|Type of medicine||Antipsychotic|
|Used for||Easing the symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other mental health problems|
|Available as||Tablets, prolonged-release tablets|
Quetiapine is used to relieve the symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other similar mental health problems.
Schizophrenia is a serious mental health condition that causes disordered ideas, beliefs and experiences. Such symptoms include hearing, seeing, or sensing things that are not real, having mistaken beliefs, and feeling unusually suspicious. Quetiapine will help ease these symptoms.
Bipolar disorder is a long-term condition where you have periods of depression (lows) and periods of mania (highs). Quetiapine will help keep your mood within normal limits.
In both of these conditions, quetiapine works on the balance of chemical substances in your brain.
Before taking quetiapine
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking quetiapine, it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If you have a heart condition or blood vessel disease.
- If you have had a stroke.
- If you have liver or prostate problems.
- If you have breathing problems.
- If you have any of the following: epilepsy, diabetes, Parkinson's disease, glaucoma, or myasthenia gravis (this is a condition causing muscle weakness).
- If you have ever had jaundice (yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes), or a blood disorder.
- If you have a condition called phaeochromocytoma (a tumour on your adrenal gland).
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any medicine.
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
How to take quetiapine
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack. The leaflet will give you more information about quetiapine, and a full list of possible side-effects from taking it.
- Take quetiapine exactly as your doctor has told you. It is usually taken once or twice a day depending upon the reason why you are taking it. Your doctor will tell you which is the right dose for you, and your dose will also be on the label of your pack. If you have been given prolonged-release tablets (Seroquel® XL) you must swallow the tablets on an empty stomach (see more information below), but other quetiapine tablets can be taken before or after meals.
- Try to take quetiapine at the same times each day as this will help you to remember to take it. If you do forget to take a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is almost time to take your next dose, wait until then and skip the missed dose. Do not take two doses together to make up for a forgotten dose.
- If you have been given Seroquel® XL this is a prolonged-release tablet, which means that the medicine is released slowly throughout the day. Swallow these tablets whole when your stomach is empty. This means that you should not chew or break the tablets, and that you should take each of your doses one hour before a meal, or two hours afterwards.
- Do not drink grapefruit juice while you are on quetiapine. This is because a chemical in grapefruit juice increases the amount of quetiapine in your bloodstream. This makes side-effects more likely.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Quetiapine tablets come in different strengths, sizes and colours. If your dose is changed, your tablets may look different. If you are unsure about your tablets at any time, ask your pharmacist for advice.
- Your treatment will require careful monitoring to make sure that you get the best possible benefit from quetiapine. Keep your regular doctor's appointments so that your progress can be checked. You will need to have some tests from time to time.
- Treatment with quetiapine is usually long-term unless you experience an adverse effect. Keep taking these tablets until your doctor tells you otherwise. Stopping suddenly can cause problems and your doctor may want you to reduce your dose gradually if this is necessary.
- Quetiapine may cause your skin to become more sensitive to sunlight than normal. Use a sunscreen that protects against UVA light and has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15, especially in strong sunlight or until you know how your skin reacts. Do not use sunbeds.
- If you drink alcohol, ask your doctor for advice about drinking while you are on quetiapine. Alcohol will increase the chance that you experience side-effects and may not be recommended for you.
- Suicidal thoughts may be associated with medicines used for mood disorders. You may be at risk of such thoughts early in your treatment, or if you have previously thought about harming yourself. Tell your doctor straightaway if you are having any thoughts of self-harm or ending your life.
- If you have diabetes you may need to check your blood glucose more frequently, as quetiapine may affect the levels of sugar in your blood. Your doctor will be able to advise you about this.
- If you are having any dental treatment or an operation, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking. This is important because quetiapine may interfere with any anaesthetic you receive.
- If you buy or take any 'over-the-counter' medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with quetiapine.
Can quetiapine cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common quetiapine side-effects - these affect around 1 in 10 people who take this medicine||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Feeling dizzy or light-headed when you stand up||This can happen particularly when you first start taking quetiapine. Getting up more slowly until you are aware how you react should help|
|Feeling sleepy or drowsy, blurred vision||If this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines|
|Indigestion, feeling or being sick||Stick to simple meals - avoid rich or spicy foods|
|Dry mouth||Try chewing sugar-free gum or sucking sugar-free sweets|
|Constipation||Eat a well-balanced diet containing plenty of fruit, vegetables and fibre. Drink several glasses of water each day|
|Headache||Ask your pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller|
|Feeling shaky, increased appetite and weight, unusual or uncontrollable movements, feeling restless||Speak with your doctor about any of these. Your treatment may need adjusting|
|Increased number of infections such as coughs and colds, abnormal dreams or nightmares, swollen feet or ankles, feeling irritable||If any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor|
Important: if you experience any 'flu-like' symptoms including muscle stiffness, with a high temperature, confusion, a fast heartbeat, and sweating, contact your doctor immediately. These may be signs of a rare but serious condition known as neuroleptic malignant syndrome.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store quetiapine
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- British National Formulary; 63rd Edition (Mar 2012) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
- Manufacturer's PIL, Seroquel® 25 mg, 100 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg, 300 mg film-coated tablets; Manufacturer's PIL, Seroquel® 25 mg, 100 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg, 300 mg film-coated tablets, AstraZeneca UK Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated November 2011.
- Manufacturer's PIL, Seroquel® XL, 50 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg, 300 mg, 400 mg prolonged-release tablets; Manufacturer's PIL, Seroquel® XL, 50 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg, 300 mg, 400 mg prolonged-release tablets, AstraZeneca UK Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated November 2011
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Dr Hannah Gronow