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Aripiprazole/Abilify antipsychotics and weight gain

(24 Posts)
NightTerrier Wed 11-Oct-17 21:21:36

I've been on this for a few months and have gained about half a stone without changing my eating habits. I exercise and so on, but I don't want to put on any more and would like to lose those few pounds as my favourite clothes no longer fit well.

Aripiprazole is apparently one of the better antipsychotics for weight gain, so I don't really have any other options. I was recently diagnosed with Paranoid Schizophrenia and so need an antipsychotic.

Has anyone got any advice on how to counteract the weight gain from this class of meds? Is it even possible?

cupcakesmakeyouhappy Wed 11-Oct-17 22:36:37

Have you spoken to your doctor about your concerns? Keep up with the exercise etc. I think with all meds, our bodies need to readjust! Monitor and keep in touch with your doctor!

NightTerrier Wed 11-Oct-17 22:58:51

I've been seeing my psychiatrist every 6 to 8 weeks. He isn't concerned about the weight gain and just made a note of it.

I'm trying to nip it in the bud now in case it gets really out of control. Will keep up with the exercise, thanks!

calmday Thu 12-Oct-17 07:53:19

Hi, I'm diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic aswell, and I've been on antipsychotics for the past few years. I've put on five stones in weight sad. I did try aripiprazole because it causes less weight gain but it made me too anxious and I just couldn't tolerate it. I'm currently on olanzapine. I want to come off it due to weight gain but I get really anxious without it. Half a stone really is a tiny amount, maybe that's all you will gain on the meds? I would just keep an eye on your weight and keep the exercise etc up and hopefully you won't gain any more. Sorry I have no real advice for you, I just want to let you know that you are not alone and that there are people a lot worse off than you flowers

NightTerrier Thu 12-Oct-17 08:25:21

Thanks, calmday. I know what you mean about olanzapine. I had to take it a couple of years ago and it made me gain a couple of stone within a few weeks. Sorry to hear that you've put on that amount of weight. I hear that Geodon is a relatively weight neutral drug and doesn't give people the anxious restlessness taht aripiprazole does. I don't know whether you've tried that.

I got anxious and restless on aripiprazole, but had 2 weeks worth of diazepam when I first started to take it and then3 pills of it a week for the anxiety. It eventually went away. the insomnia is another story. I still have to take zopiclone as needed, but no more than 3 time per week.

Can I just ask you whether you disclose your illness to people? I have only told immediate family and don't think many people would understand what paranoid schizophrenia really is.

calmday Thu 12-Oct-17 08:46:21

Yeah I do disclose my illness quite openly to people. Although I don't think either that people really understand it. I don't hear voices either which is what people might expect.

I haven't tried Geodon. The thing is, I was settled on zuclopenthixol depot injection for a couple of years but then my prolactin levels got raised and it stopped my periods so I'm really limited now as to which antipsychotics I can take. It's now really just aripiprazole or olanzapine. I really wanted the aripiprazole to suit me but unfortunately it didn't. The psychiatrist gave me two weeks worth of diazepam for starting it up but unfortunately after the two weeks I was still getting anxiety.

You might well find that your weight settles where it is now, in which case half a stone in weight gain from antipsychotics is relatively great! I hope your weight doesn't increase any further flowers

NooNooHead1981 Thu 12-Oct-17 09:55:02

Ooh, it's fantastic that antipsychotics work and are correctly prescribed to people who genuinely need them.

I got tardive dyskinesia after a week on pericyazine 18 months ago, after it was prescribed to me for severe anxiety after a head injury. TO say I am bloody devastated is an understatement.

I'm always very cautious now of antipsychotics as mine was prescribed by my GP and not a psychiatrist (!)... but I'm pleased others are finding them effective when they are prescribed correctly.

Sorry - I'm not telling you my story as I'm 'anti' antipsychotics, I'm just venting about my experience. I know that medications help those who do really need them, I just wish they hadn't been so awful for me. sad

NightTerrier Thu 12-Oct-17 09:58:30

That's funny, because I don't hear voices either. Can I ask what kinds of symptoms you get? No worries if you don't want to talk about it. It's just that I don't know anyone else with schizophrenia. I think the negative symptoms are the most troubling for me right now. I don't think the government is conducting an experiment on me any more! grin

Sorry to hear that you are limited to just 2 drugs. I found that Olanzapine really messed with my periods. My psychiatrist was willing to give me an ongoing prescription for 3 doses of diazepam per week to take with the aripiprazole. The anxiety and worst of the restless feeling subsided after about 6 weeks. I don't know anything about Geodon and prolactin levels and people seem to react very differently to these meds. Has your psychiatrist got any other ideas about alternatives?

I know it must seem silly wittering about half a stone, but I also have problems with my kidneys and the best way of stopping it getting worse is by keeping things like blood pressure and weight in check and eating healthily.

Thanks again. It's been good talking to someone else with this. I'm thinking of being more open about my illness, as it's not as though I'm ashamed of it. flowers

MaitlandGirl Thu 12-Oct-17 10:05:29

DP is on Abilify as she has type 2 (I think) bipolar and schizoaffective disorder.

To be totally honest with you, it's not great - it stops a lot of the symptoms but not all but she refuses to change as the weight gain is minimal on it. She put on about 40kgs in a couple of months on a combination of olanzapine and mirtazapine and refuses to go back on either of those.

She finds that low carbing is the best way to lose weight with Abilify, although it's much slower weight loss than you usually find with low carbing.

NightTerrier Thu 12-Oct-17 10:09:21

Hi NooNooHead1981. Sorry to hear about your rough ride with antipsychotics. They are potent drugs, but not the fun sort! They do seem to dish them out to a lot of people who aren't psychotic. I can't believe your GP gave them to you! Did the tardive dyskinesia go away after you stopped taking the drug?

Yeah, I feel less paranoid on antipsychotics and the delusions are much better. I can't help feeling that giving them to someone for severe anxiety (which is utterly debilitating anyway) is like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. Why not give them something that was made to treat anxiety? I'm no doctor though.

tehmina23 Thu 12-Oct-17 10:54:47

I take Aripiprazole for Psychosis.

I'm currently dieting & losing weight with 1 stone to go.

Basically I got referred to an NHS dietitian who worked out my BMR ( basal metabolic rate) & worked out how many calories I should eat per day to lose weight, my total is 1500 calories,

I've lost 3 stone so far mainly dieting & a bit of gym. It's been really hard as when I get miserable I like to binge eat, also when I socialise it involves eating out as I can't drink alcohol with my meds.

So you can lose weight it just takes a lot of hard work really.

I'm on 25mg Aripiprazole- how much are you on? It makes me very sleepy combined with the anti depressants & anti epileptics I take.

tehmina23 Thu 12-Oct-17 10:56:52

Also I don't hear voices but I see faces in objects also get very paranoid.

NightTerrier Thu 12-Oct-17 11:44:28

Hi tehmina23. I'm on 15mg now and my psychiatrist put me back on lamotrigine instead of fluoxetine.

25mg is a high dose. Do you also get insomnia on aripiprazole? It's one of the initial side effects that hasn't worn off yet.

Yes, I get very paranoid too and get hidden messages from things like Youtube videos and the news. Seeing faces in things must be pretty freaky. I haven't had that one.

calmday Thu 12-Oct-17 12:13:10

My main psychotic thoughts when I was ill was the belief that objects were stuck to me eg. a hoover or a toaster etc. I still get messages from God through my phone.

I just took my son for a haircut this morning and nearly had a full blown anxiety attack cos I didn't take my olanzapine last night or this morning. I've taken some now though so it should kick in soon. They really make me relaxed and chilled out. It's just the weight gain which is the price to pay. But I reckon it is worth it for the sake of my mental health.

tehmina23 Thu 12-Oct-17 12:15:07

I don't get insomnia as such but I get vivid dreams, not sure if that's the meds tho.

The annoying side effect for me is that when I stand up I feel dizzy but my psychiatrist says that's normal. I was on 20mg until recently.

NightTerrier Thu 12-Oct-17 13:27:12

Jesus, calmday. That sounds terrifying. I'm glad your olanzapine makes you feel more chilled out. The aripiprazole is helping me out. I couldn't leave the house as I thought I was a victim of a covert government experiment and people in my local area were all in on it. I still get messages off TV a little bit and get the odd bout of paranoia that everyone in my local town is slowly learning everything about who I am, but the psychiatrist said that it might take a couple more months for it to kick in more. I guess half a stone is neither here nor there considering the alternative. I'm just worried that I'll put on more and get high blood pressure. Also, on a more shallow note, kind of pissed off as I'd just bought some new clothes and they are too tight now. Oh well, they could always go on eBay.

tehmina23, I don't get the vivid dreams, but I have been feeling light headed when I stand up.

tehmina23 Thu 12-Oct-17 13:49:32

I found that when I first started taking Aripiprazole in Dec 2012 it took several months to stop believing m16 were spying on me through the light fittings- I did really believe that.

Also I thought that my managers at work & the cmht were trying to get me to kill myself.

And when I wrote anything down it was like the letters were alive... luckily I did know I was ill so I took my meds & wasnt sectioned.

Now I do get some symptoms like seeing faces in objects & believing I can control traffic lights & if it's very quiet I think someone can read my thoughts but the Aripiprazole means those symptoms don't actually bother me too much.

But I am quite paranoid I'm sat in Starbucks and I feel like the staff are laughing at me right now. I hope they aren't!

NightTerrier Thu 12-Oct-17 18:39:27

That sounds awful, tehmina and very similar to what I experienced. It's frightening isn't it?

It's great that you have noticed such an improvement.

I bet they weren't laughing at you in Stabucks. However, it's the sort of panic that grips me sometimes too.

tehmina23 Thu 12-Oct-17 19:08:39

I'm seeing my psychiatrist tomorrow & will try to be really honest with him for a change about the symptoms I'm getting.

I've applied to do a therapy course for 'unexplained experiences' too.

NightTerrier Thu 12-Oct-17 19:22:36

Do you find that you play them down usually? Hope your visit goes well.

That course sounds like a great idea!

tehmina23 Thu 12-Oct-17 19:24:38

Thanks, I do play things down as I get embarrassed, plus if I'm having a good day when I see the psychiatrist then it's hard for me to remember the bad days. So I've written things down for tomorrow.

NooNooHead Thu 12-Oct-17 22:14:00

Thanks Night. It was dreadful - I had a massive bad acute dystonic reaction aboit three days into taking it, with back arching and akathesia. Then after I week I started grimacing and the GP said to stop them cold turkey - really really bad advice, and I literally felt the oddest I had ever felt. My legs felt like they were detached from my body and my head felt like it had the worst pressure in it at the top.

A month after I stopped them, my TD came out in full force; grimacing, kissing and lip smacking noises, palialia, arm movements, tongue clicking, the lot. I actually self diagnosed my TD and had to convince my family and 3 neurologists that I had it.

It’s still here in a very mild form. My psychaitrist said my TD was the first case he had seen for about 15 years, and my neurologist who finally believed me straight away after hearing my symptoms said I was prob predisposed to it and should never have been prescribed such an awful drug.

I was on diazepam, zopiclone and Citalopram before the antipsychotic and I refused to take the Citalopram for long enough, hence the pericyazine prescription.

Bloody GP should never have prescribed such a potent drug. Never ever again will I ever go near that class of drug. Antidepressants- yes. Antipsychotic or dopamine antagonist drugs - no blinking way.

tehmina23 Fri 13-Oct-17 07:50:25

For the first few months of taking Aripiprazole I did have extremely restless legs, it was horrible but did wear off.
Now I just have a strange movement in my right hand but I can put up with it.

NightTerrier Fri 13-Oct-17 13:24:50

NooNooHead, that sounds like an awful ordeal. I didn't know that GPs couls even prescribe antipsychotics. I worry about tardive dyskinesia, but I'll corss that bridge if and when I come to it.

tehmina23, I had an intense feeling of restlessness which is known as akathisia when I first started it. It's worn off now and I have to say that this is one of the better antipsychotics for me as I don't feel medicated on it. It just helps the symptoms.

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