Abilify is a prescription medication used to treat acute manic and mixed episodes associated with bipolar disorder. It also maintains efficacy in patients with Bipolar Disorder with a recent manic or mixed episode who had been stabilized and then maintained for at least 6 weeks.
Eventhough there is no cure, bipolar disorder is a treatable condition. Many people with the condition have found that a treatment plan of medicine, education, and psychotherapy has helped them move forward with their lives.
How does Abilify work?
How Abilify works is still unknown, but experts believe that it works by adjusting dopamine, instead of completely blocking it, as well as affecting serotonin.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
As explained in the dictionary, bipolar disorder is a psychiatric disorder marked by alternating episodes of mania and depression. People who have this illness may experience extreme mood swings, along with other specific symptoms and behaviours. Commonly known as “episodes”, these mood swings can take three forms: manic episodes, depressive episodes, or “mixed” episodes.
What are the symptoms associated with bipolar disorder episodes?
Symptoms of a manic episode often include:
- An elevated mood – extreme happiness
- Extreme irritability and anxiousness
- Talking too fast and too much
- An unusual increase in energy
- A reduced need for sleep
- Acting impulsively – engaging in risky behaviour or regretable actions like shopping sprees
- Trouble with delusions and hallucinations – they may think they have a relationship with someone famous, claim to be an expert in an area they really know nothing about, feel paranoid (unusually fearful), or hear voices that are not there.
Symptoms of a depressive episode include:
- An overwhelming feeling of emptiness or sadness
- Lack of energy
- A loss of interest in things
- Trouble concentrating
- Changes in normal sleep or appetite
- And/or thoughts of suicide or dying
A mixed episode includes symptoms that are both manic and depressive.
What causes bipolar disorder symptoms?
The symptoms of bipolar disorder are thought to be caused by an imbalance of key chemicals in the brain. The brain is made up of billions of nerve cells that move a constant stream of information from one to the other. To keep the information flowing, the cells release chemicals known as “neurotransmitters.” Two key neurotransmitters that are needed for brain function are dopamine and serotonin, which play an important role in emotional health.
Many scientists believe that when the levels of these neurotransmitters are imbalanced, it may result in bipolar disorder. For instance, too much dopamine in certain parts of the brain can cause symptoms such as delusions, while too little dopamine in other parts of the brain can cause symptoms such as a lack of emotion and energy.
How can medicine help me?
Abilify or other bipolar medicines can play an important role in helping you take control of your symptoms and extreme mood swings. It can also help make your behaviour more level and predictable. Once this is achieved, your doctor may recommend continuing the medicine (along with psychotherapy and support from your family and friends) to help you stay stable.
Are there any side effects for Abilify?
- Lightheadedness or faintness caused by a sudden change in heart rate and blood pressure when rising quickly from a sitting or lying position has been reported with Abilify
- Bipolar medicines like Abilify can affect your judgment, thinking, or motor skills. You should not drive or operate hazardous machinery until you know how Abilify affects you
- Since medicines like Abilify can impact your body’s ability to reduce body temperature, you should avoid overheating and dehydration
- Bipolar disorder medicines have been associated with swallowing problems (dysphagia). If you had or have swallowing problems, you should tell your doctor.
- If you have suicidal thoughts, you should tell your doctor right away
Other common side effects include: constipation, an inner sense of restlessness or need to move, headache, nausea, upset stomach, vomiting, agitation, anxiety, insomnia, sleepiness, lightheadedness, and tremor.
While taking Abilify, avoid:
- Drinking alcohol
- Breast-feeding an infant
Tell your doctor if you have a history of seizures, or are pregnant or intend to become pregnant, and about all prescription and non-prescription medicines you are taking or plan to take.
Tell your doctor right away if you have conditions or side effects, including the following:
- Very high fever, rigid muscles, shaking, confusion, sweating, or increased heart rate and blood pressure. These may be signs of a condition called neuroleptic malignant syndrome, a rare but serious side effect which could be fatal
- Abnormal or uncontrollable movements. These may be signs of a serious condition called tardive dyskinesia which may be permanent
- Elderly: An increased risk of stroke and ministroke has been reported in a clinical study of elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis
- Diabetes, risk factors for diabetes (for example, obesity, family history of diabetes), or unexpected increases in thirst, urination, or hunger. Increases in blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia), in some cases serious and associated with coma or death, have been reported in patients taking medicines like Abilify. Ask your doctor about the need to monitor your blood sugar level before and during treatment
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