weeks) of all the symptoms I've described above, except depersonalization, plus headaches, a "burning" feeling in my brain, like an internal fever; dark urine that I now worry may be rhapdomyolysis (a documented symptom, one of many, of discontinuing Abilify); morning insomnia, bruxism (night-time teeth grinding), and an INCREASE in my hair-pulling, as well as the development of dermatillomania, compulsive skin picking, on my scalp.

Between these episodes, I have 2-3 weeks on average of complete normalcy. Not mania--but just happiness with normal sadness and stress triggered by normal things. I'm myself again. Then, out of nowhere, one morning I wake up in another episode and have to suffer until it's gone.

Finding a doctor to take me seriously has been hard--they all think it's generalized anxiety disorder, but agree flippantly that Abilify could have done this. I'm terrified I will be this way the rest of my life. Had I known at ALL what Abilify could do, or that it wasn't in fact a miracle drug--that it started to treat schizophrenia--I would have gladly lived with my hair-pulling as it was for the rest of my life.

The damage Abilify has done to my body and brain is not worth anything it did while I was on it. To anyone considering this for their trich, or anything but serious psych disorders (and even then perhaps), RESEARCH EVERYTHING. To me, this was NOT worth it. As unhappy as pulling my hair made me, it was nothing close to this misery I'm in now.

My child was on risperidone, I believe at 2 mg / day, for aggression and agitation associated with ASD. We tapered off, due to movement side effects, over a period of 3 weeks (reducing .5 mg / week).

It was 3 weeks of pure hell - worse mood swings and aggression. If I had to do it again I'd try to reduce the dose even more gradually than that. He has been off it for at least a year now and I am just stopping the anti-side effect meds to see if they're totally gone. One of his providers recently suggested trying Abilify, and I am very hesitant.

I was prescribed Abilify and Paxil for depression in my freshman year of college. I was on my way to class and both my legs became frozen, I literally could not walk normally and started walking as if both my legs were crippled. It was a terrifying experience and my judgement also was significantly impaired. I have lived with severe depression my whole adult life and do not take any medications, I prefer to muddle through it. Horrific Experience.

I have deppression and when I suffer from it I take a prozac type 20 mg on top of Abifily. In the UK I think it is more given to, when one has psychological symptoms. When you hallucinate and not when you are simply just depressive. Where both medications together work very well and for very strong depression and I took this for 1 to 3 days and then it was gone. I think it is a waste of money to give Abifily out for simple depression.
What annoyed me is that you are told that you take these medications for life and anti depressants for a very long time. Both together for a long time make me too weak, I can't go to work then.

I am off Abifily as my hallucinations are down to 90%, is true.
I found it a bit strange to go to the pharmacist for life every month I rather searched for another healing method and that was catholic religion.

Abifily cost £100; too much for simple depression.

Fifteen years ago I was prescribed Abilify for Tourettes to control the tics. It worked pretty good for years and then in the last year, I developed Tartive Dyskenesia, Cervical dystonia, hypoglycemia, and mini-strokes. It keeps getting worse. When I started taking it, there were no warnings yet.

I was diagnosed with postpartum psychosis 3 months after the birth of my second baby. I was put on Serequel, Lithium, and Effexor. I gained so much weight-about 50 lbs. and was a walking zombie. I almost had my children taken away from me.

Now my baby is 2 1/2 yrs old and I'm still on meds-Olanzapine and Abilify as well as Trazadone for sleep. The psychiatrist is trying to reduce my meds at each visit but symptoms come back and he has to up the dose again. I'm currently on 15mg olanzapine and 20mg Abilify. I'm wondering if I'll ever be able to be off medication. Last visit he said I may have to stay on them for life. This is very discouraging. Any help would be appreciated.

Please STOP and research first!!! ALL these so-called "medications" are nothing but BAD NEWS!!! Extremely DANGEROUS and even DEADLY to both the mind and body!!! Please read these books if you are suffering from mental illness of any kind BEFORE "medicating" yourself or allowing your child to be DRUGGED for any reason! I have been diagnosed bipolar and schitzophrenic and am now going to wean off abilify and depakote after reading these informative books written by REAL DOCTORS that still believe that listening, talking, loving and compassionate support are the best medicines -

Toxic Psychiatry by Peter Breggin
Your Drug May Be Your Problem by Peter Breggin & David Cohen
Medication Madness by Peter Breggin
Reclaiming Our Children by Peter Breggin
Broken Brains or Wounded Hearts by Ty Colbert

My 36 year old daughter told her doctor she was depressed so he prescribed Seroquel. She began hallucinating and after a month she became paranoid and thought demons were attacking her. She never had hallucinations in her life before taking this medication.

Her friends took her to the doctor and he took her off of the Seroquel and prescribed Abilify. Five days later she was dead from suicide. I live in another state and did not know she was on this medication or I would have stopped her from taking it.

I would like to know why a GP Physician without psychiatric knowledge would prescribe an antipsychotic to a young woman with depression who had never been on any psychiatric drugs. I would also like to know why this same doctor abruptly stopped the Seroquel when it was contraindicated and could cause suicidal ideation, rather than titrate her off the drug as indicated in the instructions. What happened to "physician do no harm".

It is a sad time in this country when the pharmaceutical companies can advertise antipsychotic drugs on TV for depression and doctors will prescribe it so much that it was the "top drug sold in 2013".

Why do we tolerate this!

I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine what it would be like to lose a child.

Although I don't expect my explanation to help with your feelings, I would like to offer some information in response to a question you asked... about why a doctor would have abruptly stopped seroquel... One of my son's doctors once explained to me that it is o.k. to suddenly stop a drug (even when the instructions say not to) if you are replacing it with one in the same 'class'. She was a psychiatrist, and she was speaking specifically about anti-psychotics (I think we were replacing risperidone with seroquel or vice versa). About abilify.... I'm not sure if this is in writing anywhere, but I seem to remember being told at one point that Abilify acts as both an antidepressant and an antipsychotic (seroquel is one too). So, maybe that's why a dr would have stopped seroquel suddenly, if they were starting something else that they expected to work on the same types of symptoms.

Have you found any treatments to help with your sons aggression?
We will be weaning our very aggressive ASD son off if abilify soon because of severe weight gain.

Hi Bel,

Good Luck weaning off Abilify. I never put my son on it. But weaning off risperidone was hellish - though I have been told that the transition on to abilify can be smoother than with other drugs, so I hope your transition off of it will be calm and uneventful as well.

My son is not on any med that is supposed to be targeting his aggression right now. Although we are using a medication that helps with 'set shifting' behavior. It does help with some of the frustration of not always being able to get what he wants which is what almost always seems to underlie his aggressive outbursts - though he still has them. Aside from that I just try to anticipate what his needs are (he has fairly severe language delays and can't always communicate his wants).

In terms of non-medical treatments, I have written a social story for him about 'getting what I want' - in addition to encouraging him to use his words the social story points out that if he hits when he doesn't get his way he will for darn sure not get whatever it was he wanted, but that if he stays calm and uses good behavior he might get whatever it was later or another day. I've heard that some parents have success using rewards for good behavior, but for some reason with my son this just seems to draw his attention to the bad behavior and it increases - rather than increasing the good.

I wish there was a surefire program I could suggest, but I don't know of any. If your child is more verbal than mine you might also consider whether counseling would be helpful (depending also on the reasons behind his aggression).

One, I think final note, although my son used risp for aggression, it also controls other types of impulsive behavior (and I think abilify may do the same). So, you may see new or increasing impulsive behaviors as you wean off.

Best wishes.

oops, P.S. Rarely, I consult sites like mdjunction.com (maybe it's .org (?)) or dailystrength.org regarding ASD issues. I'm not sure if either have any current info on either aggression or medication withdrawal, but they could. I hope you find what you need.

Several years ago I was being treated for mild depression with Zoloft. On a visit to my family practice Dr., I mentioned seeing a commercial for Ability and asked what he thought. He proceeded to his med closet, handed me a bag of Abilify samples with no information other than the dosage. Within a week I began having anxiety and panic attacks. I returned to see him and he said I was having side effects to one of those drugs and had me discontinue both (even though I had been on the Zoloft with no problems). He then prescribed Buspirion. That was the beginning of the worst time in my life. I felt like my body was in constant motion, not sleeping, not eating. I called the Dr.- he only increased the Buspirion which increased my symptoms. I knew if something didn't change I would kill myself to get out of this misery. Fortunately for me I have a very supportive husband. He took me to the ER, stayed home with me and together against the physicians recommendations I stopped the Buspirion and restarted the Zoloft. Within a few days I was on my way back. I very strongly advise anyone with mental problems see a specialist and research the disease and medications. Don't take for granted the Dr. knows everything about your situation. Let them know all the medications (vitamins & supplements) you are taking. And reach out for help whenever you feel you need it. I often wonder if some of the incidents (school shootings, etc) might be avoided if mental problems are correctly diagnosed and treated. Parents and school personnel should be more attentive to behavioral change in children and adults. We need to be KIND to one another.

If weight gain had been my son's only side effect I might have kept him on the drug. Sorry. The short answer to your question is 'no'. The rest of my answer is off the topic of side effects of drugs - and was fairly long.

I have been on effexor for many years for depression and anxiety. It has worked beautifully. However, having a great deal of stress in my home life, my depression began to return and worsened. I was put on abilify along with the other med. within a few weeks I began to bite my tongue... constantly. It was very painful and at times I could not even eat. I told my dr. about this and that I felt as if my tongue had swollen... I could think of no explanation unless it had to do with the new med, abilify. She took me off, immediately.

Fortunately, I seemed to not have side effects from stopping so abruptly. that was a year or more ago and I still have periods when I start biting my tongue. it lasts about a week. my entire mouth becomes very sore.

I have not read of anything like this being a side effect of abilify. I wonder if anyone can relate to this experience. I'm afraid this may be a permanent side effect. Perhaps the pharmacy can answer this. thanks so much.

My son is 13 and has ADHD he didn't take his meds for two days and was a little difficult to control. He spent time with friends and the mother of his friend discussed how she had run away, that he shouldn't be on meds etc that when he returned home that night he was under the impression that we wanted to kill him with the meds (thanks to the idiot parent) he tried to run away and go back to their house after he and I had an argument that I had him admitted to be evaluated, I did know that his meds needed a change and figured let them handle it, he was transferred to a psychiatric clinic and was released after 2 days with the same med and a script to continue what he was on but to follow up with a psychologist whom they referred and made the appointment. I took him to see her 2 days ago and after spending about 40 minutes talking to him and I she decided that he would be better off weaning off the amphetamine and put on abilify as adderal is addictive??? He is not depressed (however could use a boost in his self esteem as being ADHD he has had a few social issues but you feel can achieve that by talking to someone) he has no psychotic behavior at all, gets a little agitated when the adderal is wearing off but is not bipolar, do you see any reason to do this, by the looks of things abilify is as addictive and when using adderal for ADHD does not have the same addictive effect, can someone make heads or tails out if this please? I can't see what good this is going to do for my son.

I have been on Abilify for over six years now. I don't have any bad side effects and feel quite normal. I am afraid to wean off of them, because well, if it ain't broke...etc. The problem I have is with the cost. I have free insurance through my employer but, have to pay for another insurance company because it is the only one that will cover Abilify. I know it is supposed to go generic in April of 2015 but, that seems like forever. I pay 600 a month for my insurance so that I don't have to pay 900+ for the abilify. I wish I could go off of them, it would be such an expense saver. I am also on the max dose of wellbutrin and Prozac in conjunction with abilify.

Would love to hear how anyone has weaned off these drugs. My fear is the paranoid delusions will return. I had major depression, as well. I don't really have a good diagnosis... they say maybe schkitzo affective disorder. Right now, I am fine... normal.... and have been for a number of years. Would love to stop taking these pills.

I have been taking Abilify as an adjunct to Pamelor for over 2 years. I am currently trying to taper off of my 2 mg dose of Abilify (by 1/2 mg or less at a time) and it is awful. I cry a lot for no reason, have mood swings, am depressed, irritable, panicky and sweat a lot and often. Hope this doesn't last too long.

Abilify is not a great drug to start TAKING if you plan to stop at anytime. I have developed uncontrollable movements as I'm jerking motions and repeatedly have irregular heartbeat and cold heart at times. It feels like air is being pushed out of my brain or I'm suffocating at times. I didn't know of the side effects and seriousness of them until it was too late... not a great antipsychotic. My mind seems worse off and my body even worse.

I have been prescribed Abilify for about 4 years. I am pretty sure I will have to stay on it for the rest of my life now. I have MDD and it's the only drug that makes me feel normal. I have gone through several SSRI's and other antidepressants and none of them work as well as Abilify. The problem I have with Abilify is the withdrawal symptoms after 2 weeks or longer. My depression gets worse than it was prior to starting the Abilify. I have severe agitation and other mood related issues. There is also several unpleasant side effects. That's why I cease usage sometimes. Other than that, it's a good medication. I would highly recommend taking it as a last resort after all others have failed.

I have stopped taking Abilify cold turkey for 2 weeks now after 10 months due to gaining 50 pounds. It was a great combo with my Celexa, however, I just could not bear the depression of my weight gain on top of my depression. The dizziness, the mood swings & the headaches are a bit much right now, but the psychological damage that this weight gain has caused is more depressing than I've ever felt.

To go from a size 8 to a size 16 in less than a year is sickening. Especially when I was used to living my life as a size 3. I'm embarrassed to go outdoors and nobody understands how I feel looking this way. The cravings & the appetite I have now are simply ridiculous. I have no energy or "umph" to work out either. I am done with this drug. Find something else people. There has to be better than looking & feeling like a cow.

I am currently trying to wean myself off of Abilify. I have been biting my tongue and grinding my teeth to the point that my tongue is raw and my jaw is sore. I've also been very shaky. I talked to my psych about the symptoms, she said it was probably the Abilify. She prescribed Lexapro and told me to stop the Abilify.

I tried cutting back on Abilify about 4 months ago. I only take a minute dose, 2.5. So, my psych said it would be easy to quit. Uh, NO. I had the worst anxiety of my life. I was scared to leave my house. Anything would set me off, it was like living in a nightmare.

I went back on the Abilify, and all of the anxiety stopped. I was feeling so much better. Still chewing my tongue and grinding my teeth constantly, but I felt like "myself" again. That's when my psych said that I needed to get off the Abilify and added the Lexapro. It's been about 10 days without Abilify, (I slowly stopped, as well as slowly added the Lexapro) and the anxiety is creeping back in. I don't know if I can do it, live with the anxiety.

I'm having surgery on the 18th of September, for a tumor on my spine. I'm nervous and anxious about the surgery, and I'm thinking I'll stay on the Abilify until after the surgery. I don't think I can stand the extra burden!

Any advice out there? How long do you think the anxiety will last? Should I just do it? Oh my I don't know what to do, but I know I wish I'd never been prescribed Abilify in the first place.

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