What is Aripiprazole?
Aripiprazole is a prescriptional medication that belongs to the category of antipsychotics. It is mainly used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorders in adults and adolescents aged 15 or above. It can be used along with other medications as an antidepressant to treat depression when symptoms cannot be controlled by antidepressants alone or in a person who has not had enough response to previous treatments.
What are the uses of Aripiprazole?
Aripiprazole is mainly used in adults and adolescents aged 15 or above for schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. It affects certain natural chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) of the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine. Regulating the amount of these chemicals helps in improving your condition. Aripiprazole can be prescribed in the following conditions:
- Bipolar disorders
- Major depression
- Autistic disorder (a developmental problem that causes difficulty in communicating and interacting with other people). Aripiprazole helps control irritable behavior such as aggression, temper tantrums, and frequent mood changes in these children.
- Tourette's disorder (a condition characterized by the need to perform repetitive motions or to repeat sounds or words)
The medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your physician or pharmacist for detailed information.
How do you use Aripiprazole?
- Take this medicine orally; once with or without food or as prescribed by your physician (if to be taken once daily, it is advisable to take it during night time as it helps to reduce daytime sleepiness)
- Take this tablet daily at the same time.
- Follow all the instructions on the prescription label.
- Do not stop taking this medication abruptly without consulting your doctor.
- Do not take it more or less or take it more than often than prescribed by your doctor
- Do not stop using it even if you feel well
Your physician may start you with a low dose and gradually increase your dose. It may take 2 weeks before you begin to notice the full benefits of the medication. If You Miss the Dose
- If you happen to miss a dose of Aripiprazole, take the missed dose as soon as you remember.
- However, if it is almost time for the next dose, do not take the missed dose and continue with your next scheduled dose.
- Do not take a double dose to compensate for the missed dose.
What are the side-effects and risks of Aripiprazole?
Like all other medications, Aripiprazole may cause side effects. Although it is unlikely to happen in everyone, you must be aware of what could be the possible side effects.
Common side effects:
- Feeling tired
- Diabetes mellitus
- Difficulty sleeping
- Feeling anxious
- Feeling restless, unable to keep still, difficulty sitting still
- Uncontrollable twitching, jerking or writhing movements, restless legs
- Shaking and blurred vision
- More saliva in the mouth than normal
- Feeling sick
Uncommon side effects:
- Increased blood levels of the hormone prolactin
- Too much sugar in the blood
- A fall in blood pressure on standing up which causes dizziness, light-headedness, or fainting
- Altered or increased sexual interest
- Double vision, eye sensitivity to light
- Fast heartbeat
- Uncontrollable movements of mouth, tongue, and limbs (tardive dyskinesia)
- Muscle disorder causing twisting movements (dystonia)
The following side effects have also been reported; however, the frequency of the same is unknown;
- Prolonged and/or painful erection
- Difficulty controlling core body temperature or overheating
- Low levels of white blood cells
- Low levels of blood platelets
- Difficulty in passing urine
- Withdrawal symptoms in newborn babies in case of exposure during pregnancy
- Allergic reaction (e.g., swelling in the mouth, tongue, face and throat, itching, hives)
- Onset or worsening of diabetes, ketoacidosis (ketones in the blood and urine), or coma
- Involuntary loss of urine (incontinence)
- High blood sugar
- Not enough sodium in the blood
- Loss of appetite (anorexia)
- Abnormal muscle breakdown which can lead to kidney problems
- Muscle pain
- In blood tests: fluctuating blood sugar, increased glycosylated hemoglobin
- fixation of the eyeballs in one position
- Chest pain
- Swelling of hands, ankles, or feet
- Weight loss
- Weight gain
- Excessive sweating
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempt, and suicide
- Excessive gambling
- Feeling aggressive
- Reports of abnormal liver tests values
- Skin rash
- Sensitivity to light
- Yellowing of the skin and white part of eyes
- Combination of fever, muscle stiffness, faster breathing, sweating, reduced consciousness and sudden changes in blood pressure and heart rate, fainting
- Stomach discomfort
- Liver failure
- Inflammation of the liver
- Serotonin syndrome (a reaction which may cause feelings of great happiness, drowsiness, clumsiness, restlessness, feeling of being drunk, fever, sweating, or rigid muscles)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Abdominal discomfort
- Speech disorder
- Sudden unexplained death
- Heart attack
- Slower heartbeat
- Life-threatening irregular heartbeat
- Accidental inhalation of food with a risk of pneumonia (lung infection)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Spasm of the muscles around the voice box
- Inflammation of the pancreas
- Blood clots in the veins, especially in the legs (symptoms include swelling, pain, and redness in the leg), which may travel through blood vessels to the lungs causing chest pain and difficulty in breathing (if you notice any of these symptoms, seek medical advice immediately)
- High blood pressure
Inform your physician immediately if you have suicidal thoughts or behavior and thoughts or feeling about hurting yourself. This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. Please consult your doctor to know more about other possible side effects.
Who should not take Aripiprazole?
Inform your physician if you have the following conditions before starting Aripiprazole or do not take Aripiprazole if you have the following conditions:
- Diabetes (High blood sugar)
- Cardiovascular disorders
- Blood clots
- Involuntary, irregular muscle movements, especially in the face
Talk to your doctor before taking Aripiprazole if:
- You are taking any other medication, are pregnant, or planning a pregnancy.
- You are allergic to Aripiprazole or any of its ingredients, or have any other allergies.
- You are allergic to any other medication.
- You are taking any other drugs, over-the-counter medicines, herbal products, or nutritional supplements.
- You have past experience of excessive gambling
Besides, certain medicines may interfere with its working and thus might not be safe to take them together. Some of them are:
- Blood pressure medications
- Medicines to treat heart rhythm
- Antifungal agents
- Antiepileptic drugs
- Certain medications to treat HIV infection
- Herbal remedies to treat depression and anxiety
This may not be a comprehensive list, and other drugs may interact with Aripiprazole. Please inform your doctor if you are taking any of the medicines listed above.
When should you not take Aripiprazole?
You should not take Aripiprazole if:
- It has passed the expiry date of the medicine printed on the pack.
- The packaging shows signs of tampering
- You are breastfeeding
- You are lactose intolerant
Aripiprazole may cause drowsiness and/or dizziness, especially during the initial treatment phase, and may affect the ability to carry out normal daily activities. You should not drive or operate machinery or perform jobs that need you to be alert until these effects wear off.
During your treatment with Aripiprazole, alcohol should be avoided