|Type of medicine||Antipsychotic|
|Used for||Easing the symptoms of schizophrenia, mania, and other similar mental health problems|
|Available as||Tablets, orodispersible tablets (dissolve in the mouth), and injection|
Aripiprazole is used to relieve the symptoms of schizophrenia, mania (high mood swings), and other similar mental health problems.
Schizophrenia is a serious mental health condition that causes disordered ideas, beliefs and experiences. Such symptoms include hearing, seeing, or sensing things that are not real, having mistaken beliefs, and feeling unusually suspicious. Aripiprazole will help to ease these symptoms.
In both schizophrenia and mania, aripiprazole works on the balance of chemical substances your brain.
Before taking aripiprazole
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking aripiprazole, it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have a heart condition or blood vessel disease.
- If you have had a stroke, or if you have been told you have thickening of the blood vessels to your brain.
- If you have liver or prostate problems.
- If you have breathing problems.
- If you have any of the following: epilepsy, depression, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, glaucoma, or myasthenia gravis (this is a condition causing muscle weakness).
- If you have ever had jaundice (yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes), or a blood disorder.
- If you have a condition called phaeochromocytoma (a tumour on your adrenal gland).
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any medicine.
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
How to take aripiprazole
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about aripiprazole, and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
- Take aripiprazole exactly as your doctor has told you. It is taken once each day. Your dose will also be on the label of your pack to remind you. You can take aripiprazole before or after your meals.
- Try to take aripiprazole at the same time each day as this will help you to remember to take it. If you forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If you do not remember until the following day, skip the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
- If you have been given Abilify® orodispersible tablets, these are tablets which dissolve in your mouth. Do not try pushing the tablet through the blister of the packaging as it may crumble; instead, peel open the packaging, remove the tablet from the blister and place it on your tongue to dissolve. Or, if you prefer, you can dissolve the tablet in a glass of water and then drink it straightaway.
- If you have been given Abilify® oral solution, you must take this medicine undiluted. Measure your dose out carefully using the cup or dropper supplied in the pack.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Your treatment will require careful monitoring to make sure that you get the best possible benefit from aripiprazole. Keep your regular doctor's appointments so that your progress can be checked. You will need to have some tests from time to time.
- Treatment with aripiprazole is usually long-term unless you experience an adverse effect. Keep taking these tablets until your doctor tells you otherwise. Stopping suddenly can cause problems and your doctor may want you to reduce your dose gradually if this is necessary.
- Aripiprazole may cause your skin to become more sensitive to sunlight than normal. Use a sunscreen that protects against UVA light and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, especially in strong sunlight or until you know how your skin reacts. Do not use sunbeds.
- If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice about drinking while you are on aripiprazole. Alcohol will increase the chance that you experience side-effects and may not be recommended for you.
- Suicidal thoughts may be associated with medicines used for mood disorders. You may be at risk of such thoughts early in your treatment, or if you have previously thought about harming yourself. Tell your doctor straightaway if you are having any thoughts about hurting yourself or ending your life.
- If you have diabetes you may need to check your blood glucose more frequently, as aripiprazole may affect the levels of sugar in your blood. Your doctor will be able to advise you about this.
- If you are having any dental treatment or an operation, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking. This is important because aripiprazole may interfere with any anaesthetic you receive.
- If you buy or take any 'over-the-counter' medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with aripiprazole.
Can aripiprazole cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common aripiprazole side-effects - these affect around 1 in 10 people who take this medicine||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling or being sick, indigestion||Stick to simple meals - avoid rich or spicy foods|
|Feeling dizzy, tired or sleepy, blurred vision||If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Constipation||Drink plenty of water, and eat a well-balanced diet containing plenty of fruit, vegetables, and fibre|
|Feeling shaky or restless, unusual or uncontrollable movements||Speak with your doctor about any of these. Your treatment may need adjusting|
|Feeling anxious, difficulties sleeping, increased amounts of saliva||Discuss these with your doctor if any become troublesome|
Important: if you experience any 'flu-like' symptoms including muscle stiffness, with a high temperature, confusion, a rapid heartbeat and sweating, contact your doctor immediately. These may be signs of a rare but serious condition known as neuroleptic malignant syndrome.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store aripiprazole
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 63rd Edition (Mar 2012) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
- Manufacturer's PIL, Abilify® Tablets; Manufacturer's PIL, Abilify® Tablets, Otsuka and Bristol-Myers Squibb, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated September 2011.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Abilify® Orodispersible Tablets; Manufacturer's PIL, Abilify® Orodispersible Tablets, Otsuka and Bristol-Myers Squibb. The electronic medicines Compendium. Dated September 2011.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Abilify® Oral Solution; Manufacturer's PIL, Abilify® Oral Solution, Otsuka and Bristol-Myers Squibb. The electronic medicines Compendium. Dated September 2011.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr Helen Huins