Quetiapine

Sounds like 'kweh-TIE-ah-peen'

Easy-to-read medicine information about quetiapine – what is it, how to take quetiapine safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Antipsychotic
  • Belongs to a group of medicines known as atypical antipsychotics 
  • Quetapel®
  • Seroquel®

What is quetiapine?

  • Quetiapine is used to treat some types of mental illness such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (manic depression).
  • It does not cure these conditions, but will help to ease the symptoms. Quetiapine will help to support your recovery. It works by helping to restore the balance of certain natural chemicals in the brain (neurotransmitters).
  • Quetiapine belongs to a group of medicines called antipsychotics antipsychotics.
  • Quetiapine is available as tablets.

Dose

  • The dose of quetiapine is different for different people, depending on your condition and your response to the medication. Doses range from 50 to 600 milligrams a day.
  • Some people may require higher doses.
  • 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.

How to take quetiapine

  • Quetiapine is usually taken twice a day, in the morning and evening. Try taking your quetiapine dose at the same times each day.
  • If you are taking quetiapine for depression, take it once a day, at bedtime. 
  • Swallow your quetiapine tablets with a glass of water. 
  • You can take quetiapine with or without food.
  • Limit or avoid drinking alcohol while you are taking quetiapine. Alcohol may increase your chance of side effects such as drowsiness.
  • 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 every day. It usually takes a few weeks to start working and it can take several months before you feel the full benefits.
  • Do not stop taking quetiapine suddenly as your symptoms may return if stopped too early; speak to your doctor or nurse before stopping.

Monitoring

Quetiapine may cause changes in your blood sugar level, your cholesterol level and in your heart function. To keep an eye out for these effects, your doctor will monitor your physical health. You will have your weight measured regularly. You may be sent for tests such as blood tests to monitor your blood, kidneys, liver, cholesterol and glucose levels. You may also have your blood pressure measured and be required to undergo an ECG test to assess your heart rate.       

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, quetiapine can cause unwanted side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often unwanted side effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • Feeling sleepy, drowsy or tired
  • It can last a few hours after the dose.  
  • Don’t drive or operate machinery.  
  • Ask your doctor if you can take you medicine at a different time.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol.
  • Feeling dizzy
  • This usually only happens when you start your medication.
  • It should wear off in a few weeks.
  • Try not to stand up too quickly. You are at risk of falls. Try and lie or sit down if you feel it coming on.
  • If you feel dizzy, don't drive.
  • Dry mouth
  •  Suck sugar-free lollies or gum. 
  • Weight gain by eating more
  • A diet full of vegetables and fibre may help prevent weight gain.
  • Limit sugary or fatty foods.
  • Tell your doctor if your weight gain is troublesome. 

Interactions

When certain medications are taken together, an unintended reaction may occur – this is known as an interaction. Quetiapine interacts with a number of important medications and herbal supplements so check with your doctor or pharmacist.

Learn more

The following links provide further information on quetiapine. Be aware that websites from other countries may contain information that differs from New Zealand recommendations: 

Quetiapine Medsafe Consumer Information (NZ)
Quetiapine Patient Info, UK

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Nicola Rowbottom, Pharmacist, South Canterbury Last reviewed: 12 Oct 2016