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Common Antipsychotic Drug Linked to Compulsive Shopping: Someone Shares Their Experience 

Updated: Jan 27



The commonly prescribed antipsychotic drug aripiprazole is facing scrutiny as patients, including an individual from Warwickshire, report developing compulsive behaviours like shopping addiction. Aripiprazole, used for conditions such as schizophrenia, is associated with uncontrollable urges, prompting a warning from the U.S. FDA. Despite being rare, impulse control disorders linked to aripiprazole can have significant consequences. This person's case illustrates the severity, leading to spending £10,000. The MHRA responded with renewed guidance, emphasising the importance of reporting and professional consultation. With 69 reported cases from 2009 to 2023, the revelation highlights the need for vigilance and monitoring in mental health medications.


In a surprising turn of events, the commonly prescribed antipsychotic drug aripiprazole is now under scrutiny as patients report developing compulsive behaviours, including shopping addiction. A person from Warwickshire shared their distressing experience, claiming that the side effects of aripiprazole led to significant spending (1).

Aripiprazole and Its Association with Compulsive Urges


Aripiprazole, used to treat conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Tourette’s disorder, and depression, has recently come under the spotlight due to its association with compulsive urges. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning, acknowledging reports of uncontrollable urges to gamble, binge eat, shop, and engage in excessive sexual activity while using aripiprazole. These urges reportedly ceased when the medication was discontinued or the dosage reduced(2).


Rare but Serious Impulse Control Disorders


Despite being a rare side effect, impulse control disorders associated with aripiprazole can pose significant risks to patients and those around them if not recognized. Health care professionals are urged to be vigilant and discuss the potential risks with patients, especially those with a history of obsessive-compulsive disorder, impulse-control disorder, bipolar disorder, or addictive behaviours (3).


Individual's Personal Challenge


The case sheds light on the serious impact of these side effects. Diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, the person began taking aripiprazole in September. Shortly after, they experienced discomfort, including a lack of sensation in limbs and muscles. More alarmingly, they found themselves developing a compulsive shopping addiction, going to great lengths to reach supermarkets and spending thousands on various items.

Regulatory Response


The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) responded promptly to these concerns, issuing renewed guidance about the risks of pathological gambling and other impulse control disorders associated with aripiprazole. Alison Cave, the MHRA's chief safety officer, emphasized the importance of patients reporting unusual urges they cannot resist (3-4).


Statistical Insights


From June 30, 2009, to August 28, 2023, the MHRA received 69 reports linking aripiprazole to side effects of gambling or gambling disorder (4). While the drug is prescribed over a million times a year, the agency acknowledged the rarity of these impulse control disorders but stressed their well-recognized status as potential side effects.


Financial Impact and Personal Reflection


The person's situation reached a point where substantial spending occurred, showcasing the financial toll of these side effects. The excessive spending impacted savings and forced a delay in plans.


Encouraging Reporting and Professional Guidance


Acknowledging the support from family throughout this challenging period, the person encourages patients to report their side effects through the MHRA’s Yellow Card scheme. The renewed advice given to medical professionals emphasises the need for consistent communication about potential risks when prescribing aripiprazole.


The revelation of aripiprazole's association with compulsive behaviours, such as shopping addiction, adds a new layer of caution for both patients and healthcare professionals. As the MHRA issues updated guidance and urges vigilance, individuals prescribed aripiprazole are advised to be aware of any unusual urges and promptly report them to their healthcare professionals. This development highlights the ongoing importance of monitoring and addressing potential side effects in mental health medications (5).




2. Mété, D., Dafreville, C., Paitel, V., & Wind, P. (2016). Aripiprazole, jeu pathologique et sexualité compulsive [Aripiprazole, gambling disorder and compulsive sexuality]. L'Encephale, 42(3), 281–283.

4.Brunetti, M., Di Tizio, L., Dezi, S., Pozzi, G., Grandinetti, P., & Martinotti, G. (2012). Aripiprazole, alcohol and substance abuse: a review. European review for medical and pharmacological sciences, 16(10), 1346–1354.

5.    Grall-Bronnec, M., Sauvaget, A., Perrouin, F., Leboucher, J., Etcheverrigaray, F., Challet-Bouju, G., Gaboriau, L., Derkinderen, P., Jolliet, P., & Victorri-Vigneau, C. (2016). Pathological Gambling Associated With Aripiprazole or Dopamine Replacement Therapy: Do Patients Share the Same Features? A Review. Journal of clinical psychopharmacology, 36(1), 63–70.




Author: Marina Ramzy Mourid

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