Quetiapine contains a medicine called quetiapine. This belongs to a group of medicines called anti-psychotics. Quetiapine can be used to treat several illnesses, such as:
- Bipolar depression: where you may feel sad all the time or you may find that you feel depressed, feel guilty, lack energy, lose your appetite or cannot sleep.
- Mania: where you may feel very excited, elated, agitated, enthusiastic or hyperactive or have poor judgment including being aggressive or disruptive.
- Schizophrenia: where you may hear or feel things that are not there, believe things that are not true or feel unusually suspicious, anxious, confused, guilty, tense or depressed.
Your doctor may continue to prescribe Quetiapine even when you are feeling better.
- Use as a sleeping drug: Quetiapine is often prescribed by doctors at low doses for things other than mental illness. This is mostly because the main side effect of it is making people feel sleepy.
- Other uses include managing the symptoms of withdrawal from other drugs. Quetiapine is recommended to control the withdrawal symptoms while treating addiction.
Quetiapine works by attaching to the brain’s dopamine receptors and altering serotonin levels. Short-term side effects include feeling sleepy, a dry mouth, dizziness and low blood pressure when you stand up. These effects lasts about six hours. Longer-term side effects of Quetiapine use include weight gain, high blood sugars and a greater risk of diabetes. People who take Quetiapine regularly will experience withdrawal when they stop. Symptoms include nausea, insomnia, headache, diarrhoea, vomiting, dizziness and irritability.
How to take Quetiapine
Always take Quetiapine exactly as your doctor has told you. You should check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are not sure. Your doctor will decide on your starting dose. The maintenance dose (daily dose) will depend on your illness and needs but will usually be between 150 mg and 800 mg.
- You will take your tablets once a day, at bedtime or twice a day, depending on your illness.
- Swallow your tablets whole with a drink of water.
- You can take your tablets with or without food.
- Do not drink grapefruit juice while you are taking Quetiapine. It can affect the way the medicine works.
- Do not stop taking your tablets even if you feel better, unless your doctor tells you.
- The combined effect of Quetiapine and alcohol can make you feel sleepy.
|Thoughts of suicide and worsening of your depression
If you are depressed you may sometimes have thoughts of harming or killing yourself. These may be increased when first starting treatment, since these medicines all take time to work, usually about two weeks but sometimes longer. These thoughts may also be increased if you suddenly stop taking your medication. You may be more likely to think like this if you are a young adult. Information from clinical trials has shown an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and/or suicidal behaviour in young adults aged less than 25 years with depression.
If you have thoughts of harming or killing yourself at any time, contact your doctor or go to a hospital straight away. You may find it helpful to tell a relative or close friend that you are depressed, and ask them to read this article. You might ask them to tell you if they think your depression is getting worse, or if they are worried about changes in your behaviour.
Taking other medicines
Tell your doctor if you are taking or have recently taken any other medicines.
Do not take Quetiapine if you are taking any of the following medicines:
- Some medicines for HIV.
- Azole medicines (for fungal infections).
- Erythromycin or clarithromycin (for infections).
- Nefazodone (for depression).
Tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following medicines:
- Epilepsy medicines (like phenytoin or carbamazepine).
- High blood pressure medicines.
- Barbiturates (for difficulty sleeping).
- Thioridazine or Lithium (other anti-psychotic medicines).
- Medicines that have an impact on the way your heart beats, for example, drugs that can cause an imbalance in electrolytes (low levels of potassium or magnesium) such as diuretics (water pills) or certain antibiotics (drugs to treat infections).
- Medicines that can cause constipation.
- Medicines (called “anti-cholinergics”) that affect the way nerve cells function in order to treat certain medical conditions.
Before you stop taking any of your medicines, please talk to your doctor first.
Pregnancy and breast-feeding
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, think you may be pregnant or planning to have a baby ask your doctor for advice before taking Quetiapine. You should not take Quetiapine during pregnancy unless this has been discussed with your doctor.
- Quetiapine should not be taken if you are breast-feeding.
The following symptoms, which can represent withdrawal, may occur in newborn babies of mothers that have used Quetiapine in the last trimester (last three months of their pregnancy):
- shaking, muscle stiffness and/or weakness.
- breathing problems.
- difficulty in feeding.
If your baby develops any of these symptoms, you may need to contact your doctor.
Possible side effects
Like all medicines, Quetiapine can cause side effects, although not everybody gets them.
Very common side effects (may affect more than 1 in 10 people):
- Dizziness (may lead to falls), headache, dry mouth.
- Feeling sleepy (this may go away with time, as you keep taking Quetiapine) (may lead to falls).
- Putting on weight.
- Abnormal muscle movements. These include difficulty starting muscle movements, shaking, feeling restless or muscle stiffness without pain.
- Changes in the amount of certain fats (triglycerides and total cholesterol).
Common (affects less than 1 in 10 people):
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Feeling like your heart is pounding, racing or has skipped beats.
- Constipation, upset stomach (indigestion).
- Feeling weak.
- Swelling of arms or legs.
- Low blood pressure when standing up. This may make you feel dizzy or faint (may lead to falls).
- Increased levels of sugar in the blood.
- Blurred vision.
- Abnormal dreams and nightmares.
- Feeling more hungry.
- Feeling irritated.
- Disturbance in speech and language.
- Thoughts of suicide and worsening of your depression.
- Shortness of breath.
- Vomiting (mainly in the elderly).
- Changes in the amount of thyroid hormones in your blood.
- Decreases in the number of certain types of blood cells.
- Increases in the amount of liver enzymes measured in the blood.
Increases in the amount of the hormone prolactin in the blood. Increases in the hormone prolactin could, in rare cases, lead to the following:
- Men and women to have swelling breasts and unexpectedly produce breast milk.
- Women to have no monthly periods or irregular periods.
symptoms which occur when you stop taking Quetiapine include:
- not being able to sleep (insomnia).
- feeling sick (nausea).
- being sick (vomiting).
- dizziness and irritability.
Gradual withdrawal over a period of at least 1 to 2 weeks is advisable.
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Quetiapine ↔ Seroquel
Quetiapine is a local alternative to Seroquel, it is a good idea to read the patient information leaflet for Seroquel as it will provide you with useful information.
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