Alternative to Meds Seroquel Withdrawal Resources
This article provides information on Seroquel withdrawal symptoms, quetiapine side effects, what it is prescribed for, and discusses treatment options, FAQs, and services provided by the Alternative to Meds Center. If you are looking for information regarding tapering Seroquel, please see our Seroquel tapering page. And, if you are looking for non-drug or natural alternatives to Seroquel, please see our Seroquel alternatives page.
Does Seroquel Work Long-Term?
We are unable to find research demonstrating the long-term efficacy of antipsychotics like Seroquel.10,11 While Seroquel has an impressive ability to quickly thwart a psychotic event, and may even be life-saving in certain cases, the long-term use efficacy remains questionable. Martin Harrow and colleagues recently published a study in the Feb 2021 edition of Psychological Medicine following patients with schizophrenia and schizoaffective psychosis for 20 years. Their results showed that those suffering from a severe mental illness who stopped taking medication within the first two years were six times as likely to recover than those who continued the antipsychotics.12,13
“Even when the confound by indication for prescribing antipsychotic medication is controlled for, participants with schizophrenia and affective psychosis do better than their medicated cohorts.”
“These and previous data indicate that after 2 years, antipsychotics no longer reduce psychotic symptoms and participants not on antipsychotic perform better.” ~Harrow, Jobe & Tong, Journal of Psychological Medicine.12
The reason for the lack of long-term efficacy may be the way that the body adapts to the presence of the drug. According to 3 different independent researchers Chouinard, Fallon, Harrow, and respective colleagues, there may be an antipsychotic-induced sensitivity to the dopamine receptors, termed drug-induced supersensitivity psychosis, as they attempt to compensate.14,15,16 This drug-induced perpetuation of psychosis is also termed tardive psychosis.13
We are not suggesting that ALL people do better off of antipsychotics, and persons wishing to undergo Seroquel withdrawal at Alternative to Meds Center are screened for the probability of a successful outcome. The research does however present a strong case to support investigating safe alternatives to antipsychotics like Seroquel for long-term maintenance of symptoms.
Seroquel Withdrawal Help
Someone taking an antipsychotic may benefit from knowing more about Seroquel withdrawal, side effects, and other important information. Seroquel is typically prescribed at the time a person is in a mental health crisis. Too little attention may be given to understanding whether the crisis was a temporary situation. This can lead to unfortunate experiences by a person staying on a high dose of Seroquel or other medications for a very long time. A diagnosis may need to be adjusted, which may mean a change in the prescription. However, it is not always easy to find a physician who is well-versed in how to safely reduce Seroquel. Our doctors have much hands-on history with this population, which is often required to navigate this delicate terrain. Outside of our organization, a patient may need to inform their physician about methods of tapering medications such as strategies, timelines, and other points that their doctor may not have been aware of. We encourage you to share this information with your doctor for consideration.
PLEASE REMEMBER: Never abruptly stop Seroquel as the shock to the body could be overwhelming. Gentle, gradual, monitored tapering under the guidance of a trusted prescriber is safest.
Seroquel ( quetiapine ) is an atypical antipsychotic medication that is FDA approved for the treatment of schizophrenia and mixed bipolar episodes in adults. It can be prescribed for schizophrenia for children over the age of 12.7 Bipolar may include either acute manic or depressive episodes. Extended-release Seroquel XR is used for the same reasons in adults but only used in adolescents demonstrating schizophrenia or the manic bipolar I disorder features — not depressive episodes.8 Seroquel belongs to a relatively new family of drugs called atypical antipsychotic medications. When severe symptoms of either mania or depression occur, there may not be a lot of time to research available treatments that are offered. However, later there may come a time that a person may decide to go a different direction in treatment. This drug may have considerable side-effects including emotional dulling,9 that may naturally prompt someone to consider other alternatives.
What Is Seroquel ( quetiapine ) Used for?
Aside from the FDA-approved guidelines, there are several off-label uses for Seroquel which are being explored such as for insomnia, PTSD, OCD, substance abuse and addiction, delirium, anxiety, depression — especially in those who have stopped getting benefit from SSRIs — and personality disorders.18 We find a lot of people taking Seroquel specifically as a sleep aid, usually at a low dose of 25-150 mg.
At present, these off-label uses are being cautiously examined due to a lack of established dosing parameters and their effects on metabolic side effects, extrapyramidal adverse effects, and potential safety concerns.4
Discontinuing/Quitting Seroquel ( quetiapine )
Based on 15 years of experience, we suggest that Seroquel withdrawal be done with us inpatient to help navigate the complexities that may occur. Stopping a prescription of Seroquel should rarely be done abruptly, but is best done under the careful monitoring of trained medical personnel who are familiar with safe Seroquel withdrawal and are aware of things to watch for that might require swift and precise medical intervention.
There is one exception to the above where abrupt cessation should be done. In the rare case where certain life-threatening reactions to the drug need to be immediately brought under control, abruptly stopping the drug may be able to save the person’s life. One such condition is Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome.7 Sometimes, people can develop tardive dyskinesia from Seroquel and you would want to work with your prescriber to discuss if rapid Seroquel cessation would be the proper option.
In all other cases, tapering off the drug should be gradual and attended with as much support as possible to help ease the person through to a successful outcome. It can be a difficult task that requires precise planning, strategy, and, hopefully, many compassionate and caring helpers.
It is widely held that Seroquel acts to block dopamine from binding at the D2 receptor and that this is in part how it manages manic symptoms.24 The body, however, may compensate for this change by a process known as antipsychotic-induced dopamine supersensitivity.15,16 This basically means that the dopamine receptors become more sensitive to the effect of dopamine. Since the drug was restricting dopamine, once you withdraw or reduce the Seroquel, you get more dopamine hitting these hyper volatile receptors. This is a recipe for a manic event. We have seen that over time, many people can reregulate and that the receptors can renormalize to a large degree. However, it takes the element of time and patience, and careful withdrawal to do it well and without damaging consequences. Hence, withdrawal from Seroquel can be especially challenging, perhaps even more so than coming off benzodiazepine drugs, which are also renowned for their difficult challenges.
When Seroquel is reduced, the dopamine expression is now potentially greatly enhanced, and the symptoms of mania may also return, bringing in an increased sense of reward. The person at this point may become resistant to losing this state, and therefore resistant to following directions. Hence why this withdrawal unsupported may be complicated at best. For those who make it to Alternative to Meds Center, a wise inclusion to your and your sponsor’s strategy may be to align with a trusted doctor who has hospital admission privileges so that in an extreme event, the patient can be stabilized in a safe and humane way. Once stabilized, it may be possible to resume the process of tapering at a slower pace and help the patient achieve their goal of being either medication-free or at the lowest dose possible that still allows for maximum quality of life.
Seroquel ( quetiapine ) Alternative Names and Slang
Seroquel is a brand name for quetiapine, the generic drug name. There have been reported uses of the drug by crushing and snorting, or used intravenously, sometimes in combination with cocaine. When used in these ways, the drug is colloquially referred to as a “Q-ball.” Other slang names that are known when not used with cocaine include “quell,” “snoozeberries,” or “Suzie-Q.” 5
Seroquel ( quetiapine ) Side Effects
There can be a wide range of side effects from this medication, from mild to moderate to severe. Not everyone experiences significant side effects such as the ones listed here. Always discuss changes that occur while on Seroquel with your prescribing physician.
Side effects can include these common ones:
- Orthostatic Hypotension: A sudden drop in blood pressure, especially after rising from a sitting or lying position, may also feel like fainting momentarily 7
- Vertigo/dizziness 7
- Nausea 7
- Constipation 7
- Swollen throat or sinuses, stuffy nose 7
- An increased appetite 7
- Weight gain 7
- Drowsiness/fatigue/exhaustion 7
- Dryness of the mouth 7
- Stomach or abdominal pain 7
- Back pain 7
- Inability to urinate, painful urination 7
- Low sodium levels 25
- Nightmares 26
- Disturbed sleep 26
- Rashes 26
- Lightheadedness 7
Less common, but more severe adverse effects should be carefully monitored and could include:
- Suicidality (ideation and behavior) especially noted in younger patients under age 25 7
- Tardive Dyskinesia 7
- Tachycardia, pounding heart 26
- Movement disorders, involuntary repeating movements of limbs, face, tongue, etc.7
- Intense pain in the abdomen 26
- Tremors, shaking 26
- Painful persistent erection 26
- Cataracts in eyes 7
- Stevens-Johnson Syndrome: potentially life-threatening severe rash, allergic-like reaction, including fever, unconsciousness, raised welts, loss of consciousness, difficulty speaking, coma, sores in the mouth and mucous tissue, requires emergency transport to ICU or burn unit 26
- Slowed heartbeat 26
- Sleep apnea 26
- Diabetes 7
- Low white blood cell count 7
- Breast inflammation, enlarged breasts, either sex 7
- Breast discharge in either sex 7
- Impotence 7
- Abnormal liver function or liver failure 26
- Seizures 7
- Stroke, especially in elderly 7
- Pancreatitis 26
- Painful or irregular menses 7
- Amnesia 7
- Hepatitis 26
- Swelling of the hands/feet/legs etc. fluid retention 7
- Hypothyroidism, low thyroid function 7
- Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome 7
- DRESS syndrome (drug rash increased eosinophilia — white blood cells, systemic) a potentially fatal drug reaction that needs immediate attention if a rash appears with fever or other flu-like symptoms 26
- Parkinsonism, i.e., drug-induced symptoms that resemble Parkinson’s Disease such as unusually slowed movement, shuffling walk, slowed motor controls.26
- Enlargement of heart muscle tissue Another set of side effects to be aware of, and which may require monitoring during the night-time.27
- Sleepwalking or other normal activities during sleep, i.e., sleep-driving, sleep shopping, etc., of which the person has no memory.26
- High blood sugar, possibly extreme and associated with diabetic acidosis, coma, or death, have all been reported in patients treated with Seroquel.7