Conditions the medication is used for: Schizophrenia, Mania, Agitation

Other names for the medication: Abilify®

The medication may look like: Abilify comes in tablet form coloured depending on dose 5mg blue, 10mg pink, 15mg yellow and 30mg pink Abilify also comes in orodispersible tablets coloured by dose 10mg pink 15mg yellow Abilify also comes in an oral solution

What is this medication used for?

Aripiprazole (also called Abilify®) is mainly used to help treat the symptoms of psychosis, schizophrenia and mania. It can also be used to help depression (with antidepressants) and in a crisis. Aripiprazole is made as tablets, melt-in-the-mouth tablets, a short-acting injection, a syrup and a long-acting injection (Abilify Maintena®, see separate leaflet).

What is the usual dose for this medication?

The usual dose of aripiprazole by mouth is around 10-30mg a day (morning or evening is usual).

How and when should I take the medication?

How to take:

Swallow the tablets with at least half a glass of water whilst sitting or standing. This is to make sure that they reach the stomach and do not stick in your throat. For the liquid, use a medicine spoon, dropper or oral syringe. Use it carefully to make sure you measure the correct amount. For the melt-in-the-mouth tablets, just put them on your tongue and they will dissolve quickly.  

When to take:

Take your aripiprazole as directed on the label. Take it at regular times each day. Taking it at mealtimes may make it easier to remember as there is no problem about taking aripiprazole with or after food.

What are the alternatives to this medication?

This will depend on what you are taking it for. There are many other antipsychotics, talking therapies and treatments for psychosis and mania. See our “Handy charts” to help you compare the medicines.

How long does the medication take to work?

This will depend on what you are taking it for. Please look at one of the “Handy charts” for more help and advice.

How long will I need to keep taking this medication for?

This will depend on what you are taking it for. Please look at one of the “Handy charts” for more help and advice. It could be months or years to help stop the symptoms coming back.

Can I just stop taking this medication?

It is unwise to stop taking it suddenly, even if you feel better. Your symptoms can return if treatment is stopped too early. This may occur some weeks or even months after aripiprazole has been stopped. When the time comes, you should withdraw aripiprazole by a gradual reduction in the dose over several weeks. You should discuss this fully with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

What should I do if I forget to take a dose or overdose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember unless it is within about 12 hours of your next dose. If you remember after this just take the next dose as normal. Do not try to catch up by taking two doses at once as you may get more side-effects. If you have problems remembering your doses (as many people do) ask your pharmacist, doctor or nurse about this. There are some special packs that can be used to help you remember.

Can I drink alcohol while on this medication?

If you drink alcohol while taking aripiprazole it may make you feel more sleepy. This is particularly important if you need to drive or operate machinery and you must seek advice on this.

Will this medication affect my other medications Including the Contraceptive pill?

Aripiprazole has only a few interactions with other medicines.

  • The effects of aripiprazole can be decreased by carbamazepine
  • The effects of aripiprazole can be increased by ketoconazole (an antifungal)
  • If aripiprazole is taken with benzodiazepines, or alcohol, it may cause more sleepiness.
  • You should have no problems with "The Contraceptive Pill" and aripiprazole

Not all of these interactions happen in everyone. Some of these medicines can still be used together but you will need to follow your doctor's instructions carefully. There are many other possible drug interactions.

What sort of side-effects might I get from taking this medication?

The table below will show you some of the main side effects you might get from aripiprazole. Some of these are more marked when you start aripiprazole and usually wear off in a few weeks.

 

Side effect

What happens

What to do about it

COMMON (more than about 1 in 100 people might get these)

Akathisia

Being more on edge or restless. You may sweat a lot more.

Try and relax by taking deep breaths. Wear loose fitting clothes. This happens much more at the start of treatment but does wear off in a few weeks. Your doctor may think about giving you a medicine to help this for a few weeks.

Stomach upset

This includes feeling and being sick and getting diarrhoea.

This usually improves after the first few days. If it is severe discuss with your doctor.

Constipation

When you want to poop but can't (the opposite of diarrhoea). You can't pass a motion.

Make sure you eat enough fibre, cereal or fruit. Make sure you are drinking enough fluid. Keep active and get some exercise

e.g. walking. If this does not help, ask your doctor or pharmacist for a mild laxative.

Headache

When your head is painful and pounding.

Ask your pharmacist if paracetamol is safe to take with any other medicines you may be taking

Insomnia

Not being able to get to sleep at night.

Discuss with your doctor. He or she may change the time of your dose. This happens much more at the start of treatment and you may need some sleeping tablets for a couple of weeks

Blurred vision

Things look fuzzy and you can't focus your eyes properly.

Don't drive. See your doctor if you are worried. You won't need glasses.

Tremor

Fine shaking of the hands

This is not dangerous but can be irritating. If it annoys you, your doctor may be able to give you something for it.

UNCOMMON (fewer than about 1 in 100 people might get these)

Postural hypotension

A low blood pressure - this can make you feel dizzy, especially when you stand up.

Try not to stand up too quickly. If you feel dizzy, don't drive.

Seizures

Having a fit or convulsion

If you have a fit or funny turn, stop taking the aripiprazole and contact your doctor immediately.

Palpitations

A fast heart beat.

It is not dangerous. It can be treated if it lasts for a long time.

Do not be worried by this list of side effects. Some people get no side effects at all and others may get some effects that are not listed in this table. If you think you might have a side effect to your medicine, you should ask your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Will I need to have blood tests?

If you have bipolar disorder, schizophrenia or other long-term mental health problem, it is important to look after your physical health as well. National guidelines recommend that you should at least have your blood pressure, weight, blood glucose and blood fats (e.g. lipids, cholesterol) checked regularly. This may be done by a hospital to start with, but after that your GP should arrange for all these to be checked at least every year. And then to do something about it if there is anything that needs treating.

Can I drive or cycle while on this medication?

You may feel a bit sleepy at first when taking aripiprazole. You should be careful as it may slow down your reaction times. Until this wears off, or you know how aripiprazole affects you, do not drive or operate machinery.