Seroquel (quetiapine) is an antipsychotic drug that is used to treat certain mental illnesses and mood disorders. However, there are some potential side effects of quetiapine, which may prove to be dangerous. Read along further to find out about the common and severe side effects of Seroquel, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and what precautions should be taken while using this medicine.
Table Of Contents:
Common Side Effects Of Seroquel
Quetiapine drug class is atypical antipsychotics that work by changing the activity of certain natural substances in the brain. Due to that, Seroquel uses mainly include treating schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, mood disorders, and other mental illnesses. Like all antipsychotic medicines, Seroquel can cause side effects that may not be serious and do not require medical attention.
As the patient’s body adjusts to the medicine, these common quetiapine fumarate side effects may go away. Some of these common side effects are listed below:
- Weight gain
- Abdominal pain
- Upset stomach
- Decreased appetite
- Dizzy feeling when attempting to stand after lying or sitting down
- Mood changes
- Trouble sleeping
- Irregular heartbeat
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose
- Dry mouth
- Increased sweating
Apart from these common and less bothersome Seroquel XR side effects, there are a few common side effects for Seroquel, which call for medical attention. Seek the help of a medical specialist if any of the following common side effects are experienced:
- Cold sweats
- Abnormal vision
Severe Side Effects Of Seroquel
Along with the therapeutic effects of Seroquel, it can sometimes cause certain serious side effects that would require immediate medical attention. These are relatively less common but can be dangerous if left untreated.
Watch out for any of the following severe side effects of Seroquel:
- Blurred or distorted vision
- Chest pain
- Black, tarry stool
- Difficulty in speech
- Slurred speech
- Slowed movements
- Sores or ulcers on the lips or inside the mouth
- Difficulty to sit still
- High fever
- Muscular aches
- Swelling in limbs
- Puffed cheeks
- Shakiness in arms, legs, hands, and feet.
- Difficulty walking
- Unusual bleeding
- Trouble while breathing and swallowing
- Swollen glands
- Spasms in the eyelids
- Increased blinking
- Difficulty or inability to move the eyes
- Difficulty to focus on something
- Easily getting bruised
- Twisting movement in arms, legs, or the torso
- Unusual tiredness
- Menstrual changes
- Secretion of milk in women
- Dry, puffy, and swollen skin
- Painful or difficult urination
- High blood sugar manifested as increased thirst, increased urination, dry mouth, and/or fruity breath odor.
Other Seroquel Risks
Quetiapine can also cause severe conditions and side effects when used for the long-term. The long-term side effects of Seroquel are discussed below:
- In rare cases, patients on quetiapine can develop a serious movement disorder called Tardive dyskinesia. This condition may not even go away after the patient has stopped Seroquel. Its symptoms include fine, jerky, and fast movements of the tongue and other uncontrolled movements of the arms, legs, jaws, cheeks, and mouth. Immediately seek medical attention if any of these side effects are experienced.
- Based on this study regarding the concerns about quetiapine, Seroquel and weight gain have been associated with the differing relative risk of insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, and hyperglycemia. This weight gain also increases the risk of metabolic complications, most commonly in patients with several cardiovascular lifestyle risk factors such as smoking and drinking.
- Seroquel long-term side effects also include an increase in triglycerides and LDL (bad) cholesterol. This is accompanied by a decrease in good cholesterol (HDL). This calls for regular monitoring of cholesterol levels during therapy with quetiapine.
- An extremely rare but dangerous side effect of quetiapine is a neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS). This condition requires immediate medical attention and is depicted by a high fever, irregular or fast heartbeat, high or low blood pressure, seizures, difficulty breathing, severe muscle stiffness, and increased sweating.
- Quetiapine can also cause a decrease in white blood cells, which can prove to be fatal if not monitored.
- The use of Seroquel in elderly patients suffering from dementia poses a risk of death.
According to these published guidelines by the FDA, Seroquel can cause an increase in suicidal thoughts or actions in children, teenagers, and adults when used for the long-term. These can be manifested in the form of the following effects:
- Thoughts or attempts to commit suicide or self-harm
- Panic attacks
- A feeling of agitation or restlessness
- Increased irritability
- Feeling of aggression and/or violent behavior
- Unusual and sudden changes in mood
Seroquel And Pregnancy
Seroquel pregnancy category is defined as category C, which means that animal reproduction studies have shown adverse effects on the fetus when this medicine was administered. However, there are no adequate or well-controlled studies in human beings to determine whether the same effect is observed in their fetuses or not. According to this category, Seroquel may be used in pregnant females if its potential benefits warrant its use despite the potential risks.
The use of Seroquel during pregnancy in the case of the mother suffering from schizophrenia may cause more benefit to the mother outweighing the potential risk. According to this study about quetiapine dose adjustments in pregnant and postpartum women with bipolar disorder, quetiapine dosage is adjusted in pregnant women to decrease the side effects while still treating the mental illness.
Seroquel and breastfeeding warnings indicate that an exclusively breastfed infant receives about 0.09% to 0.43% of the maternal dose.
However, there are not enough long-term studies to determine the effects on the nursing infant exposed to this medicine during breastfeeding. The decision to continue or discontinue the use of Seroquel during pregnancy has to be weighed based on how important the medicine is for the mother.
Important Safety Information About Seroquel XR
Apart from its therapeutic effects, Seroquel can cause some serious and even fatal side effects. Immediate medical attention should be sought if any of the less common or severe side effects are experienced. The doctor may prescribe alternatives to Seroquel depending on how bothersome the adverse effects are for a patient. Certain precautions should be taken before and during the use of Seroquel. These are further discussed in the following sections.
Precautions To Take While Using Seroquel
Before a patient starts taking quetiapine, they should discuss with the healthcare provider any condition they might be experiencing or any other drugs that they are on. Seroquel side effects may cause some of these conditions to worsen.
The following precautions should be taken and discussed with the doctor before using Seroquel:
- Individuals who are allergic to quetiapine fumarate or any of the ingredients of Seroquel XR should not use this medicine. It can cause a severe allergic reaction, including hives and difficulty in breathing.
- Individuals suffering from high blood sugar and diabetes should consult their doctor before starting treatment with Seroquel.
- Patients should discuss with their doctor previous conditions such as seizures, low white blood cell count, abnormal thyroid tests, heart or liver problems, cataracts, high prolactin levels, or any other disease before starting therapy as all these conditions can be aggravated as a result of the side effects of Seroquel.
How To Use Seroquel Safely
There are certain precautions that one should keep in mind while using Seroquel to minimize the side effects of quetiapine and use it safely. These include the following:
- Do not take alcohol and Seroquel together as it can worsen the side effects experienced.
- Do not drive or operate machinery after taking quetiapine as it causes drowsiness.
- Seroquel recreational use with other illicit drugs or alongside can cause severe and dangerous side effects or overdose.
- Do not increase or decrease the dose of quetiapine without consultation from the doctor as it can worsen the side effects.
- Drink plenty of fluids during therapy with Seroquel to avoid becoming overheated.
- Consult your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, but currently have prescribed Seroquel.
Quetiapine is also known for its addictive properties. Addiction to Seroquel may cause patients to take larger doses of medication or increase the frequency of administration, which can lead to severe health damage or even death. If symptoms of Seroquel abuse were noted in a loved one, it is time to take action. Ask an addiction therapist about a rehab facility that can address this disease.
- Jonathon Brett, Concerns about Quetiapine, June 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4653966/
- Medication Guide Seroquel, https://www.fda.gov/files/drugs/published/Seroquel-Medication-Guide.pdf
- Emily PINHEIRO, B.A., Katherine L. WISNER, M.D., M.S., and Crystal T. CLARK, M.D., M.Sc., Quetiapine Dose Adjustments In Pregnant and Postpartum Women with Bipolar Disorder, Feb 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5734989/