Can we use abilify for anxiety?

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In this article we will discuss whether abilify can be used for anxiety as well as give you a quick guide as to how one can use abilify.

We will also explore what abilify is, what are the precautions surrounding its use, and its side effects.

Can we use abilify for anxiety?

Though it has not been approved for the treatment of anxiety related symptoms for anxiety disorders, abilify has a psychological treatment for anxiety could be a possibility. 

There have been various clinical trials and reviews that have been done which indicate that there is a possibility that this drug can be used for the treatment of anxiety, there is stil need for more trials that provide conclusive evidence for FDA approval in the United states. 

A clinical review that explored the various studies that has been done on the role of aripiprazole (brand name abilify) stressed the recent interest of doctors towards antipsychotics as a treatment for anxiety disorders.

The researchers randomised and reviewed various studies that investigated the use and efficacy of aripiprazole in anxiety, bipolar disorder and depression. This was done using various online resources as well. 

According to their results, the researchers noted that there were a nortable number of studies and clinical trials that has reported antipsychotics to be effective in anxiety, concluded that the utility of this particular drug not only for schizophrenia but also for depression, bipolar, and anxiety disorders “…make aripiprazole for anxiety an intriguing avenue of exploration.”

Another review explored the use of aripiprazole with the basis that the various classes of drugs available do not always meet clinically needs of people who have been diagnosed with the condition. 

The researchers noted that though there has been much discussion regarding the use of antipsychotics such as aripiprazole for the treatment of disorders other than schizophrenia, with in  conjunction with or in combination with other drugs, they acknowledge that trials is sparse and assessments of risk and benefits is not possible at present. 

In this particular review, the researchers explored the rationale for the use of aripiprazole for disorders like anxiety and depression. 

They discussed the effect of this drug on various mechanisms of action such as the action of aripiprazole at serotonin (5-HT) receptors as a 5-HT1A partial receptor agonist, a 5-HT2C partial receptor agonist and a 5-HT2A receptor antagonist (Pae, Serretti , Patkar & Masand, 2008).

The researchers also noted that this particular drug also acts as a receptor antagonist for dopamine as well. Their rationale also explores possible neuroprotective effects (Pae, Serretti , Patkar & Masand, 2008) of the drug as well as noted that based on various trials, the drug itself tends to have lowered frequency of side effects or minder side effects which make this drug highly desirable compared to other atpial drugs. 

The researchers of this particular review concluded what most researchers have pushed forward that abilify or aripiprazole requires more trials and research to explore the potential utility of this drug for the treatment of depression and anxiety before any conclusion can be made for sure. 

What is Ablify?

Abilify, which is the brand name for aripiprazole, is an antipsychotic medication that is used to treat symptoms of psychotic conditions including schizophrenia in adults and children.

It is a second generation antipsychotic (SGA) or atypical antipsychotic and it works by balancing levels of  dopamine and serotonin to improve thinking, mood, and behaviour.

What are the other conditions that Abilify is used for?

Aripiprazole or abilify has also been approved by the FDA in the united states for the treatment of the following conditions:

  • Acute treatment of manic episodes of bipolar disorder with other medications
  • Maintenance Of bipolar disorder
  • Treatment of major depressive disorder with antidepressants.
  • Irritability in autistic disorders
  • Tourette syndrome
  • Treatment of agitation in schizophrenia 

It’s off label uses include:

  • Borderline personality disorder 
  • Drug-induced hyperprolactinemia 

How should this medicine be used?

Here is a quick guide related to the use of abilify or Aripiprazole.

For the liquid and the tablet without sensor

  • Abilify comes either as a liquid or a tablet, or a disintegrating tablet taken orally. You can take it once a day with or without food or as your doctor prescribes and instructs you. 
  • Take the drug around the same time every day.
  • Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
  • When you are trying to take out the tablet, do not push it out but rather peel the foil instead to take it out of the packaging. 
  • Do not split the tablet and instead consume it whole. 

When the medication comes with a sensor

  • Swallow the tablet with a sensor whole; do not divide, crush, or chew.
  • These tablets with sensors come with a patch that you can wear which detects your consummation and reaction to the medication. 
  • You can view this information on your phone or a device where you can download the app for it. Do this before you start the medication.
  • apply the patch to the left side of the body above the lower edge of the rib cage only when prompted by the smartphone app instructions. Avoid areas that are scraped, cracked, inflamed, or irritated or where an older patch has been removed. 
  • Change the patch weekly or sooner, if needed. \
  • You need to keep the patch on when showering, swimming, or exercising.
  • However you need to remove it when you are undergoing a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test or if the patch causes skin irritation, remove it and tell your doctor.
  • After you take the medication, the app will detect the medication within 30 minutes to 2 hours. If this does not happen,  do not take another dose rather talk to your doctor.

Regarding dosage

Usually, your doctor will start you on a low dose of aripiprazole and gradually increase or decrease your dose depending how you react to the medication,

It may take 2 weeks or longer before you notice changes in your symptoms and a few months before you notice the full benefits of the medication. 

Continue to take aripiprazole even if you feel well if you notice common and less severe side effects but inform your doctor about these side effects and changes. 

Missed dosage

If you missed a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, do not take the dose and skip it. Resume the normal dose for the next appointed time so as to avoid double dosing.

Missing doses of aripiprazole may increase your risk for a relapse in your symptoms so make sure you take the missed dose as soon as you remember.

Coming off Abilify

If you intend to come off the medication, make sure that you and your doctor take the tapering-off approach where your doctor will gradually decrease the dosage until you are no longer ingesting any more medication. 

If this is not done there is high risk for severe withdrawal symptoms especially if the dosage is high or the medication has been taken for a long time. 

What are the precautions related to the use of Abilify?

Some of the precautions or at-risk individuals related to the use of abilify include the following:

Abilify should not be used for older adults with dementia related psychosis as the use of abilify has not been approved. 

Suicidal ideation and behavrios might increase with the use of this drug so it is advisable that populaitons with have risk of suciidie to be prescribed this drug under strict and continue obersvation by the doctor. 

If you notice that you have fever with stiff muscles and rapid heart rate; uncontrolled muscle movements; symptoms that come on suddenly such as numbness or weakness, severe headache, and problems with vision, speech, or balance, immediately get medical attention and sto the use of this drug under the supervision of your doctor. 

Do not take Abilify if you are allergic to aripiprazole or if you have any of the following conditions:

  • heart problems or a stroke
  • high or low blood pressure
  • diabetes (in you or a family member) because liquid form of abilify contains sugar.
  • seizures
  • low white blood cell (WBC) counts
  • phenylketonuria (PKU) because the tablet form of this medication may contain over 3 milligrams of phenylalanine.

If you are pregnant, it is advisable that you do not use this drug since taking antipsychotic medicine in the last 3 months of pregnancy may cause serious problems in the newborn. \

So make sure that you notify your doctor if you are pregnant or you get pregnant or breastfeeding when under this medication. 

What side effects can this medication cause?

Some of the side effects of abilify or Aripiprazole include the following. Some of these symptoms are common and not as severe and often tend to reduce as one continues the use of the medication. 

However, if the symptoms continue for more than a few days or a week, it is advisable that you notify your doctor to discuss another dosage. 

  • headache
  • nervousness
  • restlessness
  • Dizziness or having trouble keeping your balance
  • heartburn
  • constipation
  • diarrhoea
  • stomach pain
  • weight gain
  • changes in appetite
  • Excess salivation
  • pain in the arms, legs, or joints
  • Tiredness

Serious side effects that indicate immediate medical intervention and attention include:

  • rash
  • hives
  • itching
  • swelling of the eyes, face, mouth, lips, tongue, throat, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • seizures
  • changes in vision
  • uncontrollable shaking of the face, tongue, or other body parts
  • fever; stiff muscles; sweating; confusion; sweating; or fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
  • tightening of the neck muscles

If you notice any of these side effects, get medical attention immediately by calling emergency services or your doctor. 


In this article we have discussed whether abilify can be used for anxiety as well as give you a quick guide as to how one can use abilify.

We have also explored what abilify is, what are the precautions surrounding its use, and its side effects.

FAQ related to Can we use abilify for anxiety?

How long does it take Abilify to work for anxiety?

Improvements in symptoms have been observed in one or two weeks after the first use of Abilify. However, it can sometimes take up to 6 weeks to see the full benefits of the medication.

Does Abilify calm you down?

Aripiprazole or Abilify has been observed to have potential to calm irritability in children and teens with autism as well as aripiprazole has been used  to treat agitation with schizophrenia or bipolar mania. 

Which antipsychotic is best for anxiety?

Some Atypical antipsychotics that have been observed to have some positive results in the treatment for anxiety include quetiapine, aripiprazole, olanzapine, and risperidone. These drugs have been observed to reduce anxiety symptoms related to schizophrenia and related disorders. 

Can Abilify worsen anxiety?

It is possible that Abilify can worsen anxiety since anxiety is one of the side effects listed with respect to the use of this drug so it is important that you notify your doctor if you notice symptoms of anxiety worsening. 


Abilify. Retrieved on 10th January 2022.

Aripiprazole. MedLine Plus. Retrieved on 10th January 2022.

Aripiprazole (Abilify). National Alliance on Mental Illness. Retrieved on 10th January 2022.

Katzman MA. Aripiprazole: a clinical review of its use for the treatment of anxiety disorders and anxiety as a comorbidity in mental illness. J Affect Disord. 2011 Jan;128 Suppl 1:S11-20. doi: 10.1016/S0165-0327(11)70004-0. PMID: 21220076.

Pae CU, Serretti A, Patkar AA, Masand PS. Aripiprazole in the treatment of depressive and anxiety disorders: a review of current evidence. CNS Drugs. 2008;22(5):367-88. doi: 10.2165/00023210-200822050-00002. PMID: 18399707.

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