This Alternative to Meds Center article has been medically reviewed and fact-checked for accuracy.
When you see the "fact-checked" symbol, you will know the supporting references for the article came from peer-reviewed published journals, academic institutions, and or reputable media websites, and that those references are listed within the citation area at the bottom of the page. Additionally, the article has been reviewed by the professional listed in the "reviewed by" in the header area.
It takes a skilled professional to help navigate Seroquel withdrawal smoothly. Antipsychotic medications, even if warranted at the time of crisis, may not necessitate being subject to debilitating side effects for a lifetime. According to some long-term research, many schizophrenic patients do better long-term without antipsychotics.6
Do Your Symptoms
Alternative to Meds has been the expert on antipsychotic withdrawal for over 15 years. We have published evidence regarding our success. Often we find that patients were put on psychiatric meds for what were medical conditions, drug-induced psychosis, or that the original factors that created the situation have changed. A person could have been misdiagnosed for these or other reasons that somehow were missed..
This video is of a former schizophrenic that went through our center. It was found that he was not a fixed diagnosis that instead, his issues were food allergies complicated by recreational drug use. He came off of the medications and became an international speaker helping others to understand the true components of mental health. This video was taken 10 years after his Alternative to Meds experience.
15 Years Experience by Professionals Who Understand Your Journey.
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 the 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
Seroquel Withdrawal Symptoms ( quetiapine )
As is the case for most psychoactive medications, using them for several months or longer may lead to physical dependence. Stopping Seroquel may evoke what is called Seroquel discontinuation syndrome If the decision to come off Seroquel is made, stopping should rarely to never be done abruptly. Always seek medical oversight and guidance for safety.
Even when slowing the tapering off of a drug, there can still be some significant Seroquel withdrawals, which may be more severe if the prescription was for a very long time, such as years. Our Seroquel tapering page goes into the nuances of tapering strategies based upon the duration of use. A list of just some of the reported Seroquel withdrawal symptoms includes the following.
Psychotic symptoms that did not exist prior to taking antipsychotics22,23
Hypersensitivity to light, sound, temperature, all sensory perceptions
Racing heart, tachycardia, hypertension19
Unusual mood swings that can change rapidly
Loss of appetite
Loss of concentration, can’t focus
Dysphoric unease with life19
Some limited reports of withdrawal dyskinesia19
* Due to the high call volumes of families we have spoken with over the years, we have known of people who rapidly stopped antipsychotics including Seroquel outside of our center and unsupported that have subsequently engaged in risky behavior leading to serious injury and even death. While these people may have not been overtly suicidal during the tragic event, the action that occurred during the rebound psychosis from rapid withdrawal would have been considered a suicide attempt or completion if they were not considered psychotic and therefore unaware of the consequences. We are very clear that abrupt Seroquel withdrawal can have a rebound psychosis when done improperly and that ample caution and patience to withdrawal slowly is warranted.
Everyone has a different set of withdrawal symptomatology, and in that way, there is no one size fits all description of “this is what to expect from a Seroquel withdrawal.” However, the most consistent symptoms we have seen at Alternative to Meds Center are Seroquel withdrawal rebound psychosis, rebound mania, insomnia, and loss of appetite. Suddenly not sleeping, not eating, and acting manic when enduring Seroquel withdrawal is a sure sign that things are most likely going too fast and that the rate of withdrawal needs to be slowed down.
There are instances where people who did not have mental health problems experienced withdrawal psychosis when stopping neuroleptics such as Seroquel.23
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
Swollen throat or sinuses, stuffy nose7
An increased appetite7
Dryness of the mouth7
Stomach or abdominal pain7
Inability to urinate, painful urination7
Low sodium levels25
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
Tachycardia, pounding heart 26
Movement disorders, involuntary repeating movements of limbs, face, tongue, etc.7
Intense pain in the abdomen26
Painful persistent erection26
Cataracts in eyes7
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
Low white blood cell count7
Breast inflammation, enlarged breasts, either sex7
Breast discharge in either sex 7
Abnormal liver function or liver failure26
Stroke, especially in elderly7
Painful or irregular menses7
Swelling of the hands/feet/legs etc. fluid retention7
Hypothyroidism, low thyroid function7
Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome7
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 ketoacidosis, coma, or death, have been reported in patients treated with Seroquel.7
Seroquel ( quetiapine ) FAQs
Seroquel is not a drug that is completely understood, like many other prescription medications. Research is well-advised, especially before starting Seroquel or undertaking Seroquel withdrawal. We have assembled information below, pertaining to some of the most frequently asked questions about Seroquel withdrawal, side effects, and more. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to us.
How does Seroquel Work?
Even though many medications have been developed and marketed for the treatment of various psychoses, depression disorders, manic episodes, and schizophrenia, little is yet known about how antipsychotic medications actually work.
Research on neurotransmitters tells us that these natural hormones or “transmitters” are responsible for transmitting messages or impulses that travel between the nerve cells, which is how the body regulates our mood, breathing, reactions needed for the heart to beat, emotions, perspiration, digestion, and thousands more.
Disturbances in the ebb and flow of neurotransmitters appear to be linked somehow with psychosis, schizophrenia, etc. For example, an over-activity of dopamine is linked to hallucinations and delusions.28 Those are symptoms of psychotic illnesses such as schizophrenia.
What an antipsychotic medication seems to do is block this over-stimulating dopaminergic activity, thought to prevent the expression of dopamine and thereby controlling or quieting these types of symptoms. Taking a drug such as Seroquel typically will have the effect of lessening these symptoms and the patient may feel less depressed, or less anxious, not as hostile, not as suspicious, and not as troubled by these types of unwanted feelings. Not all patients respond the same way to medications, and some respond better than others. More research is needed on these debilitating mental health conditions so that compassionate and more predictably effective treatments can continue to be developed.1
Modern Pharma vs Hippocratic Holistic Treatments of the Past
In the past, psychoses were dealt with various treatments, some of which were quite humane, as in music therapy, better diet, prayer, solitude, compassionate therapeutic attitude, and intestinal cleanses, as was the style of medicine in Hippocratic times.29 Later, treatments became somewhat mired, perhaps in desperation and tainted with punishment, and involved much harsher techniques such as spinning the patient around in a chair-like device, drilling holes in the skull, or ECT to shock the person into a better frame of mind.
Thankfully, research continues and we are committed to the search for knowledge that can transpose into better, safer, gentler, more efficacious mental health therapies.
Are Seroquel and Ambien the Same Thing?
Seroquel and Ambien have different chemical structures, and the two drugs are categorized in different families or classes of drugs; Seroquel is an antipsychotic, and Ambien is a sedative/hypnotic sleep aid more akin to the benzodiazepine class. However, some effects of both drugs do overlap, as both are sedating and calming. Ambien is FDA approved for use as a sleep aid,30 whereas treating insomnia with Seroquel would be an “off-label” use for the drug.
Both drugs can react badly with other drugs, including alcohol and over-the-counter cold medications, and many others. In young people, suicidality is a known side effect especially when Seroquel is used as an antidepressant either alone or with other prescribed antidepressants, and most markedly in younger patients under the age of 25.5
Always coordinate closely with your prescribing physician before adding another substance to your regimen to avoid such complications.3
Is Seroquel a Controlled Substance?
Seroquel is not a controlled substance in the US, meaning that it is not considered a narcotic. However, Seroquel is prone to substance abuse, addiction, and dependence, and as such, reconsideration for its current legal status may be justified.
Before traveling with a prescription of Seroquel, check with the appropriate officials, should a border crossing be required, or to find out if it is a controlled substance in the destination country.
What Does Seroquel Do to the Brain?
This question is still under study. We have observed our own genetic studies and noticed what appears to be an association between psychosis, mania, bipolar mood swings, and genetic polymorphism among the catecholamines (hormones) methyltransferase (enzymes).
The catecholamines, i.e., dopamine, norepinephrine, and adrenaline, act as excitatory agents along the neuronal pathways in the limbic ( emotion ) part of the brain.31
A theory that seems congruent with this observation is that a person with a low sense of reward may seek stimulants and, further, that a person with an enhanced sense of reward may exhibit symptoms of mania.
Based on the fact that certain ( COMT ) enzymes have the capacity to degrade catecholamines, it could reasonably follow that where these genetic markers of impairment are seen to exist, that a state of mania or psychosis could be seen, and that excessive expression of dopamine exists.
According to NIMH published studies …
“The methionine variant results in a more sluggish COMT enzyme; it methylates dopamine at only about 25% the rate of the COMT enzyme-containing valine. Thus, the methionine variant of the COMT gene leaves dopamine around longer in the prefrontal cortex.” 6
More research and study on these subjects is needed, especially in regards to other regions of the brain such as the striatum structures, i.e., the caudate, mesocorticolimbic, and putamen regions.
How Long Does Seroquel Stay in Your System?
After stopping Seroquel, it will take approximately six hours to clear 50 percent of the active drug from the system.32 That is the half-life. Theoretically, the drug would totally clear somewhere between 24 and 48 hours.
However, the body adapts to the presence of medications. Therefore, the longer it was taken the more adaptations are likely to develop. As a result, it may take a considerably longer period of time to recalibrate back to pre-medication states and reverse the antipsychotic-induced dopamine supersensitivity.
Apart from the half-life estimates, a person may continue to be plagued by these changing neuroadaptive states, often called “Seroquel withdrawal syndrome” for weeks, months, or even years.
The timeline for these after-effects may be considerably shortened with a precisely calibrated diet and supplements designed to provide the essential neurotransmitter precursors needed to repair and normalize.
Treatment for Side Effects During Seroquel Withdrawal
If you or a loved one are considering a treatment program designed to help taper Seroquel safely, the protocols used at Alternative to Meds Center may be helpful to learn about, and how these may be exactly what is needed to serve your health goals in recovery. There is much more information we can help provide concerning drugs like Seroquel ( quetiapine ) alternatives, side effects, and withdrawal protocols.
Each client’s program is designed within a holistic scientific context, to carefully investigate root causes that may have contributed to your need for prescription medication in the first place. Our superlative doctors, nurses, and skilled staff members look after each detail, step by step.
Heavy metal toxicity testing and removal are fundamentals that may have been missed in earlier treatments. It is likely for many that toxicity certainly played a role in symptomology that had no other reason found for neurotransmitter imbalances.33,34,35 We have found that once the offending pollutants, chemical residues, food preservatives, industrial exposures, etc., have been isolated and gently purged, clients typically experience a resurgence in quality of sleep, appetite, energy, and mood. Knowing as much as possible about drugs like Seroquel alternatives, side effects, and withdrawal is vital. This is why we offer a comprehensive education component in our programs.
A comprehensive series of steps form a foundation of better health as a client moves through the program at Alternative to Meds Center. You may never have been introduced to orthomolecular medicine, nebulized glutathione treatments, clay packs, infrared sauna, and many other gentle yet effective treatments we provide. We invite you to review our services page on the website. All the while, health improvements are further supported by a clean diet and the correct supplements that testing indicated are needed.
You may be surprised how beneficial these types of therapies can be. These are only some of the examples of protocols used before, during, and after the taper is complete. Please contact us to find out more about our program and get answers to any specific questions you may have. Perhaps now is the time to look at a science-based, health-oriented program to assist you in your restorative health goals. We invite you to learn more about our comfortable, inpatient, retreat-style facility, and how we may be able to help you move confidently toward sustainable and natural mental health. Please ask us all your other questions about Seroquel withdrawal, alternatives, side effects, and other information you may be interested in for yourself, or for a loved one.
Diane is an avid supporter and researcher of natural mental health strategies. Diane received her medical writing and science communication certification through Stanford University and has published over 3 million words on the topics of holistic health, addiction, recovery, and alternative medicine. She has proudly worked with the Alternative to Meds Center since its inception and is grateful for the opportunity to help the founding members develop this world-class center that has helped so many thousands regain natural mental health.
Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.