People would often never guess what the fifth best-selling prescription drug in the US is. That drug is called Abilify, and it is a powerful antipsychotic. In 2011 alone, this drug and other antipsychotic medications were prescribed to approximately 3.2 million Americans at a cost of $18.2 billion. This is a 13 percent increase from 2010 according to a survey that IMS Health has conducted.
This drug is used to treat serious psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and severe major depression. However, it has serious side effects on its own. Unfortunately, few people know about this. Being familiar with these hidden dangers can help people identify them as they happen when they are taking this antipsychotic medication.
First, Abilify produces tardive dyskinesia. It involves drug-induced abnormal movements that commonly disfigure a patient and in some cases result in total disability and lifelong pain. The disorder often begins with out of control movements of the eyes, mouth, tongue and face. The muscles in the torso, neck, fingers, limbs and toes can be involved. With this adverse effect, the ability to walk is frequently impaired. Speech and breathing can be afflicted. One variant known as tardive dystonia results in agonizing muscle spasms that often lead to gross distortion in gait and posture. Another, tardive akathisia causes a number of neurological sensations that are excruciating and force the patient to move about in order to relieve them. Some of them unfortunately have been forced to commit suicide to obtain relief.
There is no effective treatment for Abilify-induced tardive dyskinesia. Some cases worsen over time, and most of them are permanent. Tardive dyskinesia is especially insidious in onset because Abilify suppresses or masks the initial symptoms while the disease is developing. If healthcare workers do not carefully monitor and periodically stop Abilify to check for the early development of tardive dyskinesia, a full-blown disabling case can develop before a person realizes what has happened. As of 2014, 765 cases of tardive dyskinesia have been reported by patients who are taking Abilify.
Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome
Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome is a rare, life-threatening reaction to the use of Abilify. This leads to excessive sweating, wide swings in blood pressure and excessive secretion of saliva. A patient may also experience hypoventilation caused by muscle rigidity and difficulty walking because of the development of a shuffling gait. Early identification and treatment is very important in order to improve outcomes. Intensive care is also needed to reverse this condition, and the fever is treated aggressively. Muscle relaxants may also be prescribed. There are 485 reports of patients who have experienced NMS while taking Abilify.
Dysphagia or swallowing difficulties are also found among people who take Abilify. As of this year, there are 286 people who have reported this side effect. Although it is less severe than neuroleptic malignant syndrome and tardive dyskinesia, it can lead to choking and aspiration when eating and drinking. It can also lead to the inhalation of food potentially causing pneumonia. What is worse is that some patients also reported dysmotility symptoms along with dysphagia after taking the drug for only two months. Some of them are also being diagnosed with Achalasia. Achalasia is a condition where a person’s esophagus is having a hard time moving food to the stomach. A number of these patients even have to undergo surgery to repair this problem. What is worse is that some of them have permanent GERD symptoms. This is another reason why people should have second thoughts when their attending physician prescribes Abilify for their psychiatric condition.
Abilify also has the capability to cause a number of potentially disastrous metabolic syndromes that include high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and severe obesity. This can cause direct harm to the function of the heart. Overall, this condition is the perfect ingredient for premature death and cardiac disease. What is worse is that new studies in kids have found astronomical rates of pathological obesity after only a few months of exposure. Abilify also has a tendency to elevate blood sugar in the person who is taking it. This may create additional problems for people with pre-diabetes or diabetes. What is worse is that it can also create significant symptoms in a non-diabetic person. This is because the liquid form of Abilify contains about half an ounce of sugar per dose that can aggravate pre-diabetes or diabetes.
People who are taking Abilify should closely watch out for signs of high blood sugar levels such as frequent urination, blurred vision, unusual hunger and increased thirst. Untreated hyperglycemia can lead to ketoacidosis, a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. Symptoms of ketoacidosis include dry mouth, breath with a fruit odor, nausea and vomiting, mental stupor, loss of consciousness and shortness of breath.
People who are taking Abilify should be worried about Agranulocytosis. This is a life-threatening condition that results from a failure of a person’s bone marrow to produce adequate quantities of white blood cells. As a result, the white blood cell count will be low. Symptoms that people should watch for include fever, chills and chronic infections of the throat, skin and gums along with sores in the throat, mouth or gastrointestinal tract. If this condition is left untreated, the risk of dying is high due to uncontrolled sepsis, a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition. Symptoms of ketoacidosis include dry mouth, breath with a fruit odor, nausea and vomiting, mental stupor, loss of consciousness and shortness of breath.
Clearly, this is a drug to avoid if at all possible, however, for anyone wishing to overcome Abilify abuse or addiction, we have the solution. Call today to learn more about our program options.