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Coming Off Abilify


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#1 fishdamsel

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 11:54 AM

Hi, I have been taking abilify for about a year now and noticed dramatic improvement for my depression initially. I have three issues with it 1) the expense which is exhorbitant even with health insurance (a $100 co-pay a month and I make about thirtteen times that a month to live on . If I had no health insurance, I know I would qualify for free meds, but then no health insurance would be the problem). The second issue is 2) I am concerned about the tardive dyskinesia possible side effect, and 3) Is it working or is it making things worse?
I take lamictal 200 mg, abilify 2 mg, and clonazepam .5 mg tid for depression and mood stabiization. The moodswings have disappeared pretty much along with any energy and I have a steady blah depression now. We (my pdoc and I) have tried adding an antidepressant and I have side effect reactions to them or they don't work for me. We've run the gamut.
Back to abilify. I have tapered down to 1 mg and feel an increase in depression and a nasty agitation. Is this par for the course? If necessary, I will resume taking this med but the price seems high and my depression is steady. I have no interest in doing anything at all each morning when I wake up.
I see my pdoc once every two months and I will be discussing this with him as well, of course. But I would like to hear from any of you regarding what I have written here as to your experiences.
Basically, what has your experience been coming off Abilify and how long do any side effects last (and what are they) and how are you doing?
I'm probably in the realm of Bipolar II, but it feels like Depression 909 Ultra with no energy or good feelings. I realize I've included about six sub subjects here. Sorry. It is hard for me to focus and stay on track and my short term memory is lousy as well (another thing I think the abilify may be contributing to).
Thanks.


#2 BetterOff

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 01:16 PM

Hello, and yes you have asked alot of questions. I wonder about your issues with an anti-depressant as all of them pretty much have initial side-effects to them where people panic and stop taking them giving up wayyyy to early. The first two to three weeks are hard on anyone with things like insomnia, increased anxiety, feeling a bit ill, lack of appetite, and a number of other side-effects, but these *do* go away with time, by week four you have kinda overcome the initial side effets and while still not there yet, you start to feel better and see those side-effects disappear. If you abandon an AD too soon, all I can say is that you are doing yourself an injustice. The only three really bad side effects include a rash, or fainting, or excessive bleeding. All the others are normal and again *do* go away with time, but people read about thee side-effect on the internet or material provided and it scares them into stopping an AD too soon as the material or the internet does not tell you that these side-effects go away with time.

On to the stopping Abilify. Your tapering down and starting to feel depression and lack of energy again is indicative that you really need to stay on it. I will take the co-pay over depression anyday and anytime as depression is a horrible way to feel, so keep in mind that again because of the cost you may be doing yourself an injustice. There must be some way you can cut corners on your expenses and handle the cost. There are also places that offer medical co-pay assistance if you are on a low enough salary. You might check into them because you needent be totally out of work to qualify, there are a number of assitance programs out there for you.

And again I think the worrying about tardive dyskinesia side effect is showing excessive worrying because its a very rare side-effect and every medication on the market has side-effects listed, but doesnt mean you will contract them. Digging too deep into what *may* happen can be self-defeating also. My advice is to bite the bullet and stay on the abilify which you said was working for you. But of course you have to make your own decisions.
I just get this feeling that you never gave an AD enough time to kick in and panicked over the intital side-effects that will vanish over time.
I respect your pdoc acceeding to your wishes to stop taking a medication, but I wonder if he was a bit negligent in informing you that the side-effects you were experiencing were temporary and normal. It takes a full two months to get over them and for an AD to do its thing and alas, in truth, the first weeks I mentioned are going to happen, you just gotta bit the bullet and get through those.
Hope I was of some help and hope I didnt offend, as perhaps you did allow enough time for an AD to kick in i.e. two months and it still was causing side-effects, in that case, yes, a change in an AD would be called for at that time i.e. two months of trying one.
Good Luck and best wishes, and try and not worry about what *could* happen as again its a very small percentage of people who could develope tardive dyskinesia over a med like 1 to 3% and thats very low.
Information supplied on Depression Forums by members should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for medical advice from a health professional or doctor.

#3 fishdamsel

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Posted 29 January 2011 - 01:58 PM

Hello, and yes you have asked alot of questions. I wonder about your issues with an anti-depressant as all of them pretty much have initial side-effects to them where people panic and stop taking them giving up wayyyy to early. The first two to three weeks are hard on anyone with things like insomnia, increased anxiety, feeling a bit ill, lack of appetite, and a number of other side-effects, but these *do* go away with time, by week four you have kinda overcome the initial side effets and while still not there yet, you start to feel better and see those side-effects disappear. If you abandon an AD too soon, all I can say is that you are doing yourself an injustice. The only three really bad side effects include a rash, or fainting, or excessive bleeding. All the others are normal and again *do* go away with time, but people read about thee side-effect on the internet or material provided and it scares them into stopping an AD too soon as the material or the internet does not tell you that these side-effects go away with time.

On to the stopping Abilify. Your tapering down and starting to feel depression and lack of energy again is indicative that you really need to stay on it. I will take the co-pay over depression anyday and anytime as depression is a horrible way to feel, so keep in mind that again because of the cost you may be doing yourself an injustice. There must be some way you can cut corners on your expenses and handle the cost. There are also places that offer medical co-pay assistance if you are on a low enough salary. You might check into them because you needent be totally out of work to qualify, there are a number of assitance programs out there for you.

And again I think the worrying about tardive dyskinesia side effect is showing excessive worrying because its a very rare side-effect and every medication on the market has side-effects listed, but doesnt mean you will contract them. Digging too deep into what *may* happen can be self-defeating also. My advice is to bite the bullet and stay on the abilify which you said was working for you. But of course you have to make your own decisions.
I just get this feeling that you never gave an AD enough time to kick in and panicked over the intital side-effects that will vanish over time.
I respect your pdoc acceeding to your wishes to stop taking a medication, but I wonder if he was a bit negligent in informing you that the side-effects you were experiencing were temporary and normal. It takes a full two months to get over them and for an AD to do its thing and alas, in truth, the first weeks I mentioned are going to happen, you just gotta bit the bullet and get through those.
Hope I was of some help and hope I didnt offend, as perhaps you did allow enough time for an AD to kick in i.e. two months and it still was causing side-effects, in that case, yes, a change in an AD would be called for at that time i.e. two months of trying one.
Good Luck and best wishes, and try and not worry about what *could* happen as again its a very small percentage of people who could develope tardive dyskinesia over a med like 1 to 3% and thats very low.


Hi, BetterOff and thanks for all that you have written here.

The issue with the AD's has been the following: my pdoc has taken me off them each time when I have described either side effects that concerned him or the AD not working. Whether or not enough time was given I can't say as I went by his recommendations. I don't know how else to answer your suggestion that perhaps not enough time was given for side effects to resolve. If this was the case, then I have been through umpteen ADs improperly and have no idea where I'd start from here.

The abilify does work. I have cut expenses to the max and cannot afford it. There is no assistance available for someone with my income and being on health insurance. So, those are the facts, cold as they are. My pdoc has been giving me samples to manage. I don't feel comfortable depending on him for my being on this med as I don't know how much longer he can sustain me on it this way. I will discuss this with him.

It was one of my pdoc's who stated that tardive dyskinesia is a real risk, albeit not experienced by most folks. Percentages don't count for much if you happen to fall into the minority that does get it. So, my thinking is to see if I can come off it at this time and be okay. I am wanting to know what the side effects are from coming off of the medication and do they include increased depression initially that has to be waited out. There. Hopefully, I won't confuse follks with all my meandering by putting this in bold relief.

I can always return to abilify if I find that my depression recurs (not from withdrawal, but from my bottom line).

Thanks again for all your thought provoking words!

#4 starr

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Posted 31 January 2011 - 01:35 PM

Hi,

I am on zoloft, wellbutrin and abilify for my
depression/anxiety and this combo is working
great for me. The abilify has been a lifesaver -
it really helped the other 2 meds work better
and get rid of all my depression/anxiety. I
tried a few months ago to come off the abilify
and made it 2 weeks before I went back on. My
anxiety was coming back and I had a little depressed
feeling slipping in so I decided to go with
a sure thing and resume it. It is a very
expensive med but my co-pay is only $35/month
and my psychiatrist gives me samples as well.
She wrote my prescription for 10mg to be taken
daily but I am doing good on 5mg so my
prescription lasts 2 months versus just 1 which
helps a lot too.

I am sorry for the problems you have had with
anti-depressants. I almost always had trouble
first starting them but once they were in my system
they have always helped (except Lexapro which had
bad side effects for me). When I started new
meds in the past I would have some insomnia or
anxiety but my pdoc gave me xanax to help with
the start-up effects. Once the meds were in
my system I stopped the xanax. Anyway this is
my experience - I hope you feel better soon!!

best wishes,
starr




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