Seroquel is a drug that is used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a disorder that requires long-term treatment. Nearly 3.2 million of the adult population struggles with the disorder, and 1.5 million people are diagnosed each year globally. While it’s not as common as something like anxiety, it can be a severe and chronic disorder.
Schizophrenia affects individuals throughout their lifetime, but the disorder occurs in early adulthood. New cases are diagnosed between the ages of 16 and 25, but men and women show different patterns for developing schizophrenia.
Men will reach a peak of becoming vulnerable between 18 and 25, whereas women will peak around 25 to 30 years old, and again at age 40. Schizophrenia is often debilitating, and the use of medication-assisted therapy is imperative to live their lives.
The disorder is not believed to occur until irrational behaviors are expressed, which is known as a psychotic break. While someone in this state may internalize frightening psychosis events, it isn’t until outward symptoms appear that they can be diagnosed.
These symptoms can come in the form of habit changes. A person going through a psychotic break may show changes in sleeping, self-care, eating patterns, loss of energy, headaches, or changes in their performance at work or school. It has been described as a strange sensation taking over that causes bizarre behavior.
Once this behavior has been established, a symptom-rich period will follow. It is known as an “active-phase,” or a period of florid psychosis. The term florid means “flowering,” which is a way to highlight the bloom is the result of a flower.
If someone is diagnosed with schizophrenia, it is something that requires medication for the duration of the person’s life. The National Institute of Mental Health states that an estimated 4.9 percent of those with schizophrenia commit suicide, which is a rate far higher than the general population.
The financial toll associated with it is additionally disproportionate to other mental health conditions. For this reason, those diagnosed must take medication, such as Seroquel to treat their symptoms adequately.
Unfortunately, antipsychotic drugs also come with short- and long-term risks. Below, we delve a little deeper into Seroquel and its effects.
What is Seroquel?
Seroquel is a prescription drug explicitly intended to treat schizophrenia and its associated symptoms. The medicine is classified as a second-generation antipsychotic (SGA) or atypical antipsychotic.
Seroquel works by redistributing and balancing dopamine and serotonin in a way that improves thinking, mood, and behavior. The drug has also been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat:
- Manic episodes of bipolar disorder
- Depressive episodes as a result of bipolar disorder
- Long-term bipolar maintenance
It is also used to treat depression in addition to other antidepressant drugs.
An important piece of information to keep in mind is never to stop using Seroquel without a doctor’s blessing. You may feel the symptoms of schizophrenia or bipolar have dissipated, but only a physician can make that determination.
Missing a dose increases the risk of symptoms reappearing. For the drug to work properly, it must be taken as prescribed.
If you miss a dose of the medication, you must take it as soon as you remember. If you are close to the next dose, you should not double up and wait. Drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs in conjunction with Seroquel, will negate the benefits and should be avoided.
Side Effects of Seroquel
According to RXList, various side effects can occur with the usage of the medication. Report any adverse side effects you experience to your physician. Short-term side effects of Seroquel include:
- Upset stomach
- Mood or behavioral changes
- Severe stomach pain
- Feelings of lightheadedness
- Extreme fatigue
- Inability to sleep
- Dry mouth
- Sore throat
- Breast swelling or discharge (in women)
- Missed menstrual cycles
- Increase in appetite
- Weight gain
Older portions of the population may have an increased risk of death when using Seroquel. You must always consult with your physician to determine if the benefits outweigh the risks.
According to Psycom, an article written by Kathleen Smith, PhD, one of the most significant disadvantages of Seroquel is its long-term effects. Some of these include:
- Tardive dyskinesia (involuntary movements of facial expressions or tongue)
- Raised blood sugar
- Weight gain
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviors
- Changes in blood pressure
- Problems with the thyroid
- Issues swallowing
- Increase in body temperature
- Cardiac problem
As we mention above, elderly individuals pose a higher risk of adverse symptoms. When used in those with dementia-related psychosis, Seroquel will increase their risk of stroke, heart failure, pneumonia, or death.