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Abilify and Diabetes

There are a number of potential side effects with Abilify, and diabetes is one of the more serious side effects. It is not entirely clear why the medication may cause this problem. However, weight gain -- which is a primary risk factor for diabetes -- is a common side effect of Abilify. Diabetes can have serious health consequences, so you should monitor your blood sugar levels regularly while taking this drug.

Does Abilify Cause Diabetes?

Abilify® (aripiprazole) is a prescription medication used to treat schizophrenia, major depression, and bipolar disorder. While many Abilify side effects are merely annoying or bothersome, there are a few side effects of Abilify that should be taken very seriously. One of these serious side effects is diabetes. Newer "atypical" antipsychotic medications (such as Abilify) seem to increase the risk of diabetes. Abilify may also worsen preexisting diabetes.

What Does the Research Say?

In clinical studies conducted before Abilify was approved, between 1 in every 100 and 1 in every 1,000 people taking Abilify developed diabetes. Since the medicine's approval, there have been several cases of extremely high blood sugar (hyperglycemia) in people taking the drug, which have led to coma or even death.
It is not entirely clear if Abilify is the cause of these cases of diabetes. People with schizophrenia (whether they are taking Abilify or not) may be at a higher risk of developing diabetes. Also, diabetes is on the rise in the general population. These factors combined make it unclear whether there is a relationship between Abilify and diabetes. However, studies suggest that people taking Abilify may be at a higher risk of developing diabetes.

Why Might Abilify Cause Diabetes?

It is not fully understood why Abilify might lead to diabetes. Weight gain is a significant risk factor for diabetes (see Diabetes Risk Factors), and weight gain is a common side effect of Abilify (see Abilify and Weight Gain). Abilify may also have direct effects on blood sugar, through unknown mechanisms. Abilify also might make diabetes more obvious in people with previously undiagnosed diabetes.
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