Abilify Side Effects & Health Complication Risks
Nausea, headaches, constipation and… compulsive gambling? Every drug has side effects — but for Abilify, a prescription antipsychotic to treat schizophrenic and bipolar patients, they’re pretty unusual. From sex addiction to binge eating and uncontrollable gambling urges, Abilify side effects can completely upend some patients’ lives.
Off-Label Use Causes Abilify Side Effects That Echo Conditions the Drug Treats
Abilify (generic name: aripiprazole) is an atypical antipsychotic the FDA approved to treat schizophrenia in 2002. Since then, the agency also approved Abilify to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, Tourette’s syndrome and autism symptoms. Unfortunately, many doctors prescribe the drug off-label, causing patients to develop Abilify side effects similar to the conditions it treats. Today, doctors may prescribe it for eating disorders, general anxiety disorder, and even insomnia — which are also Abilify side effects.
The drug acts on your brain’s dopamine receptors, which control how your motor functions, executive functions, and reward systems work. Most prescription antipsychotics react with dopamine. But Abilify is the only drug known to cause serious issues with compulsive behaviors, especially uncontrollable gambling urges.
Commonly Reported Abilify Side Effects
Compulsive behaviors aren’t the only Abilify side effects that patients can experience — but they are the most severe. Common Abilify side effects which are similar to other atypical antipsychotics may include:
- Weight gain
- Nausea, vomiting, changes in appetite
- Headache, dizziness, drowsiness
- Anxiety, restlessness
- Sleep problems (insomnia)
- Cold symptoms
- Blurred vision
Severe Abilify Side Effects That You Should Report to Your Doctor Immediately
Abilify is a complex drug linked to serious side effects — even some that go beyond compulsive behavior. While these are much less common than those listed above, they are possible. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following Abilify side effects:
- Severe agitation, distress, or restless feeling
- Mask-like facial appearance/trouble swallowing
- Speech problems
- Twitching or uncontrollable movements affecting your eyes, lips, tongue, face, or limbs
- Thoughts about suicide as well as hurting yourself or others
- Severe nervous system reaction (stiff muscles, high fever, sweating, confusion, fast or irregular heartbeats, tremors)
- Low blood cell counts (sudden weakness, fever, chills, sore throat, swollen gums, painful mouth sores, skin sores, cough, trouble breathing)
- High blood sugar (increased thirst and urination, hunger, dry mouth, fruity breath odor, drowsiness, dry skin, weight loss)
Abilify Side Effects Related to Compulsive Behaviors in Patients
Abilify is unique in its ability to cause compulsive behaviors that some patients find too overwhelming to resist. While these Abilify side effects present differently in everyone, they can also ruin people’s lives. In fact, some Abilify patients who say they can’t fight these uncontrollable urges attempt suicide to stop acting on them.
Abilify patients may develop one or more of the following compulsive behaviors:
- Increased sexual urges
- Unusual urges to gamble
- Binge eating
- Compulsive shopping
Your brain’s dopamine receptors can trigger these compulsive behaviors once you start taking Abilify. Often, Abilify patients showed no previous interest or issue with compulsive behaviors like the ones we’ve listed above. But if left unchecked, these Abilify side effects can have serious economic, personal and professional consequences.
FDA Issues 2016 Warning About Dangerous Abilify Side Effects
The FDA released a 2016 drug safety communication regarding signficant impulse-control problems linked to Abilify use. According to the FDA, the agency received 184 reports about Abilify side effects in patients with impulse-control problems since 2002. Patients most often reported uncontrollable gambling urges, but also listed adverse events like binge eating, compulsive shopping, and sex addiction.
“In the majority of cases,” the FDA’s report reads, “patients with no prior history of the compulsive behaviors experienced uncontrollable urges only after starting aripiprazole treatment. Within days to weeks of reducing the dose or discontinuing aripiprazole, these uncontrollable urges stopped.”
Unfortunately, doctors prescribed the drug for over 14 years to U.S. patients before learning about these possible Abilify side effects. And while the FDA warned American consumers about this risk in 2016, patients the EU and Canada knew years earlier. The drug’s manufacturer, Bristol-Myers, added compulsive gambling to the list of possible Abilify side effects for European patients in 2012. Then, Bristol-Myers updated the drug’s label for Canadian patients in 2014 to warn about compulsive behavior-related Abilify side effects. As a result, thousands of patients and their loved ones experienced serious damage to their emotional, social and financial well-being. Finally, affected patients may file an Abilify gambling claim to get the justice and compensation they deserve for their suffering.
Check eligibility for compensation.
If you or a loved one developed compulsive gambling behavior issues after starting Abilify, you may be entitled to compensation from the manufacturer. Request your free case evaluation now to see if you may qualify.