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Abilify Withdrawal Symptoms: How Long Do They Last?

Abilify (Aripiprazole) is an atypical antipsychotic medication that is used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and in some cases is used as an “add on” treatment in severe depression. If you are on Abilify and are switching to another medication and/or planning on withdrawing from it, you should always work with a psychiatrist. Abilify is an atypical antipsychotic that works as a partial dopamine agonist.

If you take this medication for an extensive period of time, it can have a significant influence on the way your brain works. When coming off of Abilify and other antipsychotics, it is always recommended to gradually “taper.” By gradually tapering off of a medication, it reduces the possibility that you will endure major withdrawal symptoms.

If you immediately stop taking your medication “cold turkey,” your brain may not know how to react – especially if you had been taking it for an extended period of time. Withdrawal from an antipsychotic medication is a difficult undertaking for many people. For this reason, it is important to stay in contact with your psychiatrist and/or another medical professional.

Factors that influence Abilify withdrawal

As with any drug withdrawal, there are going to be factors that play a role in determining the difficulty of withdrawal. The amount of time that you took the drug, the dosage you were at, your physiology (and nervous system), plus whether you decided to “taper” or go off “cold turkey.”

1. Time Span

How long did you take Abilify? Was it for a short period of time like a few months? Or have you been on it for years? Individuals that have been on this medication for years are going to have a much more difficult time going through the withdrawal process because their body and brain have become reliant upon the drug for everyday functioning.

2. Dosage (2 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 30 mg)

What dosage were you at? Was it the lowest possible dose? Or were you taking a pretty high dose? If you were taking a higher dose, it is likely going to take you longer to adjust to life without the medication. The process of “weaning” off of Abilify will take longer if you were at the daily maximum dose of 30 mg.  Obviously the higher the dose you were on, the more difficulty you will likely have with withdrawal.  The standard daily dose is 10 mg or 15 mg for most people.

3. Personal Physiology

Everyone has a different nervous system and physiological response to medications. Some people experience significantly less withdrawal symptoms, while for others the withdrawal process can feel overwhelming. No two people are going to have the same responses coming off of Abilify – one person may have a significantly more difficult time coping with the process.

4. Cold turkey vs. tapering

It is highly recommended that you use a gradual taper when coming off of Abilify. This is a powerful antipsychotic medication and certainly not something to quit “cold turkey.” Most psychiatrists will have you gradually lower the dosage until you are at the lowest possible dose, and then you will finally quit once and for all. If you do quit “cold turkey” the symptoms may be significantly more severe than if you conducted a gradual taper.

Abilify Withdrawal Symptoms: Comprehensive List

Below are some withdrawal symptoms that people have reported when coming off of Abilify. Since this is a relatively newer antipsychotic, the discontinuation symptoms are not very well documented for this specific drug. Most resources simply piggy-back off of withdrawal symptoms associated with other antipsychotics and apply them to Abilify. It should be noted that withdrawal from this medication is pretty well tolerated.

  • Anxiety: This is one of the more common symptoms people experience during withdrawal from Abilify. You may experience significant anxiety in social situations and/or general anxiety. It may become so severe that it becomes difficult to concentrate or fall asleep. The intensity should gradually subside.
  • Appetite changes: Some people report that they have less of an appetite when coming off of the medication. This may be related to your mood – especially if you sense that you are becoming increasingly depressed while coming off of Abilify.
  • Concentration problems: Some people have problems with concentration and focus when going through withdrawal. This has to do with the fact that your brain is trying to readjust itself. Since it is no longer receiving the medication, it is thrown out of balance. This may lead to foggy thinking and temporarily worsening of cognition.
  • Confusion: Experiencing general confusion and memory problems is common. These should eventually go away as your brain attempts to reset itself.
  • Depression: If you were taking Abilify to help treat depression, your depression may rear its ugly head again during withdrawal. Only this time, the depression that you experience may be even worse than before you got on the drug.
  • Diarrhea: If you experienced constipation while on Abilify, you may experience temporary diarrhea while coming off of this medication. The best way to deal with this is to get some Imodium (available over the counter).
  • Dizziness: With any antipsychotic drug withdrawal, Abilify can cause you to feel dizzy. If you are coming off of the drug too fast, dizziness is especially common. The more gradually you taper, the less likely you are to experience extreme dizziness.
  • Excessive crying: It is very common to experience excessive crying when coming off of this medication – especially if it was used to treat your depression. You may experience a profound emotional response that triggers crying spells. Just recognize that this is part of the withdrawal.
  • Hallucinations: There is the possibility that you could actually hallucinate while coming off of Abilify. Research has shown that some individuals develop psychotic symptoms while coming off of antipsychotics – even if they have no prior history of schizophrenia.
  • Headache: This is another very common symptom of Abilify withdrawal. Your brain is no longer receiving the drug that it has been supplied with – this leads to headaches. The headaches may be minor or extreme.
  • Insomnia: This is among the most common symptoms to experience when withdrawing from Abilify. You may be unable to fall asleep at night and feel restless. This may persist for a few weeks as your sleep cycle attempts to reset itself.
  • Irritability: If you used this medication to help with your depression and irritability, coming off of it may result in temporarily increased irritability. Most medications that help curb irritability result in the opposite effect when a person comes off of them.
  • Joint pain: Some people have reported muscle tension, stiffness, and joint pain when coming off of the drug. Ironically many people report changes in joint and muscle tension when going on the medication, so it would make sense that withdrawal could have a similar effect.
  • Lightheadedness: People have reported feelings of lightheadedness throughout the day. This may cause people to feel dizzy. If you feel lightheaded, keep in mind that it is your brain chemistry attempting to readjust.
  • Mood swings: Some people report experiencing changes in mood. One minute they may be angry, the next minute extremely depressed. If you have no prior history of mood swings, this is likely due to the withdrawal.
  • Nausea: You may feel nauseated throughout the day – especially during the first week of withdrawal. This nausea may be overwhelming in some scenarios to the point that you feel as though you are going to puke. Try to deal with it the best you can and realize that it will eventually improve.
  • Panic attacks: This goes hand-in-hand with anxiety upon withdrawal. It is common to feel a sense of panic throughout your day when withdrawing from Abilify. The difficult aspect of dealing with this is you don’t know what will trigger a panic attack.
  • Psychosis: There is research suggesting that withdrawal from antipsychotics can cause psychosis. This can occur even if you have no prior history of psychotic episodes and/or schizophrenia. It is because when you come off of Abilify, your dopamine receptors are trying to reset their original functioning.
  • Sleepiness: When withdrawing, you may experience excessive sleepiness and/or fatigue throughout the day. Some people have reported sleeping for extensive periods throughout the day. After a week or two this tiredness tends to subside and gradually improve.
  • Suicidal thoughts: With any antipsychotic medication, withdrawal can lead to suicidal thoughts. This is because coming off of the drug can actually make depression significantly worse and you may experience other forms of emotional upheavals.
  • Sweating: It is common to experience sweating throughout the day or “night sweats” while you sleep. This is your body’s way of readjusting to life without the drug and detoxifying itself.
  • Vomiting: This goes hand-in-hand with the nausea that you experience. If you experience an extreme amount of nausea, it may provoke vomiting and/or other flu-like symptoms. This is a pretty rare withdrawal symptom, but has been reported.
  • Weight loss: It is well known that Abilify causes people to gain a significant amount of weight. It does this by slowing the metabolism as well as decreasing overall motivation to exercise. When coming off of this medication, you may experience pretty significant, steady weight loss if you packed on weight while taking this drug.

How long do Abilify withdrawal symptoms last?

It totally depends on the person. No two people are going to have the same length of withdrawal. Unfortunately many psychiatrists assume that there is not going to be any major withdrawal symptoms. It is pretty foolish to think that there will be no withdrawal effects from a medication that has such a profound effect on the brain. In general, I would suggest that withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months.

It is highly unlikely that you will experience major symptoms for longer than 90 days after you stopped taking the medication. If you quit “cold turkey” you may experience more symptoms than if you gradually tapered before your last dose. Either way, your brain will eventually return to its default state of functioning pre-drug as long as you give it enough time to recover.

During your withdrawal from Abilify, make sure that you continue to work with your psychiatrist and/or other medical professional. Push yourself to hang out with friends, get outside for natural sunlight, engage in healthy activities, and eat good foods. The Abilify stays in your system for up to 34 days after your last dose, but the actual time it takes your brain and body to return to normative functioning may be a much longer time period.  If you have withdrawn from Abilify, please share your experience and let others know that they are not alone in their experience.

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312 thoughts on “Abilify Withdrawal Symptoms: How Long Do They Last?”

  1. I want to describe my horrific experience withdrawing from Abilify. I took 5mg for a little over a year for mixed state bipolar disorder. For a long time I thought this was a wonder drug, the only medication that ever truly worked (and I have taken around 30 different medications since the age of 15). I noticed that I was losing huge chunks of my memory, and I was unable to function as well cognitively, so I decided to stop the drug.

    My job/life is in academia, so brain functioning is crucial to my existence. The other side effects I noticed while on the drug were: akinesia (feeling like I couldn’t stop moving, like I was crawling out of my skin–I was prescribed Valium for this side effect, which worked, and for insomnia), hand tremors, lip smacking, and I gained 5 lbs. I honestly believe that Abilify was designed to make it nearly impossible to stop taking.

    Stage 1: Extreme Sleepiness (one week)
    Medical Coping: taking Adderall to get out of bed

    I tapered for a couple of weeks, then I stopped taking the drug altogether. The first wave I experienced was extreme fatigue, which lasted for a week. I slept and stayed in bed whenever I could for about a week. Then, I felt better for a couple of days.

    Stage 2: Pain and Depression (one week)
    Medical Coping: taking Adderall to get out of bed/ Valium to stop anxiety

    I started to feel emotional/physical pain (as if every cell in my body were crying/aching), an inability to get out of bed, an inability to socialize. This lasted for about a week.

    Stage 3: Horror/Agony (4 weeks, daily)
    Medical Coping: taking A LOT of Valium for panic attacks, supplements (SAM-E, 5-HTP, multivitamins, Ginkgo Biloba, vegetarian omega-3)

    Every day I was struck with the scariest, chemical-feeling panic attacks. I would sob uncontrollably for hours; I had manic anxiety, worrying infinitely about everything to the point of delusion; endless terror; hyperventilating; shaking; suicidal ideation; hopelessness; dysphoric mania; physical pain; inability to leave the bed or socialize; fears that I could not endure the agony any longer; fears that my brain was forever damaged; repetitive panic attacks about specific stressors (my friends noticed that the topics of these panic attacks would arise in cycles); fears that nothing would ever get better; unimaginable terror and horror without an object of the terror; depersonalization; disassociation; feeling utterly alone and no one was able to “reach” me; the worst feeling of my life (worse than any suicidal depression or anxiety attack I have ever had in my life, and I had attempted suicide twice prior to Abilify…this was worse).

    The withdrawal I experienced from Abilify was like nothing I had ever experienced before in my life. As I stated above, I believe this drug was designed to make it nearly impossible to get off of it without committing suicide. I was surrounded 24/7 by friends for 6 weeks (I still am), I was on suicide watch several times. I felt like I was being “possessed,” that my personality/self was being kidnapped.

    There are literally no words to describe the terror and agony I endured on a daily basis at the hands of this withdrawal. It has been 6 weeks since I stopped taking Abilify, and things are getting better. I haven’t had a panic attack in 3 days, I have been able to get out of bed and be mildly productive during these last few days (luckily, I am a professor, so I had the entire winter break to recover from this drug).

    I lost all the Abilify weight I gained. While I do not yet feel good, I feel OK. I think things will continue to improve the longer I am off this dangerous drug. Things to consider: Abilify is the highest selling drug in America (for a reason: it is almost impossible to stop taking), and secondly, it is under review by the FDA to become the first “smart drug,” where they place a nanochip in the pill to allow your psychiatrist to monitor exactly when you take the drug. Creepy.

    If I believed in evil, I would say that Abilify is evil. It should be illegal. There should be a class action lawsuit against the manufacturers of this drug. For anyone out there who is trying to get off Abilify, it will be the scariest/worst experience of your life, but it DOES get better. It took 6 weeks for me to begin to stop having the delusional terrors and panic attacks, but I feel better.

    I’m writing to catalog what a dangerous drug this is and to give anyone who is trying to withdraw from it hope. Good luck <3

      • Hi Kait, I am slowly getting better. I no longer have the panic attacks, or severe sobbing episodes. I do, however, think the withdrawal has left me in a depression. I wake up almost every morning with a sense of dread, don’t want to leave the bed, and just hope my brain is still recovering and will shift me out of this depression.

        While what I am currently experiencing is bad, I am still thankful that the worst is now over. But, I am plagued by the guilt of not being more productive, with publishing deadlines approaching, and absolutely no motivation. I hope you are doing OK. Where are you in the withdrawal process? Take care, Sam

  2. I am currently withdrawing from 10 mg of Abilify, I am down to 8.5mg a day. I am withdrawing 0.5 mg at 3 month intervals which is very slow, I am still having withdrawal symptoms i.e. depression, excessive crying and suicidal thoughts (which I won’t be acting on), days where I need to sleep for 14+ hours and mood swings, this is on a bad day, other days I will be perfectly fine.

    My psychiatrist says that 5 mg is as low as I should go, so once I get to 5mg I am going to sit on that dose for 1 – 2 years see how I function and then look at the final reduction of 5 mg all going well. My psychiatrist also says it is highly unlikely this is going to be successful. But I am pig-headed and hate this medication with a passion. I have been on it for 10 years now. This drug is powerful! Do not start taking it!

    If you are forced to take it try to get the lowest dose possible. This drug is the work of pure evil, I know this as I have been subjected to its affects. Psychiatrists pockets are filled with money from these drugs and their disabling effects… it is in their best interest that you take these drugs and dumb down/mask the real issues at hand.

  3. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia a couple years ago. My psychiatrist had me prescribed to 40mg of abilify daily. Exceeding the maximum by 10mg. I ended up moving to a new state, no longer did I have medicated as a result. I had to quit abilify and effexor (300mg) cold turkey. It’s been 2-3 months now and I’m still in a terrible state. My symptoms are all severe.

    Anxiety, dysphoria, cognition severely altered(decreased), panic attacks, lost of interest in all hobbies, inability to plan, and more. I’ve become dependent on Tylenol pm for sedation. I don’t work, literally unable to watch tv, can’t comprehend music or tv they have no effect such as a form of stimuli. The only thing I have is hope that my chemistry will eventually be restored. Otherwise I’m just lost, an empty, emotionless, thoughtless body.

  4. I’ve been taking Abilify prescribed in hospital and was there for 3 months, for what was diagnosed as psychosis. I was put on it slowly from 5, 10 and now 15mg daily. I’m planning to taper off slowly and reading this it sounds pretty scary. Hoping that symptoms won’t be as bad, if I go off it slow. While increasing the dose at hospital I had experienced restless legs, worst at night when going to sleep, anxiety, general restlessness, crying moods, high agitation. I am very scared of tardive dyskinesia after withdrawal of the drug, that I read about. I now wish I was never put on it.

  5. Follow up to my June 1 post. I finally tapered down to .6mg and then stopped completely just before Thanksgiving. Even with that, I experienced heightened anxiety, joint pain, and dizziness. Just this week, I fell into a funk (depression) and couldn’t understand what was wrong with me, then I read above how symptoms may last as long as 90 days. I think because I was on it so long I am still experiencing withdrawal symptoms, but nothing that I can’t handle. I still go to work, and function normal, but not without some difficulty.

    I expect this will last for a while, and luckily I’m off for two weeks at Christmas, so I at least don’t have to worry about stress from work. My point is, even if you are on a low dose, you may experience withdrawal symptoms for a while if you had been taking it a long time like me. Just be patient, it gets better over time. If it gets too bad, I take a very low dose of Xanax and that helps, but of course Xanax has its own issues with addiction and withdrawal, so I do that VERY sparingly.

    If you need to continue functioning while weaning off Abilify, I highly recommend having an anti-anxiety med handy for those times that it gets really bad, and it will get really bad at times. Just be sure to take the anti-anxiety very sparingly like I did so you don’t end up addicted to something else.

    • RQ, Thanks for your post, it’s really informative. I was on zoloft 50 mg for 3 years and was doing quite well no issues.I taking it for depression and may be mild OCD. But I don`t why my psych recommended me to go on abilify 2.5 mg 5 months back. Anyway I started 5 months back taking 2.5 mg at night.

      First few weeks I heard buzzing sound in my ears. About a month ago I noticed I am having too many mood swings and I didn’t use to have any mood swings. I was always kind of stable and in a good mood type person. So I decided to quit abilify 1 month back, cold turkey. For 1 week I was ok, but now after that, I am having worse time of my life. My mind is full of negative and depressive thoughts.

      I think I am having too many withdrawal symptoms. Mornings are worse. I am having cold sweats on my forehead, stiffness in my body, no hunger. Always in fear and panic. Did anyone had similar symptoms and how long will they last? Really need some advice and help.

  6. I’ve been on abilify for 6 years and in the past couple months have been desperate to come off of it because it started causing severe depression after the birth of my son. Tried quitting cold-turkey a couple times but it was a complete nightmare. Tried tapering off 2.5 mg at a time every 2 weeks but even that was too sudden and nearly killed me.

    Honestly I am sick of these medicines, completely done with them and I think anyone whose had a similar experience should give up on them too. I’ve been through 10 medications in the past 10 years (I’m 20 and have been medicated since I was 10) and every single one of them has negatively impacted me in some way, 3 of them nearly costing me my life. There has got to be a better way to treat depression and anxiety!

    I’ve just started neurofeedback and it seems to be helping. I will do everything else in my power to kick this depression before I go back to meds. The thing that kills me the most is the confusion and guesswork: Is it this med that’s causing this negative side-effect? Or is it this one? Do I need to lower this medicine? Or raise it? Should I quit this med or is that a bad idea?

    WHY THE HELL AM I STILL SUICIDAL EVEN WITH 3 MEDS IN MY SYSTEM?! Is it the meds making me suicidal or is it just me?! Thankfully I have successfully taken myself off every other med and I am left with just abilify to come off of. Still face a lot of anxiety, depression, and confusion that comes with it. But on the road to getting better, I feel.

  7. After reading almost all of the previous posts I’ve become pretty afraid of this medication. I have only been on Abilify for a few months. I immediately started to gain weight. Lately I’ve noticed I’m sleeping a lot more and still don’t feel rested. I feel blase about a lot of things I used to be good about keeping up on. I do feel somewhat better as far as depression goes but at this point the weight gain is counteracting that.

    I have talked to my doctor briefly about stopping this medication since I don’t want to be on psych meds anyway. He is against me stopping but wants me to come in and talk again this week. My significant other is also in favor of me stopping so he plans to go with me to the appointment. I plan to start tapering tonight. Luckily I’m only on 5mg. Wish me luck. I’ll post again in a few weeks to report if I experience any side effects or if the tapering goes well.

  8. Hi, I’m 23 years old I was on Abilify 15 mg since i was 20. It was all fine and great until I gained around 50-60lbs in those 3 years. I started seeing a new Dr. in august and she said that it didn’t make sense that I was on Abilify. Since then I’ve tapered off per her instructions, I started tapering off by taking 3 quarters of a 15mg tab. Then a month later down to a half, a month after that it went to just a quarter tab, then a 2mg tab, then 1 mg.

    I saw her last Thursday and she told me I could stop the 1mg and be done with it. Through the whole time I was tapering off I felt no side effects what so ever, until now. Sunday I started to feel incredibly nauseous and actually vomited 4x between Sunday and Monday. Other than the extreme nausea I feel like I don’t know if I’m coming or going, also I seem to be in a fog.

    I haven’t had a decent night sleep in about a month I’m only averaging 5-5 1/2 hours of sleep a night (I usually get 8-10 hours). I don’t want to go back on the medication at all, but the withdrawal is horrible. I picked up something for the nausea but it doesn’t seem to be working. I know everyone is different but how long should I expect these symptoms to last?

  9. I just cut down my Abilify from 20 to 5 mg and I have never sweat so much in my life. It’s like I wake up in an ocean and constantly need to change my bedsheets and clothes. At first my sleep cycle way crazy I stayed awake for 2 days… maybe from taking the high dose of Abilify for 3 years then tapering down from 20 to 5 so quickly. I slept ALL the time! My heartbeat feels odd but I think that will eventually fix itself as well. On the upside my weight has gone down I feel less stiff and my sleep cycle is finally regulating itself.

  10. I’m on day 9 of going “cold turkey” from 10mg of abilify. So far so good. I had been taking the abilify for 11 months for BP 2. Honestly I don’t feel like myself on it and my wife has noticed I am not the “family man” I was before. I forgot to take the abilify 4 nights in a row and that’s what kind of kick-started me to wanting to get off of it.

    Well that and the 35 pounds I gained over the last year. I was a big guy to start with, 35 extra pounds is enough to make me worry about my heart and other issues. I’m hoping I can slide by without some of these symptoms hitting as hard as some people have had it. I’ll check back in and update you on how it goes.

  11. I was started on 10mg for bipolar depression at age 22, after a couple weeks moved it up to 15mg and noticed nausea and moved it down to 10 then 5 then 0 mg. 5 days later off the stuff I’m still throwing up and nauseous all the time. I’m taking ginger and anti-nausea meds that aren’t helping. Definitely not worth trying.

  12. Hello! So happy to see so many people are in the same boat as me. I have been taking Abilify for about a year now, and due to a lack of emotions and excessive rage and irritability, my doctor recommended that I stop Abilify altogether. I was taking 5mgs a day along with 200mgs of Lamictal. So far, it has been 8 days and I feel relatively okay. Still no emotions and I’m pretty sure I dissociated for the first time in a long time yesterday at work.

    It was 8:12 am, and then suddenly I blinked and it was almost 10 and I didn’t know what was going on or what I was doing and I couldn’t talk to customers because I was so confused. I was thinking that since it’s been over a week, I wouldn’t be going through withdrawal. However, after reading every single comment, I am worried that things are only going to go downhill from here. I will say that I stopped taking about 50mgs of Paxil cold turkey last summer. I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS.

    The withdrawal was so terrible, I thought I was dying. I was having complete mental breakdowns, I couldn’t eat, I was nauseous and anxious, I literally smelled bad like onions and I couldn’t sleep. I don’t even know how I got through work. It was the worst thing I’ve ever been through in my life. That being said, I am scared for what is to come. I hope I can get off of this drug relatively easy. I just want to feel emotions again. I will update with progress in maybe 2 weeks or so.

    • My therapist found this site. It is such a relief to know that other people have experienced the same thing I have. Like others, my doctor insisted there are no withdrawal effects from Abilify. I took it for 4 years at only 2 mg/day as an adjunct for depression. Tapered off to 1/2 mg before stopping altogether. The first week was okay. Then I totally tanked. Severe depression and anxiety, agoraphobia, insomnia, etc.

      Basically all the symptoms listed with the exception of psychosis and hallucinations. My doctor prescribed lamictal as a replacement. Hasn’t helped at all, despite spending a week in the hospital, where I was put on Xanax. Am now home, but still horribly depressed and anxious. It’s been 6 weeks and now doctor has decided that lamictal isn’t helping. Scared I’m going to end up back in hospital. At least I know I’m not alone, but this is hellish.

  13. My spouse has been on Abilify for > 4 years. His dose is 5mg/day. But when he tried to go Cold Turkey he almost drifted into a suicidal depression. It was so bad I was begging him to go back on it, get stable, and then start decreasing gradually as is advised. Does anyone have any idea of how gradual and should it be dropped to 2mg first every day, and then every other day or can he do 5mg and go to every other day dosing? Thanks.

  14. I’ve been reluctant to tell my story, but decided to since I’m finally out of the woods with my withdrawal. I know when I was going through withdrawals, I needed all the comments and insight I could find to help. I was on 5 mg of Abilify for 11 months when I started to notice swelling in my ankles, and of course over the 11 months I had gained 20 pounds. Before the Abilify, I weighed 145 and 5’10” so, healthy.

    The swelling, after Dr finding..was caused from poor circulation, from the Abilify. Plus, my sex drive was not the same since drug either. So, I made the decision to take myself off the drug, and did not tell my dr because he had advised me previously not too. The first week I took 2.5 mg, and the second week, I took half of the 2.5 mg. After the second week I stopped. Diarrhea began, and just a total lack of life and energy.

    I mean TOTAL lack of energy. I could lay in bed all day and watch TV. Not like me at all. This lasted a week, and I thought by this time, this should all be over. The next week was when the crazy shit (excuse the lang) started happening. Severe depression, my mind was racing, I didn’t know if I was coming or going mentally, totally paranoid about going to the dr, thought I would get put away (crazy)…just crazy crazy.

    I dealt with that demon on my own for about 3 weeks. I went thru an anguishing, hellish 6 weeks with the withdrawal of Abilify…it was horrible. Not being a drug user, I am unfamiliar with withdrawal, but this was evil. When something trains your brain over time to think a certain way, and you have to try and change it back it is a nightmare. For anyone go through this withdrawal, chin up!!! I made it through, and if I can you can too ?

  15. I am in the process of getting off five psychiatric drugs, partly so that I can get pregnant, and partly because I feel that these drugs were not helping me, and in fact were making my life much worse. I have already successfully quit Adderall (1/15) and Seroquel (8/15). I am currently on 10mg of Abilify, down from 20mg. Around the time I went from 20mg to 15mg, I started hearing music where there was none, and I developed mild tinnitus.

    I have not noticed any changes coming down to 10mg, but it has only been a week and Abilify is a very long lived drug, so I am not out of the woods yet. I will come back and leave updates as I progress. I also want to encourage everyone that it IS possible to get off these drugs, it just takes a lot of time and determination. Also finding something else, like meditation, to help you during the transition is important.

    Finally, if you haven’t read it already check out Will Hall’s Harm Reduction Guide to getting of psychiatric drugs. For a more detailed and technical approach to coming off psychiatric drugs, you can also read the book Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal by Peter Breggin.

    • Hi, Just wanted to update to say that in the months since I’ve written the last post I’ve gone from 10mg to 5mg, 5mg to 4mg, and 4mg to 2mg. For some reason the last step was harder than the other steps, with somewhat more agitation, anxiety, and depression, but I’m managing.

      In two weeks I am scheduled to try going off. If it turns out to be too big of a step I’ll go back on at 1mg, give it a month and then try again. I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about finally getting off this drug.

  16. Thank goodness I found this web page. My husband was feeling absolutely hopeless. He was prescribed Abilify in August, 2015 with hopes of enhancement of the antidepressant he was presently on for major depression. At that time he was functional. Within 2 weeks, he was a different person; full of energy, awake 36 hrs at a time, major purchases, etc. I thought it might be mania but didn’t want to “burst his balloons” so waited to see if it evened out. It did and he felt depressed again so the dosage was increased.

    After a couple of weeks he had no improvement and experienced intolerable restlessness and joint pain in his legs so he decreased his dosage gradually. He was only on 5mg to start with. He took 2.5 mg daily until his next appt. with his psychiatrist and then it was discontinued. The side effects went away. Within a week it was as though he was on one of those,”drop rides” at an amusement park. He dropped so fast and so far.

    Symptoms: full blown panic attacks, loss of appetite (lost 10 pounds in 2 weeks), shaking upon awakening, clammy, dreadfully fearful thoughts, and eventually he became too weak to function. We went to 2 different ERs and all they did was routine labs(which were within normal limits). Received a bag of normal saline IV at the first visit per my request and nothing at the second. It was suggested he be voluntarily hospitalized which he agreed to after the second visit.

    He was in a mood disorder unit. His psychiatrist at home had put him back on his previous meds that we knew were well tolerated in hopes that they would kick in and at least return him to his prior level before this all started. The psychiatrist at the unit actually suggested going back on Abilfy along with another med to counter act the side effects. We chose no med changes at this time. He came home 3 days later with no change in his symptoms. With the suggestion of his WONDERFUL counselor, I began researching.

    Called the FDA and the drug company and 2 other sources. Filed a safety report with Abilify’s drug company. One lady I talked to suggested reading on line and that is how I ended here. It is absolutely horrible that the psychiatrists, physicians, and other hospital staff had NO CLUE that this could have anything to do with withdrawal from the Abilify. They also should have ruled out any other physical causes. They didn’t even notice all the symptoms that I did. He was just labeled, “severe depression with panic disorder”.

    We are doing everything we can to nurse him back to health. It’s been about 4 weeks and he is just now showing signs of improvement. Little improvement, but improvement nonetheless. I’m so thankful to hear that he can make a full recovery. Knowing now the duration of time that this might involve helps us to understand that small improvements are progress. Find a good counselor that will work with the family to provide tools and advice to utilize during the recovery. Family needs to understand the severity of this.

    The brain has been dramatically compromised and love, patience, and sound medical care are a necessity. We need to report our experiences to psychiatrists, physicians, counselors, the FDA, drug companies, web pages, etc. This medication may have its benefits for a select few but we must all be aware of dangerous withdrawal symptoms. I will comment at a later date as we continue this journey of recovery.

    I thank you all for posting your experiences and encouragement. I thank Mental Health Daily for this valuable information. We would be totally hopeless if we had not found you. If anyone needs more details regarding our experience, please post and I will respond as soon as possible.

  17. I was on Abilify for 13 years on a 30 mg dose (up to 45 mg during a psychotic episode). I went ‘cold turkey’ on my Doctor’s advice and switched to Solian. My main withdrawal symptoms are sleepiness, itchiness and grinding teeth. I had a gambling addiction which ceased immediately on stopping the Abilify. I suffer from chronic schizophrenia, anxiety and depression.

    The combination of Solian, Valium and Zoloft is effectively treating my symptoms. It took a few years of Psychiatric counselling for me to be able to call them ‘symptoms’ as opposed to the real thing. I am losing weight rapidly and will soon be back to a more normal level. Two months into my withdrawal I’m still having these symptoms, however, they are slowly subsiding. Reading the other comments, it sounds like I have been really fortunate.

  18. I’d been on Abilify for only two months or so, when it became obvious that it was making my anxiety worse. Under a doctor’s direction, I’ve been weaning off the drug for nearly two weeks, with my last dosage tomorrow. I’ve been agitated, tired, sleepy and more depressed than I’ve ever been. I’m wondering how long until I feel normal. I took Abilify in low doses, and I now resent ever having been prescribed such a wicked drug never worked for me. This withdrawal is awful.

  19. I have been on abilify injections for 4 moths for delusional psychosis. On the med I experience symptoms similar to those of withdrawal, including muscle aches and pains, apathetic mood, suicidal thoughts, crying, tremor, visual disturbances etc. I am a voluntary patient and hoping to be put on tablet form next week. Have been told by the nurse case manager not to even discuss weaning to a lower dose than 30 mg. Which I find frustrating.

    I no longer want to be on this medication and now further understand how long the weaning process can take. My partner is worried about a relapse of which there has been one 6 moths after ceasing olazapine. Feel like I’m in a dilemma don’t want to put my family 13 year old and husband through another episode but this medication is killing my spirit slowly.

  20. It is going on my fourth week after tapering off my 10mg dose Abilify (10 years on) to 7.5mg. I have days that are wrought with anxiety, nausea and headaches then days that are great. I do not understand the waxing and waning of these symptoms. I am going to taper off 2.5mg more and stay at the 5mg dose then switch to a cheaper alternative. How can anyone afford this drug? I have coverage through insurance but that is not always going to be the case. Any comments would greatly be appreciated.

  21. Thanks everyone for sharing your stories. They’ve been helping me realize I’m not alone. I took 2 mg of Abilify for about 4-5 years as an adjunct to my 10 mg of Lexapro. I’m on the meds for OCD and depression. Recently, my life had improved and I had made some breakthroughs in talk therapy, so I decided to go off my meds. I figured I’d start with the Abilify because I was sick of the fatigue and weight gain. 2 mg seemed like such a small amount, I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal to quit cold turkey.

    Yikes. For the past 5 weeks since I quit, I’ve been having mood swings–I’m often either deeply depressed or downright euphoric. When I’m depressive, I find myself having suicidal ideation like I’ve never had before…I seriously want to just cut my wrists with a butcher knife and bleed out on the kitchen floor. And then there are the crying spells where I’m just wracked with sobs and can’t stop clinging to my partner. When I’m depressed, nothing has value to me. I wonder what the point of anything is and feel like life is a complete waste of time.

    To make matters even worse, all of this has reopened old OCD wounds. I’m constantly second-guessing myself, thinking of myself as unloved/unlovable, thinking that I’ll never get any further in life, etc. In short, hell. I’m going to try to muscle through a bit longer. If I can’t do it though, I’m going to have to go back on the damn Abilify and try tapering.

  22. I took abilify 5mg for 2 months. Quit cold turkey two days ago psych doc changed my meds. I’m pretty sure I’m having withdrawals. I’ve got a really aggravating headache, and feel very nauseous. And just feel bad in general. But they replaced the med with lamictal. Which seems to be working. I hope these withdrawals don’t last long. :(

  23. My son just recently stopped taking Abilify. He was tapered off by his doctor. Also, his Zoloft was increased from 100 to 150mg (which was his original dose). I’ve noticed some behavior and physical changes in him. He’s complained twice over the past two weeks of having a racing heart – which was once confirmed by the school nurse. He’s also complained about constant twitching in his big toe. Emotionally he’s been happy, yet somewhat over talkative in the afternoon. At night he becomes very irritable. Is all of this due to Abilify withdrawal?

  24. I couldn’t go off abilify. I tried because I thought it made me too tense and impatient; it impelled me forward at a faster pace than I felt comfortable with. I’m still not used to it. The first side effect that I noticed when I started this drug was a clamping of my jaw. Other side effects worried me. When I tried to go off, I was only taking 5mg down from 10.

    I fell into heavy grief sobbing that wouldn’t stop and a deep depression came over me. After less than a week of this, I went back on abilify at 2mg. I still suffer from grief sobbing as I have all my life as a bipolar, but the episodes after quitting were especially excruciating. So I did not succeed in quitting.

  25. Hello! I’m a 20 year old woman. For years I’ve been on Abilify 30mg or 20mg, along with Pristiq 50mg. Weaning off the Pristiq was no big deal for me. They don’t recommend you split the Pristiq pill but it really helped with reducing withdrawal symptoms. You gotta do what you gotta do. Now I’m off both. I’ve been off the Pristiq for about a month or so. I’ve only been off Abilify for about a week.

    Since I’ve been in the hospital for two weeks (for HUS, I’m getting discharged tomorrow!) it’s really hard to tell if my nausea, fatigue, and other physical problems are from the Abilify withdrawal or from the other medications they’re giving me. It could be a mixture of both. I was on 20mg, and started refusing the Abilify when my nurses were handing it to me during my stay. (It pleases me how easily you can consent to or refuse certain treatment in medical hospitals.)

    I’m kind of nervous to go home. I’m not sure when the emotions will start to overwhelm me. I’ve tried weaning off my Abilify so many times in the past, it has sometimes made me suicidal. But the butt-face psychiatrist I had said I could absolutely not go off of Abilify. I had to be on it or something similar to it. I hated that doctor. Luckily I don’t experience weight gain on this medication like a lot of people.

    Last year, my boyfriend at the time was trying to help me wean off the Abilify 30mg, I split it in half and had so much uncontrollable rage for a week which ultimately led to our break-up. He was never on meds like this, and I’ve been on mental medication since 1st grade. So he didn’t understand. My psychiatrist put me on 20mg and that’s what I was on up until about a week ago.

    I’m just hoping I’ll never have to take it again and I can be free of any kind of long-term drugs for the rest of my life. They cause more problems than they fix. I don’t know why so many people, especially children, are getting diagnosed with ADHD, bipolar, etc. when children obviously aren’t adults and need to be TAUGHT how to behave, not be given a drug to calm them down. :( Anyways, I will most likely leave an update in a few months if anyone is interested.

    • UPDATE: I was off the Abilify for about 3 months (it felt like an eternity). After that I was feeling way too suicidal/unsafe to stay off it any longer. Right away I noticed my body ached a lot more back on medication. That, and sex isn’t nearly as pleasing on a mental/emotional level. I can orgasm but it isn’t the same as when I was off meds.

      I’m hoping that my new psychiatrist will help me wean off the meds I’m on. My 2nd appointment is in a week. Abilify is really bad for your body, and I’ve been on it for over 3 years.

  26. Had to come off abilify 2.5mg because my bladder was totally giving way and the medication prescribed to counteract that was causing severe breathing problems. Have been off the medication for 8 weeks now and the severe joint pain, for which I had to take codeine has now eased off. I am still suffering from sweats night and day, worse than with the menopause and copable with,waves of mild depression, which admittedly could be reactional due to present circumstances. I am simply being good to myself just now and taking a little time out.

  27. I just stumbled on this website and I can not begin to tell you how happy I am that I found it. I had been on abilify for about 8 years I withdrew from family and friends and was never the same person as I was before taking abilify. Around March of 2015 I stopped taking abilify due to excessive weight gain. I was fine for about 2 weeks and felt great my family was so happy to have me back. After 2 weeks I began to itch uncontrollably over my entire body.

    I then began feeling sick to my stomach everyday and so tired I really thought something was wrong my neck hurt to turn it and my head felt like it was to heavy for my shoulders. I began going to the Dr frequently and after lots of blood work Wich all came back normal he began sending me to specialist to rule things out. I have even been hospitalized for sever dehydration. They have been unable to find a cause and are sending g me to a rheumatologist in august. It is now July and the symptoms have not gotten any better. Some days I can handle them but most days you will find me in bed sick to my stomach.

    Thursday was my last day at work until I could find out why I have been so sick. It’s been 5 months since I have been off abilify and all the Dr I have seen know I went off this drug cold turkey and not one of them has contributed this to any of my symptoms. I will not give in and go back to abilify but I truly hope that the symptoms ease up soon. I really feel this should be a lawsuit as none of this was explained to me when I was first started on this death drug.

  28. I just found out tonight that my husband stopped taking his Abilify cold turkey about a week ago. He cut back from 30mg a day to 15mg late last year/early this year with his dr’s approval and I can’t say that I noticed any withdrawal symptoms. He says he feels so much better and can think clearly since coming off of it a week ago, but it sounds like the worst is yet to come. After reading through all these posts, I want to encourage him to gradually wean himself off, but I don’t know if he should go back on at 15 mg or if he should start at a lower dose.

    This is all very scary to me, as all his issue is ever referred to is that he got “sick” and has had some “setbacks.” We have been married 2.5 years and I fully support him coming off if that’s what he wants to do. I know based on what people have said about him when he was younger that he is just a shell of the man he used to be. Any advice is appreciated and prayers are coveted.

  29. I’ve been on 10 mg for about 4 years. I cut my dose in half and about two weeks into it, I got ill. I was sweating, nauseated, tired, I had insomnia, but I had felt okay mentally. But then I started feeling irritable and anxious so I gave up trying to get off of it. I’ve been back on 10 mg. for less than 2 weeks. I was okay physically within a few days, but the mental stuff started to get worse even after going back up.

    I am impressed by the people on this site that are enduring hell to get off this drug. I have read all of the comments. I wanted to know what I could be in for. As soon as there was a hint of mental issues I gave up trying. I was very depressed when I went on this medication. So if I get depressed going down on it or off of it, how do I know it is withdrawals? Maybe it is the same depression I was in originally.

    I do not have the will to suffer, by going off of this drug. Had I of been told at the beginning that it was a life time decision to go on Abilify, I may of chosen differently. I believe doctors should tell the truth about the drugs they are prescribing.

  30. The one thing I was not told was that coming off of Abilify could induce psychosis and extreme anger-even many months after quitting completely. I have become a mean spirited, foul-mouthed, ANGRY, individual. I have 2 speeds. Angry & angrier. All I do is yell. Or cry. Even at my 8 yr old grandson and my 3 year old autistic granddaughter that I have custody of. I quit taking Abilify 8 months ago. I had the headaches, terrible night sweats, night terrors, muscle cramps, insomnia, irritability, etc.

    Except my irritability has turned into extreme anger, explosive episodes, I’m unreasonable, mean, and I hate life right now. NOTHING makes me happy. I’m not depressed per se, but also cannot seem to quit yelling at everyone. Little things that should not bother me (at least prior to taking Abilify they didn’t) now make me see red. Last night I threw 3 of my adult daughters friends out of my house because of my perceived idea of being disrespected. What they did was disrespectful, but my reaction was WAY OVERBOARD.

    I’ve alienated my adult daughter, my 8 year old grandson begs me to stop being mad at him & I feel like I’m doing irreparable damage to the 3 year old granddaughter I’m supposed to love & care for. I hate that Abilify has changed my chemical makeup to the point that I no longer feel like a human being. I’m going on month 9 of being off of Abilify, but the anger just doesn’t subside. I still have night sweats & muscle cramps too, although not as bad as in the beginning. I feel like I should go back on it, but my weight gain was ridiculous. I went from a size 8 to a size 24 (that’s 175 lbs in 5 years). I hate my body, but I hate myself even more.

  31. Finding this website is a blessing. I am currently on Abilify 30 mg and have been for 4 months for schizophrenia. I just want to feel like myself again. With abilify it always feels as if there is a veil over everything and it is hard to identify what is really going on around me. First I was on risperdal, then changed to geodon, then changed to abilify. I quit risperdal for a week and had mild withdrawal symptoms, horrible headaches.

    I ended up getting back on it because I couldn’t stand the mental pain I was going through. I never tried to quit geodon, but now with the abilify I am at a point where I want to see how my brain is functioning underneath the medication. I plan on going down 10% each week using a scale to weigh out the dosages. I also plan on talking to my psychiatrist about this. I don’t know if I will have support of my parents if I choose to do this so I am keeping it to myself.

    I am scared of withdrawal symptoms but I am willing to go through it if I can feel my natural mind again. I have social struggles on a daily basis and never did before I started taking medication. I also have memory issues and concentration troubles since I started taking medication. If worse comes to worst I hope I can just function on a lower dosage of abilifiy. I feel I am over medicated. Dealing with a mental illness is a challenge.

    I don’t think most people who don’t suffer from it really understand the pressure we have on ourselves to make ourselves look good and act like nothing is going on underneath us. Good luck to everyone trying to come off of this drug.

  32. Hey everyone, I just wanted to say that finding this thread was perhaps the best thing that could have happened to me today. So much clarity in regards to my feelings, thoughts, and behaviors these past few months. Well, I was diagnosed with Bipolar II Depression and mild anxiety issues over a year ago by my university psych and therapist. Before this, I had been undiagnosed suffering from what I assume are hypomanic episodes since I was 14.

    So, the prospect of starting meds to help me cope with increasing panic attacks and depressive episodes sounded amazing because at 23 I wasn’t looking forward to life anymore. After 4 months on Lamictal and feeling like I had unknowingly signed up for a chemical lobotomy, I stopped it cold turkey and after a month started taking Abilify. I titrated from 2mg up to 15mg. I was on 15mg for about 5-6 months in combo with Inderall for my anxiety. I was performing well in school again, and everything was going great.

    In January 2015, I couldn’t afford to pay for the meds anymore and ended up quitting cold turkey again. I had no idea the past five months of hell could have been due to withdrawal symptoms. I’ve been having horrible issues sleeping; I’m scared of doing simple things like getting up and showering; I’m scared of responding to friends and family; I was bedridden for migraines and nausea. I thought I was going crazy. I haven’t had suicidal thoughts since my early adolescence, and I’ve been suddenly sucked of all desire to live.

    I feel horrible for the relationships I’ve ruined during this and I just want to feel like myself again. I’m so happy knowing that it’s not just me and it’s the fucked up chemistry in my brain trying to balance itself out. If anyone has issues with Abilify, please do not lose hope. The symptoms have gotten much better the longer I’ve been off them. And please do not go cold turkey. That was probably the catalyst for a lot of the darkness I’ve been in the past few months.

  33. Hi, My name is Dominique. I am 24 years old. I have been on abilify for about 3 years now. I started at 20/35 MG I don’t remember and now I am down to 2.5. My diagnosis is broad and does not make sense to me. I know I can find happiness and I don’t think it is going to come in a little blue pill shape form. I’m just curious how others feel about taking this drug. Recently my head has been feeling really heavy even though I have been on this dose for a while now.

    I’m not sure what changed but I would not recommend coming off cold turkey. Definitely stay in close contact with your psychiatrist and with therapist appointments as often as possible. Don’t give up there is always hope. Stay strong and active! An idle mind is a persons worst enemy. Lots of music!!! Helps me a lot! Keeps my positivity going and I feel at ease! Just know you are not alone and to keep going!

  34. I used to be in the military until they diagnosed me with Schizophrenia. I spent half a year in the hospital then was medically discharged and sent me home. It became clear they wouldn’t pay for my medication and just recently I ran out of my last pill and had to stop cold turkey. It’s been hell so far; muscle cramps, excessive crying, severe depression among other things but I can’t pay. I haven’t really accepted the diagnosis, but the medication helped me a lot. It feels like they don’t care what happens. It does feel good to know people understand.

    • Definitely! Keep striving and don’t ever give up! There may not be a reason for everything but just stay positive! It is comforting! I agree I am happy I found this thread!

  35. I was on 10 mg for 4 years for severe depression. I have resolved many issues that were causing me to be depressed. So I feel it is time to get off this drug. I am also on 40 mg of Celexa. Several weeks ago I quit cold turkey. At two weeks off I realized I was nauseated, exhausted, was sweating profusely. I did not get depressed. I started making extra mistakes at work.

    I then found this site and read the horror stories about withdrawal symptom possibilities and got scared. So I went back on 5 mg twenty days ago. My cognitive performance is still below normal, but I feel well. I have more energy. I was not aware that the Abilify caused low motivation to move! I am very motivated to wean off of this drug.

  36. I was on 1 mg of abilify for 5 years. I tapered off 90 days ago and I still have withdrawal symptoms: Anxiety, confusion, memory loss, dizzy, insomnia, joint pain, lightheaded and fatigue. Still on 2 1/2 mg of Lexapro for anxiety. I feel frustrated and stuck. like no one understands. I have tried supplements, they just make everything worse. Is there anything that can make these symptoms end faster? I have a methylation issue that adds to the problem.

  37. I have been on a low dose of Abilify for about two years in conjunction with Prozac in order to treat depression. I started with half a 2mg tablet, and eventually reduced to half of that and I have to admit, that it did pull me out of the deep depression I was in. However, even at this low dose, my sugars and cholesterol levels both rose and I gained about 30 pounds. I did have some withdrawal symptoms when reducing the dose from 1/2, but nothing like when I stopped cold turkey at my doctor’s recommendation.

    I experienced excessive sweating, panic and anxiety attacks, nausea, and lack of appetite. The doctor said I needed to be back on it. I did that and it took over a week to get back to semi-normal and about a month before all the symptoms left. I plan to try tapering off even more and slowly wean myself off since my doctor is not understanding that the symptoms I had were from withdrawal and not from my anxiety and depression disorders.

    Unfortunately, I have to wait until I have enough vacation and sick time built up so I can take a month off and work through the withdrawals. I recommend that if you’ve been prescribed this medication for depression that you don’t take too large a dose if possible and get off it as soon as you can.

  38. This is a devil drug. I was prescribed 400 mg. once a month (Abilify consta) for 7 months – WAY too much for my delicate system, and am going off cold turkey. The psychiatrist refused to significantly lower the dose. The side effects were so many and so severe that it made absolutely no sense to remain on it. Abilify was literally killing me. There were absolutely no benefits to it at all.

    Just horrific and I do mean horrific and constant side effects. I am now in about week 7 of being off of it. I made the choice on my own – the psychiatrist refused to listen to me in regard to the severe side effects, denying that the problems were being caused by the KNOWN SIDE EFFECTS of the Abilify! I am now experiencing extreme (and I do mean extreme) agoraphobia – it’s all I can do to leave the house – extreme dizziness, insomnia, anxiety and severe depression.

    I don’t feel like I can get anything done. It’s all I can do just to get dressed! This is not me. The entire psych field is quackery as far as I am concerned, and these drugs amount to nothing but sheer torture of the worst kind. I didn’t have any problems at all before I started taking this stuff compared to now. What I wouldn’t do just to be able to turn the clock back and never get on the stuff. From what I understand, permanent brain damage isn’t uncommon.

    It is beyond criminal, but who is ever held accountable for the ensuing damage? It’s all about money! I am going to ride this out the best that I can. I am against going back and asking for more so that I can taper because I never want a molecule of Abilify ever entering my body again. Enough is enough. God is my healer. I just pray that this doesn’t last. As far as I’m concerned, the manufacturers and distributors (including the doctors) who prescribe this stuff should be prosecuted. That’s how strongly I feel about it. -KL

    • I read somewhere that tapering off at 10% per month is the best way to go. I’m on a super low dose and had the same experience as you when I quit cold turkey. I want to get off this drug so bad. I’m going to try the 10% per month. They also recommend taking a month in between reductions to adjust, so depending on how much you are taking it may even take a couple years to completely wean off without serious side-effects.

  39. I ran out of abilify 8 days ago. I had been part of the assistance program because I couldn’t afford the drug. I’m on medicare for disability due to my bi-polar disorder and “comorbid” conditions. It’s a miracle they finally took me. Then, they dropped me without warning. My co-pay for Abilify is approximately $250. My co-pay for Aripiprizole is approximately $250. It’s crimiminal.

    Since last Tuesday I have suffered severe headaches, nausea, acid stomach with constant belching, sweats, shakiness, confusion, inability to concentrate, a worsening of my agoraphobia, extreme sleepiness to the point where I fall asleep at the breakfast table while drinking my coffee, difficulty staying asleep, the stares, difficulty getting up and moving, feelings of increasing sadness and helplessness/hopelessness, loss of motivation(“I feel too sick, I just can’t do that right now”) and a feeling of general illness.

    I’m terrified that this is how I’m going to feel all the time while off of Abilify. I don’t think I can stand it. I was working on a book before I ran out of Abilify. Now I just look at my computer and tell myself I’m going to do that “today,” but I never do.

    I work as a freelance writer to pay for groceries because over a third of my social security goes to medical expenses. Then I have bills like everyone else. I can’t work like this. It was hard enough pretending to be “normal” before. At least then, my writing was very good, so no one complained if it took me a little longer than other people. I don’t even have the ability to search for work right now.

    I was on Abilify for 3 years this last time, only being off it a few months before that, then many years before that. I can’t think to count right now. If this goes on for 90 days – I just don’t think I can take it. I was a person. Messy, but a real person who cooked, took care of the budget and the bills, occasionally went to social functions and wrote. If anybody I know saw me now, they’d know there was something wrong with me. I couldn’t take that.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to prattle. It’s 4 AM and I can’t sleep.

  40. I have only been on Abilify for about three months … and on a very low dosage; I started at 2 mg. and moved up to 5 mg. My psychiatrist prescribed Abilify as an add-on to my Effexor for depression. After three months, I decided I did not want this medication anymore. A.) I can’t afford it any longer: My insurance co-pay was more than $200; B.) I did not notice any beneficial effects; C.) I have been prescribed a vast number of “brain” drugs in my life and at this point I decided that I want anything extraneous out of my system… out of my poor brain.

    My doctor did not advise me on any withdrawal symptoms from Abilify; I completely stopped the medication a week ago and don’t even know if I’m actually typing this… the withdrawal effects on the brain are that bad. It’s like I’m floating around, occasionally touching down into reality… and then back up. They withdrawal symptoms began to get really bad three days after I stopped taking Abilify. Brain “fog” here is an understatement; I cannot focus/concentrate on anything; I find myself driving (which I now think I shouldn’t do at all, until this goes away), completely zoning out – I’m awake, but then I seem to forget where I am or what I’m doing.

    If I should turn or go straight or stop. Even if I get up slowly from a sitting position, I “blackout” for a moment. I’m so dizzy I’m sure I’m going to faint and feel paralyzed for a time. Before I quit Abilify, I was easily walking/jogging six miles a day. I can now barely take my dog around the block, I’m so fatigued. Not to mention, I’m sweating like a pregnant pig 24 hours a day and am so short of breath and exhausted from walking, I just collapse afterward a few steps.

    Yesterday, my hands were shaking so violently, I couldn’t even type or hold a pen; and I’ve had atrocious migraines the past five days… to the point, I have to lie down in the dark; can’t even open my eyes. From everything I’ve now read about this drug, I am so thankful I’m on my way to getting off of it; but it almost makes me think that Abilify’s pharmaceutical company, perhaps intends for consumers to not be able to get off this drug. It’s been eight days for me and I have been very tempted to call in the refill on my prescription.

    Not that it’s addictive by any means, but I am feeling so ungodly terrible, I just want something to make the pain and other withdrawal symptoms go away. It further makes me very skeptical that my very small dose of Ability for such a short amount of time is ripping me apart.

  41. I took 2 mg. for the last 5 years and helped a lot, however, the weight gain was too much. I decided to wean off last fall. I cut 1/4 of the pill off every 3 months or so til I was down to 1/4 or .50 of a pill. It’s been a week and I have withdrawal every day…a horrible hot feeling in my head, shaking, nausea, depressed. I wake up with these symptoms every day, but they subside later in the day.

    Somebody tell me that it will get better. I hate the doctor that put me on this in conjunction with the 50 mg of Zoloft I was on, but at the time, I was having a nervous breakdown and he thought the Abilify would help. Well, it definitely did, but today I feel I have no reason to be on it. What a horrible drug to get off of.

    • I am in much the same situation as yours. I took 2 mg per day for five years and have been titrating off the drug now for over three months. I’m currently taking a quarter of a 2 mg pill skipping three days in between doses.

      The withdrawal symptoms have not improved vastly at all. I’m experiencing anxiety, depression and I wake up racing and often feeling under rested. I am unable to focus and concentrate and find myself just wanting to lay down once I’ve completed the bare minimum and errands and tasks.

      My psychiatrist thinks there is no such thing as withdrawal effects from Abilify but my pharmacist assures me that with the slow taper things will get better over time. I hope she’s right!

    • Dear Debbi, I am also taking Abilify for a booster on 120mgs Cymbalta. It is almost 4 months. I was wondering if your depression came back? I have been told it does and can been even worse!!! I cannot stand the weight gain. I live alone on a fixed income, so I just can’t keep buying new clothes all the time. I am TERRIFIED of the depression returning. Also Abilify is working well for me.

  42. I have been weaning off Abilify for several months after being on it for almost four years. This is my 14th and final drug that I am tapering over the course of my lifetime. The other drugs were a walk in the park compared to Abilify. I am down to 2.5mg from my usual dose of 15mg and I feel irritability, anger, depression, mental fog / confusion, difficulty concentrating, a tinge of anxiety and lack of motivation to leave the house. I went down from 15mg to 7.5mg, then to 5mg, then to 3.75mg, then to my current dose of 2.5mg.

    I bought liquid Abilify to help me with the final stage of my taper, to go more slowly, but unfortunately that liquid form is being discontinued in 10 days and will no longer be available for purchase. If you want to come off Abilify you will have to do it with the tablets. Fortunately they can be cut into eighths, from my experience. You need to be slow and deliberate about it, but I have taken my 5mg prescription, and cut into 2.5mg, 1.25mg, and 0.625mg tablets, each strength lasting for about two weeks.

    So you can make a 5mg prescription go fairly far. I paid $962 out of pocket for that “medicine” so I was determined to make it stretch. Withdrawal sucks and I am sure it will get worse but unless I am clearly dying I don’t see the need to reinstate. Withdrawal symptoms do subside eventually, even if it takes months or even a few years. I believe in the adaptability and strength of the human body and I believe even the damage caused by psychiatric drugs can be healed eventually. That being said, the slow taper method is definitely the safest and only way to go.

  43. I was put on Effexor for depression. Not the sadness type, but to help me cope with fibro. Then was put on Abilify for continuous sadness? I told her my low mood was because of my fibro pain, so I thought, what the heck, it can’t hurt. Wow, she was wrong. I became not interested in many things, didn’t want to leave the house, partly because of the weight gain!!

    I decided to wean myself off both. I’m on the last stages with my Abilify, but have a way to go with the Effexor. So far, so good, thank goodness. I am doing it gradually. If it takes a year, so be it! I want to get my mojo back again. I do feel somewhat better, but I know I have a long way to go. I guess what I’m trying to say, hang in there!! Life will look so much brighter!!!

  44. Whoops so my first post was too long so here I go again! I have ADHD and GAD. I just finished my fifth and final year of university, which was a huge struggle all five years. Sometimes it got better, but for the most part it was hard and I did poorly. So I started seeing an “out there” ADHD psychiatrist June 2013 and he put me on so many meds at really high doses. He keeps adding more and making the doses higher because nothing works. He currently has me on 5 meds (Vyvnase, Wellbutrin XL, Inutniv, Trintellix (Brintellix in the U.S.) and Abilify)

    Because I’ve finished school and am off for the next 4 months I decided it would be a good time to go off 3 of the meds. I started with Abilify just because I ran out of it and haven’t taken it for 5-6 days now. I ran out of Abilify starting on Friday (April 24th). I called in my pills but I haven’t picked them up yet. So I’ve gone almost 6 days without it (I take it at night time). I don’t think I feel side effects yet. Well besides being emotional. I’ve weaned off Cymbalta before and know how horrible the experience is and am not looking forward to it for these meds.

    I’m not sure if I should go back to my dose or because I’m already 6 days without that I should keep going? Or I was thinking of taking 2mg instead. I feel like I’m on so many meds I don’t really feel the side effects and I won’t know which med is causing it. This is going to be one hell of a journey. And I’m only on my first med right now! If anyone wants to chat and support each other through this journey feel free to email me. ([email protected]).

  45. My Son has been on Abilify since August 2008 for Major Depressive Disorder. I think he started out at 10 mg, but ended up taking 20mg for most part. He stopped cold turkey mid January 2015. Its been really hard and he is going through hell. This last weekend he was suicidal took a bunch of over the counter sleep aid tablets. Spent the day in ER. He has ruminating thoughts and can’t shut it off. Smoking has doubled to 2 packs a day. How much longer will this last? I’m thinking he should get back on it and then get off gradually.

  46. Thanks to all of you who have shared your Abilify withdrawal stories. I’ve been off Abilify completely for 3 months exactly today. I am so thankful! I took Abilify 30 mgs. from 2010 to 2012, at which time I decided to trust my gut & begin to taper off, as I was no longer severely depressed & knew Abilify was not good long term due to the disgusting side effects. First of all, I tapered off very, very slowly. Altogether, in a period of 2 1/2 years.

    From 30 mgs. to 15, to 7.5, to 3 mgs., to 2 & then 1 mg. I stayed months at each level of mg. use. I am thankful I chose this very slow process. For, I have not have severe withdrawal symptoms at all! I just kept feeling better & better at each lower mg. level. I had experienced some anxiety & trouble sleeping while tapering, but, wonderfully, have discovered herbal supplementation for help with that.

    I am so much better since I’ve been off Abilify. I am much happier & am back to being me! So, it has been well worth the long time I took to taper off. Before I got off it, I had developed severe acid reflux disease (GERD), which I now believe was related to Abilify. I no longer suffer from GERD at all. And, I had gained 40 lbs., due to Abilify, which is finally coming off. I am a new person. So, take your time withdrawing from this medication, it is a much easier experience than if you rush it.

  47. Have been tapering off Abilify 5mg. for about one month. The withdrawal symptoms haven’t been bad so far. I found it didn’t really help, but you’re to trust your doctor, right? I’m taking my time tapering. Right now I’m sleepy, sweaty, and have muscle and joint pain. The sweats I attribute to menopause. The muscle and joint pain to my fibro. So, that means so far, so good. I realize it may takes months for your brain to readjust, but I have a great network of family and friends who support me. To all out there, take your time! There are drugs not meant to go off cold turkey and Abilify is one of those. I wish you luck and good health!

    • Thank you, Vickie, for sharing how you have been taking your time coming off Abilify. I recently posted about how I got off it very slowly. I hope people will take what we have said very seriously. Abilify is like a prison, you want to get out quick, but patience & strategy are the keys. Good luck & good health to you as well!

  48. Dear all, I am 36 years old girl. I had a schizophrenia-related psychotic event when I was 25. It was mainly the burst of untreated paranoia that I developed in my second and third year at uni. I have been taking Abilify for many years. I recently had a therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy, that has helped me a lot to cool down my paranoia triggers. I have been feeling really well and healthy, so I decided to come out of Abilify very slowly as my doctor recommended, plus having therapy support.

    I have been without Abilify for 2 months now and I am really grateful to myself and support to have achieved this so far. However, this last week or two, I have been feeling the following: Intense dryness in my mouth, Lacking of vitality / vital energy, Deep sadness, Crying a lot, Very very tired, Pains in muscle and joints. I do know that Abilify makes you numb to feelings, and it is true that I didn’t use to cry so much before whilst taking it. So perhaps my body is just adjusting to feelings, and perhaps is good to cry.

    I am confused about my current state of depression, since I have not experienced this before. I only have had problems with paranoia and two weeks of hearing voices in 2005. So I really hope it is just a withdrawal symptom. I am in touch with my therapist and doctor just in case, and they are aware of the situation. I was worried that the voices will suddenly pop up from one moment to the other, however my doctor explicitly said that this cannot happen from one moment to the other when you are feeling OK. There is a pattern, and for me personally is paranoia, followed by being alone a lot in my room, then illness.

    So, I really recommend to recognize what triggers your paranoia, in this case, because this is the root of the problem. If you control those triggers, there will be no illness. It doesn’t matter what happened to you in the past, experiences can not be changed, old beliefs can’t be changed. However, from today onwards you have the power to change your present and future, by building new beliefs that are kind, loving and compassionate towards you. Make those new beliefs bigger than the old ones, you can do it. Even though I am worried of getting ill again, the reality is that right now I am healthy. Despite having taking Abilify for so many years. Best wishes to all.

  49. Follow up to my post back on 3/25/15: I’ve been off Abilify for about a month and a half now and I’m doing OK. The discomfort in my joints (knees especially) and general restless when trying to sleep has been very slowly dissipating. I did follow up with my doc and she confirmed the challenges with withdrawal not just with Abilify but the other med, Lamictal, that I am considering discontinuing. I don’t feel she clearly communicated that earlier, before discontinuing. So, like I’ve learned in the past with other meds, we have to take responsibility for educating ourselves about the meds, side effects, withdrawal, risks, etc. because docs often don’t do that unless asked…which is a bit puzzling.


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