What is Abilify?

Abilify (aripiprazole), developed by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., is prescribed to treat several psychological conditions. It received approval in 2002 from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for schizophrenia after clinical studies of 1,238 patients showed that Abilify provided significant improvements in the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. In 2005 it received approval to treat bipolar disorder after two clinical trials demonstrated significant improvement in the symptoms of acute manic or mixed episodes.

In 2006 it was approved as an adjunct treatment for major depressive disorder after studies demonstrated significant improvement in depressive symptoms in adult patients with a primary diagnosis of major depressive disorder. In 2009 it won approval as a treatment for irritability related to autism spectrum disorders based on the results of two studies.

How Does Abilify Work

Atypical or second-generation antipsychotics (SGA) like Abilify work differently than first-generation antipsychotics (FGA) such as Thorazine and Haldol. FGAs target dopamine receptors in the brain, while SGAs typically work on both dopamine and serotonin. Drugs that activate receptors in the brain for these neurotransmitters are called dopamine receptor agonists and serotonin receptor agonists. SGAs have fewer movement side effects, such as tardive dyskinesia, a disorder that causes involuntary movements, than older drugs.

Abilify also works differently than many other SGAs. Other drugs in the class block chemical receptors in the brain for dopamine or serotonin to control symptoms. Aripiprazole works by either enhancing dopamine and serotonin levels or inhibiting them to keep a balance. Doctors call the drug a dopamine-serotonin system stabilizer. That effect makes it a useful tool to prescribe alongside other medications to enhance their effectiveness.

Abilify is often prescribed for off-label uses for which it lacks FDA approval, such as insomnia, delusional disorders and anxiety spectrum disorders. Medical researchers are conducting clinical trials to see if it deserves approval as a treatment for a broader range of maladies.

Abilify And Compulsive Gambling?

Abilify is supposed to stabilize the level of dopamine in the brain. Researchers have found, however, that in some patients aripiprazole may overstimulate dopamine D3 receptors in the brain, which are associated with reward, motivation and impulse control.

A study in 2011 was the first to point to pathological gambling as a side effect of Abilify. The authors looked at three cases of pathological gambling induced by aripiprazole in patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. None of the patients had a history of pathological gambling. They started gambling after they began taking aripiprazole, and when they stopped taking it, the pathological behavior disappeared quickly.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know If I Qualify For An Abilify Case?

If you have taken Abilify and have suffered losses from compulsive Gambling you may qualify

What are the possible side effect of Abilify?

According to the NIH, common side effects associated with aripiprazole include:

Stomach pain
Weight gain
Increased appetite
Increased salivation
Pain, especially in the arms, legs, or joints

Other side effects, including chest pain, high fever and changes in vision, are noted as serious and patients are advised to report them to their doctor immediately.


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