Aripiprazole | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

aripiprazole, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Abilify
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for aripiprazole

Oral tablet
1

Aripiprazole is an antipsychotic drug. It’s used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar I disorder, and major depressive disorder. It’s also used to treat agitation caused by bipolar I disorder, and irritability caused by autistic disorder.

2

This drug comes in three forms you take by mouth: tablets, solution, and orally disintegrating tablets. It also comes as an injectable solution only given by a healthcare provider. The tablet and oral solution are available as the brand-name drug Abilify. The orally disintegrating tablets are available as Abilify Discmelt. All oral forms are also available as generic drugs.

3

The more common side effects of this drug can include nausea, vomiting, restlessness, weight gain, or headache.

4

In some cases, aripiprazole can cause serious side effects. These include a reaction called neuroleptic malignant syndrome, low blood pressure, low white blood cell count, weight gain, or unwanted muscle movements.

5

Don’t drink alcohol while taking aripiprazole. Also, avoid getting overheated or dehydrated (low fluid levels). This drug can make it harder for your body to maintain a normal temperature. This can make your temperature rise too high.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA warning

This drug has a black box warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Increased risk of death in seniors with dementia warning. Use of this drug raises the risk of death in seniors (ages 65 years and older) with dementia-related psychosis.

Suicide risk in children warning. The use of antidepressants in children, adolescents, and young adults can increase thoughts of suicide and suicidal behavior. Talk with your doctor about whether this drug is safe for your child. The potential benefit must be greater than the risk of using this drug.

Neuroleptic malignant syndrome

In rare cases, this drug can cause a serious reaction called neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS). Symptoms can include low blood pressure, increased heart rate, muscle stiffness, confusion, or high body temperature. If you have some or all of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 right away.

Metabolic changes

This drug can cause changes in the way your body functions. These can lead to high blood sugar or diabetes, high cholesterol or triglyceride levels, or weight gain. Tell your doctor if you notice an increase in your weight or blood sugar level. Your diet or medication dosage may need to be changed.

Dysphagia (trouble swallowing)

This drug can cause trouble swallowing. If you’re at risk of aspiration pneumonia, talk with your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you. Aspiration pneumonia is inflammation in your lungs caused by breathing in materials such as vomit, food, or liquid. Risk of this condition is higher in people such as seniors (ages 65 years and older).

What is aripiprazole?

This drug is a prescription drug. It comes in the form of a tablet you take by mouth.

This drug is available as a brand-name drug. It’s also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version. Talk to your doctor to see if the generic version will work for you.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications.

Why it's used

This drug is used to treat:

  • schizophrenia
  • bipolar I disorder (manic or mixed episodes, or maintenance treatment)
  • major depression in people already taking an antidepressant
  • irritability caused by autistic disorder

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called antipsychotics. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

More Details

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called antipsychotics. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

It’s not known exactly how this drug works. However, it’s thought that it helps to regulate the amount of certain chemicals in your brain. These chemicals are dopamine and serotonin. Managing the levels of these chemicals may help to control your condition.

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SECTION 2 of 5

aripiprazole Side Effects

Oral tablet

More Common Side Effects

The more common side effects of aripiprazole can include:

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • constipation

  • headache

  • dizziness

  • feeling agitated or distressed

  • anxiety

  • trouble sleeping

  • restlessness

  • tiredness

  • stuffy nose

  • weight gain

  • increased appetite

  • uncontrolled movements, such as tremor

  • muscle stiffness

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS). Symptoms can include:

    • fever
    • stiff muscles
    • confusion
    • sweating
    • changes in heart rate
    • changes in blood pressure
  • High blood sugar

  • Weight gain

  • Trouble swallowing

  • Tardive dyskinesia. Symptoms can include:

    • not being able to control your face, tongue, or other body parts
  • Orthostatic hypotension. This is low blood pressure that occurs when you get up quickly after sitting or lying down. Symptoms can include:

    • feeling lightheaded
    • dizziness
    • fainting
  • Low white blood cell count

  • Seizures

Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug may cause drowsiness. You shouldn’t drive, use heavy machinery, and do any other dangerous activities until you know how this drug affects you.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 5

aripiprazole May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Aripiprazole can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Alcohol interaction

Don’t drink alcohol while taking this drug. This drug causes drowsiness, and alcohol can worsen this side effect. It also raises your risk of liver damage.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Interactions that increase your risk of side effects

Taking aripiprazole with certain medications raises your risk of side effects from aripiprazole. This is because the amount of aripiprazole in your body is increased. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Antifungal drugs, such as ketoconazole or itraconazole.
    • Increased side effects can include nausea, constipation, dizziness, restlessness, or tiredness. They can also include tardive dyskinesia (movements you can’t control), or neuroleptic malignant syndrome (a rare but life-threatening condition). Your doctor may decrease your aripiprazole dosage.
  • Antidepressants, such as fluoxetine or paroxetine.
    • Increased side effects can include nausea, constipation, dizziness, restlessness, or tiredness. They can also include tardive dyskinesia (movements you can’t control), or neuroleptic malignant syndrome (a rare but life-threatening condition). Your doctor may decrease your aripiprazole dose.
  • Quinidine. 
    • Increased side effects can include nausea, constipation, dizziness, restlessness, or tiredness. They can also include tardive dyskinesia (movements you can’t control), or neuroleptic malignant syndrome (a rare but life-threatening condition). Your doctor may decrease your aripiprazole dosage.

Interactions that can make your drugs less effective

When aripiprazole is used with certain drugs, it may not work as well to treat your condition. This is because the amount of aripiprazole in your body may be decreased. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Anticonvulsants, such as phenytoin or carbamazepine.
    • Your doctor may switch you from aripiprazole to a different antipsychotic if needed.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Drug warnings
heart conditions
People with heart conditions

It hasn’t been established that this drug is safe and effective for use in patients with certain heart conditions. These include unstable heart disease or a recent history of stroke or heart attack. Tell your doctor if you have a heart condition before starting this drug.

epilepsy
People with epilepsy

If you have a history of seizures, talk with your doctor about whether this drug is safe for you. Also talk to your doctor if you have conditions that raise your risk of seizures, such as Alzheimer’s dementia.

low white blood cell count
People with a low white blood cell count

This drug can cause a low white blood cell count. Your doctor will monitor you for symptoms of this problem. They will also do regular do blood tests. If you develop a low white blood cell count while taking this drug, your doctor will stop this treatment. Tell your doctor if you have a history of low white blood cell count before starting treatment with this drug.

pregnant women
Pregnant women

This drug is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should be used only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

breast-feeding
Women who are breast-feeding

This drug passes into breast milk and may cause side effects in a child who is breast-fed.

Talk to your doctor if you breast-feed your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breast-feeding or stop taking this medication.

for seniors
For seniors

The kidneys and liver of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

for children
For children

For children, this drug is only used to treat:

  • schizophrenia in children older than 13 years of age
    • manic or mixed episodes caused by bipolar I disorder in children ages 10 years or older
    • irritability caused by autistic disorder in children ages 6 years or older

It hasn’t been established that this drug is safe and effective for use in children with certain conditions that this drug can treat in adults. These conditions include major depressive disorder, agitation associated with schizophrenia, or bipolar mania.

call doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this drug.

allergies
Allergies

This drug can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • hives (itchy welts)
  • itching
  • swelling of your face, eyes, or tongue
  • trouble breathing
  • wheezing
  • chest tightness
  • fast and weak heart rate
  • nausea or vomiting

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

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How to Take aripiprazole (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Schizophrenia

Brand: Abilify

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 2 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg

Brand: Abilify Discmelt

Form: Orally disintegrating tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 15 mg

Generic: Ariprazole

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 2 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg
Form: Orally disintegrating tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 15 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: 10 mg–15 mg once daily.
Child dosage (ages 13–17 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: 10 mg once daily.
Child dosage (ages 0–12 years)
  • It hasn’t been established that this drug is safe and effective to treat this condition in children of this age group.
Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys and liver of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This increases your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lower dose or a different medication schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Bipolar I disorder (manic or mixed episodes, or maintenance treatment)

Brand: Abilify

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 2 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg

Brand: Abilify Discmelt

Form: Orally disintegrating tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 15 mg

Generic: Ariprazole

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 2 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg
Form: Orally disintegrating tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 15 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: 15 mg once daily.
  • Typical starting dosage when given with lithium or valproate: 10–15 mg once daily.
Child dosage (ages 10–17 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: 2 mg once daily for 2 days, then 5 mg once daily for 2 days. Then take 10 mg once daily.
  • Dosage increases: If needed, your doctor may increase your dosage by 5 mg/day at a time.
Child dosage (ages 0–9 years)
  • It hasn’t been established that this drug is safe and effective to treat this condition in children of this age group.
Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys and liver of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This increases your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lower dose or a different medication schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Major depression in people already taking an antidepressant

Brand: Abilify

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 2 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg

Brand: Abilify Discmelt

Form: Orally disintegrating tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 15 mg

Generic: Ariprazole

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 2 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg
Form: Orally disintegrating tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 15 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: 2–5 mg once daily.
  • Dosage increases: If needed, your doctor may slowly increase your dose, up to 5 mg at a time. Your dose should not be increased more than once per week.
Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys and liver of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This increases your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lower dose or a different medication schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Irritability caused by autistic disorder

Brand: Abilify

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 2 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg

Brand: Abilify Discmelt

Form: Orally disintegrating tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 15 mg

Generic: Ariprazole

Form: Oral tablet
Strengths: 2 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg
Form: Orally disintegrating tablet
Strengths: 10 mg, 15 mg
Child dosage (ages 6–17 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: 2 mg per day.
  • Ongoing dosage range: 5–15 mg once daily. 
  • Dosage increases: If needed, your child’s doctor may increase their dosage as needed.
Child dosage (ages 0–5 years)
  • It hasn’t been established that this drug is safe and effective to treat this condition in children of this age group.
Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys and liver of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This increases your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lower dose or a different medication schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all

You should not suddenly stop taking this drug or change your dose without talking to your doctor. Stopping this drug suddenly can cause unwanted side effects. These can include symptoms such as facial tics or uncontrolled speech. They can also include uncontrolled shaking like the shaking caused by Parkinson’s disease.

If you don’t take this drug at all, your symptoms may not improve.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • vomiting
  • tremor
  • sleepiness

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away. 

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. But if you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

Your symptoms should get better. Your doctor will examine you to see if your symptoms are improving.

This drug is used for long-term treatment.

Important considerations for taking this drug
take with or without food
Take this drug with or without food
timing
Take this drug at the time(s) recommended by your doctor
You can cut or crush the tablet
storage
Store this drug carefully
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refillable
A prescription for this medication is refillable
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travel
Travel
See Details
clinical monitoring
Clinical monitoring
See Details
not usually stocked
Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead.
hidden costs
Hidden costs
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Insurance
See Details

Store this drug carefully

  • Store this drug oral tablets at room temperature between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C).
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Clinical monitoring

During your treatment with this drug, your doctor will monitor you for side effects. They will also monitor your symptoms, and do regular blood tests to check your:

  • blood sugar
  • cholesterol levels
  • kidney function
  • liver function
  • blood cell count
  • thyroid function 

Hidden costs

You may need blood tests during your treatment with this drug. The cost of these tests will depend on your insurance coverage.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor will need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

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How Much Does aripiprazole Cost?

Oral tablet

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Lowest price for aripiprazole

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for aripiprazole on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on November 17, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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