Quetiapine

Sounds like 'kweh-TIE-ah-peen'

Quetiapine is used to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Find out how to take it safely and possible side effects. Quetiapine is also called Quetapel® or Seroquel®.

What is quetiapine?

Quetiapine is used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorderQuetiapine doesn't cure these conditions, but is used to help ease the symptoms and help you on your recovery path. 

  • It can help symptoms such as mania of bipolar disorder, 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). It can also help with the depressive episodes associated with bipolar disorder.
  • Quetiapine belongs to a group of medicines called antipsychotics. Read more about antipsychotic medicines and how they work. 

Dose

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.

How to take quetiapine

  • Quetiapine is usually taken twice a day, for mania or schizophrenia, in the morning and evening. Take your quetiapine doses at the same times each day. If you are taking quetiapine for depression associated with bipolar disorder, take it once a day, at bedtime. 
  • You can take quetiapine with or without food. Don't take it with large quantities of grapefruit juice as it changes the levels of quetiapine causing side effects. Read more about grapefruit and medicines.
  • 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. Don't 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. Don't stop taking quetiapine suddenly as your symptoms may return if stopped too early. Talk to your doctor or nurse before stopping.

Things to consider while you are taking quetiapine

  • Avoid alcohol while you are taking quetiapine, especially when you first start treatment. Alcohol can increase your risk of side effects such as dizziness and drowsiness.
  • Quetiapine can interact with other medicines. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about all medicines you are taking including over the counter medicines, herbal and complementary medicines or recreational drugs.
  • Quetiapine may cause changes in your blood glucose level, cholesterol level and heart function. Your doctor will check your physical health – you may need to have your weight and blood pressure (BP) measured regularly. You may also need blood tests to check your kidneys, liver, and cholesterol and glucose levels.
  • Quetiapine is best avoided for people with certain medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and depression that is not associated with bipolar disorder and diabetes. Contact your doctor if you have or develop any of these conditions while taking it.
  • Contact your doctor if you are pregnant or planning a pregnancy or if you are breastfeeding.
  • Quetiapine can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Protect yourself, even on a bright but cloudy day; use sunscreen and wear a hat. Don't use sunbeds.

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?
  • Feeling sleepy, drowsy or tired
  • Dizziness
  • This is quite common especially when you first start taking quetiapine.
  • Don’t drive or operate machinery until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol – it makes the drowsiness and dizziness worse.
  • These effects puts you at increased risk of falls, especially if you are elderly.
  • Tell your doctor if these bother you.
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • This is common when taking quetiapine.
  • Eat a diet full of vegetables and fibre and limit sugary or fatty foods.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Talk to your doctor if you are concerned.
  • Read more about medicines and weight gain.
  • Sexual problems such as low libido and erectile dysfunction
  • Talk to your doctor if this is a problem
  • Worsening depression or thoughts of self-harm
  • Tell your doctor immediately or phone Healthline on 0800 611 116.
  • Constipation
  • Ask your doctor to prescribe a suitable laxative, which you need to take on a regular basis.
  • Eat more fruit, vegetables, brown bread, bran-based breakfast cereals and drink plenty of water.
  • Read more about medicines and constipation.
  • Signs of problems with your liver, such as sudden pains in your stomach, loss of appetite or yellowing of your skin and eyes
  • Tell you doctor immediately or phone Healthline on 0800 611 116.
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.

Learn more

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

References

  1. Quetiapine NZ Formulary, NZ
  2. Antipsychotic drugs NZ Formulary, NZ
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 08 Nov 2022