ADHD Medication and Treatment Reviews


Abilify is an anti-psychotic medication used to treat several different conditions — schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and anxiety — in adults. It is sometimes used to treat symptoms of ADHD off-label. Learn more.
Generic name: aripiprazole

What Is the Medication Abilify?

Abilify (generic name: aripiprazole) is an anti-psychotic medication primarily used to treat symptoms of schizophrenia in patients over age 13, bipolar disorder in patients over age 10, depression in adults, irritability associated with autism in children over age six, and Tourette’s Syndrome in children over age six. Studies suggest that aripiprazole may have a dopamine-stabilizing effect on patients with ADHD1; some clinicians include it in ADHD treatment plans for both adults and children, particularly those who do not respond to stimulants2.

The safety and effectiveness of taking Abilify to treat depression or the agitation associated with schizophrenia or bipolar mania in children has not been established. Abilify can be dangerous for elderly people with dementia.

How to Use the Medication Abilify

Before starting or refilling an Abilify prescription, read the medication guide included with your pills, as it may be updated with new information.

This guide should not replace a conversation with your doctor, who has a holistic view of your medical history, other diagnoses, and other prescriptions. If you have questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist before you begin taking the medication.

Dosage for Abilify

As with all medications, follow your Abilify prescription instructions exactly. The optimal dosage varies by age and condition treated. Abilify is available in several formulations:

  • Abilify Tablets are available in 2mg, 5mg, 10mg, 15mg, 20mg, and 30mg dosages. Tablets should be swallowed whole with water or another liquid.
  • Abilify DISCMELT (Orally Disintegrating Tablets): To keep it from dissolving before you place the tablet in your mouth, leave it contained in its blister package until you are ready to take it. When opening the medication, make sure your hands are clean and dry so as not to accidentally trigger dissolution. Peel back the blister package backing to take out the tablet, instead of pushing it through the foil. Place the tablet on your tongue to dissolve. Do not crush or chew the tablet. Orally disintegrating tablets are available in 10mg and 15 mg dosages. It is recommended they are taken without liquid.
  • Abilify Oral Solution: Colorless, orange-flavored liquid. The liquid should be measured with the included device and swallowed entirely with water or another liquid. The oral solution is available in a concentration of 1mg/mL.
  • Abilify Injection: The intramuscular injection is available in 9.75mg/1.3mL single dose vials.

The oral formulations are taken once daily, with our without food. Oral formulations are indicated for every condition except the agitation associated with schizophrenia or bipolar mania.

The injection should be taken no more than once every two hours, with a maximum daily dosage of 30mg. The injection is only indicated to treat the agitation associated with schizophrenia or bipolar mania.

If you miss a dose, you should take it as soon as possible, unless it is already time for your next dose. You should not take two doses of Abilify at the same time. Contact your doctor if you have questions about skipped pills.

When discontinuing treatment, or decreasing dosage, patients should work with a doctor to gradually taper the level of medication. Stopping Abilify suddenly can create new, serious symptoms.

Side Effects Associated with Abilify

The most common side effects of Abilify are as follows:

Children and Adolescents (ages 10 to 17): sleepiness, headache, vomiting, fatigue, changes in appetite, increased saliva, insomnia, nausea, stuffy nose, weight gain, uncontrolled movement, and muscle stiffness.

Adults: nausea, vomiting, constipation, headache, blurred vision, upper respiratory illness, dizziness, anxiety, insomnia, and restlessness.

Elderly people with dementia-related psychosis are at increased risk of death from stroke when treated with Abilify.

Medications like Abilify can increase risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts, especially at the start of treatment. Report to your healthcare provider any sudden changes in mood, including depression, anxiety, restlessness, panic, irritability, impulsivity, or aggression.

Other serious side effects include low white blood cell count, seizures, dyslipidemia, problems regulating body temperature, and pathological gambling or other compulsive behaviors.

Taking Abilify may impair your ability to drive, operate machinery, or perform other potentially dangerous tasks. This side effect usually wears off with time. If side effects are bothersome, or do not go away, talk to your doctor.

Most people taking this medication do not experience any of these side effects.

Abilify can increase a patient’s risk of neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS). This is a rare, but serious condition that can cause a stroke resulting in death. If you experience high fever, sweating, rigid muscles, confusion, or changes in breathing or heartbeat, these could be warning signs of NMS and you should seek medical help at a hospital immediately.

Tell your doctor if you have diabetes or difficulty managing your blood sugar. Taking Abilify can increase blood sugar which, when untreated, can cause ketoacidosis, coma, or death. Warning signs of hyperglycemia include: excessive thirst, frequent urination, feeling very hungry, weak, tired or nauseous, fruit-scented breath, and nausea. If you experience these, contact your healthcare provider.

Some people experience tardive dyskinesia, a condition which causes uncontrollable movements in the face, tongue, or other body parts. This may not go away, even if you stop taking Abilify.

While taking Abilify, your doctor should regularly monitor the fat levels in your blood (cholesterol and triglycerides), weight, and blood pressure. Abilify can increase blood fat levels, cause weight gain, and create sudden changes in blood pressure, especially in children and teenagers.

The above is not a complete list of potential side effects. If you notice any health changes not listed above, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Precautions Associated with Abilify

Store Abilify in a secure place out of the reach of children, and at room temperature. Do not share your Abilify prescription with anyone, even another person with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Sharing prescription medication is illegal, and can cause harm.

You should not take Abilify if you have an allergy to aripiprazole or any of the ingredients in Abilify. Before taking Abilify, tell your doctor if you have a personal or family history of diabetes, abnormal blood pressure, low white blood cell count, or heart problems.

Do not become overheated or dehydrated while taking Abilify. This includes avoiding extremely strenuous exercise, spending time in the sun, or wearing too-heavy clothing.

If you’re thinking of becoming pregnant, discuss the use of Abilify with your doctor. Especially when taken in the last three months of pregnancy, it is suspected to cause fetal harm. It is recommended that mothers do not nurse while taking Abilify, as it is unsafe for infants, and Abilify passes into breastmilk.

Interactions Associated with Abilify

Before taking Abilify, discuss all other active prescription medications with your doctor.

Medications that inhibit or induce CYP2D6 or CYP3A4, enzymes that metabolize certain drugs, can increase or decrease how the body absorbs Abilify. Physicians may need to increase or decrease Abilify dosage when taken with prescriptions like itraconazole, fluoxetine, carbamazepine, rifampin, and lorazepam.

Share a list of all vitamin or herbal supplements, prescription, and non-prescription medications you take with the pharmacist when you fill your prescription, especially any drugs that cause drowsiness. Let all doctors and physicians know you are taking Abilify before having any surgery or laboratory tests.

The above is not a complete list of all possible drug interactions.

1Robert L Findling, MD. “The Cognitive Effects of Aripiprazole in Children.” University Hospital Case Medical Center. 2005-2014
2Dr.Yannick Pauli. “Abilify for ADHD: An Antipsychotic with Worrisome Side Effects” Dr. Yannick Pauli’s UnRitalin Solution. (2010). Web. (


9 Abilify Comments & Reviews

  1. My 5 yr old son is taking Abilify and Intuniv for ADHD and ODD. I want to know if any parents have success stories about this combo. His behavior has definitely improved, but it seems like this combo is not helping him with the attention/focusing issues. Before this, he was on Vyvanse, Strattera, Focalin, and all those made him lose too much weight and become aggressive.
    Any advise?

  2. Some thoughts to irlawrence re her/his concerns about the ineffectiveness of the Abilify and Intuniv cocktail on the child’s focus and attentiveness.
    Abilify is usually used to address the behavioral aspects of ADHD more so than the inattentive, distractability, problems with ADD/HD. Similar emphasis for Intuniv.
    You didn’t mention whether the other meds that had been tried before did help those areas of dysfunction, but only that the side effect of decreased appetite was a problem, and whether or not the current medicines were started after those had been stopped, or were taken together. One of the known side effects of Ability is weight gain. If it has not been used together with a (starting) low dose of Vyvanse (easy to titrate because the powder can be put in a measured amount of water and take only a measured amount of that, so dose changes can be in very small steps, like 5 or 10 mg increases (or decreases), or can try the liquid forms of either immediate or extended release methylphenidate or dextroamphetamine, or Adderall tablets….
    Starting low you can monitor the appetite changes, if any, and possibly the weight gaining side effect of the Abilify might help ‘balance’ each other out, so you can get the benefit of the gold standard central nervous system medicines for the attention, focus, group of symptoms……
    Also, make sure your son eats a big breakfast (before the medicine kicks in) and dinner — even if it’s a little later than you might prefer, and also don’t get hung up on how nutritious everything going into his mouth has to be, as long as it’s calories — ice cream, french fries, etc., and accept that he might eat light at school lunch time, but be sure he drinks fluids to stay hydrated.
    It’s worth talking to your pediatrician or child psychiatrist about…..

  3. I was dx’d with ADD in the 1990s and with Bipolar Disorder II around 2003. My ADD is mainly of the inattentive variety. I took Abilify for several months and did not find it helpful with regard to my ADD. I was on several other medications at the same time, some of which might have aggravated my ADD. But I just read above that Abilify is seen more as a treatment for the behavioural aspects of ADHD, rather than the inattentive aspects, so that may have been why.

  4. I was prescribed Abilify as an adjunct to my antidepressant. The Abilify worked wonderfully: it actually got me out of bed and I felt that I had at least a little bit of energy.

    Unfortunately, it put on 30 lbs in a 4-month period of time. The weight gain was not controllable. I immediately started on the Atkins diet once I saw the scale going up, but I continued to gain weight. I had to stop the medication after those 4 months. I am still dealing with the weight gain, 6 years later.

    I was then diagnosed with hypothyroidism. My internist told me that the Abilify “turned my metabolism upside down.” I know that’s not a medical term, but it hit home.

    My bottom line is that you should really watch your weight on a daily basis once you start the Abilify. Again, I could not control the weight gain, even though I was dieting.

  5. I was prescribed Abilify to deal with residual depression that Cymbalta (120 mg/day) and Lamictal (200 mg/day) didn’t completely eradicate. I was already taking 20 mg Adderall 3x/day for my ADHD. The Abilify completely eliminated my genetic depression, but to my surprise, it also corrected most of my ADHD symptoms! I still take the Adderall, too. I am reviewing this for an adult, myself, and I have taken it for five years. I take a generic, 10 mg/day. Unfortunately, I did have the weight gain everyone talks about. I feel so good, though, I’m staying on it and trying to deal with the weight in other ways, including accepting it. I buy larger, stretchier clothes, but I also reduce my portions, exercise 4x/week, and eat well.

  6. Even though Abilify seemed to work well for me, unfortunately, I’m one of the unlucky ones that got the side effect of Tardive Dyskinesia. Trust me, it is NOT just “muscle movements that won’t go away”. TD has ruined my teeth and mouth, not to mention the embarrassment of having to explain to people (who have never heard of TD) why my mouth is making these peculiar movements. Why, if these movements are uncontrollable and permanent, would you need to contact your doctor? I’ve tried every med for this disorder, including Botox in my tongue, with no results.

  7. I am a 70 Y.O. male with ADD, MDD, GAD, PTSD, ad infinitum. I was on Cymbalta 60mg and Wellbutrin 450mg and was still depressed. I started on Abilify twice and both times had to discontinue it because I was sleeping all the time and drooling when I was asleep. I can not speak to the effectiveness because I d/c it soon after starting it.

  8. I (female 26) have been taking Abilify for 2 years for bipolar/depression and anxiety.
    It is pretty good, only because of weight gain, I am switching to Vraylar. But I still recommend it as a helpful bipolar or depression drug. I don’t see how it helps with ADHD (I take vyvanse) but perhaps that is because I am not the hyperactive type.

  9. I don’t usually comment on this site, but when I saw that Abilify was prescribed for ADHD, I had to drop a note. I have never heard of this being prescribed for ADHD symptoms. I was prescribed this medicine for bipolar depression and it worked well when I got to the right dosage. It “balanced” me in a way that I wasn’t used to so I was pretty blah. Little motivation to do anything, whereas when ADHD meds have worked for me, I was far from blah and was able to start projects and then focus for hours. I know meds work differently for everyone, but I will say I got off of this after two months after learning of the weight gain side effect. So if your child needs to gain weight instead of lose, and this helps them focus, then go for it. It just didnt work for me. I’m on Lamictal now and it worked until recently, and I’m trying to find a Néw ADHD medicine because bipolar depression meds alone aren’t doing it for me. Good luck!

Tips for Good Medication and Treatment Reviews

  • Post reviews only for medications or treatments you have used or prescribed.
  • In your description, mention whether you're reviewing the medication or treatment for a child or for an adult (yourself or another adult), and as a patient or as a medical professional.
  • Mention what medical condition you were using the medication or treatment to address.
  • Mention the brand, dose, and period of time that you used the medication or treatment.
  • Please share your positive and negative experiences with the medication or treatment in detail. Note effectiveness, ease of use, side effects; and compare it with other treatments you have used.
  • Do not include any personal information or links in your review.

Add Your Review