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Aripiprazole, brand name Abilify, is an atypical antipsychotic and antidepressant oral medication used to some types of mental illness for young people aged 10-17 and for adults. The FDA has approved its use to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and clinical depression. It is also approved in 2009 to use treat extreme irritability in children with autism. It was approved on the basis of two studies that showed it reduced angry outbursts and self-injury as well as injury to others. It is generally a well-tolerated drug.
There is some controversy around its use as a monotherapy for bipolar disorder. Some studies show that it is not effective at all, showing the same results as a placebo in a major study. Another study revealed depression to be one possible side effect of Abilify.
There is current research into using aripiprazole as a treatment for cocaine addiction. It has been suggested that the drug may block cocaine-seeking behavior. Animal studies have been positive.
As with other anti-psychotic drugs, the mechanism that makes this work isn’t entirely understood. Researchers suspect that it blocks several receptors on the nerves of the brain for several neurotransmitters. They believe it is interacting with dopamine and serotonin receptors.
Side effects for this drug include headache, cough, runny nose, agitation, anxiety, insomnia, unusual tiredness or weakness, nausea and vomiting, stomach distress, constipation, blurred vision, and sexual dysfunction. Weight gain is a usual side effect.
There is noclear link between aripiprazole and diabetes, but patients should still be regularly checked for elevated blood sugars. One worrisome side effect is tardive dyskinesia, a condition of involuntary movement of the extremities. It is potentially permanent.
Source: MedicineNet, Abilify
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