Abilify and I – Adventures in Antipsychotics

So, the doc’s appointment was early this week because he is going on vacation. So, no doc for three weeks. Anyway, he was concerned by my seemingly lack of response to Risperidal and my relapse into self-injury. His solution was to put me on Abilify.

I haven’t started it yet, and probably won’t until Monday, because we’re waiting on an insurance pre-authorization (probably because my Dx code still doesn’t match my symptoms, and Abilify doesn’t have a generic).

I wanted to solicit the audience for their experiences with Abilify and even just second generation psychotics in general. What was horrible? What was great. What worked for which symptoms and what didn’t?

39 thoughts on “Abilify and I – Adventures in Antipsychotics

  1. I was admitted to hosp. to start Abilify but walked out chicken bowlegged. Gotta do something. She won’t do Risperidal on me. I have asked the same question looking for answers on the web, but mixed reviews. Talked to reputable pharmacist who extolled my pdoc. said she was one of the best around. ??? I question that. She has her mind made up on me and won’t listen but pain to get another. I am pigeon holed into mental illnesses. I tell you it is anxiety, ADD, with some depression thrown in. Risperidal slowed me down at times a bit much according to her, but the it takes a bit to really work. Made me suicidal coming off each time??? That is why I am concerned about trying Abilify. Akathesia darn near killed me along mixed with the lows. Gotta do something. I am not living right now at all. This marriage death and leaving my spacious home and all that is rendering me useless with no hope in sight. I am sick of the struggle.

    We might just have to take a chance on this Abilify together. I feel like God is saying no to me on the drugs. don’t know. Surprised the Risperidal did not do something for you, it is a very potent drug. How long were you on it for? The drugs gave me a mental illness.

    • I’ve heard good things and bad things. The doc can prescribe something for the akathesia, and my doc is ready for it. I know it’s the most commonly reported side effect, and I’ve had it from headache medicine in the hospital one time. In the short term, you can nip it in the bud with benedryl. That’s what they did at the hospital for me.

      I think it’s something worth trying. I’d say as long as I don’t gain a ton of weight or lose my hair or anything, I’ll probably do fine with it. I mean, pending my insurance approval.

  2. I’ve written a lot about Abilify on my blog. I’m actually going off of it as I type. When I needed something to arrest the mild psychosis it worked. Staying on it for over a year caused a 30 lb weight gain and a feeling of being heavily medicated (I couldn’t even do any time-zone-math). I hope it works well for you , Lulu. You’ve been through a lot lately and deserve a break! πŸ™‚ Big hugs!

    • Aww thank you. The doc didn’t think the Risperidal was helping quickly enough. It did make me pretty dopey, and I wasn’t thrilled with the feeling of starving constantly. I gained five pounds already. Not that five pounds matters too much, if I knew that would be all of the gain I would see. But, I think if I stayed on it longer, I probably would have gained a whole lot more.

      I really hope I don’t get the weight gain, but if it works, then I’ll just have to start keeping a food and exercise diary. I just moved to a place very close to my MIL who has been an LPN for nearly 25 years. She’s diabetic, and she can help me monitor my sugar. As for the dopiness, I don’t think I can handle that. In my job, I’m responsible for a lot of kids and I have to be sharp.

      I’ve read a lot on the Abilify / Wellbutrin combo working out pretty well. I have pretty high hopes.

  3. I was only on Abilify for a week. I couldn’t take the side effects. I was dizzy and light-headed when I would move. Just moving messed me up. I would reach for something on my desk, just leaning a little, and feel like I was going to pass out. My thinking was muddled and I wasn’t able to concentrate. It basically felt like a bad hangover, but without the messed up stomach. Everyone reacts differently, of course. Just be careful!

  4. I’ve never taken Abilify but am currently taken amitriptyline. The scariest thing about some of these meds are the side effects. Some of the side effects I have experienced are symptoms of Parkinson’s disease. I’ve checked with my doc to make sure that this is normal and unfortunately… it is. Best of luck!

    • I am concerned about that, and so is hubby. But, my doctor didn’t seem to be concerned at my starting dose. He doesn’t seem to have immediate plans to fiddle with my dose, and I think I’m only on like five milligrams. I think as long as I can keep it low, I can reduce that risk.

  5. I’m looking at going on Seroquel so I’m interested to see how Abilify works for you. i’m really nervous to be going on an antipsychotic. I was on one before but it was combined with an SSRI so I don’t know what the drug on it’s own will do.

    • I’m pretty nervous too, because so far, it has been largely unsuccessful for me. But, I’ve kind of known for a long time that it is necessary for me.

      My doctor wanted to put me on Seroquel, but I fought him on it. Seroquel is famous for weight gain, and I am prone to it. I’m on Lamictal and Wellbutrin, and it’s only through those two medications that I have been able to get close to a healthy weight for the first time in my life. But, I really think that I have an underlying Chronic Fatigue Syndrome that hurt me in the weight department.. I’ve always been tired. Before Wellbutrin, I would wear out very easily and just be completely useless. I took a lot of naps, and I found that I would sometimes I have to sleep up to 12 hours to feel rested at all.

      I’m on a lot of medication now. My doc wants me to take Lamictal, 100mg three times a day now. He’s insistent that my medications aren’t regulated throughout the day. He’s probably right. But, I’m not going to start taking the Xanax three times a day. Twice is fine for me.

      • As much as I adore the psychiatrist I saw I love how most of them seem to downplay the side effects. He emphasized the sleepiness. I’m not prone to gaining weight easily and I’m hoping the by being more active and modifying my diet that I can fight the weight gain or limit it a lot. This could be the perfect excuse to become healthier!

        How long have you been on Abilify now? I don’t like how it can take a long time for your body to adjust. I know people on Wellbutrin and they speak very highly of it. Out of most of the drugs I’ve read about being horrible to be on Wellbutrin has never come up!

        I hope you can find a balance with all of this. I plan on using this blog to help me monitor how I feel if I start taking Seroquel.

        • I haven’t started the Abilify yet. I’m waiting for the preauthorization from the insurance company. So, I wanted to get some ideas about it while I’m waiting.

          I’ve heard a lot of horror stories about people with bipolar disorder and Wellbutrin. Chemically, it is technically a methamphetamine, so I would imagine it could be disasterous. I have my own horror story from when I was in my teens and it made me beyond hyperactive and had me sick to vomiting.

          It’s worked out great for me now with a mood stabilizer!

          Weight gain is a serious issue with me. But, I’m willing to take medications to combat that, if necessary.

          • So the moral of this story is: you don’t know if you like it until you try it! Which is what I tell my kids at work when they don’t want to play a game but the same idea applies here :p

            I hope, if you want, you can blog about your experience once you are on Abilify. That’s what I’m planning on doing. It could be a good way of keeping track of the effects.

            • Exactly. I’m always willing to give a new medication a fair chance. The only exceptions are when the medications start producing an effect that is too troublesome or even dangerous to live with in the short-term.

              I started Lamictal when my son was only 9 months old. I am grateful for the extra help I got from family, though I realize now that it wasn’t a kindness thing, it was a martyr thing. Anyway, I was really in a bad fog when I started it. My cognition was so bad that I couldn’t even follow a television show. I couldn’t hold conversations. The only thing that kept my memory going was constant reminders and writing everything down for reference.

              It was bad enough where if I didn’t have the extra help, I may have been in serious trouble. I’d leave notes on the refridgerator to remind myself to get a bottle for my son at certain times. It wasn’t too bad, because he was mostly self-feeding at that time. But, it was bad enough to where I would forget to eat, and then I’d wonder why I was so sick.

              I wouldn’t be able to handle another effect like that again. I am too far removed from immediate help. Okay, not true. I am likely too proud (or in fear of being indebted or ashamed), to ask for the immediate help that surrounds me. My inlaws are great, but I’ve never been very close to them. So, I don’t know them too well, and I really don’t know my boundaries.

              I could probably handle the up effects, like the agitation. It’s pretty easily burned off with so much property around here. Mixed episodes are the worst. At least in mania, I can find the motivation to get stuff done with all of my energy.

  6. I went on Abilify for mixed moods only three weeks ago. It’s rid me of the mixed confusion fairly quickly but not the agitation and short patience. I haven’t noticed any weight gain yet, but I was warned. And I have a perpetual dry mouth. Not sure if it’s suposed to be temp or perm. I’m greatful that the mixed moods are gone and things are closer to my “normal”. But am having big problems with the agitation that was left. Hope it does the trick for you. Good luck.

    • I heard that overheating and dehydration are serious issues with it. I already have those problems without Abilify, so it is concerning for me. But, a lot of people have told me that they have found relief of psychotic symptoms and intrusive thoughts really fast, and it works great for keeping the mixed out. The mixed is obviously my biggest problem right now.

      I do have the concern about the agitation, but my doctor is ready with a medication to prescribe to combat that. Not that I would be looking forward to yet another medication, but if the Abilify really works the wonders that people say it does, I would be willing to do it.

      Abilify, as I’ve been reading, seems to be really hit and miss. Some people get the weight gain, and some don’t. I read the statistics and the weight gain side effect seems to only hit about 8-30% of the people who take it. One in three isn’t too bad. Interestingly enough, I don’t seem to get the most common side effects when it comes to medication. I always get the really out there ones, like the aphasia that can rarely happen with Lamictal. Easy enough fix, take a gingko supplement, but my short term memory is still pretty bad. At least I don’t word drop and lose things I just set down as much anymore. But, my phone calendar pretty much runs my life. Ugh.

      So, I’ve sifted through the rare side effects on this one. I’m going to put my money on sore joints (which I already have) and dizziness / fainting / low blood pressure (which I already have). The benign positional vertigo is something I already experience. Thank you pregnancy. It was something I had really bad in pregnancy, and it just never seemed to go away.

  7. Hi Lulu,

    I’ve had a few different anti-psychotics. Mostly for anxiety, a non-addictive sleeping aide for my chronic insomnia and also to treat some mild delusional symptoms.

    I’ll start with the one that I took first and am back on that does seem to help:
    Seroquel. It helps me sleep, not addictive at all and doesn’t seem to effect my weight. I know a lot of people have tried this one with varying effectiveness and it really is a person by person situation but I do find this helps. Can help with my anxiety but doesn’t really do much about the delusional thinking. Unfortunately up until this year there was no generic brand and as I wasn’t diagnosed as schizophrenic or having psychotic like symptoms (when my delusions were identified as delusions, I was able to get the Seroquel cheaper due to having “psychotic like symptoms”) it was extremely expensive. $160 for one script. So I tried the next anti-psychotic:

    Seroquel XR (extended release). A cheaper version with a different formula. I took it for a few weeks only and I hated it. It gave me extremely terrifying nightmares, to the point I was afraid to sleep even when I stopped taking the medication. At that stage I still couldn’t afford the original Seroquel, so then I tried:

    Neulactil. A particularly old anti-psychotic. The list of side effects that comes with all medication, was pretty much a “to do” list. I had them all. Sun sensitivity, hang over in the mornings (had to set 3 alarms every morning to get up) and weight gain, to name a few. After I OD’d on this drug and got very sick the doctor changed me back to the original Seroquel and then after a few months added in:

    Abilify. I took it for about a month. I didn’t like it. It didn’t help my anxiety, it didn’t help my delusions. What it did do however, was take away my appetite completely to the point I was living off milkshakes and lollipops. So I just told the doctor I wasn’t going to take it anymore. I know a few other people who had similar experiences with Abilify, in that it just didn’t do much. But again, very much a person by person experience.

    I hope this has helped. I always find hearing someone else’s experiences with new medications helps me to understand my own experiences. And I hope the Abilify does help you!

    ❀ Fiend.

    • For me, my anxiety is directly tied into the delusional thinking and intrusive thoughts. Once I get those under control, I will probably be closer to symptom free on that one. I had always wondered why I had so much anxiety, and why it waxed and waned so much. That’s exactly why.

      The insomnia for me is being treated by temazepam with a large amount of success. But, again, the thing that causes the insomnia (mostly) are the delusions and intrusive thoughts. Especially the intrusive thoughts.

      I had taken to some very peculiar behaviors, very characteristic of a complete meltdown. Sometimes, the thoughts were so bad that I would actually be caught pacing the house growling, “Shut up, shut up.” repeatedly at myself. I had taken to rocking and being unresponsive. I have severe claustrophobia, normally. I was wedging myself into tight corners and kind of folding into myself while sitting against walls. I was really losing my grip. Those behaviors are still turning up from time to time, though.

      I would be delighted if Abilify took my appetite away completely. I hear that it causes the restlessness. As long as it’s not too bad, I would actually be delighted to have that side effect too. I mean, as long as it took that “deer in the headlights” thing away (the panic, you know? Nervous energy is bad for me.)

      • Have done quite similar things as you have written. While in the hospital actually and at home I was constantly hiding in the closets. And locker 12” x 24”? in my hospital room. I still periodically am hiding in the closets when I am extremely overwhelmed. I used to constantly yell myself to shut up and would scream at myself.

        I even went so far as to hold an envisioned gun to my head and pull the trigger to shut myself off. My husband at some point a number of years ago decided to join our local hand gun shooting club and got the ?.,22 caliber or .38 out and handed it to me to look over and wanted me to go to the club with him to shoot. I am experienced at hunting and skeet shooting etc. But a handgun freaked out and I refused to even touch it. I had the real mccoy now and was afraid of what I might do. I did eventually go to the club and did manage to show a number of the guys up. Hu hu , rub backs of fingers on my shirt.

        I have a 2mg tablet broke in half = 1 mg sitting there waiting to be taken.

        • I’m skilled with weapons. The only explanation I can come up with is genetic memory, because it’s not as if I go shooting all of the time. The first time I fired a handgun, I fired a .38 and shot at an expert level. I’ve never accidentally cut myself.

          I don’t keep weapons because I know better. Lol.

  8. I have been on Abilify for a long time now (long time meaning nearly a year) and I have to say that since starting it I have had less delusional episodes. The most devastating side effect for me, however, was the increase of my appetite, a side effect common among second-gen antipsychotics. I gained a lot of weight on Abilify, and am still continuing to lose it. It really didn’t do much for my mood (that I can tell. I’m pretty bad at deciding whether or not medications are affecting my mood). But keep in mind that I have psychotic depression, and not bipolar. Perhaps it affects different mental illnesses differently, just as it affects different kinds of people differently?

    • Each mental illness is not only unique in it’s dysfunction in the brain and body to another, but also between individuals. That’s why we have so many different medications out there.

      Abilify has been hearlded by many as the drug that took the delusions and the intrusive thoughts away. That’s what I’ve mostly read. It’s supposed to be best for mixed episodes, because of the issue of the presence of both depression and mania. Mixed episodes have become the bane of my existence.

      For me, it’s the delusions that bring on the hallucinations. As soon as I’m firmly convinced, my grip on reality slowly releases. It’s something that feeds into itself. The more contradictory things become, the more easily confused I become. It makes me susceptible to really any suggestion.

      I figure once the mixed symptoms are tackled, I should be able to stabilize out again.

  9. I was just diagnosed bipolar II last wednesday so this is all new for me. My doctor added abilify 2.5 mg and then on friday upped it to 5mg at night. so far no side effects and a little relief from the depression. thanks for your blog. i was glad to find it.

  10. Good luck with your treatment when you start it Lulu, I hope you don’t get the side effects that some have described here.
    Hope the move went well too, it’s about time you had a bit of good luck.
    keep safe, keep well,
    love n hugs

    • The move is pretty successful. The adjustment was a lot easier than I thought it would be. For me, being in a new place sparks insomnia, which usually sparks mania. I can’t say I’m mania free, but I was in an episode before I came here anyway. Truthfully, it’s not as bad here.

      My son seemed to have seen this as a big, new adventure. His adjustment was almost flawless. He is really a positive kid. He loves his new quiet home surrounded by a big yard to play in. He is becoming closer to his other set of grandparents and had little difficulty separating from my parents. He likes his new room, even though it’s smaller. But the house as a whole is a lot bigger with an open floor plan and a lot of doors for privacy.

      The town is great. Everyone is very friendly and laid back. I went into the little mom and pop grocery store the other day pretty frazzled, and everyone looked pretty concerned. I guess being stressed out is a big deal here. Then again, they do have the premire mental health treatment in the whole city here.

      We live in a very secluded area of the town, not easily accessible by either car or on foot. Our neighbors are very nice, but what’s even better is that our property is very private from theirs. The town is pretty small, so it’s not crowded. I see more animals than people in a day. It’s really helped me to get my head together.

      I am having some adjustment issues. I’m not used to being confined to an area. Not as if I’m caged here, but it does take almost an entire mile to get off of the hill and onto the main road. I am without a car in the day, so I’m pretty reliant on others, unfortunately. I’m not used to that idea, and I’m pretty uncomfortable with it, though I know my FIL would run any errand for me.

  11. You have to walk a MILE to get off your hill Lulu.. where are you living now..the Rockies? πŸ™‚
    Now that IS secluded!
    I can understand your unease at having to rely on someone else, I’m not sure I would like that either.
    Your new town sounds nice though, and the folks there too, hopefully it can be a new start for you all Lulu
    I realy hope that things are coming together for you now, and life is going to better.
    All my very best wishes on all your new endeavours πŸ™‚

  12. Pingback: appetites and meds | Why Not Fathers?

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