Problems with Abilify for Depression

12
13,164 views
test
 

Abilify: way oversold

You probably have seen a TV ad recently for Abilify. I do all the time. It’s terrible.

Each time I’m amazed at the audacity of its makers, Bristol-myers Squibb.  They’re making a killingoff those ads; they sold 30% more in 2009 than in 08 of the stuff.

But what don’t they tell you?

The ads position Abilify as an option if your antidepressant doesn’t provide complete symptom relief.

(That includes pretty much everyone. Antidepressants flat out don’t work in at least 33% of people, and completely eliminate symptoms in almost no one.)

But the ads don’t mention that Abilify is a very powerful drug mainly used for schizophrenia and mania.

That it has hardly any scientific backing for its ability to treat depression. And that there are many, many other options that should be considered first when depression doesn’t fully respond to an antidepressant.

Abilify is an antipsychotic

Abilify is primarily used for schizophrenia and mania, not depression. Like most antipsychotics, it has serious side effects. Use for just 1 year can potentially cause irreversible movements like facial tics or leg twitching. It can potentially cause diabetes. And an astonishing 25% of people who use it experience akathisia, an intense feeling of being unsettled.

People who have akathisia can experience severe anxiety that prevents them from working, sleeping and daily activities. Again, there’s a 25% chance of getting some form of it from Abilify.

Other common side effects from Abilify include headaches, insomnia, and vomiting. Weight gain is pretty common too.

This is in a medication being sold to people who’re somewhat depressed.

Abilify hasn’t been tested nearly as much as it should

Based off the heavy advertising, you’d think it was scientifically established that Abilify works.  Hardly.

Two major studies commonly cited for showing its efficacy showed about 25% improvement as opposed to 15% placebo. That’s only 10% difference. So if you are taking this medication, you’re just as likely to feel better as you are to feel extreme anxiety and being unsettled. That isn’t even the worst part.

The worst part is that 25% efficacy rate was from studies that were manipulated to make the drug seem better!

To achieve this, the study makers tested for depression in several different ways. They then analyzed the results and threw out the ones that showed their drug didn’t work. If you’re curious, the ones that didn’t show they worked were the ones where people reported how they felt in self-reports.

So you could be saying “I feel horrible,” and they’d count you as a success story if some other measurement showed some improvement.

That’s not all. Even taking the 25% efficacy rate as legit, it’s almost meaningless. The measurement of mood took place on a 60 point scale, and Abilify had only a 3 point difference. Hardly impressive.

So you get a pretty small chance of getting slightly better on this drug.  Is it worth the side effects?

Other treatments are better

Other treatments for treatment resistant depression work better with less side effects. If you’re really that depressed that you are considering heavy medication (as if SSRIs weren’t that strong), you’d probably be better off considering lithium or other options first.  See this article for a discussion of those methods.

Sources:

Aripiprazole in Refractory Depression?

SHARE
Previous articleWhat is Swine Flu?
Next articleBenefits of Ezetimibe for Heart Disease?
Pharmaceutical analyst who loves blogging about health and medical issues. Has written more than 150 articles and a book on attention deficit disorder. Correctly predicted delayed approval of Bydureon, approval of Provenge by FDA, and the non-approval of Acthar on June 11.

Warning: date() expects parameter 2 to be long, string given in /home1/waejf60acuo4/public_html/wp-content/themes/Newspaper/includes/wp_booster/td_module_single_base.php on line 576
">

12 COMMENTS

  1. This is a great write-up, I discovered your web site looking around yahoo for a related content and arrived to this. I couldnt come across to much different info on this post, so it was awesome to locate this one. I will probably be returning to check out some other articles that you have another time.

  2. I have been on Abilify for almost 3 months. It was added to the anti-depressant I am taking (Cymbalta). After only a few days of taking it, I noticed a HUGE difference in my mood as well as my anxiety level in the most positive way possible. While this drug may not have been originally intended to treat depression, I am so glad someone discovered that it could be. I’m not being dramatic when I say that Abilify changed my life. I have noticed some of the twitching and involuntary movements while I am sitting still, its nothing so serious that I’d even consider stopping the medication.

  3. Abilify initially gave me a huge mood lift and absolutely no side effects.  Then gradually I started feeling the same as always (after about 2 months).  Plus, I developed red spots on my legs that have been diagnosed as vasculitis caused most likely by the Abilify.  I had to immediately stop taking it to see if it’s the problem, but the spots started at the same time as I started Abilify, so…..very likely the cause.

  4. MY HUSBAND TOOK ABILIFY WITH SOME TERRIBLE SIDE EFFECTS. WITHIN A SHORT TIME OF
    STOPPING ABILIFY HE DEVELOPED SERIOUS FACIAL TICKS. I DON’T KNOW IF HE WILL EVER
    BE SUITABLE TO WORK AGAIN. HE HAS HAD TO TRADE IN HIS VICE PRESIDENCY OF A LARGE
    COMPANY AND STAY HOME BECAUSE OF THESE DEBILITATING FACIAL TICKS. I WOULD THINK LONG AND HARD BEFORE TAKING THIS MEDICATION. 

  5. Norma Williford

    I took Abilify for a couple of weeks and I could not sleep, was very restless and felt like I had to be moving all the time, had terrible headaches and was not able to perform normal household duties. My blood pressure went extremely high and my heart rate went down to 50. I had just had my bottle refilled at an outrageous price. Lost my 68.00. That was my co-pay. I would not recommend this medication to anyone.

  6. Abilify has been a lifesaver for me. I tried many antidepressants over the past twenty years for chronic depression symptoms. I have had the best results with the least side effects with 2-5 mg a day of Abilify regardless of whether or not I also took an SNRI. I had mild restlessness and insomnia when I first started the medication, but no significant weight gain. I have been on it for over three years now. Lithium and Depakote both caused intolerable side effects. SSRIs and SNRIs were ineffective. This article fails to mention that the dosage used for depression is very small compared to the dosage commonly used for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. I would recommend a trial of Abilify to anyone with severe persistant depression symptoms. The biggest drawback is it’s current high price. I get a script for 30 -30 mg tablets and break the tablets into 12 pieces each. One script lasts me one year that way.

  7. Abilify is not strong, it does not work. Benadrawl works better for sedation. It is amazing that more than 40% of those that use drugs like Abilify have poor to mediocre results. Xanax is cheaper and works a lot faster.

  8. I developed diabetes, and took myself off this overpriced drug

  9. I have used abilify as an add-on to an antidepressant for 2 1/2 years. It saved my life and I love it.

  10. Don’t listen to Andre (Xanax?! r u crazy). Benzo’s like xanax are for serious retards. There are issues like fast tolerence and mania, and the fact that if u take a benzo for a long period (more than 3 weeks) and abrubtly stop you will surely have worse symtoms than before u started the benzo. This article is about doses of 15-30mg of abilify, which is perscribed for more serious issues like schizophrenia. Ive been on abilify 5mg a day for 10 days and now I wake up with enthusiasim to work and do things. I recommend sarting with 2mg and maybe going up to 5mg for anxiety/depression. I am perscribed for anxiety. My doctor swears by abilify and claims its almost a miracal drug. He said nobody in his office takes more than 10mg. How low a dose can you go people!!

  11. I wish people would STATE THE DOSE they were taking when givING their opinion

Comments are closed.