How Effective Is Aripiprazole for Schizophrenia?

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  • Written By: Sarah Kay Moll
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 03 October 2019
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Aripiprazole (brand name Abilify®) is a type of medication called an atypical antipsychotic used to treat psychiatric disorders. Schizophrenia is a type of brain disorder where a person has a distorted picture of reality. Aripiprazole for schizophrenia is effective in both the short and long term to treat symptoms and prevent relapse.

Often, mental illnesses like schizophrenia onset in college-age people, although they can happen earlier or later in life. Schizophrenia is a chronic, lifetime illness that needs to be constantly managed with medication and psychotherapy. Aripiprazole for schizophrenia is effective in the long term to help prevent relapses or make them less severe. It is also effective in the short term for treating acute symptoms.

Schizophrenia is a term describing a group of brain disorders characterized by positive and negative symptoms. Positive symptoms are symptoms that increase activity and agitation. They may include hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking. Other positive symptoms interfere with cognitive processes, leading to difficulty thinking and speaking and disorganized thoughts and speech.

Negative symptoms of schizophrenia are symptoms that indicate a lack of normal response. For example, people with schizophrenia may demonstrate a lack of interest in activities they previously enjoyed. Other negative symptoms include a lack of emotion or flattened affect and social withdrawal.


There are two main types of antipsychotic medications, older traditional antipsychotics such as haloperidol and newer atypical antipsychotics such as aripiprazole. Older antipsychotics have the disadvantage of often causing tardive dyskinesia, a disorder where people make repetitive involuntary movements such as lip smacking. Atypical antipsychotics such as aripiprazole are less likely to cause this disorder, however, they come with their own risks, such as high cholesterol, weight gain, and a higher susceptibility to diabetes.

Medications such as aripiprazole for schizophrenia must be taken regularly and often for a long time because schizophrenia is a chronic disease. Aripiprazole has been proven effective for long-term treatment of schizophrenia. Often, people discontinue medications because of intolerable side effects or decreased effectiveness, which can cause a relapse of the disorder. Some studies show aripiprazole for schizophrenia is more tolerable than other, older antipsychotics, however, other studies find it to have similar rates of adverse effects.

Aripiprazole for schizophrenia is effective, however, the medication can also be used for other mental illnesses. Severe depression that does not respond to other treatments can sometimes be alleviated by taking aripiprazole. When prescribed along with a mood stabilizer, aripiprazole can also be effective in the treatment of bipolar disorder.


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