Quetiapine is used to ease the symptoms of mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects.
|Type of medicine||Also known as|
|Belongs to a group of medicines known as atypical antipsychotics||
What is quetiapine?
Quetiapine is used to ease the symptoms of mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (manic depression). It also has some antidepressant effects, so it can be useful if you have low mood or depression.
In bipolar disorder, it can also help symptoms such as extreme mood swings, the experience of hearing voices (hallucinations), ideas that distress you and don't seem to be based in reality (delusions), and difficulty in thinking clearly (thought disorder).
Quetiapine belongs to a group of medicines called antipsychotics. Read more about antipsychotic medication.
In Aotearoa New Zealand quetiapine is available as tablets (25 mg, 100 mg, 200 mg, 300 mg).
- The dose of quetiapine is different for different people.
- Your doctor will start you on a low dose and increase it over a few days. This allows your body to get used to the medicine and reduces side effects
- Always take your quetiapine exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label on your medicine will tell you how much quetiapine to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions.
Precautions before starting quetiapine
- Do you have any heart problems such as an irregular heartbeat or low blood pressure?
- Do you have Parkinson’s Disease or epilepsy?
- Do you have diabetes or problems with high cholesterol?
- Have you had a stroke or blood clot?
- Are you under 25 years old?
- Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?
- Are you taking any other medicines, including medicines you can buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines?
If you have answered yes to any of these questions, it’s important that you tell your doctor or pharmacist before you take quetiapine. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or it can only be used with extra care.
How to take quetiapine
- Timing: Quetiapine is usually taken twice a day, in the morning and evening. Take your quetiapine doses at the same times each day. If you are taking quetiapine for depression, take it once a day, at bedtime.
- Food: You can take quetiapine with or without food. Do not take it with grapefruit juice as it changes the levels of quetiapine causing side effects.
- Missed dose: If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember that day. But, if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.
- Keep taking quetiapine regularly: It usually takes a few weeks to start working and it can take several months before you feel the full benefits. To begin with some people find that quetiapine makes them feel more relaxed and calm. Later, (usually in 2 or 3 weeks) other symptoms should begin to improve. Do not stop taking quetiapine suddenly as your symptoms may return if stopped too early. Talk to your doctor or nurse before stopping.
- Alcohol: Avoid alcohol while you are taking quetiapine as it can cause drowsiness and affect concentration, putting you at risk of falls and other accidents. It can also cause agitation, aggression and forgetfulness. If you do drink alcohol, drink only small amounts and see how you feel. Do not stop taking your medication.
Quetiapine may cause changes in your blood glucose levels, your cholesterol level and your heart function. To keep an eye out for these effects, your doctor may check your:
- physical health
- kidneys, liver, cholesterol and glucose levels with a blood test
- blood pressure and heart rate.
Possible side effects
Like all medicines, quetiapine can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.
|Side effects||What should I do?|
|Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product.|
The following links have more information on quetiapine. Be aware that websites from other countries may contain information that differs from Aotearoa New Zealand recommendations.
Med-ucation medication benefits & side effects Talking Minds, NZ
Quetapel Medsafe Consumer Information, NZ
Seroquel Medsafe Consumer Information, NZ
Quetiapine Patient Info, UK
- Quetiapine NZ Formulary, NZ
- Antipsychotic drugs NZ Formulary, NZ
- Prescribing atypical antipsychotics in general practice BPAC, NZ, 2011
- Managing patients with dementia – what is the role of antipsychotics? BPAC, NZ, 2013
Additional resources for healthcare professionals
Antipsychotic medicines – monitor cardiovascular risk Medsafe Prescriber Update, NZ, 2020
Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists clinical practice guidelines for the management of schizophrenia and related disorders Vol. 50(5) 410–472 Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 2016
Antipsychotic medications as a treatment of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, 2016
Atypical antipsychotics – safe prescribing – better, but not perfect SafeRx, NZ, 2019