What does the drug aripiprazole do?

Aripiprazole is a medication that is used to treat several mental health conditions, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. The drug works by affecting the activity of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, including dopamine and serotonin.

Aripiprazole is classified as an atypical antipsychotic medication. Unlike typical or first-generation antipsychotics, which primarily block dopamine receptors in the brain, aripiprazole works by acting as a partial agonist and antagonist of dopamine receptors, which means it can both stimulate and block the activity of dopamine in the brain. This unique mechanism of action allows aripiprazole to help regulate the activity of dopamine and other neurotransmitters, which can help to improve symptoms of several mental health conditions.

In schizophrenia, aripiprazole can help to reduce positive symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions, as well as negative symptoms such as lack of motivation and social withdrawal. In bipolar disorder, aripiprazole can help to stabilize mood and reduce the frequency and severity of manic and depressive episodes. In major depressive disorder, aripiprazole is sometimes used as an adjunctive treatment to an antidepressant medication when the antidepressant alone is not effective.

It is important to note that aripiprazole should only be taken under the guidance of a healthcare provider, as it can have potential risks and side effects. Common side effects of aripiprazole may include drowsiness, dizziness, weight gain, and nausea. Additionally, aripiprazole may interact with other medications or supplements, so it is important to inform the healthcare provider of any other medications being taken.

There are various forms of drugs available, such as tablets or liquids, and each may have a separate patient information leaflet (PIL) for different doses. It is important to refer to the PIL for the specific form and dose of the drug that you have been prescribed.

You can search for further information and PILs on websites such as:

  • The British National Formulary (BNF)
  • Electronic medicines compendium (emc)
  • The National Library of Medicine's DailyMed
  • The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 
  • Different drug forms like tablets or liquids have specific patient information leaflets (PIL) for various doses. Refer to the PIL for your prescribed drug form and dose.

    Search for PILs on websites like:


    • ANSM (Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé): ansm.sante.fr


    • AEMPS (Agencia Española de Medicamentos y Productos Sanitarios): aemps.gob.es


    • BfArM (Bundesinstitut für Arzneimittel und Medizinprodukte): bfarm.de


    For questions about your medication:

    • Consult your doctor, a healthcare professional, or a pharmacist


    • Contact SOS Médecins: 3624
    • For mental health support, contact SOS Suicide: 01 45 39 40 00

    Belgium (French)

    Switzerland (French)

    • La Main Tendue: 143
    • Website: 143.ch

    Canada (French)

    • Centre de prévention du suicide du Québec: 1 866 APPELLE (1 866 277-3553)
    • Website: cpsquebec.ca


    • Contact emergency number: 112
    • For mental health support, contact Teléfono de la Esperanza: 717 003 717


    • Contact emergency number: 112
    • For mental health support, contact Telefonseelsorge: 0800 111 0 111 or 0800 111 0 222


    • Contact emergency number: 112
    • For mental health support, contact Telefono Amico: 199 284 284


    • Contact emergency number: 112
    • For mental health support, contact 113 Zelfmoordpreventie: 0800 0113


    • Contact emergency number: 112
    • For mental health support, contact Sos Voz Amiga: 21 354 45 45, 91 280 26 69, or 96 352 46 60

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