What Is Aripiprazole Used For?
Aripiprazole is used primarily for the treatment of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, depression, and autism, but healthcare providers may also recommend the drug for "off-label" uses. Off-label aripiprazole uses can include the treatment of behavior problems in elderly people with dementia and the treatment of other behavioral problems.
Part of a group of drugs known as "atypical antipsychotics," aripiprazole (Abilify®) is a prescription medicine that has been licensed to treat the following conditions:
- Bipolar disorder
- Major depression (when antidepressants are not adequate, to be used along with antidepressants)
- Irritability associated with autism disorder.
Schizophrenia is one of the most confusing and disabling mental illnesses. It is a group of mental disorders that involve abnormal thinking. Although the causes of schizophrenia are not fully understood, it is currently thought that genetics and environmental factors play an important role in developing the illness. Depending on the type of schizophrenia (see Types of Schizophrenia), symptoms may include the following:
- Thought disorders
- Disorders of movement
- Flat affect (immobile facial expression, monotonous voice)
- Lack of pleasure in everyday life
- A diminished ability to initiate and sustain planned activity
- Speaking infrequently, even when forced to interact
- Poor executive functioning (the ability to absorb and interpret information and make decisions based on that information)
- An inability to stay focused
- Problems with working memory (the ability to keep recently-learned information in mind and use it right away).
Although psychotherapy may be helpful for schizophrenia (see Psychosocial Therapy for Schizophrenics), medication is often essential to schizophrenia treatment. Aripiprazole can help improve the symptoms of schizophrenia. It also helps to prevent schizophrenia relapses (worsening of schizophrenia); however, aripiprazole is not a cure for schizophrenia.