Seroquel, also known by its generic name quetiapine, is an atypical antipsychotic medication that blocks dopaminergic transmissions, resulting in less overall excitement in the brain. It is a prescription-only medicine and cannot be obtained over the counter.
Seroquel is used to treat symptoms associated with schizophrenia in adults and children who are aged 13 years or older. This drug may be used alone, or in conjunction with other medications to treat episodes of mania and depression experienced by adults with bipolar, as well as the manic phase of bipolar I in children aged 10 to 17. Seroquel may also be combined with antidepressant medication as a means of treating depression in adults. While this medication may help to control associated symptoms, it will not cure schizophrenia, bipolar, or depression.
- How can I take Seroquel safely?
Seroquel is available as regular quetiapine tablets or as extended-release tablets. Extended-release tablets should only be used by adults. Regular Seroquel tablets may be taken one to three times per day, while the extended-release version is usually taken once per day. Extended-release tablets should be swallowed whole. This medication may be taken with or without food. Your doctor may start you on a low dosage and slowly increase the amount of you take during your first week. Once the ideal dosage is determined, you should take the same amount of Seroquel each day, as outlined by your doctor. It may take several weeks to feel the full therapeutic benefits of taking Seroquel. It is important to continue taking the medication even if you feel well.
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As soon as possible, take the dose that you missed. However, if it will soon be time for your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose altogether. Having too much of this drug in your system may lead to an overdose. Never take a double dose of this drug to make up for a missed dose.
- What should I do if I have overdosed on this medication?
Contact your doctor or call a poison help line immediately. An overdose of this medication may be fatal. Symptoms of overdose include drowsiness, fast heart rate, low blood pressure, dizziness, and fainting.
- What are some ways to get the most out of my treatment with Seroquel?
Although Seroquel treats symptoms associated with a variety of mental health conditions, there are a few things you can do to get the most out of your treatment with this drug. In general, when antipsychotic medications are part of mental health treatment, finding a therapist or counselor may help you get the most out of your drug treatment. Various types of therapy may help a person explore their behaviors and emotions related to a mental health condition in a safe place, free of judgment—something drugs alone cannot do. You will likely gain more knowledge about what you are experiencing and build healthy ways to cope with symptoms when they arise or become triggered. Additionally, exercises like yoga, meditation, and breathing exercise may help a person if he or she experiences anxiety, depression, or tension while experiencing a mental health condition. These activities, combined with therapy and psychotropic medication, may help a person yield better, more long-term mental health outcomes.
- How should I store my medication?
Store this medication in its original container, at room temperature, and away from excess moisture.
Like many antipsychotic medications, this drug is not recommended by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use by older adults experiencing dementia, as it may increase the risk of death. This medication may increase this risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior in children, teens, and young adults. Children who use this medication may experience an increase in blood pressure. Long term use of this medication may lead to serious and/or potentially fatal movement conditions such as neuroleptic malignant syndrome, akathisia, and tardive dyskinesia.
If you have a history of cataracts, high or low blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, high cholesterol, high prolactin levels, breast cancer, Parkinson's disease, thyroid problems, heart disease, low white blood cell count, liver disease, seizures, or kidney disease, you should talk to your doctor before you take this medication. Tell your doctor if you have ever had diabetes.
Seroquel may interact with other medications or supplements, including antidepressants, antifungal drugs, HIV medication, anti-anxiety medication, sleeping pills, steroids, medication for Parkinson’s disease, vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and others. If you are taking other prescription drugs or supplements, you should check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking this drug. If you have ever experienced addiction to street drugs or a prescription medication, let your doctor know before you begin taking Seroquel. You should also mention any serious reactions you may have had to other similar medications.
This drug carries several important associated risk factors. If prescribed this medication, your doctor and pharmacist should deliver the following treatment information:
- If you become pregnant or plan to become pregnant while taking Seroquel, you should talk to your doctor about your medication choices. It is not known if this medication will harm a newborn baby if it is taken during pregnancy. However, quetiapine may pass into breast milk and harm a nursing infant. Do not stop taking this medication without first speaking to your doctor.
- Seroquel may slow your thinking, decrease your reaction time, and cause drowsiness; using alcohol may worsen these side effects. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how this medication affects you.
- If you plan to get dental work or surgery done, you should let your dentist or surgeon know you are taking this drug.
- Avoid eating grapefruit and drinking grapefruit juice when taking this medication.
- This medication may make you very dizzy, particularly when you first stand up from a seated position or after lying down. Stand up slowly to avoid this effect known as postural hypotension.
- Tell your doctor right away if you begin to experience signs of increased blood sugar or diabetes. Seroquel may cause a serious condition called ketoacidosis. If you develop any of the signs of this condition, including loss of consciousness, extreme thirst, fruity-smelling breath, nausea, or vomiting, you should contact and inform your doctor right away.
If you experience serious or severe side effects after taking this medication, you should call your doctor immediately. Serious side effects may include:
- Signs of ketoacidosis, including loss of consciousness, extreme thirst, fruity-smelling breath, nausea, and vomiting
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Fever or sweating
- Facial or body movements that cannot be controlled
- Itching, hives, or a rash
- Painful erection lasting for hours
- Shuffling walk or slowed movements
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
Less serious side effects may include:
- Drowsiness, dizziness, or weakness
- Difficulty thinking, speaking, or concentrating
- Loss of coordination
- Dry mouth
- Stuffed nose
- Upset stomach, including pain, excess gas, vomiting, or constipation
- Increased appetite or weight gain
- Joint or muscle pain
- Numbness or tingling in extremities
- Strange or unusual dreams
- Decreased sexual ability or interest
- Missed menstrual periods or breast discharge for females
- Breast enlargement for males
See your doctor before reducing or discontinuing this medication; you should not stop taking it abruptly. You can reduce withdrawal symptoms by slowly tapering off of this medication. Possible symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Return of delusions, hallucinations, or other psychotic symptoms
- Return of manic or bipolar symptoms
- Drugs.com. (2014). Seroquel. Retrieved from http://www.drugs.com/seroquel.html
- Medline Plus. (2014). Quetiapine. Retrieved from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a698019.html
- RxList. (2013). Seroquel. Retrieved from http://www.rxlist.com/seroquel-drug.htm
- United States Food and Drug Administration. (2013). Medication guide: Seroquel. Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/downloads/drugs/drugsafety/ucm089126.pdf
Page content reviewed by James Pendleton, ND.