Seroquel

1 What is Seroquel?

Generic: Quetiapine

Seroquel is an antipsychotic drug used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Doctors use Seroquel for:

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Depression in adults
  • Schizophrenia

When used for schizophrenia, Seroquel can be given to patients at least 13 years old and older. For bipolar disorder, Seroquel can be prescribed to patients at least 10 years old and older.

Seroquel is an atypical antipsychotic. The exact mechanism of action of Seroquel is not yet completely understood, but it may counteract the effects of the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin in the brain.

Seroquel is available in an extended-release version (Seroquel XR), which is indicated for adults only and must be never given to patients younger than 18 years of age.

Seroquel is a prescription drug. You should only use Seroquel according to doctor’s instructions because it has potent side effects. Seroquel may cause increased risk of death in elderly patients with dementia. Like any other antidepressants, use of Seroquel may cause increased risk of suicidal behavior and patients taking it need close monitoring to prevent suicide. 

2 What to Know Before Using

Seroquel must be used exactly as the doctor prescribed due to the risk of side effects. Here are the important things to consider before starting on using Seroquel.

Suicidal behavior

Seroquel may increase the risk of suicidal behavior in patients that previously has exhibited self-harm or injurious behavior before. If you have thoughts of suicide or made several attempts to do so, tell them to your doctor before taking Seroquel. If you are already taking Seroquel, and you have suicidal thoughts, tell them to the doctor right away.

Contraindications of Seroquel

Patients with the following conditions cannot use Seroquel:

Health conditions

Make sure to tell the doctor all of your health problems before using Seroquel. The doctor needs to know if you have the following health problems before starting on Seroquel:

  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Heart disease, irregular heart rhythm problems, or history of heart attack or stroke
  • Hypertension, or having too low blood pressure
  • Having or having history of too low white blood cell counts
  • Abnormal prolactin levels
  • Thyroid disease or abnormal thyroid tests results
  • Having seizures or epilepsy
  • Having cataracts
  • Elevated cholesterol or triglycerides
  • Having diabetes, or having a family history of diabetes
  • Trouble swallowing

Alcohol

You cannot drink alcohol when you are receiving Seroquel. Alcohol can greatly increase the risk of Seroquel’s side effects.

Pregnancy

You cannot take Seroquel if you are pregnant. Seroquel is harmful to the fetus when taken by pregnant patients, especially when taken at last 3 months before term.

Breastfeeding

Seroquel can be passed to the breastmilk, so do not breastfeed when taking Seroquel. 

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3 Proper Usage

The doctor will give you instructions on the dosing of Seroquel. It is very important to follow the prescribed dosage to reduce the risk of effects. Do not take Seroquel at less or more than the amount prescribed. Do not use Seroquel for longer periods because it can greatly increase the risk of uncontrollable muscle movements.

Take Seroquel with a full glass of water, with or without meals. When you are prescribed to take extended-release Seroquel (Seroquel XR), swallow it whole without crushing, chewing or opening the tablet.

Seroquel is usually taken twice a day. Extended-release and immediate-release Seroquel are usually taken once a day. The doctor gradually increases the dose of Seroquel until the desired effect is achieved, or reduces it to control any present side effects. Because of the need to frequently assess the patient’s condition and tolerability to Seroquel, frequent medical checkups are necessary.

If you missed a dose of Seroquel, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to the original schedule. Do not increase the dosage of Seroquel to make up for the missed dose.

Taking too much Seroquel can easily result in an overdose. If this happens, call poison control hotlines right away.

Keep Seroquel at a secured place away from the reach of children and others. Seroquel must be stored at room temperature away from moisture and heat

4 Precautions to Take

Seroquel can cause drowsiness or impair reaction times, so do not drive or perform dangerous tasks right after taking a dose.

Seroquel can cause serious changes in behavior and risk of suicide. When receiving Seroquel, make sure you are monitored at all times.

If you are receiving Seroquel, make sure you will not become dehydrated or overheated, which can result in increased risk of heat stroke. Drink plenty of fluids and avoid staying in hot and humid places.

Seroquel can increase blood sugar levels, which can be a problem in patients with diabetes. If you have diabetes or other conditions that cause problems in blood sugar levels, make sure to frequently check your blood glucose.

Seroquel can cause increased blood pressure levels, especially in children and younger adults. Make sure to check blood pressure levels frequently.

Seroquel is known to cause a false-positive reading in urine drug tests. If you are taking Seroquel, make sure to tell it to the lab technicians.

Do not stop taking Seroquel without doctor’s approval. Suddenly discontinuing Seroquel can trigger serious side effects. Seroquel is discontinued by gradually tapering off the dose. If you wish to stop taking Seroquel, talk to your doctor.

Avoid alcoholic drinks and food when you are taking Seroquel.

If you became pregnant or did breastfeeding while taking Seroquel, go to your doctor right away.

5 Potential Side Effects

Seroquel may cause certain side effects that must be given immediate medical attention. If you experienced the following while using Seroquel, call your doctor right away:

  • Serious allergic reaction symptoms such as hives, skin rash, difficulty breathing, swelling of the mouth, lips, eyes, tongue or throat.
  • Severe nervous system reaction symptoms such as rigid muscles, sweating, high fever, confusion, rapid or irregular heartrate, tremors, and fainting.
  • Symptoms of potentially high blood sugar such as thirst, frequent urination, unusual hunger, dryness of the mouth, fruity odor of breath, drowsiness, blurred vision, and losing weight.
  • Symptoms of abnormal blood cell count such as sudden weakness or sudden ill feeling, fever, chills, symptoms of colds or flu, red or swollen gums, painful mouth sores, skin sores and difficulty breathing.
  • Symptoms of muscle problems such as twitching or uncontrollable movement of the eyes, lips, face arms or legs.
  • Trouble swallowing, speech problems, and having a mask-like appearance of the face.
  • Seeing halos around lights, blurred vision, or tunnel vision, and eye pain.
  • Lightheadedness or fainting.
  • Any new or worsening symptoms such as mood or behavior changes, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, having feelings of impulsivity, aggression, hostility, restlessness, hyperactive mind or movement, or worsened depression.
  • Any sign or symptom of suicidal behavior, such as sudden jovial behavior, giving away important possessions, thoughts about suicide and actual suicide attempts.

Seroquel may cause the following side effects that are minor but bothersome:

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