What Meds

Psychiatric Medications

Brand Name: Abilify, Abilify Discmelt

Abilify is the brand name for aripiprazole, a new atypical antipsychotic that was FDA approved in November 2002.

Abilify is chemically different from other atypical antipsychotic medications such as Clozaril, Geodon, and Risperdal. It is a dopamine partial-agonist meaning that Abilify can stimulate dopamine receptors when little dopamine is available and block dopamine receptors when there is too much dopamine present causing the receptor stimulation to become more balanced.

Abilify’s effects are often dramatic and seen within a few days, but it may take weeks to work in other cases.

What is the drug used for?
Abilify is FDA approved in children ages 10-17 for the treatment of bipolar I disorder and acute manic or mixed episodes. It is also often used in children of these ages with lithium or valproate for acute manic or mixed episodes and maintenance treament to prevent episodes.

Abilify is also FDA approved in children ages 13-17 for schizophrenia.

Finally, it is FDA-labeled in adults for psychomotor agitation due to bipolar disorder or schizophrenia; bipolar I disorder and acute manic or mixed episodes. It can also be used with lithium or valproate for bipolar acute manic or mixed episodes, major depressive disorder, or schizophrenia.

How much of this drug is typically used?
Injection, solution: 7.5 mg/mL (1.3 mL)
Solution, oral: 1 mg/mL
Tablet: 2 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg
Tablet, orally disintegrating: 10 mg, 15 mg

Warnings and Precautions
Abilify may cause drowsiness or dizziness. Patients should not drive or engage in other activities that may be dangerous if these side effects are present.

Alcohol increases many of Abilify’s side effects. Alcohol should be avoided when taking this medication.

It may be easier to become dehydrated and overheated when taking Abilify, patients should avoid very hot environments, including saunas, and should drink plenty of non-caffeinated fluids.

For Pregnant or Nursing Mothers: Abilify’s effects during pregnancy are not known, so extreme caution is recommended. It is not known if Abilify passes into breast milk; breastfeeding is not recommended while taking this medication.

Abilify should not be used for people with an allergy to this medication or any of its inactive ingredients.

Abilify may be used with caution in people with the following conditions:

Adverse Reactions
Abilify is much less likely than older antipsychotics such as Thorazine to cause EPS or extrapyramidal symptoms such as reduced muscular control and Tardive Dyskinesia.

Abilify may cause the following reactions:


Most side effects are reduced or nearly absent after the first week.

Interactions with Drugs and Other Substances
Drugs or substances that may interact with Abilify include:

Research Studies
A 4-week multicenter study of youths with bipolar I disorder compared two doses of aripiprazole to placebo and showed significantly better response rates to treatment of abilify than placebo. A multicenter 6-week study compared two fixed doses of abilify to placebo in adolescents with schizophrenia, which showed better response rates to treatment of abilify than placebo. Small studies show some possible benefit in treatment of children and adolescent with autism and other pervasive developmental disorders.

Chang, KD, et al. “Efficacy of aripiprazole in children (10-17 years old) with mania [poster]. Presented at the 54th annual meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP); Oct 23-28, 2007; Boston Mass

Robb AS. Efficacy of aripiprazole in the treatment of adolescents with schizophrenia. In: New Research Abstracts of the 160th Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association; May 19-24, 2007; San Diego Calif. Abstract NR742:319


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