Aripiprazole - Side Effects and more

This article was medically reviewed by M.Pharm, Marko Tanaskovic on August 12, 2018. To read more about an author, click here.

Aripiprazole belongs to a group of antipsychotics and antidepressants and it is used to treat following conditions:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Manic depressive psychosis
  • Clinical depression
  • Major depression. It is usually prescribed in addition to SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
  • Irritability in patients (aged 6-17 years) with autistic disorder

The FDA approved use of this medicine to treat schizophrenia.

Mechanism of action

Aripiprazole binds to the following receptors and transporters:

  • D2 receptors (partial agonist)
  • D4 receptors
  • 5-HT1A receptors (partial agonist)
  • 5-HT2A receptors (antagonist)
  • 5-HT2C receptors (partial agonist)
  • 5-HT7 receptors (antagonist)
  • Histamine receptors (moderate affinity to these receptors)
  • Adrenergic receptors

The mechanism of action is very different from other approved atypical antipsychotics (e.g. Clozapine, Olanzapin, Quetiapine, Ziprasidone and Risperidone). Instead of antagonizing the dopamine receptor D2, this medication is D2 partial agonist. This medication is also a 5-HT1A receptor partial agonist.

Like other atypical antipsychotics. it manifests antagonist activity at 5-HT2A receptors. It also antagonizes the 5-HT7 receptors and demonstrate partial agonist properties at the 5-HT2C receptor. It has a medium affinity for histamine receptors, alfa-adrenergic receptors, D4 receptors and serotonin transporter. It has no affinity for muscarinic receptors.


  • Avoid use of alcohol while using this medicine.
  • This medicine is not safe to take while breastfeeding.
  • Do not drive a car, operate machinery or perform any activity that requires alertness.
  • This medicine should be avoided in patients with dementia.
  • To prevent dehydration you should drink more liquid during therapy, especially if you are physically active.

You should also inform your doctor about all medications you are taking.


Aripiprazole should be avoided in patients who are allergic to this medication. Symptoms of an allergy include: itchy skin, hives and bronschospasm (difficulty breathing).

Side effects

Aripiprazole may cause following side effects:

  • Myocardial infarction (heart attack) especially in elderly patients with dementia.
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Excessive sweating
  • Confusion
  • Arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat)
  • Labile blood pressure. This symptom may indicate neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS), which is a serious condition and can lead to death.
  • Increased glucose level in blood (hyperglycemia).
  • High body temperature and flu-like symptoms
  • Changes in cholesterol and triglycerides levels
  • Weight gain
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Dyskinesia (involuntary muscle movements)
  • Orthostatic hypotension
  • Reduction in the number of leukocytes
  • Seizures. Before you start treatment, tell your doctor if you have had seizures.
  • It can affect your thinking and judgment
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Insomnia

Tell your doctor if you are experiencing any side effects.

Brand names: Abilify, Abilify Discmelt, Abilify Maintena.

Information on this website are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other health-care professional.

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