Abilify Withdrawal

I’ve scoured the internet, and there’s a dearth of information on the topic of Abilify withdrawal. Hopefully this will help those searching for information, if only a little.

I started Abilify on February 2, 2012, on top of 300 mg Wellbutrin and 15 mg Deplin. My psychiatrist slowly eased me up to 5 mg after starting with the wee dose of 1 mg. On Friday June 1, I quit cold turkey. (Disclaimer: Do not follow my example and quit your antidepressants cold turkey. Always consult with your physician, who likely will wean you off them slowly.) I figured it would be no big deal since I’m only on 5 mg. For the most part, it has been no big deal.

First, why I quit.

I noticed that when I try to exercise outdoors, even walking, I get overheated, even if it’s only 90 degrees in the sun. While 90 might sound hot, for those of us living in Central Texas, it’s not too bad. It’s when we hit 100 that I might opt for indoor exercise. I hate indoor exercise, so getting overheated so easily is a problem. And then there was the constipation. Having a bowel movement every five days, even with the help of Miralax, is awful. Before the antidepressants I prided myself on being a regular girl (if only when it came to bowel movements). And then there was the hair. I was reading about Abilify’s side effects, and discovered that hair loss is often mentioned. Hair loss? Hell no, will I risk that. And come to think of it, it did seem that more of my hair was finding its way into the sink and the tub. So we’ve got overheating, constipation, and hair loss. Could it be any worse than that? Yes! How about weight gain, or even an impediment to weight loss. Lots of people complain of significant weight gain on Abilify. I don’t weigh; it makes me crazy. But I do know that despite being conscientious with my eating and getting more exercise, my clothes are not getting looser like they were in the early days of taking Wellbutrin only. Even if it’s not the Abilify, like hair loss, this is not something I’m willing to risk.

Once the reasons for quitting the Abilify had piled up, I decided to quit it. I called Dr. McEnroe (not his real name, but he kind of looks like him, and has that whiny little voice) and left a message about quitting. That was on a Friday morning. I didn’t hear back from him until the following Monday. In the meantime, I got antsy, and decided to take matters into my own hands. So Saturday, I didn’t take my daily dose. And I haven’t taken the drug since. Today is Day 8. From what I’ve read, the drug has a half-life of 72 hours, meaning it’s not fully out of your system for 72 hours. 72 hours was Tuesday. So Tuesday my system was Abilify-free. Today, Day 8, it’s been fully out of my system for 4 days. Here’s how it went.

The first couple of days, I had a headache. This makes sense, as I had a headache when I was starting the drug. The next few days I felt somewhat nauseated, especially when doing yoga. I had the same symptom in the early days of the drug: I always felt like I was going to vomit half-way through a yoga routine. Especially one with forward bends. So again, not too surprising. Next, I feel tired. I want to sleep ten hours a day. And there’s been some insomnia. Hopefully this is a temporary withdrawal symptom, and not a slide back into depression. I’m guessing it is temporary, because the insomnia seems to be easing, and other than feeling tired, I feel pretty good mentally.

The last thing I’ve noticed, and this is the freakiest, is what I’ll call time-skipping. It happened yesterday when I was bowling. Yes, bowling. I had to bowl for a client’s charity event. This yearly function is a fun but humiliating little boondoggle. I’m a terrible bowler. But I did break fifty both games. Better than last year. So back to the time-skipping. I’m standing there watching one of my team-members, and he bowls a strike. Woohooo! A few seconds later I look up at the board and it screams in block letters: STRIKE! I then turn to the cute new (single!) lawyer in one of our other offices and say, “Who just bowled that strike?” He knew I’d just been yelling for the bowler as he knocked down ten pins as he was standing next to me and heard me cheer. But I’d forgotten in a matter of a second. My brain had skipped, like a scratch on a record. And then it came back to me: I’d just watched it. I covered with a mumblefuck of something like: “Oh, I thought I was watching the other lane.” Cute new lawyer now thinks I’m a ditzy brunette unworthy of my J.D. Even worse, the whole experience was rather eerie. My brain malfunctioned, and I watched it happen in real time. This had better be an isolated and temporary withdrawal symptom, but I’ll be watching it closely.

Here’s something positive I’ve observed: the constipation is easing already. This morning I had a bowel movement for the second day in a row. I almost called this blog: I POOPED! But thought perhaps my gentle readers would find it too early in the morning for that.

Next up, a walk/run in the heat. I do an up and back. On the way out, I’m fine, but on the way back, I’ve been finding I have to stop under a tree every ten minutes or so and cool off. Hopefully I’ll do better than last weekend and I won’t have to spend as much time pretending to stretch under trees.

And last: some extra-special positive news. My brother with the mouth cancer, the one doing radiation and chemo, who just had has lymph nodes in his neck removed, has now been given the all clear. His lymph nodes were clean. He is cancer free! I just crumbled at my desk when I heard the news, and cried out of sheer relief. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized how upset I’ve been about his illness, and how scared I’ve been that I might be losing another brother, after I just lost one in April, and what that would do to my poor mother, and my brother’s children. But he’s cancer free, for the second time. Come to think of it, my dad has achieved the same feat, twice.

So today I shall take in all the good things that are happening. No cancer, and I pooped!

About UB Ella

UB Ella (f/k/a Unconfirmed Bachelorette) is a 50-something recovered lawyer who left the practice of law to embrace a full-time writing life. Never-married, child-free Ella resides in Austin, Texas and Ontario, Canada with her four bad cats.
This entry was posted in Abilify, Antidepressants, Death and Grief, Death of a sibling, Deplin, Depression, Insomnia, Wellbutrin and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

65 Responses to Abilify Withdrawal

  1. Phoenix says:

    I’m sorry you lost your brother in April and happy that your other brother is cancer free. That’s a lot if trauma for your family and for you especially when you are weakened trying to deal with your own stuff. Hugs.

    And yay for regular movements and coming off the abilify 🙂


  2. Paula says:

    I quit Cymbalta cold turkey 40 days ago. Phew! I can poop again, too. But I went through hella withdrawal to get back to normal. (At least I think I’m back to me.) Great news about your brother. 🙂


  3. Altostrata says:

    Good for you, you didn’t get worse withdrawal symptoms. You might want to check out a withdrawal Web site such as http://SurvivingAntidepressants.org Some people need months of tapering to get off these drugs.


  4. Disillusioned says:

    I’d like to see TV commercials about Abilify and all other drugs be banned. At least prescription drugs. Thanks for sharing your experience! What if the Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex’s multi million dollar advertising budget was handed over to people like you for truthful public information, instead?

    Liked by 1 person

    • That stuff was awful. As it turns out, lots of hair fell out. My hair had thinned and my hairline had receded at the temples. It’s been nine months since I stopped taking it, and it’s growing back and filling in. I wouldn’t wear a pony tail for months because I couldn’t stand to see it. Are you depressed? Well take our drug initially devised as an antipsychotic, and when your hair falls out, you’ll feel better. $uckers.


    • leggypeggy says:

      Prescription drugs can’t be advertised on television or any other media in Australia. Very thankful for that. Great news about your brother and your withdrawal from Abilify.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Melissa says:

    I quit abilify a couple of weeks ago. My psych nurse practioner said it takes 2 weeks from the time you stop taking it for it to get out of your system. I just need to talk to someone who successfully got off of abilify because there is so many horror stories on the internet. I am currently experiencing hot flashes, insomnia, bouts of crying/sobbing. Mild intermittent depression and anxiety. I also have low appetite and indigestion. I took abilify for almost a year. Stopped cold turkey at 2 mg about 3 weeks ago. I am still taking Viibryd, which I really like.

    I was just wondering how long you took abilify and what kind of withdrawal symptoms you had and how long they lasted. I have read horror stories where withdrawal symptoms have lasted 3 months.

    Thanks for making this blog because there is not much information about abilify withdrawal. My pysch nurse practioners answer was for me to get back on it again. I DO NOT want to take an antiphyschotic medication for depression anymore!


    • I’m glad this helped some. I had the same problem when i was looking for information. I took Abilify for only four months. The side effects were awful, and I don’t think it helped with the depression. The anxiety after stopping was bad. Panic-attack bad. And that nasty crap made my hair fall out like crazy. I had a receding hairline in a matter of four months! It’s growing back now, with a bunch of short fuzziness around my temples. Thank goodness. The hair loss, nausea, and overheating was the pits. I wouldn’t get back on that garbage for anything. I like the Viibryd, too. My Abolify withdrawal symptoms didn’t last months. From what I recall, it was weeks. Maybe that’s because he started me on the Viibryd in its place right away? Anyway, I’m much better now and not bald.

      Hang in there!


      • Melissa says:

        Thank you so much for getting back with me so fast. I am also having insomnia. I don’t have trouble falling asleep, but wake up at 2 or 3am and can’t go back to sleep. Do you remember having that symptom?


    • I don’t sleep welll with or without the drugs.


      • Melissa says:

        During the withdrawal did you have periods of depression? I am just wanting to make sure that it is the Abilify withdrawal that is causing the depression. I am on 40 mg of Viibryd and was doing great before I stopped taking the cursed Abilify. I am sorry to keep bugging you with this but really there is no one else to talk to about it. Sometimes I feel like I am going crazy, almost.


    • No problem. I do not recall depression per se. I do recall much anxiety. If it were me, I’d give it several more weeks before jumping back on. Actually, I take that back. I wouldn’t get back on it. I prefer to have hair.


    • I was on it for 4 months, from February to June 2012. So almost a year ago.


      • Melissa says:

        Are you doing well on the Viibryd? Why did they prescribe Abilify to you anyway. They gave it to me because I was having a nervous breakdown about a year ago and the Lexapro alone was not covering my anxiety and depression. So after my fighting it for a month a decided to try abilify. It did help. Now a year later I am doing much better and I don’t want to be on an antipsychotic for depression any more.

        I took melatonin last night to sleep and I did sleep, but a woke up this morning with anxiety. I think that exercise does help although I haven’t been able to exercise in a couple of days. Also, did you remember feeling fatigue going through this?


  6. Melissa says:

    How long ago did you go through this?


  7. Kdk says:

    Abilify was heaven sent two years ago after a bout with post partum psychosis and bi polar mania. I would take 10mg or sometimes 5 mg. I stayed at 5mg and had no withdrawls. I usually had stressful sleep if I missed a day on 10mg.
    After one year and the cost of filling the prescription reaching into the 1000 dollar realm, I tried to go off and within two weeks was full blown manic and hearing voices again, I resumed my 5mg for the past year and began to feel a strange chemical overkill toxic feeling and I just felt it was the abilify . I lowered the frequency of doses and now have been abilify free for almost two months, only slight stress paranoia and daydreams. But I thinknthatvwas the withdrawl part because now I feel great and I am very hopeful. I just feel that abilify worked too perfectly and when I needed it it was able to allow me to heal but I believe my body was telling me it no longer needed the regulation, and I believe my 80 year old brain will thank me for allowing it to do its job while I was still young and able to. Long term alteration of my brain just scared me.


    • So sorry I am late to acknowledge your comment. The withdrawal part was very odd, as were the effects of missing doses. I agree that alteration of our brain chemistry is scary. Lovely to hear you are feeling great and hopeful.


      • Anonymous says:

        So my daughter was in bad shape and they prescribed abilify or put her in the hospital. We opted for 2mg of abilify and within 2 days she seemed better and the depression lifted. The following week after a bad say they upded it to 4mg when a few days later they wanted to add more medicine becasue she had a bad morning i flipped. I said have you asked where she was in her cycle. SHe was fine a few hours later. Anyway two days ago i moved her down to 2mg. She was on 2mg for one week and then 4mg for 6 days. Now we are day two back to 2mg and i want to get her off this poison. They just want to keep pushing pills on her. Now we are two days back on 2mg how can i get her off..and how should i wean it down. I am so scared of this drug


  8. colleen says:

    i gained so much weight on abilify that it actually made me depressed. I have been off for one week and feel fine, in fact more energized. I hope this feeling continues because I am sick of taking all of this medication good luck to all


    • Weight gain is horribly depressing. Since I got off the Viibryd I feel much better. Sugar cravings greatly reduced, no more losing words, intense yawning in the afternoon, gone. And my hair has filled in, mostly, since I got off that nasty Abilify. I’m still on Wellbutrin. For now. I don’t notice side effects from it. But when I’m off, I might see them in retrospect. Managing depression with nutrition, sleep, exercise, and sunshine is the way to go. Unless the pit is too deep to climb out.


  9. Laurie says:

    I am having a terrible time! Previously, I was on cymbalta and wellbutrin and 5 mg. of abilify. I stopped taking both the abilify and cymbalta but needed to go back on the cymbalta because I couldn’t stand the withdrawals.

    I thought I would feel fine being back on the cymbalta but think I am still suffering withdrawals from abilify. I’ve talked to my psychiatrist about it and she says the brain/body needs a couple weeks to adjust.

    It is kinda hard to describe but I really feel “off”. Dizzy and very tired and anxious. I feel very overwhelmed with things and took the day off from work.

    I have no motivation.
    I just wanna feel like I did before I changed my meds. I feel like I am going crazy and just want these feelings to end.



  10. texasrn says:

    I found your blog to be very encouraging that I can live without Abilify. I have been losing hair and didn’t even associate it with Abilify but now realize that is what has been causing my hair loss. I have been off Abilify for about 3 weeks and starting cutting it down from 5 to 2 1/2 to nothing. So I tapered off. I don’t feel as happy but couldn’t stand the weight gain and being so dependent on something. I am still taking Effexor and feel okay. I am so tempted to start it again because of the irritability but just needed some positive information to keep me off it. Thanks so much for you blog!


    • You are so welcome. I just replied to your other comment (sorry for the delay) and am so glad you’ve found encouragement here. I’ve done a big turnaround on the drugs and am quite convinced there are many ways to manage things without them. To me, the side effects (not to mention the unknown side effects) are just not worth it. Fresh air, vitamin D from sunshine, unprocessed organic foods, breathing exercises, meditation, kitty petting, walking, and plenty of sleep are a great help. Along with patience, which is my biggest challenge. 🙂


  11. Thanks so much for all this info
    my son has aspergers and was put on adderall in the 3rd grade. It started causing anger, impatience , irritation and took away his appetite. At the time I didn’t know these symptoms were side effects of adderall..Eventually another doctor put him on abilify and clonodine for all of the emotional side effects of adderall, calling them “mood swings”. With the help of another doctor he is now off adderal. I’ve been nervous about him going off the others but I know he needs to. Reading your story encouraged me.


    • I’m so glad you found encouragement here. I can’t imagine what you and your son have been going through. I can’t speak for everyone, but in my experience these drugs caused many more issues than they solved. I wish you and your son all the best. Cyber hugs to you, Lori!


    • johnny k says:

      HELLO EVERY ONE HERE”. i felt like in heaven for 2 months at the beginning of abilify. and then abilify turned on me like hell i took 1 month to wean off it and after i was totaly off it i felt like i was 3 feet under ground trying to get out and could not. this continued for 9 months and very slowly started to subside . i have now been off abilify for 5 years and got about 85% of my self back and feel like in about 1 more year to go of total recovery from abilify. my doc i still see has confest to me now because he put me on it and saw the first 2 months of me being so happy and then a long hell worse than any depreshion struck me the hardest up to almost 5 years. has any one gone through this strange depression on and after abilify. i did have all the other things happen to me like every one was sayiny. thanks johnny k


      • Glad you are coming through it, Johnny. I had some panic attacks coming off it, but nothing like you’ve described. I wasn’t on it long, thank goodness. If I knew then what I know now, I never would have taken it. Never. Best wishes to you in your continued recovery.


  12. dougstuber says:

    The best thing in the scramble for shrinks to find the right pills is when patients find a better combo that actually works. You’re funny. Stay funny. Life is not always funny, but just the word poop is funny. Proof? OK:

    Corkscrew Swamp

    Blue Heron walks on Lettuce Lake.
    Lily pads support light birds long enough
    For them to bill crawdads. Appetizing
    Photograph: Squirming crustacean crunched.

    Boards, cleverly cut, fan out around corners
    That bring new cypress vistas into view.
    One tree grows around another, wet but
    Not waterlogged. Raccoon poop, which has

    Red dots throughout, brightens the walk
    As rain clouds defy winter and roll
    Through desolate Florida. Where are all
    These cars going? Immokolee? Must be

    A growing town to support such traffic.
    Back at the swamp a frog succumbs to a
    Banded owl. Anhingas stretch wet wings.
    White flowers waver, waiting to be painted.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. rebecca says:

    Unfortunately without even checking out what kind of withdrawl symptoms might happen I made a rash decision to quit cold turkey as well never realizing it would put my life in danger. I had been on it for 8 years on 30mg along with 300mg of wellbutrin. I told my Dr when my appointment came up a week and a half later what I did. He never batted an eye warned me about how dangerous this was talked to me about withdrawl symptoms nothing. There were Suttle changes those first 2 weeks but I thought nothing of them. Then my body began going through living hell along with my brain. I never even thought it was due to going off abilify. I saw my family dr every 2 weeks he was aware I stopped abilify. He did every kind of blood work you can think of. I was seen by many specialists and continue to see my phyciatric dr every 3 weeks. No one could find anything wrong with me and my phyciatric dr new every dr I was seeing every symptom I was having everything never did he once say I might be having withdrawl symptoms. They made an appointment with a rumetoligist that I will see august 19th. However saturday as I lay lifeless on the couch somthing made me type in withdrawl symptoms from abilify. Mind you I started this journey at the end of march today is July 17th. I was shocked at what I found out. I was having every withdrawal symptom mentioned and alot that were not mentioned. I did some more reserch on how to detox your body. I forced myself to the store and bought vitamins. I was determined to beat this I had come this far. As of yesterday July 16th my mind finally snapped that’s the only way I can describe it. I wish I could go into more detail about what has happend to me but my eyes are really bad and they are going in and out of focus. Another side effect of stopping abilify. It is with great sorrow that I tell you that as of yesterday I have been placed back on a high dose of abilify along now with a high dose of Xanax. They will not know if any permanent damage has been done for a little while. I will try to post updates if and when I can. Please pray for me.


    • I hope you are feeling better now. We so often learn the hard way that these drugs are not to be taken lightly. It is such a shame our doctors do not fully inform us of the repercussions, with regard to both starting and stopping the drugs.


  14. josie416 says:

    Hi Ella, I popped (not pooped!) over to your site when I say that you had “liked” mine. I like your writing. I also like that you are advocating for yourself on meds. It’s a difficult issue. Sending supportive thoughts your way! Josie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Josie. Thank you so much! I’ve been off the meds for a few years now, and my brain works much better. Advocating for yourself, rather than blindly following doctor’s orders, is so important! “Now what?” is an excellent question, and I’m enjoying reading your answers to it. I see a garden in my future. 🙂


  15. jncthedc says:

    Without going overboard and sounding unrealistic, I was going to encourage the introduction of good clean quality food to help nourish your body and help detoxify it from a past history of pharmaceutical use. Sounds like you’re off the meds which will help with many of the symptoms you reported. Exercise is already part of your life (Big Plus!!) How is the water intake? How is the stress reduction going?) If you are an attorney that last question may have been an oxymoron!

    Being healthy requires active participation. It is a lot of work, but the benefits are worth it. We only get 1 chance with these bodies, and most people screw it up. Dare to be different.

    Sounds like the genetic background predisposes you to possible health risks. All this translates to in English is you need to be more vigilant than someone without a family history. Doing the “right stuff” prevents the genetic expression resulting in various health maladies.

    I’m betting on you. Focus on happiness and let good health come along for the ride. Wishing you and your family all the best!


    • Thank you very much for your comment. Your advice is well taken and spot on. I was doing much better health-wise when I wrote this post. The stress of the past couple of years (the law job, three deaths in my family in eleven months, brother, father, brother, mother suffering repeated health scares since that time, mom’s finances, etc.) has slowly and insidiously taken its toll. I’ve made the decision to retire from the practice of law at the end of next year to focus on taking care of myself and finding out what I want to do that makes me happy. Sixteen months to go. In the meantime, in January I gave up booze as my number one method of stress reduction. That already has led to greatly improved sleep. I need to get back to a consistent exercise routine, and tweak the diet. I eat mostly healthful whole foods, but I know I could do better. I need to do better. I shall do better. I had a peek at your blog after I read your comment, and see you’ve got a treasure trove of helpful and uplifting posts. I am off to spend some time over at your place. Thanks for leading me your way.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. lbeth1950 says:

    Some very good things!


  17. Janice says:

    I recently had to check my cousin into the hospital, she was on Wellbutrin and it made her paranoid and more. I am picking her up tomorrow after being on Abilify for 7 days. I read that Abilify reduces your white cell count (my cousin is a cancer survivor), also that if gives you diabetes. I want to tell her to wean herself off all antidepressants and try therapy. She mostly suffered from depression, but the Wellbutrin made it really bad. How bad would her withdrawals be from the Abilify if she has only taken it for 7 days?


    • Janice, I can only speak to my own experience, as I mentioned in my post. I found the withdrawals to be tolerable after being on Abilify (5 mg at peak dosage) for four months. Therapy most definitely was helpful. And no physical side effects. Best wishes to you and your cousin.


  18. josie416 says:

    I love your tag-line. It says so much, about you, about society. It says at the very least that you are smart, funny, and self-aware. About society: that it’s “not ok” to live alone, not ok to like cats (because cats are “girl things” and dogs are “boy things” is my feminist theory on this), and that these things should somehow make someone ashamed, because it makes him/her a “loser” (another male concept).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josie, I’m sorry for the late reply to your very kind comment. Your theory that cats are girl things and dogs are boy things is interesting. I think you’re absolutely right. I’ve known men who preferred cats but were embarrassed to proclaim it. And single female lawyers who had no time for a dog, but wouldn’t get a cat for fear of the stereotype. I think that’s starting to change. But yeah, I still get lots of raised eyebrows for never getting hitched and for having three cats. When I had just two, I was borderline. Three has me firmly in spinster territory. Lucky me!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. linda says:

    I have only taken ambilify for 20 days @10mg per dayi must get off it because it is intetacting with other meds how bad do you think the cold turkey withdrawals will be?


  20. Anonymous says:

    My vote for worst pill ever deliver3ed to a “mental patient?” It’s Thorazine, These days a close second is the number of people with bipolar stuck on Depakote. Both could drop a horse and render patients zombies, unless they are super strong with the will to persist above them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I look forward to the day we have a better understanding and treatment methods.


      • Jarrett says:

        I am really shocked at the lack of information about Abilify withdrawal online. I have tried to come off this drug unsuccessfully for years, but then again, I never gave the withdrawal symptoms more than a week or two to pass without immediately going back on the medication. I am really wondering how long the withdrawal will last. I know it depends on dosage, how long you were on it, etc. I just hope it doesn’t last longer than three or four months at most. I’ve heard of protracted withdrawal where people suffer for years, but this is mostly from discontinuing benzodiazepines. Currently my psychiatrist has agreed to half the dose from 15mg to 7.5mg, and we will explore coming off of it completely in June. I am resolved to come off of it no matter how hellish the experience may be. I just need to have a way to pay my bills while suffering, as I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep my job. I’ve been on Abilify for about five years.


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  22. Catherine says:

    I’m trying to taper myself off because I hate the irritability, exhaustion, depressed moods, and weight gain it’s causing, but I’m afraid that without it my psychotic episodes will return. I don’t mind hallucinating but the paranoia is really scary.


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