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Seroquel And Weight Gain: Risks and Precautions

Seroquel pills and measuring tape.

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Seroquel (Quetiapine) is an antipsychotic drug that is approved in over 65 markets. It is a broad-based medication for the treatment of various mental diseases. Unfortunately, Seroquel is known for a broad range of side effects. Antipsychotics such as quetiapine can lead to weight gain. Seroquel weight gain is an issue patients are commonly facing. Discover how much weight can be gained on Seroquel, what factors can influence this process, and how to manage the lbs gained during the treatment course.

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Table Of Contents:

How Much Weight Can Be Gained With Seroquel?

Seroquel is made of quetiapine; it is an antipsychotic drug used mainly to treat schizophrenia. Some doctors recommend Seroquel for bipolar disorder as well. Currently, there are more than 600,000 patients who have been successfully treated by Seroquel around the world.
Along with the effectiveness of Seroquel for the conditions mentioned above, quetiapine medication does pose a risk of weight gain. According to the British Association of Psychopharmacology, quetiapine is believed to have a medium risk of weight gain. This information, however, should not be generalized as different patients have different experiences due to factors other than the medicine’s own reactions. Some may experience a more significant weight gain than others, while some patients may not gain weight at all. On average, it was mentioned that patients gain up to 5 lbs during short-term treatment and up to 8 lbs on the treatment course that is longer than 52 weeks.

It is important to always consult a doctor before using Seroquel or other antipsychotics so they can prescribe the most suitable type for existing conditions.

How Seroquel Causes Weight Gain

Generally, antipsychotics tend to increase sugar and fat (lipid) levels in the blood. This is caused by an imbalance of calorie intake and calorie consumption. While on antipsychotics, the brain stimulates appetite, especially for calorie intensive foods such as donuts and fast food. In addition, it is common for psychotic patients to suffer from depression. This usually results in physical inactivity, which accelerates the quetiapine weight gain.
 weght gain on serouqel pills.
The different ways people can gain weight as a result of quetiapine medication are given as follows:

Cravings

It is often noted that users of antipsychotics like Seroquel crave foods that are high in sugars and fats. Fast food is the quickest and cheapest option to satisfy these cravings and therefore contributes to weight gain the most. In addition to this, sweet treats are also sought after but should be avoided in order to maintain the weight.

Hormonal changes

Seroquel is believed to tamper with the hormone levels in the body. The alteration of hormones in the body directly impacts the weight that can be gained as a result of taking quetiapine. Seroquel has found to interfere with the production of the thyroid-stimulating hormone, lowering the levels of (T4) thyroxine and (T3) triiodothyronine in the bloodstream.

Motivational Deficits

Seroquel MOA can lower dopamine levels and therefore result in demotivation, sleepiness, and laziness. This lack of motivation and grogginess can reduce the user’s physical activity resulting in low metabolism, calorie imbalance, and, eventually, weight gain.

Fat Storage

It is sometimes thought that Seroquel weight gain can result in the body changing the way it stores fat. The user may notice packing on fat in areas of the body that were previously slim. This may be caused by Seroquel as well.
Woman doctor examining an obese patient.

Slow Metabolism

Seroquel can slow a person’s metabolism, which means that even if a healthy diet and an exercise routine are maintained, it is still possible to gain body mass. The degree of severity of this Seroquel side effect varies from person to person. However, it is one of the common reasons why people start gaining weight after taking Seroquel and other similar medications.
It should be noted that everyone will have a different experience when taking Seroquel depending on their own tolerance levels and the way these factors come together in their own experience.

Personal Factors That Influence Seroquel Weight Gain

There are other factors that determine the amount of weight that can be gained as a result of Seroquel treatment. These are differently applicable to every individual and can, therefore, not be generalized. Since they are different for everyone, it may explain why some users gain more weight than others.

Individual Factors

Genetic makeup is one of the most important factors to consider and also the most personalized one. Seroquel affects different gene types in different ways, which means that some users may face an immense increase in weight while others may not find their weight changing at all.
Other personal factors include:

  • BMI (body mass index)
  • diet quality
  • sleep quality
  • physical activity
  • stress level
If sleep and diet qualities are well, and there are normal amounts of physical activity, a user will probably gain less weight than someone with high-stress levels and poor sleep and diet quality.

Duration Of Administration

There seems to be a positive relationship between the duration of taking Seroquel and weight gain. The amount of weight a person gains in the first 12 months is the highest, after which the rate of body mass increase significantly slows down. This is because the body gets used to the treatment. However, when the treatment is carried on for an extended period of time, it is more likely that the user will notice significant body mass increase over time.

Polytherapy

If Seroquel was taken with other medications, it is possible that they may interact and exaggerate weight gain. Some antidepressants, for example, have the side effect of weight gain on similar rates to Seroquel. It is advisable to consult a doctor regarding all the medications that one takes to ensure that this does not happen unless necessary. The doctor can then prescribe the correct antipsychotic drug that suits the patient considering their other medical intake.
Obese man on the scale.

Dosage

Most medications have a dose-weight relationship, which implies that increasing the dosage will increase the amount of weight the user gains. Theoretically, this makes sense because antipsychotics gain control of the brain and nervous system. Increasing Seroquel XR dose should technically increase the control of the medication gains, so if the patient gains weight on a low dosage, a higher dosage should increase the amount of weight the patient gains.
This, however, is not true for Seroquel. Patients taking quetiapine are lucky in that increasing the dosage of Seroquel has no apparent relationship with an increase in BMI. That being said, it is still true that everyone has a different genetic makeup and are subject to different external conditions, which is why patients taking Seroquel should still be cautious, consult a doctor and take the prescribed dosage.

Seroquel Weight Loss: Is It Possible?

Some patients may experience Seroquel weight loss after stopping the medication. Other studies and clinical trials show that Seroquel has a neutral effect on weight gain and that the increase in body mass is not linked with dosage.
One such study analyzed 134 patients that were being treated with quetiapine as monotherapy with controlled and open-label extension trials. In the beginning, their weight was assessed using the BMI and then again after 18 months. This test showed that no matter what the dose, Seroquel does not cause significant weight gain. On the contrary, some patients with obesity were noted to have been losing weight on Seroquel during the 18-month trial. This may be due to the fact that antipsychotic patients are advised to refrain from excessive eating and to introduce some physical activity in their routines.

Managing Weight Gained From Seroquel

The precise reason why antipsychotics lead to weight gain has not yet been found, which is why there is also no sure shot way of protecting oneself from the resultant weight gain. That being said, Seroquel weight gain is usually the result of a calorie imbalance where a person consumes more calories than they burn.
To manage Seroquel weight gain, the user should maintain regular exercise, preferably more than their normal routine, as antipsychotics slow the metabolism of the body. In addition, patients should find cheap and healthy alternatives for fast food. Fast food is the quickest and cheapest way to satisfy calorie cravings. If healthier options are just as easily available, they should be chosen instead. This may be done by making a meal plan.

How To Counter The Weight Gain On Seroquel?

It is noted that patients who have gained weight from Seroquel fall into depression due to the changes in their bodies. They may never have had to deal with weight previously in their life. This affects their confidence levels and gives them social anxiety. The best way to tackle this problem is a complete shift in lifestyles.
Green apple and tape measure.

Healthy Eating

Ex-patients of Seroquel who have gained weight usually try to find a substitute for Seroquel with the help of a doctor. Unfortunately, this is not of much use as the weight has already been gained. Instead, one should try their best to live a healthy lifestyle by eating healthy. Antipsychotics increase fat levels in the blood. This is dangerous for the heart and is also why Seroquel and diabetes are often linked. After completing the treatment, users should choose foods that are low in fats, sugars, and cholesterol. This is beneficial for the heart and the body.

Regular Exercise

Secondly, daily exercise should be a part of the routine for patients who are tapering off Seroquel. This will help burn extra calories. Daily workouts eventually lead to weight loss, confidence, boosts energy, strength, and motivation. All these benefits improve the mental and physical condition of the patient.
In addition, most doctors advise taking Seroquel before bedtime, as the patient can sleep through the hunger pangs and cravings. This way, one can avoid unnecessary calorie intake. Finally, patients should keep in touch with their healthcare provider and monitor their health condition regularly. Regular medical assessment can prevent not only body mass increase but Seroquel misuse and abuse cases as well. In the case of quetiapine abuse physician’s advice is to schedule an appointment with an addiction treatment expert. They will consult a patient about suitable rehabilitation options in the area and select the best facility together.

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View Sources
  1. Gerald A. Maguire, Impact of Antipsychotics on Geriatric Patients: Efficacy, Dosing, and Compliance, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC181134/
  2. Robert L. Findling, Sanjeev Pathak, Willie R. Earley, Sherry Liu, Melissa DelBello, Safety, Tolerability, and Efficacy of Quetiapine in Youth with Schizophrenia or Bipolar I Disorder: A 26-Week, Open-Label, Continuation Study, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3778946/

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