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Abilify Withdrawal

Abilify is an antipsychotic drug. It is used to treat the symptoms of psychotic conditions like bipolar I disorder (manic type) and schizophrenia. It can also be an add-on treatment for people suffering from severe depression. (1)

How to take abilify?

Abilify should be taken as prescribed by your doctor. The dosing requirement should be strictly followed, although the doctor occasionally change the dose to see to it that you will achieve the therapeutic result.

  • Abilify in oral form – The tablet is kept in blister pack. The tablet shouldn’t be swallowed whole. Do not chew the tablet. Just place it in your mouth and wait to dissolve.
  • Abilify injection – If the patient is agitated and there is a need to control the patient right away, an intramuscular injection is given. If the patient is controlled, that’s the time the drug is switched to oral form. (1, 2, 3)

*Abilify should be taken at nigh time before going to bed because the drug makes you sleepy. On the positive note, it can be taken with or without food. When you take abilify via oral route, make sure you drink a glass full of water because Abilify can easily dehydrate your body. (3)

An image of abilify drug in 10 mg tabletten form.photoImage 1 : An image of abilify drug in 10 mg tabletten form
Picture Source : rxcoupons.org

A person suffering from schizophrenia.imagePhoto 2 : A person suffering from schizophrenia
Picture Source : www.saferxmart.com

How does the drug Abilify work?

Abilify contains aripiprazole (active ingredient). It works by altering various brain receptors, especially serotonin (5HT) receptors and dopamine receptors. They are neurotransmitters and their function is to transmit messages between brain cells. A person suffering from psychotic illness has problem in the activities of neurotransmitters in the brain. What Abilify does is it stabilizes the dopamine activity in the brain. (4, 5)

A patient suffering from schizophrenia experiences hallucinations, hostility and delusions. He does not want to socialize with others. He also lacks emotion. These symptoms are caused by over activity of dopamine in some parts of the brain. To prevent over activity, abilify will block the dopamine receptors.

On the other hand, symptoms like isolation and lack of emotion are linked with underactivity of dopamine in some areas of the brain. What Abilify does is it will stimulate dopamine receptors. (5)

Can you stop taking Abilify abruptly?

You should not stop taking abilify abruptly. Just because you are feeling better does not necessarily mean you can stop taking the medication. It should only be stopped if your doctor tells you so. Abilify is used to treat the symptoms of psychosis. If you stop taking it, the symptoms will surely come back.

On top of that, stopping abilify abruptly could lead to extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS). You will experience uncontrollable shaking, which is similar to people with Parkinson’s disease. You will also noticed uncontrolled speech and facial tics.

Abilify should be tapered slowly. Stopping the drug abruptly could lead to cold turkey. The brain does not know what to do, especially if you have been taking abilify for a long time now. Abilify withdrawal is difficult to handle. This is one of the reasons patients should strictly consult their psychiatrist. (4, 5, 6,7)

Abilify withdrawal symptoms

Withdrawal symptoms vary from one person to another, but various factors come to play such as how long the patient has been taking abilify, dosage of the medication, and personal physiology. Everyone has a unique physiological response to medications. Abilify withdrawal symptoms include the following:

  • Anxiety – The patient usually has general anxiety attack or feel anxious in social situations. The anxiety can be severe, which makes it difficult for the patient to sleep at night.
  • Confusion – The patient experiences confusion and memory problem.
  • Changes in appetite – When coming off of the medication, the patient noticed that their appetite is significantly reduced.
  • Poor concentration – When a patient is going through abilify withdrawal, he will have difficulty in concentration and focus. The cognition worsens, but don’t worry as it is just temporary.
  • Diarrhea – While coming off of abilify, the patient will experience diarrhea. It can easily manage using over the counter anti-diarrheal medications.
  • Hallucinations – Some people experienced hallucinations while coming off of abilify.
  • Mood swings – The patient has a bout of mood swings even if he does not have any history of mood swings.
  • Nausea and vomiting – During the first week of abilify withdrawal, you will feel nauseated. Extreme nausea could lead to vomiting and flu-like symptoms.
  • Tiredness and sleepiness – As the effect of Abilify wear off, the patient feels tired and tend to sleep a lot throughout the day. This goes on for a few days. After two weeks, the tiredness and sleepiness subsides. (6, 7,8)

How long do Abilify withdrawal symptoms last?

Abilify withdrawal side effects can last for weeks to months. It depends on the person. Severe symptoms will be experienced for a few days. They don’t last for several months. Those who abruptly stop the medication are more likely to experience withdrawal symptoms than those people whose abilify is gradually tapered. Just be patient because the brain will eventually return to its normal functions.

To best manage abilify withdrawal symptoms, the patient should continuously see his psychiatrist. It is also recommended for patients to socialize with others and engage in healthy activities. Eat a well-balanced diet and get natural sunlight. These things will help improve the withdrawal symptoms and will make your body generally healthy. (9)

Losing weight after stopping abilify

Antipsychotic drugs cause weight gain. Abilify will let you gain some weight, but not as much as other drugs. Losing weight after stopping abilify usually takes place once the drug is completely out of your system. To speed up the weight loss process, you should exercise and choose the foods you eat. (10)

How long does abilify stay in your system?

About 50% of abilify in your system will be eliminated within 3 to 6 days. Some people would take about a week to clear half of abilify in their system. To completely eliminate abilify from your system, you need to wait for at least 17 days to 33 days. Poor metabolizers take longer to completely eliminate the drugs from their system. (10)


  1. www.rxwiki.com
  2. mentalhealthdaily.com
  3. www.drugs.com
  4. www.drugs.com
  5. www.medhealthdaily.com
  6. www.steadyhealth.com
  7. www.conductdisorders.com
  8. www.news-medical.net
  9. www.abilify.com
  10. Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and their Families by Peter Roger Breggin

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