Seroquel is the brand name of a drug called quetiapine, an antipsychotic medication that works by changing the actions of some natural chemicals (dopamine and serotonin) in the brain to improve mood, thinking, and behavior.
It was developed in 1985 and the US Food and Drug Administration originally approved it for medical use in the United States in 1997. This medication is produced by AstraZeneca, an Anglo–Swedish multinational biopharmaceutical and pharmaceutical company.
It is used together with antidepressant drugs to treat the major depressive disorder (MDD) in adults. The major depressive disorder is the clinical term for a mood disorder described by protracted periods of low self-esteem, sadness, and in rare cases, the urge to commit suicide. The symptoms of MDD are defined as lasting at least 12 days, however, they commonly go on much longer.
This medication is also used to treat bipolar disorder (once known as manic-depressive disorder or manic depression) in children who are at least 10 years old and adults. Bipolar disorder causes serious shifts in energy, mood, behavior, and thinking — from the lows of depression to the highs of mania, on one extreme or the other.
Moreover, this antipsychotic medication is used to treat schizophrenia in children who are at least 13 years old and adults. Schizophrenia is a severe disorder that affects how a person feels, thinks, and acts. This condition most commonly strikes between the ages of 16 and 30 and affects an estimated 1% of the population. Signs and symptoms of schizophrenia may include:
- lack of motivation;
- trouble speaking clearly;
- little desire to be around other people;
- trouble making sense;
- disorganized thinking;
- delusions – beliefs which are not true;
- hallucinations – imagined images or voices which seem real.
Also, prescribing this medication as a sleep aid is a fairly common practice by a lot of doctors. However, it is not approved for the treatment of dementia-related behavior problems.
For depressive episodes associated with bipolar disorder, the usual recommended initial dosage is 50 mg once per day, typically at bedtime. Starting the second day, the usual recommended dose is 100 mg once per day, then increases to 200 mg once per day. The maximum dose is 300 mg per day.
For manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder, the usual recommended initial dose is 50 mg two times per day. Starting the second day, the usual recommended dose is 100 mg per day. After day four of treatment, the usual recommended dose is 200 mg per day. The maximum dose is 800 mg per day.
For schizophrenia, the usual recommended initial dose is 25 mg two times per day. The dosage is increased to 300 to 400 mg per day.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. Do not intake 2 doses at the same time unless your doctor tells you to.
If you take too much this antipsychotic medication, call the local Poison Control Center or doctor, or seek emergency medical attention.
Side Effects And Precautions Of Quetiapine
Common side effects may include:
- problems with movement;
- unexplained weight gain;
- dry mouth;
- increased appetite;
- a sore throat;
- stomach pain;
Rare side effects may include:
- high fever;
- uncontrollable movements of the lips, eyes, tongue, arms, face, or legs;
- problems with speech;
- a feeling like you might pass out;
- trouble swallowing;
- seeing halos around lights;
- very stiff muscles;
- a mask-like appearance of the face;
- blurred vision;
- increased urination;
- eye pain;
- dry mouth;
- tunnel vision;
- skin sores;
- uneven heartbeat;
- increased thirst;
- dry skin;
- low blood cell counts;
- fruity breath odor;
- excessive sweating;
- painful mouth sores;
- red or swollen gums;
- a sore throat;
- sudden weakness.
To make sure this drug is safe for you, tell your healthcare provider if you have:
- low or high blood pressure;
- low white blood cell counts;
- liver disease;
- kidney disease;
- seizures or epilepsy;
- a history of heart attack or stroke;
- heart rhythm problems;
- high triglycerides;
- high LDL and total cholesterol;
- a personal history of diabetes;
- heart disease;
- abnormal prolactin levels;
- abnormal thyroid tests;
- trouble swallowing.
High & Abuse
Many healthcare professionals have noted that this medication has been abused by some people (mostly teens and young adults) for a recreational “high.” It is known by the street names of “Suzie-Q,” “quell,” and “Q-ball.”
The problem is that this medication may increase the risk for suicide, especially for people younger than 24, and when used in higher doses. Let your healthcare professional know right away if you are taking this antipsychotic medication and experience:
- extreme worry;
- thoughts of suicide;
- acting without thinking;
- worsening depression;
- abnormal excitement;
- symptoms of aggression;
- panic attacks;
There are no conclusive clinical studies regarding the safe use of this medication during pregnancy, therefore, if you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, consult your doctor prior to using this medication. Also, because it can pass into your breast milk and may harm your baby, avoid this medication if you are breast-feeding a baby.
Many drugs can interact with this antipsychotic medication. Therefore, tell your healthcare provider about all your current drugs and any other medications which you stopped or started using, particularly:
- blood pressure medicine;
- heart medicine;
- antifungal medicine;
- drugs to treat mental illness;
- seizure medicine;
- St. John’s wort;
- drugs to treat HIV/AIDS;
- antiviral medicine to treat hepatitis;
- tuberculosis medicine.
Seroquel and Alcohol
Taking Seroquel and alcohol together may have serious adverse effects, including:
- diminished motor control;
- possible respiratory depression, slowed breathing, or even death;
- feeling the effects of alcohol more acutely than normal;
- an increase in your total and LDL cholesterol levels. Over time, high LDL cholesterol can damage the arteries (a condition called atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries), leading to heart disease, and a higher risk for a stroke.
Drinking alcoholic beverages in combination with this medicine can considerably increase the side effects of intaking this medicine, including:
- irregular pulse;
- low blood pressure;
- reduced appetite;
- increased thirst;
- neck pain;
- lack of concentration;
- blurred vision;
- unusual dreams;
- abnormal thinking;
- a cough.
Types of alcoholic beverages you should avoid: