Schizophrenia is a serious mental health disorder that typically requires medication for symptom management. Antipsychotics have been prescribed to treat schizophrenia since the 1950s; atypical antipsychotics were developed for this same purpose in the 1990s. Aripiprazole, or Abilify, is one such atypical antipsychotic that must be taken daily when administered orally. On Oct. 5, 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a long-acting injectable form of this drug called aripiprazole lauroxil, which specialists hope will prove to be a breakthrough for the treatment of schizophrenia.
Aripiprazole lauroxil, or Aristada, was approved as effective and safe by the FDA after a series of clinical trials. The only side effects found were similar to those of its oral counterpart, including insomnia and headaches. When injected into the arm or glutes by a medical professional, the effects of the drug last four to six weeks. Mitchell Mathis, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research’s Division of Psychiatry Products, believes this might be the future of schizophrenia treatment. As Dr. Mathis explains, “Long-acting medications to treat schizophrenia can improve the lives of patients. Having a variety of treatment options and dosage forms available for patients with mental illness is important so that a treatment plan can be tailored to meet the patient’s needs.”
Long-acting medication can be beneficial for a disorder as debilitating as schizophrenia. The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) reports that schizophrenia affects approximately 1 percent of the population, with symptoms typically appearing between the ages of 16 and 30. The primary symptoms of the disorder include hallucinations, delusions and disorganized thought, speech and movement. Aripiprazole lauroxil holds the potential to greatly reduce the severity of these symptoms in a manner that does not require the individual to take a pill every day, as is often unreliable among those grappling with severe mental health disorders.
There are additional forms of treatment that can benefit the schizophrenic population. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help an individual acknowledge psychotic symptoms and normalize them, making recovery seem more tangible. Goal-setting is another common facet of CBT in the context of schizophrenia treatment, though the goals must be attainable and realistic relative to the severity of the patient’s symptoms. CBT and other forms of psychotherapy for schizophrenia are typically recommended in tandem with antipsychotic medication, as the brain chemistry component of the disorder must be addressed in order for treatment to be successful.
Aripiprazole lauroxil signifies a new wave of schizophrenia treatment. If you or a loved one is in the throes of the disorder, help is available. Sovereign Health Group specializes in treating individuals facing mental health disorders, substance abuse issues and dual diagnosis. Call (866) 819-0427 to speak with a professional today.
Written by Courtney Howard, Sovereign Health Group writer