Abilify (aripiprazole) is a prescription brand-name medication. It’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat:

Here are some fast facts on Abilify:

  • Active ingredient: aripiprazole
  • Drug class: atypical antipsychotic
  • Drug form: oral tablet

Like other drugs, Abilify can cause side effects. Read on to learn about potential common, mild, and serious side effects. For a general overview of Abilify, including details about its uses, see this article.

Comparing Abilify, Abilify Maintena, and Abilify Mycite

There are other brand-name drugs available called Abilify Maintena and Abilify Mycite. Abilify, Abilify Maintena, and Abilify Mycite all contain the active ingredient aripiprazole.

Abilify Maintena is given as an intramuscular injection every 30 days. It contains an extended-release version of Abilify, which means it slowly releases aripiprazole over time.

Abilify Mycite is an oral tablet that has a sensor to track when you take your dose.

This article focuses on the potential side effects of Abilify oral tablets. To learn more about Abilify Maintena and Abilify Mycite, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Abilify can cause certain side effects, some of which are more common than others. These side effects can vary depending on which condition the drug is being used to treat. The side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days to weeks. But if the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

These are just a few of the more common side effects that adults who took Abilify in clinical studies reported:

Mild side effects can occur with Abilify use. This list doesn’t include all possible mild side effects of the drug. For more information, you can refer to Abilify’s prescribing information.

Mild side effects that have been reported with adults taking Abilify include:

  • sexual side effects*
  • weight gain*
  • memory loss*
  • sleep-related side effects*
  • feeling sleepy†
  • anxiety
  • akathisia (feeling restless and unable to keep your legs still)
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • constipation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • blurred vision

These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days to weeks. But if the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks side effects of the medication. If you develop a side effect while taking Abilify and want to tell the FDA about it, visit MedWatch.

* To learn more information about this side effect, see “Side effect specifics” below.
† Because of this risk, you should avoid driving or operating machinery when you start taking Abilify until you see how it makes you feel.

Abilify may cause serious side effects. The list below may not include all possible serious side effects of the drug. For more information, you can refer to Abilify’s prescribing information.

If you develop serious side effects while taking Abilify, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

Serious side effects that have been reported and their symptoms include:

  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (a rare but serious reaction to antipsychotic medications). Symptoms can include:
    • fast heart rate
    • rigid muscles
  • Changes in your metabolism, which can cause conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. Symptoms can include:
    • feeling more thirsty or hungry than usual
    • feeling weak or tired
    • needing to urinate more often than usual
    • weight gain
  • Orthostatic hypotension (decreased blood pressure when standing or sitting up), which can lead to falls. Symptoms can include:
    • dizziness
  • Decreased levels of white blood cells such as neutrophils. Symptoms can include:
    • fever
  • Problems with your body’s ability to control temperature. Symptoms can include:
    • excessive sweating
  • Trouble swallowing, which could cause aspiration (a condition that occurs when you inhale food or liquid into your lungs). Symptoms can include:
    • feeling as if food is stuck in your throat
    • pain when swallowing
  • Extrapyramidal disorder (a movement disorder that some medications can cause). Symptoms can include:
    • trouble speaking
  • Tardive dyskinesia (a condition that causes muscle movements you can’t control). Symptoms can include:
    • jerking of your face, jaw, and other parts of your body
  • Impulse control problems, which can cause urges to do certain things. Symptoms can include:
    • binge eating
    • compulsive shopping
    • gambling
    • sexual urges
  • Allergic reaction.*
  • Suicidal thoughts and behaviors in people younger than age 24 years.*†
  • Increased risk of death in older people with psychosis caused by dementia.*†

* To learn more information about this side effect, see “Side effect specifics” below.
Abilify has a boxed warning for this side effect. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Abilify has boxed warnings about the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in people younger than age 24 years. This is the most serious warning a drug may receive from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For details, see “Boxed warnings” in the “Side effect specifics” section below.

The side effects of Abilify in children can vary depending on which condition they’re taking the drug to treat.

Some of the more common side effects reported by children who took Abilify in clinical studies included:

  • feeling sleepy
  • headache
  • vomiting
  • fatigue
  • increased appetite

Mild side effects that have been reported in children taking Abilify include:

  • weight gain*
  • sleep-related side effects*
  • feeling sleepy
  • headache
  • nausea or vomiting
  • fatigue
  • increased or decreased appetite
  • drooling or making more saliva than usual
  • stuffy nose
  • restlessness
  • tremor
  • muscle stiffness

Serious side effects reported in children are the same as those reported in adults. For more information, see the “Serious side effects of Abilify” section above.

* To learn more information about this side effect, see “Side effect specifics” below.

Most of the side effects that Abilify may cause are temporary, lasting a few days to weeks.

However, Abilify can cause some side effects that are long term.

Long-term side effects

Abilify’s long-term side effects start during treatment and can include changes in your metabolism. These changes can cause conditions such as type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol, which usually last long term and require medication.

To learn more about these long-term side effects, see the “Side effect specifics” section below.

If you have Abilify side effects last longer than a few weeks, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Learn more about some of the side effects that Abilify may cause.

Sexual side effects

Some adults taking Abilify in clinical studies have reported sexual side effects. These side effects included:

  • changes in libido (sexual drive or desire)
  • increased or compulsive sexual urges
  • erectile dysfunction (not being able to have or keep an erection)
  • priapism (painful erection lasting 4 hours or longer)

Sexual side effects were rare. Erectile dysfunction and priapism were extremely rare.

What you can do

Talk with your doctor if you have sexual side effects while taking Abilify. If you have sexual urges, it’s important to tell them as soon as possible. In some cases, these urges can cause harm to yourself or others. To help stop the urges, your doctor may decrease your dose or switch you to a different treatment.

If you develop priapism, get emergency medical help right away by calling your local emergency number or going to your closest emergency room.

Weight gain

It’s possible to experience weight gain with Abilify treatment. In clinical studies, this side effect was fairly common in adults and common in children.

What you can do

If you gain weight while taking Abilify and it’s bothersome to you, talk with your doctor. They can recommend ways to help you manage a moderate body weight.

Memory loss

Memory loss is a possible side effect of Abilify. But memory loss was rare in people who took the medication in clinical studies.

What you can do

Talk with your doctor if you have memory loss while taking Abilify. They’ll likely recommend that you stop taking the drug. They can also recommend other treatments for your condition.

Sleep-related side effects

Sleep-related side effects may occur during Abilify treatment. People who took the drug in clinical studies reported sleep-related side effects such as insomnia.

Insomnia was one of the most common side effects reported in both adults and children taking Abilify in these studies.

Sleep talking was a very rare side effect in a few children who took Abilify in these studies.

Keep in mind that you may also have trouble falling asleep due to another side effect of Abilify called akathisia. The term akathisia refers to feeling restless and unable to keep your legs still.

What you can do

For most people, insomnia is a temporary side effect of Abilify, lasting a few days to weeks. It may be helpful to work on your sleep hygiene, which is a set of habits that encourage healthy sleep.

If sleep-related side effects don’t go away or become severe, talk with your doctor. They can help determine the cause of your symptoms and recommend ways to ease them.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, Abilify can cause an allergic reaction in some people. But this side effect was rare in clinical studies.

Symptoms can be mild or serious and can include:

  • skin rash
  • itching
  • flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
  • swelling under your skin, typically in your lips, eyelids, feet, or hands
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

What you can do

For mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, call your doctor right away. They may recommend ways to ease your symptoms and determine whether you should keep taking Abilify. But if your symptoms are serious and you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

Boxed warnings

Abilify has two boxed warnings. These are serious warnings from the FDA.

Suicidal thoughts and behaviors in people younger than age 24 years. Like other antidepressant drugs, Abilify may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in children as well as young adults ages 18 to 24 years. It’s important to note that Abilify is not approved to treat depression in people ages 18 years and younger.

Increased risk of death in older people with psychosis due to dementia. Abilify belongs to a group of drugs called antipsychotics. If these drugs are used to treat psychosis caused by dementia in older people, they can, in some cases, increase the risk of death. Due to this risk, doctors typically will not prescribeAbilify to treat psychosis related to dementia in adults ages 65 years and older.

With psychosis, you lose touch with reality and may have hallucinations. With dementia, you have problems with communication, thinking, and memory.

What you can do

Here’s some information about what you can do regarding Abilify’s boxed warnings.

Although the boxed warning about suicidal thoughts and behaviors refers to certain ages, you should monitor yourself for these symptoms however old you are. You should also ask family and friends to help monitor you for any symptoms of suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Symptoms to watch for while taking Abilify include certain changes to your mood or behavior, such as increased or unusual:

Regarding Abilify’s other boxed warning, if you or a loved one is an older adult with psychosis due to dementia, talk with your doctor. They can recommend a treatment other than Abilify.

Abilify may cause several side effects. Here are some frequently asked questions about the drug’s side effects and their answers.

Are any side effects specific to the 5-mg or 30-mg strengths of Abilify?

No side effects are known to be specific to any dose or strength of Abilify. Researchers in clinical studies didn’t compare side effects across different doses or strengths.

However, they did note that some side effects occurred more often with higher doses, such as the 30-milligram (mg) dose. These side effects included:

  • sleepiness in adults
  • sleepiness and tremor in children

If you have other questions about Abilify’s side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also refer to the above sections in this article.

Can stopping Abilify treatment cause side effects of withdrawal?

It’s not known whether stopping treatment with Abilify will cause withdrawal side effects. (Stopping treatment may also be known as “coming off” a drug.)

Withdrawal symptoms were observed when animals were no longer given Abilify in animal studies. But the effects of stopping Abilify treatment haven’t been studied in people. Animal studies don’t always predict what will happen in humans.

There was one published case about a man who suddenly stopped taking Abilify and reported withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms included dizziness, anxiety, nausea, muscle twitches, and insomnia. It’s important to note that this case involved one person who took Abilify. It’s not known how common withdrawal symptoms may be in other people.

It’s important to note that you should not stop taking Abilify without speaking to your doctor first. If you both agree that you should stop taking the medication, they can advise you on the next steps. Your doctor may lower your dosage slowly over time. This is known as a drug taper, and it may help reduce your risk of withdrawal symptoms.

If you have additional questions about withdrawal and Abilify, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Is weight loss a side effect of Abilify?

No, weight loss isn’t a known side effect of Abilify. Weight loss wasn’t reported by people who took the drug in clinical studies.

But Abilify is known to cause weight gain as a side effect. (To learn more, see the “Side effect specifics” section above.)

Talk with your doctor if you have concerns about your weight while taking Abilify. They can recommend ways to help you manage a moderate weight.

Below are important precautions to consider before taking Abilify. This includes boxed warnings.

Boxed warnings

Abilify has boxed warnings about the following:

These are serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For details, see the “Side effect specifics” section above.

Other precautions

Be sure to talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Abilify. This drug may not be the right treatment for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. The conditions and factors to consider include:

Blood pressure problems. Abilify can affect blood pressure. If you already have blood pressure problems, you may have an increased risk of these side effects. Your doctor can help determine whether Abilify is safe for you to take.

Convulsions or seizures. In rare cases, Abilify can cause convulsions or seizures. If you have or have had seizures, you may have an increased risk for this side effect with Abilify. Your doctor can help determine whether Abilify is right for you.

CYP2D6 poor metabolizer. Your body uses certain enzymes to break down medications such as Abilify after you take a dose. One enzyme is called CYP2D6. If your body doesn’t make enough CYP2D6, you may be referred to as a CYP2D6 poor metabolizer. In this situation, you may have an increased risk of side effects from Abilify. Your doctor will likely prescribe a lower dosage of the drug.

Diabetes. Taking Abilify can cause changes to your metabolism. These changes may increase your blood sugar levels, which can lead to diabetes. If you already have high blood sugar or diabetes, you may have an increased risk for this side effect.

If you have diabetes or a family history of diabetes, your doctor will likely check your blood sugar levels before prescribing Abilify. They can help determine whether Abilify is the right medication for you.

Low white blood cell count. Taking Abilify can lower your white blood cell count. This can raise your risk of infection. If you already have low white blood cell counts, you may have an increased risk for this side effect. Your doctor can determine whether Abilify is safe for you to take.

Heart problems. Abilify can lower blood pressure. If you have a heart problem, you may be at higher risk of this side effect than usual. (Examples of heart problems include heart failure and having had a heart attack.) Low blood pressure can be serious if your blood pressure drops too low. Your doctor can help determine whether Abilify is right for you.

Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Abilify or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe Abilify. Ask them what other medications may be better options for you.

Alcohol use with Abilify

There’s no known direct interaction between drinking alcohol and taking Abilify. But alcohol may worsen some side effects of Abilify, such as dizziness and trouble sleeping. Talk with your doctor about how much alcohol is safe for you to consume while taking Abilify.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Abilify

It isn’t known if it’s safe to take Abilify while pregnant or breastfeeding. If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor before starting Abilify treatment. You should also talk with them if you’re breastfeeding or considering it. Your doctor can advise you on the risks and benefits of the drug.

It may be possible to misuse Abilify, but the risk for this wasn’t reported in clinical studies. The term misuse means taking a drug in a different way than how your doctor prescribed it.

You can decrease your risk for misuse by taking Abilify exactly as your doctor advises.

If you misuse drugs or have in the past, your doctor will likely monitor you more often than usual during your Abilify treatment. Or they may recommend a different medication.

If you have questions or are concerned about misuse with Abilify, talk with your doctor.

Treatment with Abilify can cause some side effects, but they’re usually mild. Most mild side effects of the drug go away with time and don’t require medical attention. However, serious side effects are possible, as with most medications.

If you experience mild side effects that don’t go away or are bothersome, talk with your doctor. You should also talk with them if you develop serious side effects.

If you’d like to learn more about Abilify, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help answer any questions you have about side effects from taking the drug.

You can also do some research on your own. These articles might help:

Disclaimer: Medical News Today 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 another 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.