Abilify is a common antipsychotic medication prescribed for patients with bipolar disorder and for countering symptoms of irritability associated with autism and schizophrenia. Abilify is also used to treat symptoms of aggression, mood swings, temper tantrums, and self-injury related to autistic disorder in children, 6 and older. Since 2007, after the FDA approved it as an adjunctive treatment for depression in adults, it is being used for patients with depression or bipolar disorder.
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In large well-designed trials of patients with depression, Abilify caused significant improvement on depression rating scales for MDD patients who had shown inadequate response to the standard antidepressant therapy. Clinical trials also prove Abilify safe and well tolerated, with only minor side effects of a minimal weight gain trend over the course of the six-week treatment for countering symptoms of depression.
Some side effects of Abilify observed in patients of depression and bipolar disorder during various studies include:
• Akathisia or inner restlessness is among common side effects.
• Abilify may cause severe side effects for patients exhibiting symptoms of dementia. These side effects include heart failure, sudden death, or pneumonia.
• In bipolar disorder, Abilify may cause side effects and symptoms of sweating, high fever with stiff or rigid muscles and rapid heart rate, or tics and uncontrolled muscle movements.
The following symptoms may also appear suddenly — numbness or weakness, severe headache, or problems with vision, speech, or balance.
• Patients with bipolar disorders allergic to aripiprazole should not use Abilify. Symptoms or signs of an allergy include hives, difficulty in breathing, or swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat.
• Since patients on antidepression medication sometimes show symptoms of suicidal thoughts or feelings or start to exhibit other symptoms of bipolar disorder, it is important to monitor them for mood swings.
• Abilify may increase blood sugar levels. Therefore, it should be used with caution by depression or bipolar disorder patients who suffer from diabetes or exhibit symptoms of hyperglycemia. Symptoms may include increased feelings of thirst, excessive hunger, and increased urination.
• Abilify causes many adverse side effects for the newborn if the mother has used this medicine during the last trimester of pregnancy. Therefore, consulting a medical practitioner about dosages of medicines for any depression or bipolar disorder even before getting pregnant can prevent side effects on neonatal health. Side effects on the newborn include withdrawal symptoms, breathing problems, feeding problems, fussiness, tremors, and limp or stiff muscles.
• Abilify should not be used during breastfeeding as it can pass into breast milk and harm the newborn regardless of whether the mother was under treatment for depression or for bipolar disorder.
• Symptoms indicating an overdose of Abilify include drowsiness, vomiting, aggression, confusion, tremors, changes in the heart rate, seizures, trouble breathing, or fainting fits.
• Use of alcohol can increase the side effects of Abilify.
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