Does Abilify cause restless leg syndrome (RLS)?

In this article, we will discuss the incidence of restless leg syndrome (RLS) triggered by Abilify (Aripiprazole), an atypical antipsychotic. We will also discuss what one should do in case of RLS caused by Abilify.

Does Abilify cause restless leg syndrome (RLS)?

Abilify does not commonly cause restless leg syndrome (RLS) as a side effect, but some rare cases have been reported. It is not a widespread side effect and other factors could contribute to it in some cases (1). 

RLS is a neurological disorder characterised by an irresistible urge to move the legs, often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations (2). If a person experiences any unusual symptoms or concerns while taking Abilify, it’s essential to discuss them with their doctor.

What does research suggest?

There is limited research on RLS associated with Abilify. However, researchers have found a general link between RLS and the use of antipsychotic medications. 

According to a 2017 research study, RLS is an extremely rare side effect of Aripiprazole – the active drug in Abilify. In this study, the researchers observed a patient who experienced certain symptoms of RLS after starting Aripiprazole treatment (3).

The researchers considered these symptoms to be related to the use of Aripiprazole because the symptoms appeared after starting the medication and improved when the medication was stopped (3). 

The patient under study had been taking other medications for a year without experiencing these symptoms. The investigators also ruled out any other underlying medical conditions that could have caused these symptoms (3). 

Based on these observations, the researchers concluded that the symptoms of RLS were likely a result of Aripiprazole administration in this particular patient (3).

However, there are other studies which have indicated that other antipsychotics, like Olanzapine, are more commonly associated with RLS, and switching the treatment to Aripiprazole might help alleviate the symptoms of RLS (4). 

In another case report, a 39-year-old woman had restless legs syndrome (RLS) and trichotillomania (TTM). She was taking Venlafaxine and Clonazepam, which only partially improved her RLS and had no effect on TTM (5). 

When Aripiprazole was added to the Clonazepam, both RLS and TTM completely went away. The researchers suggest that Aripiprazole could be a promising treatment option for these disorders but further research is needed to support the idea (5).

These research studies prove that Aripiprazole may or may not trigger symptoms of RLS. The occurrence of this side effect can vary from person to person and could be linked to other patient-specific factors. 

What to do if you suspect that you have RLS while taking Abilify? 

If you suspect that you have restless legs syndrome (RLS) while taking Abilify, it is essential to reach out to your doctor as soon as possible. They will evaluate your symptoms and medical history to determine if RLS is the cause of your discomfort. 

Your doctor may ask you questions about your sleep patterns, any sensations you experience in your legs, and if your symptoms worsen at night. They may also perform a physical examination and conduct blood tests to rule out other possible causes.

If RLS is suspected or diagnosed, your doctor will work with you to develop a suitable treatment plan. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, they may adjust your dosage of Abilify or explore alternative medications that are less likely to worsen RLS. 

Additionally, they may recommend lifestyle changes, such as avoiding caffeine or alcohol before bedtime and incorporating regular exercise.

Remember, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your side effects before you make any changes to your treatment with Abilify. Antipsychotic medication should not be stopped abruptly because of the potential withdrawal symptoms upon improper drug discontinuation. 

If your doctor believes Abilify is the main culprit, he/she will safely taper it off and will switch you to another antipsychotic medication. 


In this article, we have discussed RLS associated with Abilify. We have also discussed research studies that investigated this side effect of Abilify and how it can be treated. 

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). HIGHLIGHTS OF PRESCRIBING INFORMATION. ABILIFY (Aripiprazolee). Available from:,021713s030,021729s022,021866s023lbl.pdf


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