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A number of new pharmaceutical treatment options for schizophrenia have been developed in the last decade. One if these options is aripiprazole, commonly known by its brand name, Abilify. An atypical antipsychotic and antidepressant, Abilify has been approved as a treatment for schizophrenia since late 2002.

Abilify operates by acting as a D2 partial agonist, in contrast to other atypical antipsychotics, such as olanzapine or risperidone, which antagonize the D2 receptor. Abilify is typically administered daily, and--at that dosage--will increase in brain concentration for 10-14 days, at which point its concentration will level off. Common side effects include nausea, insomnia, constipation, sexual dysfunction, tiredness, headache, and anxiety.

There are a variety of interactions Abilify might have with other common antidepressants. Taking fluoxetine, for example, which inhibits the CYP2D6 and CYP3A4 enzyme, can increase plasma levels of Abilify, necessitating an adjustment of the dosage. As always, patients should discuss all the medications they're taking with their doctor. A less clear interaction is Abilify's impact on the subjective effects of alcohol. One study has found Abilify to reduce euphoria and increase sedation related to alcohol consumption, but other studies have found no significant effect.

Upon discontinuation, patients and doctors should be aware of the potential for acute withdrawal syndrome or rapid release. Gradually reducing dosage can largely alleviate this risk, but withdrawal symptoms common to antipsychotics may still present themselves, including nausea, dizziness, headache, and anxiety. Rebound insomnia, commonly associated with antipsychotic withdrawal is also a concern with Abilify.

There are more treatment options for schizophrenia now than ever, and while not every new drug will work for every individual, the increase number of available options has enabled clinicians to successfully treat more individuals than ever before.