Disappearing on Seroquel

Disappearing on Seroquel

 There are many drugs today advertised on TV for mental health issues: Cymbalta for depression, Abilify for Bipolar Disorder, and now Seroquel for Bipolar Depression. Have you seen the advertisement from AstraZeneca? People who are bipolar depressed are shown semi-dissolved into their backgrounds. A woman standing in front of a theatre marquee is half transparent such that the advertisement can be seen behind her. Another woman sits on a couch with grid fabric. The grid shows through her. What is this ad trying to tell us? Are we only half there when we are depressed?  If so, then taking Seroquel the ad would imply brings you back into the fullness of yourself. But does Seroquel do this? There are those who have experienced the drug who say the reality is quite different.  Seroquel makes you feel half there, “out of it” so to speak. To be on Seroquel is to be half aware; to live sedated in a kind of limbo of altered consciousness.

I was one of those who experienced Quetipine Fumarate – the actual pharmaceutical name of the brand name Seroquel – this way. Seroquel made me lethargic. I felt as if a giant hand were holding me down keeping me from who I was. It was as if an enormous psychic blanket had been placed over me muffling all my responses to the world around me. I was calm, but inwardly dead. The capacity for compassion, love, enthusiasm, or real joy diminished to the point of nothingness. Yet I wasn’t depressed anymore. I had become a zombie.

 The description of sedation as a prominent side effect of the drug is very apt, but also misleading. Recognized as the most sedating of all the antipsychotic drugs, Seroquel makes you more than merely sleepy, it produces a state of otherness. Seroquel produces a state of extreme calm, which verses on the comatose. A zombie replaced the real me.  It is this state on non-self that another prominent side effect of Seroquel manifests itself. Suicidal thoughts come to the user. Life lived in an insulated bubble of non-feeling and non-caring, seems hardly worthwhile. Therefore suicidal thought which arose during the mania and depression experienced before the drug, come into play on the drug. It is a nasty circular series of thoughts. Is this the kind of reaction that should be possible on a drug heavily advertised on Television? I think not.

This is the real question I have. Should advertising a drug as powerful, with as many side effects -some of them lethal- as Seroquel be done on TV? The media makes the drug appear as safe and acceptable as aspirin simply by its regular occurrence. AstraZeneca makes itself appear as a great benefactor even as the warning labels are announced on advertisement. The warnings are off-hand and dismissed as rare occurrences that should not discourage the use of the drug. AstraZeneca is even such a good corporate patron, that they will help you get this drug even if you can’t afford it.  We are not told about huge volume of sales of this drug, which was more than 3 billion dollars a year in 2006. We are not told how further usage will only increase the high profitability of this already highly profitable drug.

There exists opposition to Seroquel’s pervasive usage. Law firms are suing the pharmaceutical company over the prescription of the drug, which they say is more harmful to the user than even personality change and a possibility of suicidal thought. Howard L. Nations, Attorneys at law in Texas, are suing AstraZenca over the drug’s side effect of extreme weight gain – an all too common side effect, which I experienced also- that leads to diabetes. Perhaps if the Nations video showing how Seroquel usage leads from becoming fat to the disease of diabetes were shown on television subsequent to the AstraZenca ad, there would be some balance in the media between the promoters and the protesters.

My position is clear, I am cynical about and opposed to these advertisements. These big pharmaceutical companies are the biggest drug pushers in the country and they do it legally. Personally I think the local crack dealer is more reliable and trust worthy. We know it all about profit to local pusher. AstraZeneca wraps itself in the cloak of social responsibility and concern, when the bottom line is profit. How many people can you hook on this psycho-active drug? How many doctors can you fool with your claims of a miracle break through against depression? Yes, I would agree there is a need for these drugs, but they need to be handled very carefully and not just distributed like so much candy.  Here take this it will improve your depression. Little do you know what the experienced effect of Seroquel is until you have gained thirty pounds, felt like a wet blanket, and wondering if live is worthwhile. Or maybe you will get TD (tartive dyskinesa) which is the uncontrollable moment of the face, the tongue, or other body part. This is an effect which may not go away after use is stopped. AstraZeneca doesn’t tell this. It’s not good for Seroquel’s bottom line.

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  1. I find your description of Seroquel to be pretty accurate. Of course, it depends a lot on the person’s symptoms. Seroquel did help me at one time, but I was dealing with some pretty heavy mood episodes that were more toward the manic side at the time. It seems to me that Seroquel is more useful for mania than depression. I don’t understand how a drug that causes such physical depression – slowness in all ways – could possibly help depression. Perhaps it could help an agitated depression if it was prescribed in a very low dose at night, but in my opinion, the doses available seem rather high. Some people take it for sleep, but from experience, it seems to take a minimum of 12 hours to wear off. Too long. I think it is a drug with great potential, but too many side effects, and probably marketed incorrectly. I hope they find a way to change it so that the long term side effects are eliminated. Still, I am glad it is available for those who really do need it.


  2. Hi I just recently went on Seroquel. My doc started me off on 50mg a day for a week then moved me up to 150mg a day for a week. Now I am on 300mg a day.100mg in am 200mg at bedtime.

    Everything seemed to be going well until I hit the 300mg stage. Both feet blew up like footballs – I had one night where I could not stop vomiting. I’m Bipolar 2. This coming week she will put me on Lactimal as well. We haven’t
    met as of yet. So she doesn’t know about the Seroquel side effects as of yet.

    I guess my first question is will the side effects disapear after a while? If so I choose to stay on the drug because its doing its job! Oh by the way I have yet to sleepy or foggy on this drug – if anything I have more energy and enthusiam for life. I just hope the side effects disapate after a while. Regards Dan

  3. Hi Dan, The side effects may dissapear after a time. I think you will just have to be vigilant. If the side effects don’t dissipate after some time – I don’t know what the timetable will be, you will need to talk to your therapist about a change. There are lots of drugs out there that do what seroquel does so changing is not a issue. Beware that adding Lactictal my add new side effects or possibilly mitigate the ones you have. I think you have to give the drugs enough time to works, especially if you are getting some benefit. The watch word is be vigilant! Be the master of your own recovery.

  4. Dear HB, Your comments are excellant. I don’t know that Seroquel is more useful for depression than mania. It seems to be proscribed for both conditions. The one side effect you had of lethargy and lack of energy was something that effected me, and drove me nuts – to use an analogy, until I got off it. Yet I know that the drug works for some people the right way. To me what you have to do is be ever watchful with this drug or anyl drug for that matter. We must not be passive consumers of what medical practioner give us. We need to be pro-active in our recovery.

  5. I think that your description of Seroquel is spot on (at least from my experiences with the extended release version). I sleep an average of 12 to 14 hours a day on only 150 mg and am literally fading into myself. It is like I live in a depressing bubble. I actually, weirdly enough, have stopped speaking at a normal volume, I go to speak but all that comes out is a whisper and I can’t go any louder even if I try to shout all I can do is a loud whisper but with no physical cause at all. The single worst issue I had is that this thing is pushed for EVERYTHING OFF-LABEL. So when I was feeling depressed from this med, my PDoc just upped the dose. When I became catatonic for a month, the dose went up again. Each time I slept longer and wanted to live less. Now I am going off the medication slowly by myself, but unfortunately for a bipolar patient I no longer trust medications and will not be poisoning my body again anytime soon. Feel free to contact me to compare stories, I could use advice on how to move on with my life after having lost a solid year with no memories except a blur of really nasty, angry, suicidal emotions.

  6. How! You describe some of the most dramatic side effects to Seroquel I have ever heard. What kind of a psychiatrist when confronted with this reaction would merely increase the dose? I think this schrink is bad news. Get rid of the doctor and find somebody new. There are lots of drugs out there that can help you. You just have to find the right combination and dosage. Each of us is different and what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. I recommend instead of stopping everything that you find a psychiatrist who will listen to you and allow you to be part of the treatment program.

  7. Seroquel is the new drug the medical community is pushing. The hospitals are prescribing it at an alarming rate. I don’t think its very good for depression at all! I was on it, and I was pretty much a lifeless zombie who could walk and talk, but had no emotion, and just wanted to sleep and eat.

  8. I’ve never read so accurate explanation of what you feel when you’re on Seroquel. All the sides effects you named, I’ve had it. The sad part about is that I started when I was 17 years old now I’m 22 and I’ve felt like a zombie those years. I would love to find something else because I feel like I changed to have bipolar effects to have Seroquel effects which frankly I’m begining to think which is worse. I’m from the Dominican Republic where to be bipolar is worse than to be a thief, this subject is still a baby growing. My parent had to deal with my condition without understanding nothing at all about the bipolar disorder. The rejection to bipolars here has created a huge wall where we can’t communicate afraid of being rejected by society or even worse to be scared to lose your capacity and be a mental disable, like in my case I was forced to continue on Seroquel. I hope to find something else because I hate being a zombie.

  9. Dear Aimee, There are lots of drugs available. Seroquel should not be your only choice. I have found a little bit of abilify and Lamegtol (Sp) works well for me. However each person as a different reaction to the medication. Talk to your doctor and ask for alternatives, If he or she is a good doctor they should be listening to you and offering some alternatives. I am sorry to hear that the rejection of bipolar people is so prevalent in the Dominican Republic. Is there anyway you can find other who have your condition and begin a support group to help each other and start ending the stigma of mental illness? I offer you my help in any way that you need. CARL

  10. Good post and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Thanks you on your information.

  11. Thank you this made for very intresting reading. I really adore your site, the theme is very cool. I have came here a few times but have never left a commented, just wanted to let you know… Keep up the excellent work! Another thing i adore to do when reading blogs is play Flash games 🙂 Worlds Hardest Game and Crush The Castle are the two favorite.

  12. great blog thank you

  13. When I was on Seroquel all I did was sleep. I’ve been on Abilify, Effexor, and several other medications for my bipolar1. I’ve noticed that all these meds are either hit or miss. These Drs are just experimenting with our minds

  14. Yes, I would agree with you that medication is hit or miss, but if it can hit it really makes a difference. YOU have to be proactive with these psychiatrists or they will just keep giving you new crap. I am lucky I have a great psychiatrist and she and I work together to find medications and dosages that work. It is not only the medication that is important, it the dosage; and you should be getting not medication but several medications. There is a cocktail of drugs that probably would work for you, but one you have to be patient, and two you have to have a psychiatrist willing to listen and work with you. Too many shrinks are nothing more than legal pill pushers. We must not let them get away with this.

  15. Please, keep up the excellent work and continue to post topics like this. I am old fan of your blog.

  16. i after a four year gap am going to be prescribed serquel . and am dreading taking it . i managed my ilness myself . but must admit can not stop the depression or flighting momments of mania any more . and the thought of admission to hospital which happened 5 years a go . is the only thing which compels me to take it . your right . rember it taking a peice of me away . a strange calmness intruding . the worst part after taking it is didnt help me sleep . just left me in this drugged state. what to do . therapys for the depression are out of reach for me . seems you have to be rich in this country to have a healthy mind . what to do my biggest fear my relationship falling along the waste line . and not being able to function at work

  17. )I empathize with you. Do you have to take serquel there are so many other drugs available now, but you have to advocate for yourself. Our American health system is a mess. If you are given just any old pyschiatrist, they will prescribe what is conventient for them. We cannot let them get away with this. Speak up, demand your rights to be a complete person. It is possible. I know I have been there. If you can’t afford therapy, have you looked into a DBSA (Depression Bipolar Support Alliance) near you. You can also find help through NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness

  18. Please, keep up the awesome work and continue to post topics like this. I am old fan of your blog.

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  25. Oh my goodness! an amazing article. Thank you!

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  27. I was on lamictal and ritalin, both huge doses, for 10 and one half years. My life was falling apart and I didn’t even think one time it could be the drugs, until I researched some stuff online. I quit everything cold-turkey in November of 2009. It has now been 26 months and I am still recovering. My vision got miserable and my coordination got horrible and I didn’t have normal emotions anymore. I recently started taking chelated magnesium supplements and I am doing great. It turns out our body is very dependent on magnesium and our water supply and food supply do not even come close to giving us what we need. I now sleep great, have good energy and my muscle, which were very tight from the drugs, are now getting increasingly supple. I hate psyche drugs and had I been on magnesium 15 years ago, I wouldn’t have lost all this time. One of my best friends weighs 375, and takes Adderall during the day to stay awake and Seroquel at night to sleep. He is ALREADY diabetic!!! His life is a nightmare because he feels like he can’t quit the Seroquel at all. Like millions of other people in the world, he hates psyche drugs, knows they are shortening his life span and making him feel like a zombie, but the withdrawal symptoms are so horrible he stays on them. I hate all of them and think they are pretty much the old testament definition of sorcery.

  28. Great article and I had thought of this before

  29. Hello. I am 25 years old, and I have been struggling with drug and alcohol addiction for a long time. I had abused adderall for approx 2 years, and when I quit it was hell. I was put on many different antipsychotics (Saphris, Abilify, Latuda) and finally settled on Seroquel. It actually helped me to return to a “calm” state. I no longer have paranoia or “severe” depression. HOWEVER, I am absulutely SICK of feeling tired, apathetic, and utterly emotionless. I wake up in the morning and I feel I have to FORCE myself to get up. And the strangest thing is, NOTHING negative drives me to do so. I do NOT feel depressed or sad. I simply feel devoid of energy and motivation, and I am angry that there is no reason that makes sense. Like you said- “zombie.” After reading your blog (and thank God I found it!) I truly believe that I am currently experiencing the exact same symptoms from Seroquel that you did. I’m only on 150mg, but I feel like a robot. I am actually scared to talk to my psychiatrist about this because I fear she will put me on something else or make me taper off for months on end. I just want this lethargy to END. I did not take my Seroquel tonight. I am a bit nervous about some of the side affects reported on various sites concerning quitting cold-turkey. But, I believe that I can at least try for a couple of days to see if my energy level increases significantly. Surely, a little “irritability” is worth getting my motivation for LIVING back, I’m presuming. Anyways, I was wondering if you or anyone had any advice for me, or personal experience, anecdotes, etc. Thanks!

  30. I was put on Seroquel for my bipolar 1, mixed, and was mainly having depressive episodes. After two weeks of being on 100-200mg seroquel at night I became SO severely depressed and had suicidal thoughts every day. I went back to my psychiatrist and told him this, said I didn’t feel it was working, and all he did was up me to 200-400mg! So I started increasing and got to about 300mg per day and I have now been in the worst depressive episode I have ever been in. I also take adder all during the day for my ADHD, and without it, I totally felt like you described – like a zombie. I got into contact with my psychiatrist today because my episodes and suicidal thoughts have been out of control, so he told me to quit the seroquel cold turkey. So, tonight is my first time not taking it after a month and a half and I am scared about how I am going to feel. I do not know if this is going to send me into more episodes or make my depression symptoms lessen…I guess we will see. Seroquel definitely did not agree with my body. I am newly diagnosed bipolar and have no idea what my psychiatrist will put me on next, which also makes me nervous. I just want to be happy! I have been doing trial and error with so many SSRIs SNRIs, etc. and nothing has been beneficial so far 🙁

  31. Get off that medicine. If your doctor won’t do it, get another doctor. You have to seize control of your recovery. Many – not all thankfully- psychiatrists are pill pushers. Find some one who will listen to you.

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  34. this article desribes exactly how i feel right now. like a zombie- like inwarldy dead and completely out of it. like a state of non-self. should this stop once i am off of it? it has been less than a month. i should be off it soon

  35. I’ve been on seroquel for many years I’m a woman 49 and dx with bipolar i also take depakote
    klonopin and mypsych doc is switching me to trazadone for sleep oh i also take paxil.so four days ago i lowered the seroquel from 200mg to 100mg. i felt more zombified and unwell .I’m desperate to know if if anyone switched frrom seroquel to trazadone for sleep

  36. I was on trazadne for many years. I developed two arrhythmias, one being very serious. This is not an uncommon occurance. I would also try to get off Klonopin. It is highly addictive and can effect mental sharpness. It has just been linked to early onset dementia

  37. Iagree i took for2 weekswaa a total zombie blank mind made depreasion worse.im so glad im not taking this anymore and maybe ican get my lifeon track again

  38. I have been on it off and on for years, along with an antidepressant and klonopin. I’m a 37 year old female with two young daughters, work full time and other than work, anything outside of work, I cannot do. It is difficult for me to go grocery shopping, go anywhere for that matter, because I am always so so tired. Which, I believe has confused me and caused me to believe I am depressed when it is actually lethargy and the inability to live any type of life. When I mentioned it to my physician a while back, she said, well you need it to sleep. I have had difficulties in the past falling asleep. By this past weekend, I was just at a loss and trying to figure something out…after my five year old asked me why I never went anywhere. I was initially on 200mg, a month ago, weaned myself down to 100mg, which made no difference..past couple weeks became a little more aggressive, cutting the pill in to half, to 50mg and the last few nights I have cut the pill in to a quarter of the size just because I am nervous of there being any side effects or withdrawal. Yesterday was the first day I didn’t feel like that large hand was pushing me down on the couch. This morning, I actually feel alert and alive at work. I know I have issues with sleeping but I have my plate full with working full time and caring for my children, so I think between continuing to take 25 mg until I can wean myself off totally, I can also try melatonin or the klonopin in the evening if I have trouble sleeping. I wish I had did this much sooner, but thank goodness I came across this article when I did because for the last four plus years, I have had no life, no quality of life..and have missed out on a lot with my children. Drs tend to over medicate, sometimes you have to take matters in to your own hands.

  39. I have been on quetiapine 250mg at night for 2 years for bipolar. I have gained 60lbs, lost my job as I was so tired they thought I was drunk, then I had to keep ringing in sick as I was to tired to work. I could literally sleep on a washing line. I feel so void of emotion and so hungry, I never feel full either. I have got pins and needles in my hands and feet and a constant twitch in my right eye that won’t stop. I met with my psychiatrist and he suggested lithium, I refused this, refused depakote also because of the weight gain issue. I have researched and asked if I could try lamactil, reluctantly he agreed to titrate me slowly of quetiapine and onto lamactil. I pray I don’t suffer some of the terrible side effects of lamactil, eg a life threatening skin rash that can blind you or total memory loss etc. I just want to be normal.

  40. Can anybody help me or advise me? Quetiapine has robbed me of my life. I feel like a far, compliant freak. Has anyone had success with lamactil? Thanks for reading this. I am starving hungry and it won’t stop. Anyone else the same?

  41. Lamactil works for me, but you have to work with your doctor to get the dosage correct.

  42. yes I would give Lamactil, but you must titrate from one to the other. Remember the best solution may be a combo, but you have to have a psychiatrist willing to hear and work with you.

  43. Hello, old post I know, but I have been taking seroquel (quetiapine) and lithium carbonate for my bipolar. Whilst taking the seroquel, I constantly feel as though I have a cold. Runny nose, fever, aches and pains. My moods are worse if anything, constantly picking fights with my boyfriend over silly things. We have been going out for six months nearly, and he has just about had enough, even though he loves me and cares for me. I barely even want to see anyone else or do anything else. I am still grieving for my partner of 13 years who died 18 months ago. The only medication that helps at all is the lithium carbonate.

  44. Quetiepein is now the most prescribed drug in the world. I have been taking it at varying doses with varying results but I inevitably move towards reduction as I feel a slave to its effects. Oddly enough I also worked at place doing human trials on generic quetiepien and witnessed the subjects react to the doseing which was almost always sedation to the point of sleep even in morning doses given to rested subjects. I learned Seroguels rise to the top has a lot to do with the number of prison inmates being given it. I don’t think one can know the true effect on an individual and I personally fear it. I will be weening myself off and staying off.

  45. Good idea get off the damn drug;

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