Mental health and wellbeing of mind have gained top priority owing to an increase in the incidence of mental conditions. Due to several factors – including stressful living conditions – some people may lose touch with the reality around them. It is in such instances they may experience imaginary visuals or illusionary voices; you may also start having delusional thoughts or stranger dreams. These psychotic disorders often require a proper treatment plan. Your mental health specialist may prescribe a multi-faceted approach to handle such conditions. The therapy includes counseling, medications as well as pursuing a hobby or joining a support group. Drugs taken to treat psychosis, bipolar or moods-related disorders, excessive anxiety, schizophrenia, etc. are known as antipsychotic medications. Abilify is one such antipsychotic drug; it is strongly recommended to know its side effects prior to taking this drug.

It is normal to feel sad occasionally or live under stressful conditions once in a while. But, if your sadness persists or if you feel down for a longer time interval, it may be due to a mental condition. If you ignore it, the condition may soon exert sizeable influence on your daily life – i.e., at home, work and at other social settings.

What are the symptoms or signs associated with such conditions?

A mental condition shows up in the form of shifts in moods, preferring to stay alone, excessive spells of weariness as well as unreal / imaginary fears or thoughts. Over a period of time, you may lose interest in normal activities like having sex, eating food and your interactions with others. A few people have reported a significant change in appetite, substance abuse, suicidal instincts or difficulties in controlling emotions such as anger. In some instances, schizophrenia or bipolar disorders can lead to causing harm to one’s own self or to others.

Abilify is an antipsychotic drug used for the case management of mental conditions like mood shifts including depression or schizophrenia, bipolar mental disorder, etc. The generic name of this drug is called aripiprazole. As an extended use, this med may also be prescribed to treat excessive levels of irritation in people living with autism. There are many types of transmitters in the brain, which are essentially chemicals; the levels of these chemicals / substances determine your moods as well as behavior. Examples of such chemicals are serotonin, dopamine, etc. Drugs like abilify help in maintaining a proper balance of these brain chemicals. You need to know that abilify is available in multiple forms – the range includes an injectable variant, a pill and a solution. In case of its injectable variant, you will need the support of a qualified medical practitioner to administer this drug.

Safe use of abilify to prevent major side effects

Abilify can be taken either prior or after a meal. The quantum of its intake needs to be strictly according to the advice of your treating doctor or mental health specialist. The pill form of abilify must be swallowed as a whole tablet. Avoid crushing it into a powder form or splitting the pill into two or more parts. In case of a liquid form (a solution of abilify), you must avoid using a spoon sourced from your kitchen; instead, always measure the dosage with a measuring ladle or spoon provided along with the pack. In some specific instances, your doctor may prescribe an orally-disintegrating variant of abilify. Such pills must not be swallowed; you must instead make it dissolve inside your mouth (ensure that you are not chewing it). Once it is completely disintegrated inside the mouth, you may drink some water to wash the remnants down.

Your doctor may advise you to take the drug on a regular basis. It is not a good practice to stop taking the drug abruptly – i.e., without informing your treating physician. Such discontinuation of doses may only aggravate your mental condition.

Side effects of abilify

The drug is likely to trigger a few undesired side effects. Most commonly experienced side effects of abilify are difficulties to pass stools (i.e., constipation), abdominal problems such as vomiting or nausea, feeling excessively dizzy, insomnia, blockages in the respiratory tract, stiffening of muscles, etc. This drug has also triggered a few other adverse reactions such as increased levels of anxiety or being in a restless frame of mind, weariness, involuntary twitching, weakness, shaking or tremors. Most of these common discomforts caused by abilify may disappear once your body adapts itself to this new medicine. However, you are advised to consult your treating physician or mental health specialist if these effects persist for long.

Acute side effects of abilify

Abilify may also cause some acute reactions and side effects. Acutely adverse side effects of this drug are increase in blood sugar levels, gaining of bodyweight, a condition called dyskinesia wherein you lose control over a muscle (a facial muscle, for instance), posture-related low pressure (drop in pressure levels when you shift postures) or convulsions. In rare instances, a few people have experienced signs of an imminent stroke – i.e., slurring of speech function, being in a confused state of mind, weariness, etc. You may need to be watchful of a likely drop in the white cells in your blood; a periodic count of blood cells may be recommended to proactively manage such blood related conditions.

Possible reactions and side effects through interactions with other drugs

Upon co-administering abilify with other medications, it may trigger two likely outcomes – #(1) decrease in the efficacy of medications or # (2) enhancement of the risks of adverse reactions or side effects.
#(1) Reduction in efficacy levels – Abilify is found to work sub-optimally when taken along with anticonvulsants like carbamazepine, phenytoin, etc. If co-administration of these drugs becomes inevitable, your physician may either increase the dosage level of abilify or may consider prescribing another type of anticonvulsant. Your doctor may decide on the altered dosages based on multiple factors – i.e., your gender, age, type of your mental condition, level of its seriousness, presence of allied mental conditions as well as the variant of the drug taken – such as liquid, injectable or tablet forms of abilify. This brand is also available in multiple strengths, ranging from 2 milligrams (mg) to 30 mg. Within this range, the most commonly available strengths are 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg and 20 mg.

In case of adults – i.e., those aged above 18 years, a daily dose of 10 mg is administered at the start of medication plan. Soon after, the maintenance dose never exceeds 15 mg each day. The maximum permissible dose is always less than 30 mg. The abovementioned dosages are for adults aged upto 66 years. For those aged above 66 years, the dosages are often kept at a very low level. This is because of the slowdown in the functioning your digestive system, liver and renal system. As a result, a higher dose only means a larger residue of the drug is retained in your body; this makes way for many other side effects.

Abilify and its effects on people aged below 12 years of age are yet to be evidenced. Hence, the drug is not administered on to infants or pre-teen children. However, for teenagers or younger adults (aged 12 to 18 years), a starting dose of 2 mg to 5 mg is considered for a short span of time – i.e., for a few days. The maximum dose given to younger adults in the below-17 years age group never exceeds 10 mg per day.

#(2) Enhancement of risks of likely side effects – Abilify is known to adversely interact with different types of drugs, especially antifungal drugs, a few types of tranquilizers or antidepressants. Among antidepressant meds, you need to stay cautious with the intake of drugs like paroxetine, fluoxetine, etc. Intake of these antidepressants along with abilify can cause extreme levels of weariness, being in a restless state or may cause abdominal discomforts such as nausea, difficulties to pass stools (constipation), etc. Some people have also reported involuntary twitching or cramping of muscles. In such instances, your mental health specialist may reduce the strength of abilify, chiefly to avoid risks of these aforesaid adverse side effects. Almost the same type of side effects may be triggered when antifungals like itraconazole, ketoconazole, etc. are taken along with abilify. This combination is also likely to trigger dizziness, drowsiness, confusion or being in an extremely restless state of mind.

A few very rare, near-fatal risks

Extremely dangerous side effects of abilify include a medical condition called neuroleptic malignancy syndrome; this shows up in the form of stiffening of muscles, being in a confused state of mind, spike in heart beat rate, reduction in blood pressure level, fever, restlessness, etc. An equally serious symptom is the change observed in your metabolic rates. This may be accompanied by higher levels of blood cholesterol as well as triglycerides, increase in bodyweight and a sizeable build-up of blood sugar level. You will need to quickly report any significant changes in your blood sugar or bodyweight; your dietitian will alter your food plan and your physician will change the dosage pattern / strength of abilify. Those who are already living with conditions like diabetes mellitus are at an added risk due to such adverse reactions. Upon experiencing any of these symptoms, you are advised to quickly reach out to 911 or contact your physician without any delay.

Allergic reactions abilify may trigger

In some people, abilify may cause severe allergic reactions, such as itchiness, discoloration or dark spots on skin, respiratory problems (such as gasping for breath), changes in heart beats, etc. So, if you have had prior episodes of allergies associated with abilify, use of this drug must be avoided completely. Also, those with a medical history of cardiac ailments (with a prior incidence of heart arrest or stroke), convulsions or epileptic fits, those living with a reduced count of white cells, etc. must avoid using this drug. Women who are pregnant need to consult their doctor as the side effects of abilify during pregnancy are not fully evidenced. Women who are breastfeeding their baby may risk their infant’s health; hence, if your baby is developing feeding problems or drowsiness, you may need to stop taking abilify immediately.

In sum, abilify is an antipsychotic medication taken for the treatment of depression, bipolar mental disorder, schizophrenia, etc. Drugs like abilify enable a proper balance of brain chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. Commonly reported side effects of this drug include vomiting or nausea, dizziness, sleeping difficulties, blocks in nasal tract, constipation, stiffening of muscles, etc. Many of these adverse side effects may go away as soon as your body gets used to it. But, if these side effects persist for long, talk to your doctor or call 911 promptly.

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