Problems with Abilify – A Patient Letter

As anyone who has been with us for some time knows, we are appalled by the use of antipsychotic medicine for people who are not extremely agitated, delusional or hallucinating. Yet Abilify, an atypical antipsychotic, is widely advertised on TV. Patients “who are still depressed” are advised to ask their doctors about going on Abilify. Well we know why patients are still depressed – they been put on antidepressants that are barely more effective than placebo, and that then further deplete their already diminished supply of neurotransmitters so that when they try to get off the darned things they find they are in worse shape than when the started.

Even 10 years ago it was known that 2/3’s of all patient on antidepressants (which is 10 percent of the population) don’t achieve full remission of their depressive symptoms. So the drug companies know that they have quite a large target audience for a “depression augmenter”. Only problem is, as a soothing voice explains on the ad, is that antipsychotics cause akathisia, which is an internal anxiety so bad that it can cause suicide, metabolic syndrome (weight gain, hypertension and hyperlipidemia) tardive dyskinesia, which is a disfiguring involuntary movement of the lips and hands, and even death from Neuroleptic malignant syndrome. And now very recent research has shown that all antipsychotics, including Abilify, cause brain shrinkage. So that is why here at MyPassion4 Health we promote the use of fish oil, magnesium and amino acids as “augmenters”.

We are publishing here a very moving letter from one of our patients who was put on Abilify for 7 years. Her letter expresses, more poignantly than we ever could, what she calls “the evil of Abilify”. I hope you are as moved by reading it as we were.

Cirsten’s Journey

I want to share some information from my personal experience with those in the professional field to consider before engaging in decisions for future clients. I got myself off of twenty five years of Rx meds for depression and fifteen years for ADD/ADHD. The journey off them began in April of 2009. I was treated half my life with Rx’s to solve not feeling good … [about myself]. The effects of prescription meds may have looked good on the surface, but they did not work.

I would specifically like to address a medication that is dangerous to one’s well being on many levels. They are now even finding it shrinks brain matter. The medication is extremely popular and being pumped like crazy by the pharmaceutical companies making billions. I am referring to Abilify. Abilify is a drug designed to treat schizophrenia so the schizophrenic could separate from their delusional and psychotic thoughts… yet is being dispensed like harmless candy to the general public. This prescription is not only being distributed to the adult population, but I am horrified to discover that a huge population of young children are being put on this drug as well. This drug should be off the market and not be taken lightly.

Very simply put, this is how Abilify detrimentally affected me and my life:

  • It was magic, nothing bothered me… it was a miracle, I thought everyone should be on this stuff!
  • Who needs therapy and what is everyone’s problem, this stuff is Zen.
  • I threw a life time of journals I had written into a dumpster, I threw my art from college away (I had been a fine arts graduate), I was embarrassed to look at who I was, and on Abilify I needed not to remember, or look back where I had been.
  • I could hear people being unkind towards me and said nothing, because unkind words did not bother me. I heard my thoughts and internal comments to them, but had no need to speak my mind.
  • Everything looked great from the outside. My family was happy with me because I no longer spoke my mind.
  • My life over time was just dandy and fine. I was a very pleasant person and well liked, everyone thought I had no problems, and even never had any.
  • I picked up my multiple prescriptions and had no need for talk therapy any more.
  • Years into Abilify, I would start talking about how I was not happy with my supposed perfect life with no apparent problems. For me I was going in circles and going nowhere, and I felt like the “I” inside me was dying.
  • Deep inside, I had no deep passion… and the passions in me had no spark… and lacked depth… and why bother anyway… and I really did not know what I wanted any more, or what I wanted didn’t matter much to me.
  • Where I once was capable of thinking and writing in depth, I lost that completely!
  • I lost my sense of direction and purpose in life.
  • I went through the motions of life but lacked depth.
  • I experienced muscle stiffness and pain, and muscles tearing.
  • Abilify destroyed my muscles, where I had always been athletic and flexible, I was getting muscle injuries from simple things in yoga that I had been quite competent in.
  • Physical therapy and massage had no affect for changing the tightness and injuries my muscles were experiencing. I laid off yoga, exercising and body movement which had always been a joy in my life.

These side effects pertaining to muscle stiffness and motor skill impairment were not made public for years, and now we are discovering Abilify also shrinks brain matter. What else will we discover?

I graduated massage school in 1998, came to Tucson in 1999 to further my studies in shiatsu and eastern medicine and acupuncture school …. and did not pursue them because of some disappointments in the programs. I was supposed to be in Tucson for a year before returning to my four year home in Sedona (that I had left the east coast for), and awakened ten years later still living in Tucson and wondering what happened to my life?

My journey off meds and back into life has been quite awakening for certain. At first it was scary to feel again, and I had to question what was normal? I was not used to feeling in a broad multidimensional range after 25 years on meds. Let alone 6-7 on Abilify that set my life back. I no longer trusted my own feelings, judgments and emotions having been disconnected to their depth for so many years. I am still confused if there was ever really anything wrong with me that required pharmaceutical intervention ever. I battle with the thought of how years of my life were taken from me in false hopes and reliance on professionals to help me feel better about myself through popping pills to regulate symptoms… and this is certainly a national problem… I am merely one individual.

Going off meds, my problems resurfaced, they did not go away. I never learned to deal with them in a way that furthered my growth in a meaningful way for myself. Besides I was numbed out on prescription meds on a certain level, how was this possible to attain?

I am in therapy a year now, dealing with issues that were flattened with years of anti-depressants and eventually Abilify [the final blow] that slowly separated me from my heart and soul, and the well being of my body. Abilify is a silent evil drug that slowly extinguished access to the depth of my being! I may have faded permanently into a deceptive yet accepted pretty cloud, had the physical side affects not kicked in to awaken me to seek help. I never thought I could get off meds as I tried many times, but the depression would kick in when I tried. I have learned the reason is; the antidepressants in fact deplete the brain and I could not simply taper off without withdrawal. I sought help from a team that could get me off all these meds. Personally I did not think it was possible to get off, but the pain was bad in my muscles, I could no longer play guitar for more than ten minutes… and I could no longer do yoga and exercise that I loved… I had no choice but to try getting off and knew the worst result would be I’d have to go back on them.

Through MyPassion4Health here in Tucson I went through a homeopathic detox and specified supplement routine that I continue daily. Aside from dealing with stomach upset with some of the supplements (I have been on for almost two years now), I have absolutely no harmful side effects and only benefit from well being. I encourage any individual seeking assistance in their own well being and all practitioners to learn from what they offer. Mary Ackerly is a classically trained psychiatrist from Harvard and her husband Alex Casler has a more alternative non mainstream knowledge… their professions are an interesting mix in the forefront of change to approach well being. This approach has been life transforming for me. I encourage googling their website and exploring the articles and blogs especially.


There are alternative routes to mental health that are safe and beneficial in great strides for individuals and the communities we share our well being into. Perhaps together we could eliminate Abilify from the market, for it is a horrible silent evil drug spreading across our nation. The internet is loaded with negative experiences from individuals having taken Abilify. One can also find people commenting on their brand new beginning on this wonder drug Abilify, and it saddens me to know where this path of illusion will lead them. The veil of denial the drug produces enters the self immediately. You will also find, pharmaceutical reps exposing how they were trained to persuade the medical professionals to follow the pharmaceutical path (of invasion).

In a sense, the pharmaceutical companies have done a disservice to well meaning medical and psychology and mental health professionals. The pharmaceutical companies have invaded and dis-empowered the professionals in the field of psychiatry, who in turn have dis-empowered their clients full potentials. Is psychiatry and psychology not involved on the basic notion of study into the soul and emotion? Is that not why we as clients came to seek assistance for insight into ourselves? The true purpose of this field must not be forgotten. We as clients and professionals together need to define and reinstate our purpose and stand up, to the multibillion dollar pharmaceutical companies massive invasion. If we do not, we have certainly lost our path, and our true soul’s connection within will be silently extinguished and silenced in time. Abilify most certainly extinguishes the ability to experience true depth of emotion and proceeds to disconnect the individual from their soul connection.

Who exactly is in charge of our well being anyway? Who have we entrusted in leading us in this direction? If we as individuals continue to seek empowerment from others [ie; pharma companies] and truly believe the influence of their advertising, we will continue a cycle of looking outward for answers, rather than inward. When we stop looking inward, and stop believing in ourselves, we lose our self empowerment. Not only as individuals, but as the whole field we are working together in; and in turn the society we create with the process we choose to rely on.


In April 2009, I began my journey off prescription drugs. After a year off meds and months into therapy, I began returning to my heart and soul; I returned to Massage School for review of my studies and skills and went for advanced training. I finally completed and passed my national massage certification exam that should have obtained ten years ago, and I’m now waiting to receive my license to practice massage/therapeutic bodywork. My goal is not only to do corrective body work, but to work with clients who are coming off antidepressants and help them empower themselves through their own bodies journey into well being for their new transition into life.

I hope to set an example and give hope and encourage others to empower themselves with the decisions they make for both them self and for others. Perhaps my own clients and the practitioners in the medical field would be interested in learning from my experience, and my process of recovery, into a full spectrum human being with internal spirit that I feel good about sharing.

I would like to see practitioners who are dispensing Rx meds for depression deeply question if their decisions are empowering their clients to blossom into their full potential; or disabling them into a semi acceptable level of satisfaction.

I do have one big question left:
What was the justification to be on meds half my life? A total of twenty five years.

My journey off meds has been a great powerful gift to me, more than words can say; I am at the beginning of a new journey and I am reaching for the stars.

Cirsten’s Commentary written 2. 21. 2011

Mary Ackerley, MDMary Ackerley MD, MD(H), ABIHM is a classically trained psychiatrist and homeopathic physician who specializes in the holistic treatment of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, digestive disturbances and hormone replacement therapy.

She can be reached through her clinic MyPassion4Health at 520-299-5694 or online at