Abilify (aripiprazole)

Medically Reviewed By Elizabeth Scheffel, PharmD

This drug has boxed warnings, the most serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Boxed warnings alert doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Drugs used to treat depression, including Abilify, can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in certain people. This includes children and adults ages 24 years and younger.

However, Abilify is not approved to treat depression in people younger than age 18 years. The drug is approved to treat other conditions in children.

Doctors will watch for symptoms of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in people taking Abilify. They’ll watch most closely during the first few months of Abilify treatment and whenever the dosage is changed.

Risk of death in older adults with dementia-related psychosis. Antipsychotic drugs, such as Abilify, can increase the risk of death in certain adults. This includes adults ages 65 years and older with dementia-related psychosis.

Psychosis is a mental health condition that causes one to lose touch with reality. Dementia is a condition that causes difficulty in areas such as thinking, remembering, and reasoning.

Due to this risk, doctors typically won’t prescribe Abilify for older adults with dementia-related psychosis.

To learn more about these risks, see the “ Abilify: Precautions” section below.

About Abilify

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

In adults depression
• mixed and manic episodes due to bipolar I disorder
schizophrenia
In children ages 13 years and older • schizophrenia
In children ages 10 years and older • mixed and manic episodes due to bipolar I disorder
In children ages 6 years and older Tourette’s syndrome
• irritability due to autism spectrum disorder

Doctors may prescribe Abilify for these uses in certain situations. For details about these conditions and how the drug treats them, see the “Abilify: Uses” section below.

Key points

The following table provides key facts about Abilify.

Active drug aripiprazole
Drug class atypical antipsychotic
Form oral tablet

Finding a healthcare professional

If you’re interested in taking this drug, search here to find a doctor who might prescribe it.

Abilify: Generic

Abilify is a brand-name medication. It contains the active drug aripiprazole, which is also available in a generic form. A generic is an identical copy of the active drug found in a brand-name medication.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ensures that generic drugs are as safe and effective as their original drug. Generics tend to be less expensive than brand-name drugs.

If you’d like to know about the generic version of Abilify, ask your doctor or pharmacist. They can tell you if the generic medication comes in forms and strengths recommended for your condition.

Abilify: Side effects

As with most drugs, it’s possible to have side effects with Abilify. These can include some mild side effects but also some serious ones.

To learn more about Abilify’s side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They may also provide information about managing certain side effects of this drug.

Note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tracks side effects of drugs it has approved. If you would like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Abilify, you can do so through MedWatch.

Mild and serious side effects

Mild and serious side effects of Abilify are listed below. This article does not include all of Abilify’s possible side effects.

Mild side effects

Mild side effects* of Abilify may include:

  • headache
  • blurry vision
  • fatigue
  • dizziness
  • agitation
  • upper respiratory infection, such as the common cold
  • digestive problems, such as constipation, nausea, and vomiting
  • sleep problems, such as insomnia and sleepiness
  • mild allergic reaction

Most times, mild side effects of a drug go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if any side effects become severe or don’t go away.

* This is not a complete list of Abilify’s mild side effects. To learn about other mild side effects of this drug, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Or you can view the drug’s prescribing information.
† To learn more about allergic reaction, see below.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects of Abilify may include:

  • neuroleptic malignant syndrome (a condition that can cause confusion and rigid muscles)
  • uncontrollable urges to do certain activities, such as shopping or eating
  • orthostatic hypotension (sudden drop in blood pressure upon standing), which can lead to fainting or falling
  • trouble swallowing
  • trouble regulating your body temperature
  • low white blood cell levels
  • seizure
  • risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors*
  • risk of death in older adults with dementia-related psychosis*
  • severe allergic reaction

Serious side effects from Abilify aren’t common, but they are possible. If you have serious side effects, call your doctor right away. However, if you’re having a medical emergency or your symptoms feel life threatening, call 911 or a local emergency number.

* Abilify has a boxed warning for this side effect. A boxed warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous. For more information about this side effect, see the “Abilify: Precautions” section below.
† To learn more about allergic reaction, see below.

Abilify’s side effects in children

Abilify is approved to treat the conditions below in children.

In children ages 13 years and older schizophrenia
In children ages 10 years and older • mixed and manic episodes due to bipolar I disorder
In children ages 6 years and older Tourette’s syndrome
• irritability due to autism spectrum disorder

Mild and serious side effects in children

Many of Abilify’s mild and serious side effects in children are similar to those in adults. For details, see “Mild and serious side effects” above.

However, children taking Abilify also can have the following mild side effects:

  • drooling or making more saliva than usual
  • decreased or increased appetite
  • fever

Boxed warning in children

Abilify has a boxed warning about the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors that can affect children. A boxed warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

For more information about this side effect, see the “Abilify: Precautions” section below.

Suicide prevention

If you know someone at immediate risk of self-harm, suicide, or hurting another person:

  • Ask the tough question: “Are you considering suicide?”
  • Listen to the person without judgment.
  • Call 911 or the local emergency number, or text TALK to 741741 to communicate with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Stay with the person until professional help arrives.
  • Try to remove any weapons, medications, or other potentially harmful objects.

If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, a prevention hotline can help. The Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24 hours per day when you call 988. During a crisis, people who are hard of hearing can use their preferred relay service or dial 711 then 800-273-8255.

Click here for more links and local resources.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after taking Abilify. A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible.

Allergic reaction was a rare side effect in Abilify’s clinical studies.

Possible symptoms of mild and serious allergic reactions are listed in the table below.

Mild allergic reaction symptoms Serious allergic reaction symptoms
flushing • swelling under your skin, possibly in your hands, feet, lips, or eyelids
rash • swelling in your throat or mouth
• itching trouble breathing

If you have an allergic reaction to Abilify, call your doctor right away. This is important because the reaction could become severe.

However, if you’re having a medical emergency or your symptoms feel life threatening, call 911 or a local emergency number.

Abilify: Dosage

Below you’ll find dosages that are commonly recommended for Abilify. However, you should follow the dosage your doctor prescribes for you or your child. They’ll recommend the dosage that’s best for your needs.

Most often, doctors start by prescribing a low dosage of Abilify. Then, they’ll change the dosage over time to an amount that’s right for the condition being treated. Doctors typically prescribe the smallest dosage that gives the desired outcome.

The dosage of Abilify that your doctor prescribes will depend on factors such as:

  • the age of the person who will take it
  • any health conditions the person has
  • the condition you’re using Abilify to treat and the severity of the condition
  • whether Abilify will be used alone or in combination with other treatments

Abilify’s form

Abilify comes as an oral tablet.

Abilify’s strengths: 2 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg

Abilify is available in the following strengths:

  • 2 milligrams (mg)
  • 5 mg
  • 10 mg
  • 15 mg
  • 20 mg
  • 30 mg

Abilify’s recommended dosages

Recommended dosages for Abilify in adults and children are described below.

Abilify’s approved uses vary in adults and children. For more information, see the “Abilify: Uses” section below.

Adult dosage

The recommended dosages for Abilify in adults are as follows.

Condition Starting dosage Maintenance dosage Maximum dosage
depression 2 mg to 5 mg once daily 5 mg to 10 mg once daily, starting on day 8 15 mg once daily
mixed and manic episodes due to bipolar I disorder 10 mg to 15 mg once daily 15 mg once daily, starting on day 8 30 mg once daily
schizophrenia 10 mg to 15 mg once daily 10 mg to 15 mg once daily, starting on day 15 30 mg once daily

Child dosage

The recommended dosages for Abilify in children are as follows.

Schizophrenia

Abilify is used to treat schizophrenia in children ages 13 years and older. The recommended dosage for this use is as follows.

  • Starting dosage: 2 mg once daily
  • Maintenance dosage: 10 mg once daily, starting on day 3
  • Maximum dosage: 30 mg once daily

Mixed and manic episodes due to bipolar I disorder

Abilify is used to treat mixed and manic episodes due to bipolar I disorder in children ages 10 years and older. The recommended dosage for this use is as follows.

  • Starting dosage: 2 mg once daily
  • Maintenance dosage: 10 mg once daily, starting on day 3
  • Maximum dosage: 30 mg once daily

Tourette’s syndrome

Abilify is used to treat Tourette’s syndrome in children ages 6 years and older. The recommended dosage for this use is shown in the table below. This dosage is based on a child’s weight in kilograms (kg). One kg is about 2.2 pounds (lb).

Body weight in kg Approximate body weight in lb Starting dosage Maintenance dosage, starting on day 3 Maximum dosage
less than 50 kg less than 110 lb 2 mg once daily 5 mg once daily 10 mg once daily
50 kg or more 110 lb or more 2 mg once daily 10 mg once daily 20 mg once daily

For example, a child weighing 40 kg (about 88 lb) would start with a dosage of 2 mg daily. After 2 days, their doctor may increase the dosage to 5 mg once daily. If the symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome do not lessen at this dosage, the child’s doctor may increase the dosage to 10 mg once daily.

Irritability due to autism spectrum disorder

Abilify is used to treat irritability due to autism spectrum disorder in children ages 6 years and older. The recommended dosage for this use is as follows.

  • Starting dosage: 2 mg once daily
  • Maintenance dosage: 5 mg to 10 mg once daily
  • Maximum dosage: 15 mg once daily

Dosage considerations

Below are some things to consider about Abilify’s dosage.

Missing a dose. If you or your child misses a dose of Abilify, take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and take the next dose at its usual time. Do not take any extra doses to make up for a missed dose. Doing so can increase the risk of side effects. (For more information on side effects, see the “Abilify: Side effects” section above.)

Try these medication reminder options to help avoid missing doses. You could also set an alarm, use a timer, or download a reminder app on your phone.

Length of treatment. Doctors typically prescribe Abilify as a long-term treatment when used for the conditions below:

  • depression
  • schizophrenia
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • irritability due to autism spectrum disorder

You or your child likely will take Abilify long term if you and your doctor feel it’s safe and effective.

However, for treating mixed or manic episodes due to bipolar I disorder, doctors usually prescribe Abilify short term. After the symptoms of an episode have lessened, your doctor may switch to a different treatment for long-term use.

Abilify: Questions you may have

Here are some common questions about Abilify and brief answers to them. If you’d like to know more about these topics, ask your doctor.

Do doctors prescribe Abilify for anxiety?

Abilify isn’t currently approved to treat anxiety. With anxiety, you may have excessive, overwhelming, or persistent worry about things that happen in everyday life.

Although the drug isn’t approved for this use, doctors may prescribe Abilify off-label for anxiety. With off-label use, doctors prescribe a drug for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.

Keep in mind that Abilify may cause anxiety as a side effect. As a result, Abilify could worsen anxiety in people who already have this condition. Due to this risk, doctors may recommend a treatment other than Abilify for anxiety.

If you’re interested in taking Abilify for anxiety, talk with your doctor. They can advise you on treatment options for your condition.

To learn more about Abilify’s approved uses, see the “Abilify: Uses” section below.

Does Abilify give you energy?

No, Abilify isn’t likely to give you energy. In fact, Abilify may cause side effects that reduce energy levels. Examples include fatigue and sleepiness.

If you have questions about what to expect with Abilify, talk with your doctor.

Is Abilify a controlled substance?

No, Abilify is not a controlled substance.

Controlled substances are regulated by the federal government. These medications often have a high risk of misuse. (With misuse, a drug is taken in a way other than how it was prescribed.) Due to the risk of misuse, doctors must follow special rules when prescribing controlled substances.

Is Abilify considered dangerous?

It’s not necessarily considered dangerous. Clinical studies have found Abilify to be safe when used for certain conditions in adults and children. (For details about these conditions, see the “Abilify: Uses” section below.)

However, in rare cases, serious side effects are possible with Abilify. In fact, the drug has boxed warnings about certain side effects that may be dangerous. These are the most serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). To learn more about these risks, see the “Abilify: Precautions” section below.

If you have questions about the safety of Abilify, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Abilify: Uses

Prescription drugs, such as Abilify, are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat certain conditions. Doctors sometimes prescribe drugs off-label for other conditions. With off-label use, doctors prescribe a drug for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.

Using Abilify for depression

Abilify is used to treat depression in adults. With depression, you have intense and persistent feelings of sadness that interfere with daily life.

Symptoms of depression can vary among people but may include:

  • weight gain or weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • mood changes
  • sleep problems, such as insomnia or sleeping more than usual
  • trouble concentrating

For this use, doctors prescribe Abilify in combination with an antidepressant. To learn more, see “Using Abilify with other drugs” below.

Using Abilify for mixed and manic episodes due to bipolar I disorder

Abilify is used to treat mixed and manic episodes due to bipolar I disorder. The drug is approved for this use in adults and children ages 10 years and older.

Bipolar I disorder is a type of bipolar disorder. It typically includes the following.

  • Depressive episodes. With depressive episodes, you have periods of feeling hopeless or fatigued. You may also have a loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed.
  • Manic episodes. With manic episodes, you have periods of feeling extremely energetic and excited that affect your daily life.
  • Mixed episodes. With mixed episodes, you have symptoms of depression and mania that occur at the same time.

Abilify is used as a short-term treatment for mixed and manic episodes due to bipolar I disorder. Doctors may prescribe Abilify alone or in combination with lithium (Lithobid) or valproate.

After the symptoms of an episode have lessened, your doctor may switch to a different treatment for long-term use.

Using Abilify for schizophrenia

Abilify is used to treat schizophrenia in adults and children ages 13 years and older.

With schizophrenia, you may have trouble thinking clearly or deciding between what is or isn’t real.

Symptoms of schizophrenia can include:

  • trouble concentrating
  • hallucinations (hearing or seeing things that aren’t real) or delusions (believing things that aren’t true)
  • loss of interest in work, school, or other activities
  • feeling hopeless, restless, or paranoid

Using Abilify for Tourette’s syndrome

Abilify is used to treat Tourette’s syndrome in children ages 6 years and older.

With Tourette’s syndrome, symptoms may include vocal or physical tics. These are unusual sounds or movements that a person with this condition has little control over. Tics may become more intense or frequent during times of emotional, physical, or mental stress.

Examples of tics include:

  • making sounds such as squeaking or grunting
  • clearing the throat
  • coughing
  • blinking
  • sniffing

Using Abilify for irritability due to autism spectrum disorder

Abilify is used to treat irritability due to autism spectrum disorder in children ages 6 years and older.

With autism spectrum disorder, symptoms may include challenges with behavior, language, or communication.  You may also have trouble with:

  • making eye contact
  • adjusting to new routines
  • communicating what you need or how you feel
  • relating to other people

Other symptoms include irritability or aggression. Doctors may prescribe Abilify to treat irritability that can occur with autism spectrum disorder.

Using Abilify with other drugs

For certain conditions, doctors sometimes prescribe Abilify in combination with other treatments. These treatment combinations are described below.

For depression

When used to treat depression, doctors prescribe Abilify in combination with an antidepressant. Examples include:

For mixed or manic episodes due to bipolar I disorder

When used to treat mixed or manic episodes due to bipolar I disorder, doctors may prescribe Abilify with other treatments. These include:

  • lithium (Lithobid)
  • valproate

For other conditions

Doctors may prescribe Abilify for conditions other than depression and mixed and manic episodes due to bipolar I disorder. For these uses, your doctor will advise whether to take Abilify on its own or with other treatments.

For details, see these sections above:

  • “Using Abilify for schizophrenia”
  • “Using Abilify for Tourette’s syndrome”
  • “Using Abilify for irritability due to autism spectrum disorder”

Using Abilify in children

Abilify is approved to treat the conditions below in children.

In children ages 13 years and older schizophrenia
In children ages 10 years and older • mixed and manic episodes due to bipolar I disorder
In children ages 6 years and older Tourette’s syndrome
• irritability due to autism spectrum disorder

For details, see these sections above:

  • “Using Abilify for schizophrenia”
  • “Using Abilify for mixed and manic episodes due to bipolar I disorder”
  • “Using Abilify for Tourette’s syndrome”
  • “Using Abilify for irritability due to autism spectrum disorder”

Finding a healthcare professional for Abilify

If you’re interested in taking Abilify, you can find a healthcare professional who might prescribe it by searching here. You can prepare for your appointment by using Healthgrades’ appointment guide for the conditions below:

Abilify: Withdrawal and dependence

Dependence wasn’t reported in clinical studies of Abilify. (With dependence, your body needs a drug to function like usual.)

Animal studies have shown a risk of dependence with Abilify. However, animal studies don’t always predict what happens with humans.

Drugs that cause dependence typically will lead to withdrawal symptoms after you stop taking the drug. These symptoms weren’t reported in clinical studies of Abilify.

However, at least one report of withdrawal symptoms was made after the drug was approved for use. In the report, the person had suddenly stopped taking Abilify.

Abilify withdrawal symptoms

Possible withdrawal symptoms that may occur after suddenly stopping Abilify include:

  • lightheadedness
  • insomnia
  • nausea
  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • muscle twitching

Due to this risk, it’s best not to stop Abilify unless your doctor tells you it’s safe to do so. When it’s time to stop taking the drug, your doctor will likely lower the dosage slowly over time. This will help reduce the risk of withdrawal symptoms after the drug is stopped.

Abilify withdrawal timeline

The timeline for withdrawal from Abilify isn’t known for certain. In the report recorded after approval mentioned above, withdrawal symptoms happened about 2 days after the last dose of Abilify. However, each person’s body may respond differently when Abilify treatment is stopped.

To learn more about Abilify and withdrawal, talk with your doctor.

Abilify: How it works

Abilify is approved to treat the conditions below in certain people:

To learn more about these conditions and who Abilify may be prescribed for, see the “Abilify: Uses” section above.

It isn’t completely understood how Abilify works to treat the conditions listed above. The drug is thought to affect brain chemicals called serotonin and dopamine. Higher levels of these chemicals may help improve mood and manage thoughts and behaviors. In this way, Abilify helps to lessen the symptoms of the conditions it treats.

How long does Abilify take to start working?

After starting Abilify, it may take several weeks for symptoms of your condition or your child’s condition to lessen.

How long does Abilify last in your system? What’s its half-life?

Abilify likely stays in your system for about 2 weeks.

This is based on Abilify’s half-life. (A drug’s half-life is the amount of time it takes half of a drug’s dose to leave your system.) Abilify’s half-life is about 75 hours. This means it takes about 75 hours for half of a dose of Abilify to leave your system.

It usually takes about five half-lives for a drug to leave your system entirely. For Abilify, this means the drug stays in your system for about 15 to 16 days.

Abilify: Consuming alcohol during treatment

Alcohol and Abilify don’t have any known interactions.

However, drinking alcohol with Abilify could worsen certain side effects of the drug. Examples include nausea and sleepiness.

If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about an amount that’s safe to consume while you’re taking Abilify.

Abilify: Alternatives

Doctors may prescribe drugs other than Abilify for your condition or your child’s condition. Certain drugs may work better than others.

Abilify is used to treat several conditions. These include depression, schizophrenia, and mixed and manic episodes that occur with bipolar I disorder. Here’s a summary of other drugs for depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder that doctors sometimes prescribe.

To learn more about one alternative to Abilify, view our “Abilify vs. Rexulti” article. For additional information about alternatives to Abilify, ask your doctor. They can tell you about other medications that could be prescribed for you or your child.

Abilify: Overdose

Serious effects can occur if you use more than the recommended dosage of Abilify. Do not use more Abilify than your doctor recommends. 

Symptoms of overdose

Symptoms that an overdose could cause include:

  • vomiting
  • sleepiness
  • tremors or convulsions
  • changes in liver or kidney function, as shown on blood tests
  • heart problems, such as abnormal heart rhythm
  • confusion
  • changes in blood pressure
  • loss of consciousness
  • slowed or stopped breathing

What to do in case of overdose

Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much of this drug. Also, you can call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use its online tool. However, if your symptoms are severe, call 911 or a local emergency number. Or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

Abilify: Interactions

Abilify may interact with other medications. However, the drug isn’t known to interact with supplements or foods.

Different interactions can cause different effects. Some interactions can interfere with a drug’s effectiveness. Others can increase a drug’s side effects or cause them to be severe.

Before you start Abilify, be sure to tell your doctor about any medications, herbs, vitamins, or supplements you take. They can check for any possible interactions between these products and Abilify.

If any of the interactions listed below might pertain to you or your child, talk with your doctor. They can tell you what you need to do to avoid the interaction.

  • Abilify and other medications. Because Abilify may interact with the following drugs, your doctor may recommend you do not take it with these drugs. Examples include:
    • benzodiazepines, such as lorazepam (Ativan, Loreev XR) and diazepam (Valium)
    • blood pressure drugs, such doxazosin (Cardura, Cardura XL) and prazosin (Minipress)
    • certain antibiotics, such as clarithromycin and rifampin (Rifadin)
    • certain antidepressants, such as bupropion (Wellbutrin SR, Wellbutrin XL) and paroxetine (Paxil)
    • the seizure drug carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol)
    • the antifungal drug itraconazole (Sporanox, Tolsura)
    • the abnormal heart rhythm drug quinidine
  • Abilify and herbs and supplements. Abilify isn’t known to interact with any herbs or supplements. If you have questions about taking certain herbs or supplements with Abilify, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Abilify and foods. Certain foods interact with Abilify. Examples include grapefruit and grapefruit juice. If you have questions about eating specific foods with Abilify, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

For information about drug-condition interactions, see the “Abilify: Precautions” section below.

Abilify: Cost

As with other medications, prices for Abilify may vary. The drug’s price will depend on factors such as:

Cost considerations for Abilify

Here are some things to consider when looking into the cost of Abilify.

Option for a 90-day supply. For some drugs, it’s possible to get a 90-day supply. If this option is approved by your insurance company, it can help lower the cost of the drug. It can also help you avoid frequent trips to your pharmacy. If you’d like to learn more about this option, ask your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance company.

Need for prior authorization. Before insurance coverage for Abilify is approved, your insurance company may require prior authorization. In this case, your doctor and insurance company will communicate about your prescription for Abilify. Then, the insurance company will decide if the drug will be covered. To find out if you need prior authorization for Abilify, contact your insurance company.

Possible cost assistance options. Financial assistance to help lower the cost of Abilify is available. The Savings Program for Abilify may help reduce its cost. To learn more and see if you’re eligible for support, visit the manufacturer’s website. Also, check out this article to learn about ways to save on prescription drugs.

Use of a mail-order pharmacy. Abilify may be dispensed through mail-order pharmacies. Getting your prescription through a mail-order pharmacy could lower its cost. It can also allow you to get the drug without leaving home. To find out more about this option, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance company.

Availability of a generic form. Abilify comes in a generic form called aripiprazole. A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. Generics are typically less expensive than brand-name drugs.

If your doctor prescribes Abilify but you want to know about taking aripiprazole, talk with them about which option might be better for you. Also, check your insurance plan because it might cover just one form or the other.

Abilify: How to take

Your doctor will recommend how you should take Abilify. It’s important to take the drug exactly as your doctor instructs.

Abilify comes as an oral tablet. You’ll take the drug by swallowing it.

Questions about taking Abilify

Here’s a list of common questions related to taking Abilify.

  • When should I take Abilify? You or your child likely will take Abilify once per day. Try these medication reminder options to help avoid missing doses of Abilify. You could also set an alarm, use a timer, or download a reminder app on your phone.
  • Do I need to take Abilify with food? You can take Abilify with or without food.
  • Can Abilify be chewed, split, or crushed? No, Abilify tablets should not be chewed, split, or crushed. The tablets should be swallowed whole. If you have trouble swallowing Abilify tablets, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Is there a best time of day to take Abilify? No, you can take the drug any time of day. Try to take your doses around the same time each day. Doing so helps keep a steady level of the drug in the body. This helps the medication work effectively.

Abilify: Taking while pregnant

It isn’t known whether Abilify is safe to take while pregnant. The drug has not been tested in enough clinical studies to know for certain.

However, antipsychotic drugs have been reported to cause harm in infants if used during the last 3 months of pregnancy. (Abilify is an antipsychotic drug.) Examples of this harm include:

  • extrapyramidal symptoms (involuntary or uncontrollable movements), such as tremors
  • withdrawal symptoms,* including difficulty feeding, sleepiness, and agitation

If you take Abilify during pregnancy, consider joining the National Pregnancy Registry for Psychiatric Medications. This pregnancy registry helps collect information about the use of psychiatric medications during pregnancy. To learn more, talk with your doctor. You can also call 866-961-2388 or visit the registry’s website.

If you’re pregnant or planning a pregnancy, talk with your doctor. They’ll advise you on the risks and benefits of taking Abilify during pregnancy.

* Withdrawal symptoms are side effects that can happen after stopping a drug the body is dependent on. With dependence, the body needs a drug to function like usual.

Abilify and birth control needs

Doctors aren’t sure whether it’s safe to take Abilify during pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about your birth control needs with Abilify if you’re sexually active and you or your partner can become pregnant. Your doctor can advise whether you should use birth control with this medication.

Abilify: Taking while breastfeeding

Abilify passes into breast milk. Reports have been made of poor weight gain in children breastfed by a person taking Abilify. In addition, the drug may affect the body’s ability to produce breast milk.

If you’re breastfeeding or planning to do so, talk with your doctor. They can tell you about some ways to feed your child while you’re taking Abilify.

Abilify: Precautions

This drug comes with several precautions.

FDA warnings

This drug has boxed warnings, the most serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Boxed warnings alert doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Drugs used to treat depression, including Abilify, can increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in certain people. This includes children and adults ages 24 years and younger.

However, Abilify is not approved to treat depression in people younger than age 18 years. The drug is approved to treat other conditions in children.

Doctors will watch for symptoms of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in people taking Abilify. They’ll watch most closely during the first few months of Abilify treatment and whenever the dosage is changed.

Symptoms of suicidal thoughts and behaviors include:

  • mood changes, such as irritability, anger, hostility, or agitation
  • feeling hopeless or shameful
  • isolating from other people
  • thinking or talking about harming yourself or others

Tell your doctor right away if you have these symptoms while taking Abilify. If you have thoughts of harming yourself, call 911 or a local emergency number immediately.

Risk of death in older adults with dementia-related psychosis. Antipsychotic drugs, such as Abilify, can increase the risk of death in certain adults. This includes adults ages 65 years and older with dementia-related psychosis.

Psychosis is a mental health condition that causes one to lose touch with reality. Dementia is a condition that causes difficulty in areas such as thinking, remembering, and reasoning.

In clinical studies of antipsychotic drugs, the most common causes of death in older adults were related to infection and heart problems. (Abilify is an antipsychotic drug.)

In addition, antipsychotics may increase the risk of stroke in older people with dementia-related psychosis. In some cases, having a stroke can be fatal. Possible symptoms of stroke include headache and weakness in your face, arm, or leg (usually on one side of the body).

If you have symptoms of stroke while taking Abilify, call 911 or seek emergency medical help right away.

Due to these risks, doctors typically won’t prescribe Abilify for older adults with dementia-related psychosis. Doctors can advise on alternative treatment options for people who have this condition.

Other precautions

Tell your doctor about your health history before starting treatment with Abilify. Your doctor may not recommend this medication if you have certain factors affecting your health or specific medical conditions. These situations are considered drug-condition interactions.

These factors and conditions include those listed below.

Seizures. Abilify may cause seizures as a side effect. Before taking this drug, tell your doctor if you or your child have or ever had seizures. They’ll determine whether it’s safe to take Abilify.

Diabetes. Abilify may cause changes in metabolism that may lead to high blood sugar levels. (Metabolism refers to the chemical processes that keep the body functioning.)

Before starting Abilify, tell your doctor if you or your child has diabetes. They may have you check blood sugar levels more often than usual while taking the drug.

Heart or blood pressure problems. If you or your child has heart or blood pressure problems, tell your doctor before starting Abilify. Be sure to also tell them if you or your child has a history of heart failure or heart attack.

Abilify can cause orthostatic hypotension as a side effect. (This is a sudden drop in blood pressure upon standing.) If you or your child already has heart or blood pressure problems, the risk of this side effect may be higher.

Your doctor can recommend whether it’s safe to take Abilify.

Low white blood cell levels. Taking Abilify can lead to low white blood cell levels, which can increase the risk of infection. If you or your child already has low white blood cell levels before taking Abilify, it may lower them more. As such, this could increase your risk of infection.

Your doctor can tell you whether Abilify is safe to take. 

Allergic reaction. Your doctor will likely not prescribe Abilify if you or your child has had an allergic reaction to it or any of its ingredients. To find out about other treatment options, talk with your doctor.

Pregnancy. It’s not known whether Abilify is safe to take during pregnancy. If you’d like additional information about taking Abilify while pregnant, view the “Abilify: Taking while pregnant” section above.

Breastfeeding. Abilify passes into breast milk. This may lead to side effects in children who are breastfed. If you’d like additional information about taking Abilify while breastfeeding, view the “Abilify: Taking while breastfeeding” section above.

To learn more about the side effects of Abilify that could be harmful, see the “Abilify: Side effects” section above.

Abilify: Expiration, storage, and disposal

Here’s some information about Abilify’s expiration date, as well as how to store and dispose of the drug.

Expiration. Your pharmacist will add an expiration date to the label on Abilify’s bottle. This date is usually 1 year from the date the medication was dispensed to you. Expiration dates help ensure that a medication is effective during a period of time.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises that you avoid taking expired drugs. If you have an unused medication that’s past the drug’s expiration date, talk with your pharmacist. They can let you know whether you might still be able to use the medication.

Storage. Many factors determine how long a medication remains good to use. These factors include how and where you store the drug. Store Abilify tablets at a temperature of 77°F (25°C). The drug can temporarily be stored at temperatures between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C), such as when traveling. Avoid storing it in areas where it could get damp or wet, such as bathrooms. The medication should be kept in a tightly sealed container.

Disposal. It’s important to safely dispose of Abilify if you no longer need to take it and have unused medication. Doing so helps prevent others, including children and pets, from accidentally taking the drug. It also helps avoid causing harm to the environment.

Ask your pharmacist for information about disposing of Abilify. Also, check out this page for several tips on safe medication disposal.

Abilify: Questions for your doctor

If you have questions about Abilify, talk with your doctor. They can help advise you on whether Abilify could be a good treatment option for you.

Here’s a list of questions you may want to ask your doctor:

  • Do I take or is my child taking any medications that interact with Abilify?
  • Will Abilify cure my condition or my child’s condition?
  • How is Abilify different from other medications that treat my condition or my child’s?

Your doctor may also tell you about other treatment options for your condition. You may find these articles on depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder helpful in learning about alternative drugs. In addition, you can view our selection of videos on depression and bipolar disorder.

Disclaimer: Healthgrades 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.

Medical Reviewer: Elizabeth Scheffel, PharmD
Last Review Date: 2022 Aug 12
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.