What is quetiapine?

Quetiapine is a drug which belongs to a group of drugs called anti-psychotics. Its brand name is Seroquel.

Why have I been prescribed quetiapine?

Quetiapine is used to treat a variety of mental health problems such as psychosis, mania or bipolar depression, as well as additional treatment in severe depression. Your health care professional should have given you some information to read about your condition and given
you a chance to discuss it.

The medication should reduce the occurrence or severity of your symptoms but should be given as part of an overall package of care that also includes attention to psychological and social issues.

Is quetiapine safe to take?

It is usually safe to be prescribed regularly but as with all medicines does not suit everyone. Let your prescriber know if any of the following apply to you as extra care may be needed:

  • Pregnant, breast feeding or wishing to become pregnant
  • Heart disease or low blood pressure
  • Liver disease
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy (fits or seizures)
  • Blood disorders (low white blood cell count)
  • Stroke or “mini” stroke
  • If you are taking other medication; this includes any prescribed medication or any medicines you have bought over the counter from a pharmacy, including any herbal remedies

Your prescriber will want to carry out some routine blood tests to make sure that there are no problems before starting the medication and periodically throughout treatment to make sure things are all right.

What is the usual dose of quetiapine and how should I take it?

The usual dose is up to 800mg daily for psychosis, normally taken as a divided dose morning and evening. For additional treatment in severe depression the usual maximum dose is 300mg daily, for bipolar depression the usual dose is up to 600mg daily and for mania the dose may go up to 800mg. You should follow the instructions on the box. It comes in tablet form.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you forget a dose, as long as it is within a few hours of when you normally take it, then take it. If it is longer, then miss that dose and continue taking it as prescribed. Do not double up doses.

Is quetiapine addictive?

There is no current evidence suggesting that quetiapine is addictive, but it can cause ‘withdrawal’ or discontinuation effects if stopped suddenly, or rarely if a few doses are missed. These effects can include anxiety, dizziness, feeling sick and problems sleeping. Other people describe feeling confused or ‘out of sorts’. To help reduce the chance of this happening, the quetiapine should be slowly stopped over a period of weeks. You may wish to speak to your prescriber, pharmacist or nurse about this.

What will happen when I start taking my quetiapine?

Some symptoms may improve after a few days but other symptoms may take several weeks to start improving. Most people will feel more relaxed and calm in the early stages. Normally, people will need to take the medication for six to eight weeks for the full effect to become apparent and improvements can continue beyond this. If you are taking quetiapine for any type of depression, careful observations need to be made in the first few weeks of treatment, to look for any increase in suicidal thoughts which may occur.

As with all medications quetiapine does have side effects. You may notice these before you start improving. Side effects are more common at higher doses. Generally side effects are short lived. Not everyone gets the same side effects. Below is a table that lists some of the usual side effects and what you can do about them. If you develop any side effects during treatment that worry you, you should talk to your prescriber, nurse or pharmacist about them.

For details of the side effects table, please follow this link: Quetiapine

This list is not a complete list of all known side effects. If you notice anything else you are not sure of, speak to your prescriber, nurse or pharmacist. You should read this together with the package insert.

What about alcohol?

Taking alcohol with quetiapine can make you drowsier, sometimes severely. There is no safe drink and drive limit when taking this medication.

When I feel better can I stop taking quetiapine?

You should always discuss with your prescriber before deciding if and when to stop taking the medication. If you stop the medication, although you may feel better to start with, there is a risk that your symptoms may return. This may take three to six months before it becomes obvious.

Useful information

talking-shop-leafletPlease click on the image to the left or follow this link to download a copy of our Quetiapine leaflet.