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Generic Name: Aripiprazole

Brand Name: Abilify, Aristrada

Drug Class: Atypical Antipsychotics

Similar Class Drugs: Clozapine, Olanzapine

Available Dosage Forms: Oral, Liquid, Injectable

Aripiprazole: Uses, Side Effects. Abilify, Aristrada
Courtesy: Unsplash

What is Aripiprazole?

Aripiprazole is a relatively new atypical antipsychotic drug. It is used to treat manic depression (schizophrenia) and major depressive disorder (MDD). This medication belongs to third-generation atypical antipsychotics1, which differ from other antipsychotic drugs in their ability to elicit significantly lesser extrapyramidal (drug-induced movement disorders) side effects such as tardive dyskinesia (involuntary muscle movement).

The exact pathogenesis of psychotic disorders is unknown. Genetic, environmental, and psychological factors all play a role in the development of psychosis. However, it is postulated that patients with psychotic disorders have an abnormal surge in the transmission of an inhibitory neurotransmitter, dopamine. The most common symptoms of hyperactive dopamine transmission include delusion and hallucination.

Aripiprazole has an affinity to dopamine receptors (D2), which is similar to dopamine.1,2 This property prolongs its efficacy compared to other drugs that do not have an affinity for D2 receptors.

Aripiprazole is indicated in:

– Severe psychosis such as that seen in schizophrenia, major depressive disorder

– Maintenance phase of bipolar disorder type 1

– As an adjunct to mood stabilizer drugs (valproate, lithium)

– Irritability symptoms of autism

– Tourette’s syndrome

– As an add on drug

How to Use Aripiprazole?

The drug is available in tablet, liquid, and injectable forms. Tablet and liquid forms can be taken with or without food as their absorption is not affected by the nature of food. Keep a measuring cup to correctly measure the dosage if your doctor prescribes the liquid form. Injectable Aripiprazole is indicated only in cases of severe psychotic episodes of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder type 1.

You must consult your health care expert before taking this drug. Noting down the time of drug intake can help you in managing your dosage schedule effectively. Do not stop taking the drug if you feel better, as it might lead to worsening your condition. Make sure to follow your doctor’s instructions to prevent an unfortunate event. Notify the doctor if your symptoms worsen or you see an addition of symptoms.

What Are the Side Effects of Aripiprazole?

Aripiprazole is a well-tolerated drug with fewer side effects compared to first- and second-generation atypical antipsychotics. As Aripiprazole affects CNS activity, it has the tendency to elicit various side effects.

Unspecific side effects include gastrointestinal upset, anxiety, weight gain, sore throat, headache, dizziness, and drowsiness.

Adverse effects that warrant a visit to your doctor are:

– Worsening of agitation and irritability

– Involuntary muscle movement

– Mask-like appearance of the face

– Difficulty in swallowing and speaking

– Orthostatic hypotension

– Seizures

– High fever and sweating

Who Should Not Use Aripiprazole?

– Elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis

– Those with a history of stroke, cardiac arrhythmias, and recent episode of heart attack

– Those with uncontrolled diabetes and dyslipidemia

– Patients with low white blood cell count


  1. Di Sciascio G, Riva MA. Aripiprazole: from pharmacological profile to clinical use. Neuropsychiatr Dis Treat. 2015;11:2635-2647. DOI: 2147/NDT.S88117
  2. Anthony DeLeon, Nick C Patel, M Lynn Crismon. Aripiprazole: A comprehensive review of its pharmacology, clinical efficacy, and tolerability. Clin Therap. 2004;26(5): 649-666. DOI:

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Kaitlen Knowles, Clinical Social Work/Therapist, LCSW (she, her), Rochester, NY

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