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  • Writer's picturethe bipolar talker

Abilify (Aripiprazole) - Medication Review

Updated: Jun 1, 2021

Previous dosage: 5mg/night combined with Lithium 500mg/day and night

Current dosage: 5mg/night

Okay, so Abilify is what I am using at the moment. I had been very stable and off medication for roughly 9 months when I knew I needed to get on medications again just to "be safe". Abilify is my PRN. Abilify, AKA aripiprazole, is known as an atypical anti-psychotic used to treat mainly schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in many cases.

If you don't know much about bipolar disorder, a great place to start is by reading this 2 min read:

Aripiprazole (Abilify) is an atypical anti-psychotic which is meant to have less side-effects than typical anti-psychotics like haloperidol. It is used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and Tourette's Syndrome. It works by aiming to restore the balance of certain natural chemicals (neurotransmitters) in the brain. It's normally used in combination with other medication to treat depression. It can help decrease hallucinations, be more positive and to treat the severity and frequency of mood swings. To learn more about how Abilify works, check out the resources listed at the bottom of the page.

Side effects for Abilify include:

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness and drowsiness

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Excess drooling

  • Blurred Vision

  • Weight Gain

  • Fatigue

These should go away as your body adjusts to the medication. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. If it is a severe side effect, contact your doctor immediately.

Severe side effects include:

  • Fainting

  • Mood changes (increased anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts)

  • Trouble swallowing

  • Restlessness (especially in the legs)

  • Tremors (shaking)

  • Muscle spasm

  • Trouble controlling urges (eg. gambiling, sexual, eating or shopping)

  • Interrupted breathing during sleep

  • In very rare cases - high blood sugar

The good parts:

  • Small tablet size and I only need to take it once a day.

  • In my case, it made me drowsy so I started taking it at night and it helps me sleep. It can also act as a stimulant for other people though. It was really interesting having a discussion with my practitioner about how the same medication can have such a contrasting effect in different bodies.

  • I could continue living a happy, healthy and normal life.

The not so good parts:

  • Abilify makes me sooo hungry which can lead to weight gain if I am not strict with my exercise routine.

  • It can cause me to be a bit tired and not as switched on.

  • When taken for a while without something to treat depression, for me it could put me in a bit of a depressive mood. Abilify works best with other medications combined in my experience. When I was on a combination of Lithium (read review here) and Abilify, I did not have this side effect.

Abilify is my favourite PRN just because of how easy it is to take and how non-invasive it feels. I don't struggle to stick to this regime and I am happy not being overly medicated. I try to use natural methods such as exercise, mindfulness and arts to try and manage the depressive symptoms. For me Abilify enables me to live a positive, productive life and for that I am grateful. If I do end up in a severe condition and am not managing properly, I know that I would need to go on other medications.

What has your experience with Abilify been like? Adding it anonymously in the comments below makes this resource more useful for people that may be looking for more information on Abilify.

I was on Sodium Valproate for a period of six months when I first got diagnosed. If you would like to read more medication reviews or more medical research simplified on Abilify, let me know by sending me a message!



This website provides well-researched articles on bipolar disorder but does not substitute tailored professional advice. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in the entry and feel concerned, contact your GP or call the Mental Health Access Line on 1800 011 511. In the case of an emergency, call 000.

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