- Seroquel (Quetiapine)
- What Does Seroquel Treat?
- Dosage Information
- Find a Therapist
- Considerations Before Use
- Important Drug Information
- Possible Side Effects
- Withdrawal from Seroquel
- Seroquel Withdrawal Symptoms, Quetiapine Side Effects, Treatment Help
- Does Seroquel Work Long-Term?
- “These and previous data indicate that after 2 years, antipsychotics no longer reduce psychotic symptoms and participants not on antipsychotic perform better.” ~Harrow, Jobe & Tong, Journal of Psychological Medicine.12
- Seroquel Withdrawal Help
- What Is Seroquel ( quetiapine ) Used for?
- Discontinuing/Quitting Seroquel ( quetiapine )
- Seroquel ( quetiapine ) Alternative Names and Slang
- Seroquel ( quetiapine ) Side Effects
- Side effects can include these common ones:
- Less common, but more severe adverse effects should be carefully monitored and could include:
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.
What Does Seroquel Treat?
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.
Find a Therapist
What should I do if I missed a dose?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 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 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 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 ly gain more knowledge about what you are experiencing and build healthy ways to cope with symptoms when they arise or become triggered. Additionally, exercises 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.
Considerations Before Use
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.
Important Drug Information
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.
Possible Side Effects
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
Withdrawal from Seroquel
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:
- 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.
Seroquel Withdrawal Symptoms, Quetiapine Side Effects, Treatment Help
This article provides information on Seroquel withdrawal symptoms, quetiapine side effects, what it is prescribed for, and discusses treatment options, FAQs, and services provided by the Alternative to Meds Center.
If you are looking for information regarding tapering Seroquel, please see our Seroquel tapering page. And, if you are looking for non-drug or natural alternatives to Seroquel, please see our Seroquel alternatives page.
Does Seroquel Work Long-Term?
We are unable to find research demonstrating the long-term efficacy of antipsychotics Seroquel.10,11 While Seroquel has an impressive ability to quickly thwart a psychotic event, and may even be life-saving in certain cases, the long-term use efficacy remains questionable.
Martin Harrow and colleagues recently published a study in the Feb 2021 edition of Psychological Medicine following patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective psychosis for 20 years.
Their results showed that those suffering from a severe mental illness who stopped taking medication within the first two years were six times as ly to recover than those who continued the antipsychotics.12,13
“These and previous data indicate that after 2 years, antipsychotics no longer reduce psychotic symptoms and participants not on antipsychotic perform better.” ~Harrow, Jobe & Tong, Journal of Psychological Medicine.12
The reason for the lack of long-term efficacy may be the way that the body adapts to the presence of the drug.
According to 3 different independent researchers Chouinard, Fallon, Harrow, and respective colleagues, there may be an antipsychotic-induced sensitivity to the dopamine receptors, termed drug-induced supersensitivity psychosis, as they attempt to compensate.14,15,16 This drug-induced perpetuation of psychosis is also termed tardive psychosis.13
We are not suggesting that ALL people do better off of antipsychotics, and persons wishing to undergo Seroquel withdrawal at Alternative to Meds Center are screened for the probability of a successful outcome. The research does however present a strong case to support investigating safe alternatives to antipsychotics Seroquel for long-term maintenance of symptoms.
Seroquel Withdrawal Help
Someone taking an antipsychotic may benefit from knowing more about Seroquel withdrawal, side effects, and other important information. Seroquel is typically prescribed at the time a person is in a mental health crisis. Too little attention may be given to understanding whether the crisis was a temporary situation.
This can lead to unfortunate experiences by a person staying on a high dose of Seroquel or other medications for a very long time. A diagnosis may need to be adjusted, which may mean a change in the prescription. However, it is not always easy to find a physician who is well-versed in how to safely reduce Seroquel.
Our doctors have much hands-on history with this population, which is often required to navigate this delicate terrain. Outside of our organization, a patient may need to inform their physician about methods of tapering medications such as strategies, timelines, and other points that their doctor may not have been aware of.
We encourage you to share this information with your doctor for consideration.
PLEASE REMEMBER: Never abruptly stop Seroquel as the shock to the body could be overwhelming. Gentle, gradual, monitored tapering under the guidance of a trusted prescriber is safest.
Seroquel ( quetiapine ) is an atypical antipsychotic medication that is FDA approved for the treatment of schizophrenia and mixed bipolar episodes in adults. It can be prescribed for schizophrenia for children over the age of 12.7 Bipolar may include either acute manic or depressive episodes.
Extended-release Seroquel XR is used for the same reasons in adults but only used in adolescents demonstrating schizophrenia or the manic bipolar I disorder features — not depressive episodes.8 Seroquel belongs to a relatively new family of drugs called atypical antipsychotic medications.
When severe symptoms of either mania or depression occur, there may not be a lot of time to research available treatments that are offered. However, later there may come a time that a person may decide to go a different direction in treatment.
This drug may have considerable side-effects including emotional dulling,9 that may naturally prompt someone to consider other alternatives.
What Is Seroquel ( quetiapine ) Used for?
Aside from the FDA-approved guidelines, there are several off-label uses for Seroquel which are being explored such as for insomnia, PTSD, OCD, substance abuse and addiction, delirium, anxiety, depression — especially in those who have stopped getting benefit from SSRIs — and personality disorders.18 We find a lot of people taking Seroquel specifically as a sleep aid, usually at a low dose of 25-150 mg.
At present, these off-label uses are being cautiously examined due to a lack of established dosing parameters and their effects on metabolic side effects, extrapyramidal adverse effects, and potential safety concerns.4
Discontinuing/Quitting Seroquel ( quetiapine )
15 years of experience, we suggest that Seroquel withdrawal be done with us inpatient to help navigate the complexities that may occur.
Stopping a prescription of Seroquel should rarely be done abruptly, but is best done under the careful monitoring of trained medical personnel who are familiar with safe Seroquel withdrawal and are aware of things to watch for that might require swift and precise medical intervention.
There is one exception to the above where abrupt cessation should be done.
In the rare case where certain life-threatening reactions to the drug need to be immediately brought under control, abruptly stopping the drug may be able to save the person’s life. One such condition is Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome.
7 Sometimes, people can develop tardive dyskinesia from Seroquel and you would want to work with your prescriber to discuss if rapid Seroquel cessation would be the proper option.
In all other cases, tapering off the drug should be gradual and attended with as much support as possible to help ease the person through to a successful outcome. It can be a difficult task that requires precise planning, strategy, and, hopefully, many compassionate and caring helpers.
It is widely held that Seroquel acts to block dopamine from binding at the D2 receptor and that this is in part how it manages manic symptoms.24 The body, however, may compensate for this change by a process known as antipsychotic-induced dopamine supersensitivity.
15,16 This basically means that the dopamine receptors become more sensitive to the effect of dopamine. Since the drug was restricting dopamine, once you withdraw or reduce the Seroquel, you get more dopamine hitting these hyper volatile receptors. This is a recipe for a manic event.
We have seen that over time, many people can reregulate and that the receptors can renormalize to a large degree. However, it takes the element of time and patience, and careful withdrawal to do it well and without damaging consequences.
Hence, withdrawal from Seroquel can be especially challenging, perhaps even more so than coming off benzodiazepine drugs, which are also renowned for their difficult challenges.
When Seroquel is reduced, the dopamine expression is now potentially greatly enhanced, and the symptoms of mania may also return, bringing in an increased sense of reward.
The person at this point may become resistant to losing this state, and therefore resistant to following directions. Hence why this withdrawal unsupported may be complicated at best.
For those who make it to Alternative to Meds Center, a wise inclusion to your and your sponsor’s strategy may be to align with a trusted doctor who has hospital admission privileges so that in an extreme event, the patient can be stabilized in a safe and humane way.
Once stabilized, it may be possible to resume the process of tapering at a slower pace and help the patient achieve their goal of being either medication-free or at the lowest dose possible that still allows for maximum quality of life.
Seroquel ( quetiapine ) Alternative Names and Slang
Seroquel is a brand name for quetiapine, the generic drug name. There have been reported uses of the drug by crushing and snorting, or used intravenously, sometimes in combination with cocaine. When used in these ways, the drug is colloquially referred to as a “Q-ball.” Other slang names that are known when not used with cocaine include “quell,” “snoozeberries,” or “Suzie-Q.” 5
Seroquel ( quetiapine ) Side Effects
There can be a wide range of side effects from this medication, from mild to moderate to severe. Not everyone experiences significant side effects such as the ones listed here. Always discuss changes that occur while on Seroquel with your prescribing physician.
Side effects can include these common ones:
- Orthostatic Hypotension: A sudden drop in blood pressure, especially after rising from a sitting or lying position, may also feel fainting momentarily 7
- Vertigo/dizziness 7
- Nausea 7
- Constipation 7
- Swollen throat or sinuses, stuffy nose 7
- An increased appetite 7
- Weight gain 7
- Drowsiness/fatigue/exhaustion 7
- Dryness of the mouth 7
- Stomach or abdominal pain 7
- Back pain 7
- Inability to urinate, painful urination 7
- Low sodium levels 25
- Nightmares 26
- Disturbed sleep 26
- Rashes 26
- Lightheadedness 7
Less common, but more severe adverse effects should be carefully monitored and could include:
- Suicidality (ideation and behavior) especially noted in younger patients under age 25 7
- Tardive Dyskinesia 7
- Tachycardia, pounding heart 26
- Movement disorders, involuntary repeating movements of limbs, face, tongue, etc.7
- Intense pain in the abdomen 26
- Tremors, shaking 26
- Painful persistent erection 26
- Cataracts in eyes 7
- Stevens-Johnson Syndrome: potentially life-threatening severe rash, allergic- reaction, including fever, unconsciousness, raised welts, loss of consciousness, difficulty speaking, coma, sores in the mouth and mucous tissue, requires emergency transport to ICU or burn unit 26
- Slowed heartbeat 26
- Sleep apnea 26
- Diabetes 7
- Low white blood cell count 7
- Breast inflammation, enlarged breasts, either sex 7
- Breast discharge in either sex 7
- Impotence 7
- Abnormal liver function or liver failure 26
- Seizures 7
- Stroke, especially in elderly 7
- Pancreatitis 26
- Painful or irregular menses 7
- Amnesia 7
- Hepatitis 26
- Swelling of the hands/feet/legs etc. fluid retention 7
- Hypothyroidism, low thyroid function 7
- Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome 7
- DRESS syndrome (drug rash increased eosinophilia — white blood cells, systemic) a potentially fatal drug reaction that needs immediate attention if a rash appears with fever or other flu- symptoms 26
- Parkinsonism, i.e., drug-induced symptoms that resemble Parkinson’s Disease such as unusually slowed movement, shuffling walk, slowed motor controls.26
- Enlargement of heart muscle tissue Another set of side effects to be aware of, and which may require monitoring during the night-time.27
- Sleepwalking or other normal activities during sleep, i.e., sleep-driving, sleep shopping, etc., of which the person has no memory.26
- High blood sugar, possibly extreme and associated with diabetic acidosis, coma, or death, have all been reported in patients treated with Seroquel.7