Long-acting injectables are an effective alternative if you’d rather not worry about missing a dose of your medication.

Bipolar disorder is a chronic mental health condition that affects millions of people around the world. Symptoms of the disorder can be severe and unpredictable, often leading to significant impairment in daily functioning.

While oral medications for bipolar are effective, it can be difficult to remember to take them consistently, especially during a manic or depressive episode. Missed medication can lead to greater mood instability or hospitalization.

A treatment plan that includes the use of long-acting injectables can help manage your symptoms and reduce the risk of relapse.

A long-acting injectable (LAI) for bipolar disorder is an intramuscular shot that provides a sustained release of medication over a period of time, typically weeks to months.

These injections, which help manage bipolar symptoms, may make it easier for you to stick to your treatment plan because you don’t have to take medication as often.

Can you get a monthly injection to manage bipolar disorder?

Yes, there are a few monthly injection options available for managing bipolar disorder. These medications are administered by a healthcare professional once a month after an initial dose.

There are a few injectable medications for bipolar disorder. But only Abilify Maintena is currently FDA-approved.

  • Aripiprazole (Abilify Maintena): This is a long-acting injectable form of the second-generation antipsychotic aripiprazole. It’s given once a month in the buttock or upper arm for maintenance treatment of bipolar I disorder in adults.
  • Aripiprazole lauroxil (Aristada): This is a second-generation antipsychotic medication used for the maintenance treatment of bipolar I in adults. It’s administered once every 4 to 8 weeks in the buttock or upper arm after an initial dose (Aristada Initio).
  • Olanzapine pamoate (Zyprexa Relprevv): This is a second-generation antipsychotic medication used for the treatment of mania and agitation in bipolar I disorder. It’s a gluteal injection administered once every 2 to 4 weeks after an initial dose.

What is the best injection for bipolar disorder?

Each long-acting injectable has its own benefits and risks, and the best one for you depends on your specific symptoms, medical history, and other factors.

For instance, some LAIs may be more effective in treating certain symptoms, like agitation, while others may have fewer side effects or be easier to administer.

Your specific treatment plan should be determined by your psychiatrist after a thorough consultation.

How long does it take for Abilify Maintena to work?

Abilify Maintena is an injectable medication that releases aripiprazole over an extended period of time. It takes a few weeks to start working, so it’s important to continue taking oral antipsychotic medication for at least 2 weeks after the first injection.

The specific side effects of long-acting injectables will depend on the medication being used, but some common side effects include the following:

  • injection site reactions like pain, swelling, redness, or itching at the site of injection
  • weight gain and changes in appetite
  • drowsiness or fatigue
  • headache
  • nausea or vomiting
  • dizziness or lightheadedness
  • changes in blood pressure or heart rate
  • restlessness or agitation
  • tremors or muscle stiffness
  • sexual dysfunction
  • insomnia or sleep disturbances

If you have difficulty adhering to a daily medication regimen, which about 40% of people with bipolar disorder do, you may be a good candidate for long-acting injectables.

Taking your medication on time is very important, and failure to do so can lead to impaired functioning, relapse, and in some cases, hospitalization.

LAIs can help avoid these problems, as they maintain a steady level of medication in your body. A 2018 study of people with bipolar disorder found that long-acting injectables and lithium were the most effective treatments for preventing hospitalization.

Long-acting injectables have emerged as an effective treatment option for bipolar disorder. LAIs can help improve medication adherence and convenience, reduce the risk of relapse and hospitalization, and potentially improve quality of life.

It’s important to discuss the potential benefits and drawbacks of LAIs with a healthcare professional so you can make an informed decision about your treatment options.