Abilify vs Seroquel

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For patients with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, certain drugs that adjust the balance of specific chemicals in the brain called neurotransmitters can help stabilize mood fluctuations and manage symptoms. Abilify and Seroquel are two such medications commonly prescribed for these conditions. They each impact different neurotransmitters in the brain, but both have mood-stabilizing effects on patients with these mental disorders. Abilify is an atypical antipsychotic that works as a partial dopamine agonist and serotonin antagonist, affecting levels of both dopamine and serotonin. On the other hand, Seroquel is classified as an atypical antipsychotic too but acts primarily by antagonizing specific subtypes of serotonin receptors (5-HT2) and dopamine receptors (D2), therefore impacting levels of several different neurotransmitters.

What is Abilify?

Aripiprazole (the generic name for Abilify) is a second-generation antipsychotic medication, marking a significant advance over the first generation of these drugs. Aripiprazole was first approved by the FDA in 2002. It works by stabilizing dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain to alleviate symptoms related to conditions like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Unlike other antipsychotics, Aripiprazole partially stimulates dopamine receptors rather than fully blocking them, resulting in fewer side effects.

On the other hand, Quetiapine (the generic name for Seroquel), another second-generation antipsychotic drug approved by the FDA in 1997, blocks both serotonin and dopamine receptors but also influences adrenergic and histaminergic systems which may result in different side effect profiles such as sedation or weight gain. Both drugs are used for similar psychiatric indications; however, each can have benefits or drawbacks depending on individual patient factors.

What conditions is Abilify approved to treat?

Abilify is approved for the treatment of several mental health disorders, including:

  • Schizophrenia in adults and adolescents aged 13 to 17 years
  • Manic or mixed episodes associated with bipolar disorder in adults and pediatric patients aged 10 to 17 years
  • Adjunctive therapy to antidepressants for major depressive disorder (MDD) in adults
  • Irritability associated with autistic disorder in pediatric patients aged 6 to 17 years.

How does Abilify help with these illnesses?

Abilify aids in the management of conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder by regulating the dopamine levels in the brain. It does this by acting as a partial agonist at dopamine D2 receptors, meaning it binds to these receptors and stimulates them but not to the same extent as dopamine itself would. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays critical roles in how we feel pleasure, think, plan, and motivate ourselves. In disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, there's an imbalance of dopamine which can lead to symptoms like hallucinations or mood swings. By stabilizing dopamine activity, Abilify helps mitigate these symptoms allowing patients better control over their condition.

Seroquel works similarly but instead acts on both serotonin (another important neurotransmitter) and dopamine receptors where it serves primarily as an antagonist blocking off excessive activities. This dual action on two separate pathways allows for broad-spectrum symptom control but also presents with different side effect profiles compared to Abilify.

What is Seroquel?

Seroquel is the brand name for quetiapine, an atypical antipsychotic medication that acts primarily on serotonin and dopamine receptors in the brain. It was first approved by the FDA in 1997. Unlike Abilify (aripiprazole), Seroquel does not act as a partial agonist of dopamine receptors but rather as an antagonist, blocking their activity. This distinction means that Seroquel may have a different side-effect profile to Abilify; it can cause sedation, weight gain, and metabolic changes more frequently than medications like Abilify might. However, its effects on both serotonin and dopamine receptors make it potentially beneficial for treating symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder – especially in patients who do not respond well to other atypical antipsychotics such as Abilify.

What conditions is Seroquel approved to treat?

Seroquel has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of a number of serious mental health conditions, including:

  • Schizophrenia in adults and children who are at least 13 years old
  • Bipolar disorder (manic depression) in adults and children who are at least 10 years old
  • Used together with antidepressant medications to treat major depressive disorder in adults.

How does Seroquel help with these illnesses?

Seroquel, also known as quetiapine, is an atypical antipsychotic that works by influencing the actions of certain chemicals in the brain. It has a strong impact on dopamine and serotonin receptors which are heavily involved in mood regulation and the body's response to stress. The alteration of these neurotransmitter pathways helps alleviate symptoms of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Like Abilify, Seroquel can be used alone or combined with other medications for treatment-resistant cases but it may have more pronounced sedative effects due to its histamine receptor antagonism. This makes it potentially useful for patients who also struggle with insomnia related to their mental health conditions.

How effective are both Abilify and Seroquel?

Both aripiprazole (Abilify) and quetiapine (Seroquel) have established histories of success in managing symptoms of psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. Approved by the FDA within a few years of each other, they work on distinct neurotransmitter systems and may therefore be prescribed under different circumstances. The effectiveness of Abilify and Seroquel was directly compared in several double-blind clinical trials; both drugs demonstrated comparable efficacy in managing symptoms related to psychotic disorders with somewhat varying safety profiles.

A 2006 review highlighted that aripiprazole has consistent anti-psychotic activity starting from the first week of treatment. It also indicated that its side effect profile is more favorable than many other antipsychotics due to its unique mechanism - acting as dopamine system stabilizer. As it does not block dopamine receptors completely but rather modulates their activity, weight gain and metabolic issues associated with many antipsychotic medications are less likely to occur with Abilify.

On the other hand, outcomes from studies published until 2014 suggest that while Seroquel effectively treats symptoms associated with psychosis and depressions similar to other common antipsychotics or antidepressants, it's typically considered when initial treatments do not yield sufficient results or cannot be used due to contraindications. Quetiapine's main advantage comes from its sedative properties making it useful for patients suffering insomnia or anxiety-related conditions alongside their primary psychiatric condition even though this can lead sometimes lead excessive sleepiness during daytime.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Abilify typically prescribed?

Oral dosages of Abilify range from 2–30 mg/day, but studies have shown that a starting dose of 10 or 15 mg/day is usually efficacious for treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in most adults. Adolescents aged 13-17 may be started on 2 mg/day for the first week. For both populations, dosage can be adjusted after a couple of weeks if there is no improvement. The maximum dosage that should not be exceeded in any case is 30 mg/day.

On the other hand, oral dosages of Seroquel vary widely depending on the condition being treated, ranging from as low as 25mg to as high as up to 800mg per day. For instance, in treating schizophrenia or major depressive episodes in bipolar disorder, initial doses might start at around 50-100mg per day and gradually increase over several days until therapeutic effects are achieved; it's not uncommon for effective maintenance doses to reach ranges of between about 300-600mg daily (divided into two or three doses), but each patient's optimal dose will depend heavily upon their individual response and tolerance.

At what dose is Seroquel typically prescribed?

Seroquel treatment is typically initiated at a dose of 25 mg/day, taken orally. The dosage can subsequently be increased to 50 mg/day on the second day and then further adjusted up to 300-400 mg by the fourth day in increments not exceeding more than 100mg per day. Distribution of these dosages should ideally be divided into two or three doses throughout the course of a single day. If there's no noticeable improvement or response to treatment after several weeks, your healthcare provider may consider adjusting your daily intake up until a maximum limit of 800mg/day, again split across multiple intakes during each day.

What are the most common side effects for Abilify?

Common side effects of Abilify and Seroquel may include:

  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
  • Drowsiness/somnolence
  • General weakness and fatigue
  • Tremors or shaking movements, often in the hands
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion, discomfort, or pain in the digestive tract (dyspepsia)
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Dry mouth
  • Decreased sexual desire (libido) and other sexual dysfunctions
  • Skin rash -Sweating more than usual
    -Disturbed dreams
    -A feeling like having a flu: fever, sore throat, swollen glands, lack of energy (flu syndrome)
    -Inflammation in the back of your throat causing a sore throat(pharyngitis) -Infection causing inflammation to one or more sinuses commonly due to an infection(sinusitis).

As always with any medication you take for mental health conditions it is important to communicate with your healthcare provider about these side effects.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Abilify?

While both Abilify and Seroquel are antipsychotic medications used in the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression, they do have some differences in potential side effects. For example, while taking Abilify or Seroquel:

  • You may experience an increase in suicidal thoughts or tendencies
  • Signs of a severe allergic reaction could occur such as hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat.
  • Visual disturbances can be experienced including blurred vision, tunnel vision and seeing halos around lights.
  • Cardiac symptoms like rapid heartbeats (tachycardia), fluttering chest sensations (palpitations), shortness of breath and sudden bouts of dizziness which might indicate you are about to faint can occur.
  • Hyponatremia (low sodium levels) - this manifests with headache confusion, slurred speech, severe weakness vomiting loss coordination feeling unsteady
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome: A rare but serious neurological disorder characterized by muscle rigidity; high fever; sweating confusion; fast uneven heartbeats tremors feeling like you might pass out. Additionally, Any symptoms suggestive of serotonin syndrome should also warrant attention: Agitation hallucinations fever sweating shivering fast heart rate muscle stiffness twitching loss coordination nausea vomiting diarrhea.

Always remember that these side effects are uncommon but possible. If any manifest during your course on either medication it is important to contact your healthcare provider immediately for guidance.

What are the most common side effects for Seroquel?

Seroquel, also known as quetiapine, can come with several side effects such as:

  • Dry mouth and a sore throat
  • Constipation
  • Blurred vision and occasional dizziness
  • Nausea or stomach upset, although these are usually minor
  • Sleep disturbances including insomnia
  • A feeling of restlessness or nervousness
  • Weight gain rather than loss is often reported
  • Sometimes there may be fast or irregular heartbeats
  • Headaches are common but should not be severe
    -Increased urination isn't typically associated with Seroquel.
    -Rashes are rare, but if they occur you should contact your doctor immediately. -Muscle pain or weakness might occur in some cases.

As with any medication, it's important to weigh the benefits against possible side effects. Always consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Seroquel?

Seroquel, while widely used and generally well-tolerated, can have serious side effects in certain situations. Some of these include:

  • Symptoms suggestive of a severe allergic reaction such as hives, difficulty breathing or swallowing, swelling in your face or throat
  • Enhanced suicidal thoughts or actions, especially among younger individuals
  • More frequent seizures
  • Changes in mood or behavior that are unusual for you: increased agitation, restlessness, anxiety; feelings of panic; aggressive behavior; hallucinations.
  • Vision disturbances like blurred vision or eye pain
  • Unpredictable heartbeats which may feel fast or irregular
  • Signs indicative of possible neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) – fever, muscle rigidity/stiffness/twitching, rapid heartbeat/pulse/breathing rate/ blood pressure fluctuation

Should you experience any of the above symptoms on taking Seroquel promptly consult with your healthcare provider.

Contraindications for Abilify and Seroquel?

Like most antipsychotic medications, both Abilify and Seroquel may worsen symptoms of depression in some people. If you notice your mental health deteriorating or an increase in suicidal ideation, thoughts, or behaviors while taking either of these drugs, please seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Abilify nor Seroquel can be taken if you are currently using or have recently used certain types of medication including monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Always inform your physician about any current or recent medications; MAOIs will require a period of roughly two weeks to clear from the system before starting on Seroquel or Abilify to prevent potentially dangerous interactions. Furthermore, SSRIs should also be discontinued at least 14 days prior to initiating treatment with these antipsychotics.

How much do Abilify and Seroquel cost?

For the brand name versions of these medications:

  • The price of 30 tablets of Abilify (10 mg) averages around $900, which works out to about $30/day.
  • The price for Seroquel (25 mg), on the other hand, is approximately $190 for 30 tablets, working out to roughly $6.33 per day.

Thus, if you are in a typical dosage range for either medication (i.e., up to 800 mg/day for Seroquel or between 5 and 15mg per day for Abilify), then brand-name Seroquel is less expensive on a per-day treatment basis. Please note that cost should not be your primary consideration when determining which drug is right for you.

For the generic versions of these drugs, costs are significantly lower:

  • Aripiprazole (generic version of Abilify) comes in packs starting from as low as fifteen capsules and above with approximate costs ranging from about $0.60-$3.00 per tablet depending on strength and quantity purchased.
  • Quetiapine fumarate (the generic version of Seroquel) can be bought at prices ranging approximately from just under one dollar to several dollars per pill based also upon strength and quantity; thus offering significant savings compared to their branded counterparts.

Popularity of Abilify and Seroquel

Aripiprazole, in generic form as well as brand names such as Abilify, was estimated to have been prescribed to about 9.5 million people in the US in 2020. Aripiprazole accounted for roughly 15% of atypical antipsychotic prescriptions in the US. This medication has been generally increasing in prevalence since its approval by the FDA back in 2002.

Quetiapine, including brand versions such as Seroquel, was prescribed to approximately 7 million people in the USA during that same year. In the US, quetiapine accounts for just under a quarter of all atypical antipsychotic prescriptions and is commonly used off-label for insomnia due to its sedative properties. The prevalence of quetiapine has remained relatively steady over recent years with only minor fluctuations.


Both Abilify (aripiprazole) and Seroquel (quetiapine) have long-standing records of usage in patients with conditions like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and major depressive disorder. They are supported by numerous clinical studies indicating their effectiveness over placebo treatments. Sometimes the two drugs may be used together; however, this should always be under careful supervision by a physician due to potential interactions. Their mechanisms of action differ: Abilify acts primarily as a partial agonist at dopamine D2 receptors while Seroquel is mainly an antagonist at serotonergic and dopaminergic receptors.

Abilify is often added to other medications when they aren't fully effective on their own, whereas Seroquel can serve as a primary therapy or an add-on treatment for those who haven't responded well to first-line antipsychotics or antidepressants.

Both drugs are available in generic form which offers significant cost savings particularly for out-of-pocket patients. It's important to remember that both Abilify and Seroquel may require adjustment periods where effects might not seem apparent immediately after starting treatment.

The side effect profiles are somewhat similar between the two drugs but individual responses will vary widely depending on the person's unique physiology and medical history. Some common side effects include drowsiness, weight gain, dry mouth among others but Seroquel has been more associated with weight gain than Abilify. Patients must closely monitor any changes in their condition especially when beginning treatment and reach out promptly if they notice worsening symptoms or thoughts about self-harm.