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There are many different types of mental health medications, and it’s important to find the one that’s right for you. At Brightside, we’re here to help. Our providers are knowledgeable about each type of mental health medication and specialize in finding the best fit for your individual needs. As part of your treatment, your provider may recommend a medication called aripiprazole to help you feel better.
Aripiprazole is a commonly used medication that is often effective in treating symptoms of bipolar disorder. Aripiprazole may also be used in combination with other medications to treat depression. Below, we offer some helpful information about aripiprazole so you can work with your provider to determine if it’s right for you and make an informed decision about your care.
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What’s included in a Brightside Medication Membership:
Start with a clinically-proven set of questions to shed light on how you’re feeling. We’ll help you understand your symptoms, then recommend the best treatment plan for you–including medication, therapy, or both.
Get matched with an expert provider for an online video consultation. Share how you’re feeling and then decide on next steps–together.
Stay in touch with with unlimited messaging, plus monthly video sessions with your Therapist and unlimited video consults with your Psychiatric Provider.
Then measure your progress with regular check-ins to monitor your symptoms and make adjustments until your treatment is right for you.
Aripiprazole, commonly sold under the brand name Abilify, is a medication we use to treat various mental health conditions, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It is a type of prescription medication called an atypical antipsychotic or second-generation antipsychotic (SGA).
SGAs like aripiprazole help balance the dopamine and serotonin levels in your brain—a healthy balance of dopamine and serotonin can improve your mood, thinking, and behavior.
Serotonin and dopamine are major chemical messengers (neurotransmitters) used to carry a signal from one brain cell to another. Scientists believe that high levels of dopamine in the brain may cause symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Meanwhile, increasing serotonin levels can help produce a feeling of mental wellbeing and help maintain mental balance.
At Brightside, our psychiatric providers specialize in personalizing treatment for each person. We give you personal attention and expert advice you can count on—we explain all your options and use our expertise to find the medication that’s right for you. We make sure you understand how medications work and what to expect so that your treatment is worry-free.
Aripiprazole is a medication we may prescribe to treat symptoms of bipolar disorder. Aripiprazole may also be used in combination with other medications to treat depression—particularly if your depression isn’t controlled well by an antidepressant alone.
If you’re new to this medication or medical treatment for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, don’t worry—your Brightside provider will stay with you through every step to make sure the treatment is a good fit.
Aripiprazole can help you with both manic and depressive symptoms of bipolar disorder. Manic symptoms can include:
Symptoms of depression can include:
Making sense of different medications, their uses, benefits, and side effects can be challenging. That’s where we can help. Brightside providers have an in-depth knowledge of the strengths and drawbacks of each medication. You’ll get all the information you need to make an informed choice about your treatment.
At Brightside, we can help you find the right treatment to help you feel better. Many different factors influence how you respond to medication. We understand that you may have questions about taking a new medication and whether it will help you. You’re not alone—many patients have similar questions.
It may take several weeks or months before you see the full benefit of aripiprazole.
Before starting a new medication like aripiprazole, it’s important to get a comprehensive health assessment from a provider who understands your health history. You should only take aripiprazole if a physician or other qualified psychiatric provider prescribed it for you.
Before you start taking aripiprazole, you may have some questions about how long you’ll need to take this medication. The amount of time you take an antipsychotic will depend on your symptoms and how you respond to the medication. Some people may only need the medication for a few months, while others may need to stay on a medication for the rest of their lives.
Studies have shown that there are benefits to long-term treatment with antipsychotic medications like aripiprazole. Although more studies are needed, the research says it’s often best to stay on a low dose of medication long-term rather than stopping treatment altogether.
Your Brightside provider will work with you to determine what course of treatment is best for your specific needs. Most importantly, we recommend that you keep taking your medication until your provider says it’s time to stop—even after you start to feel better.
Aripiprazole is a safe and effective antipsychotic medication. However, it’s important to keep in mind that its effectiveness varies from person to person.
To get the best results with medication, it’s important to consistently measure progress during treatment. This is known as Measurement Based Care, and it’s the approach we use at Brightside. It’s common to adjust the dose and/or medication when starting an antipsychotic until you find just the right fit.
A 2013 review of antipsychotic drug clinical trials showed that aripiprazole was the ninth most effective drug for treating schizophrenia when compared to 14 others.
Many people worry that medications will alter their personality or change who they are. As long as you’re taking the right dosage, aripiprazole will not change your personality or blunt your emotions. Actually, it will help you feel like yourself again.
Just remember that your symptoms won’t improve overnight. Keep taking your medication as prescribed—even when you start to feel better—and talk to your Brightside provider if you have any questions or concerns.
When prescribing any medication, our providers work to make sure you experience as few side effects as possible.
Aripiprazole is a safe medication, but it’s important to talk with your Brightside provider about potential side effects of this treatment.
Side effects from aripiprazole are usually temporary, but talk to your provider if any of these symptoms become severe or don’t go away:
Antipsychotic drugs like aripiprazole can also cause metabolic syndrome, which includes weight gain, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol. Your provider may ask you to provide a blood sample before and during treatment with aripiprazole to help track these numbers and avoid any serious health problems. Your Brightside provider can also offer advice on healthy lifestyle changes you can make to prevent any health problems from these side effects.
In rare cases, aripiprazole can also cause severe symptoms. Call a provider right away if you experience:
Some patients using aripiprazole have reported an increased risk of suicidal thoughts or actions. Call 911 and seek immediate medical attention if you experience thoughts of suicide or self-harm while taking an antipsychotic medication.
At Brightside, your health and safety are our highest priorities. We make sure you get individual attention and guidance to make you feel your best.
Your Brightside provider will prescribe you aripiprazole to help you feel better. After you start to feel these positive effects, you may want to stop taking the medication. However, in most cases, aripiprazole contributes to these good feelings, and stopping the medication could cause your schizophrenia or bipolar disorder symptoms to come back.
Antipsychotics can also cause discontinuation syndrome if stopped abruptly. Discontinuation syndrome can include a range of symptoms that may occur in patients who suddenly stop their antipsychotics. These are the most common symptoms of antipsychotic discontinuation syndrome:
Make sure to talk to your provider before stopping or changing how you take your medication so they can create a plan that gives your body enough time to adjust. This will keep you feeling well and prevent symptoms from returning.
If you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are nursing, please talk to your provider before starting or making any changes to a medication.
A review of aripiprazole safety data suggests the benefits of staying on this medication during pregnancy for the treatment of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder may outweigh the potential risks.
SGAs like aripiprazole can pass into breast milk. Infants may need to be monitored for symptoms of exposure, which can include appetite changes, insomnia, irritability, or lethargy. Talk to your healthcare provider about your breastfeeding questions.
Aripiprazole is generally considered non-addictive and is not habit-forming. However, it’s important to remember that you may still experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it suddenly.
You can view the FDA black box warning for aripiprazole here. If you have questions about whether the black box warning for aripiprazole applies to you, please talk to your provider.
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