Does Abilify cause weight gain?

///Does Abilify cause weight gain?

Does Abilify cause weight gain?

With significant weight gain a side effect of almost every medication used to treat bipolar symptoms, weight related Abilify side effects are of great interest.

This is especially so as Abilify was originally considered to be weight gain neutral, or even to possibly assist weight loss.

However, more recently there have been claims that Abilify DOES lead to weight GAIN, causing much confusion and concern to consumers.

So let’s consider the evidence . . .

First, some background on Abilify.

This is a medication produced by Bristol-Myers Squibb and is classified as an atypical anti-psychotic (meaning is one of a new generation of drugs used to treat symptoms of psychosis, for example in schizophrenia.

It is also effective in treating bipolar symptoms.

Abilify is also known by its generic name of aripiprazole.

It is an effective antidepressant which also has anti-manic properties. This has made it attractive as a treatment for bipolar disorder for treating both mixed and manic episodes.

But does Abilify cause weight gain?

Abilify and weight gain

One reason for all the confusion about Abilify and weight and weight gain is that credible sources provide conflicting information.

The official Abilify website’s patient information sheet does indicate weight gain as opposed to weight loss as amongst the Abilify side effects.

The Mayo Clinic 1 includes weight gain as a “more common” Abilify side effect, but BOTH weight loss AND weight gain as a “less common” side effect. The Mayo Clinic also point out:

“The likelihood that a certain medication will cause weight gain or other side effects varies from person to person.”


Consumer Reports DOES NOT list either weight gain or weight loss amongst Abilify side effects. In fact, Consumer Reports does not comment on Abilify and weight gain at all, but they also state they have yet to make a detailed examination of all the Abilify evidence.

In Davis’s Drug Guide for Nurses, 11th edition, 2009, weight loss is listed, NOT weight gain.

The PDR Drug Guide for Mental Health Professionals, 3rd edition, 2007 is silent on the issue. It does not comment on whether Abilify causes weight gain or weight loss.


Abilify does cause weight gain in some patients.

The Nursing 2009 Drug Handbook, 29th edition, 2009, also list BOTH weight gain AND weight loss as potential side effects.

(And please remember the word “POTENTIAL”! Everyone has their own personal,
individual reaction – many will experience NO side effects at all!)

A research study on Abilify and weight gain, called A comparison of weight change during treatment with olanzapine or aripiprazole: results from a randomized, double-blind study compared weight related side effects of Abilify versus Zyprexa found
that patients gained much less weight on Abilify than they did on Zyprexa, and some patients lost weight on Abilify.

Another study, which was looking to specifically answer the question “Does Abilify cause weight gain?”, entitled A systematic review of quality of life and weight gain-related issues in patients treated for severe and persistent mental disorders: focus on aripiprazole, concluded:

“Data from studies indicate that the prevalence rate of clinically relevant weight gain during therapy with Abilify is similar to that occurring during treatments with other antipsychotic agents, either typical or atypical.”

The relationship between Abilify and weight gain appears to depend on the patient. There is no conclusive answer to the question of does Abilify cause weight gain as everyone is different. It seems sometimes it causes weight gain and sometimes weight loss, but weight gain is more common, although not as serious as some other
bipolar medications.2

Abilify side effects

The common, well documented and agreed Abilify side effects include:


1. Abnormal or uncontrollable movements of face, tongue, or other parts of body. These may be signs of a serious condition called tardive dyskinesia (TD), which could become permanent.

2. If you have diabetes, or risk factors for diabetes (for example, obesity, family history of diabetes), or unexpected increases in thirst, urination, or hunger, your blood sugar should be monitored. Increases in blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia), in some cases serious and associated with coma or death, have been reported in patients taking ABILIFY and medicines like it.

3. Lightheadedness or faintness caused by a sudden change in heart rate and blood pressure when rising quickly from a sitting or lying position (orthostatic hypotension).

4. Decreases in white blood cells.

5. Impaired judgment, thinking, or motor skills.

6. Overheating and dehydration.

7. Swallowing problems (dysphagia).

AGAIN – PLEASE REMEMBER – every person is different. Some folks will not experience any side effects at all and may reap substantial benefits!



2019-04-07T11:21:37+00:00May 14th, 2014|Categories: Treatments|13 Comments


  1. Sidney Williams May 22, 2016 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    I have become a compulsive overeater and have often gone out late at night to buy ice cream which is something I have not done in the past. I try very hard to monitor my intake of food, but most of the time find myself eating even though I am not hungry. Every time I get up at night I have something to eat. This is relatively new behavior for me. I also suffer from being hot and excessive sweating, so much so that people have become concerned.

  2. Liz March 3, 2017 at 6:06 pm - Reply

    How can you loose weight taking Abilify? My son is Always hungry , he’s Autistic Non verbal 14 years old phyc put my son on this Abilify for Agression.

  3. janelle c pagana March 10, 2017 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    i have gain so much wieght when i started taking the drug i took for about 2 yrs also every time my docter changed to a new med it always was a 8 pnd gain….

  4. Sheila Burgener March 19, 2017 at 9:37 pm - Reply

    I’ve been on Abilify nearly a month. I have a lipid disorder, and weight is a problem in the first place. I gained weight steadily every week. I started out weighing 155, now I’m nearly 173. I’m short, too! I’m not bi-polar or psychotic; my doc is trying Abilify to help stabilize my moods. Seeing him tomorrow. Being overweight is extremely depressing to me. Especially when I have to already watch what I eat so carefully. It’s like a problem I have no control over. Can’t have this!

  5. Crazy8 April 6, 2017 at 12:57 pm - Reply

    I was placed on Abilify during 7th grade middle school.. started out at 120 lbs and by the time I personally quit taking it, I was 190 lbs… I watched what I ate and everything.. all that pill did was make life worse and me unhealthy

  6. Ruth April 18, 2017 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    I’ve been on Abilify since 2003. I started gaining weight in about 2005, and went from weighing 145 to 245. Now, as a result of the weight gain, my right foot arch fell, and I cannot stand very much because of arch & ankle pain. I’m not even 50 years old yet, but am being prematurely aged by this medication. It is the only medication I take, and I hate it, but am forced to take it.

  7. XCo April 21, 2017 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    I have gained > than 50 lbs since being on Abilify. This is an add on med to my trintelix. I was on escitalopram and thought that was the culprit so my therapist changed be to trintellix. Does anyone know if once you stop Abilify your weight will decrease?

  8. Jennifer April 24, 2017 at 7:36 pm - Reply

    I have been taking this medication for over two years and it caused me to gain 20+ pounds. However, it did stabilize my mood and worked wonders. I will be getting switched to Topamax. Let*s see how that works.

  9. Leila April 26, 2017 at 12:28 am - Reply

    I had to stop taking it because this medication made me so hungry that I could not get the feeling of fullness no matter how much I ate. A little weight gain wouldn’t have bothered me but the constant feeling of starvation (and that’s not an exaggerated description!) made me break down in tears all the time. It seemed to only serve to exacerbate my depression. It wasn’t really working for me anyway so the doctor moved on to the next trial. It worked really well to control my mother’s schizophrenia/bipolar disorder but she rapidly gained 30lbs because of it.

  10. Jennifer May 20, 2017 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    My young son has been diagnosed early on set childhood schizophrenia. With underlying compuslsivity issues. He is on a very low dose. 1mg to start, now he is only on 2 mg because he is only 6. But he seems he cannot stop thinking about eating. He eats a normal meal then as soon as he is finished he begs for more food. Pesters me non stop about his next meal. He even has been caught sneaking food after the fact. Its relentless about his obsession of food. He has gained weight. Now he is lying about everything. Even if he is caught he lies. I’m concerned because this medicine helps some. Without it he can be un managable and very violent and compulsive hyperactivity. Problems getting to sleep at night also.

  11. cy May 31, 2017 at 10:43 am - Reply

    I have gained 13 pounds on Abilify in two months and I’m only on 1 mg. per day. I am hungry all the time and tend to eat out of control at night. I have never been like this and I’ve never had a problem with weight. I’ve decided it’s not worth the benefits but unfortunately it’s not a medication you can just stop taking even at my small dose.

  12. Claudette Ranger July 4, 2017 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    I have been on it for only one week and my mood has really improved for the last two days. Best I have felt in years. Am also on Citalopram so both seems to make a big improvement in treating my depression, anxiety and total lack of interest in every aspect of live (even thinking suicide).

  13. Vivian July 16, 2017 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    I have been on Abilify for 9 months for bipolar I disorder. I have lost 45 pounds by watching what I eat.

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