Seroquel (quetiapine) is a prescription drug used to treat schizophrenia and certain types of bipolar disorder. Seroquel can cause side effects that range from mild to serious. Examples include sleepiness and weight gain.
Seroquel is prescribed to adults and certain children to treat:
- manic episodes that happen with bipolar I disorder
- bipolar I disorder
- depression that happens with bipolar I disorder or bipolar II disorder
Seroquel comes as a tablet that you swallow. It contains the active ingredient quetiapine. (An active ingredient is what makes a drug work.) It may be taken short term or long term, depending on your condition.
For more information about Seroquel, including details about its uses, see this in-depth article.
Like other drugs, Seroquel can cause mild to serious side effects (also known as adverse effects). Keep reading to learn more.
Note: This article focuses on Seroquel. An extended-release form of the drug called Seroquel XR is also available.
Seroquel comes as an immediate-release tablet. It also comes as an extended-release tablet called Seroquel XR.
The side effects of these drugs are expected to be similar in children. But in studies of the drug in adults, the following side effects were more common in people taking Seroquel XR:
In studies, the following side effects were more common in people taking Seroquel:
Some people may experience mild to serious side effects during their Seroquel treatment. But not everyone who takes this drug will have adverse effects.
Examples of Seroquel’s commonly reported side effects include:
Seroquel may cause mild side effects. Some are more common than others.
Examples of mild side effects that have been reported with Seroquel include:
- dry mouth
- weight gain
- indigestion (upset stomach)
- fatigue (low energy)
- sore throat
- increase in certain liver enzyme levels
- changes in vision
- abdominal pain
- swelling in the feet or ankles
- nightmares or unusual dreams
- mild allergic reaction*
* An allergic reaction to Seroquel is possible, but this side effect wasn’t reported in studies. To learn more, see the “Side effects explained” section below.
In most cases, these side effects should be temporary. And some may be easily managed. But if you have symptoms that are ongoing or bother you, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. And do not stop taking Seroquel unless your doctor recommends it.
Seroquel may cause mild side effects other than those listed above. See the drug’s prescribing information for details.
Seroquel may cause serious side effects. Some of them are more common than others.
Serious side effects that have been reported with this drug include:
- low blood pressure when changing positions
- hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
- neuroleptic malignant syndrome (a rare but possibly life threatening reaction to certain medications)
- increased prolactin
- problems with motor skills
- blood cell disorders
- changes in blood sugar and cholesterol levels
- increased heart rate
- tardive dyskinesia*
- risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior†
- increased risk of death in certain older adults†
- severe allergic reaction‡
* To learn more about this side effect, see the “Side effects explained” section below.
† Seroquel has a
‡ An allergic reaction to Seroquel is possible, but this side effect wasn’t reported in studies. To learn more, see the “Side effects explained” section below.
If you develop serious side effects while taking Seroquel, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.
Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks side effects of the medication. If you’d like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Seroquel, visit MedWatch.
Help is out there
If you or someone you know is in crisis and considering suicide or self-harm, please seek support:
- Call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988.
- Text HOME to the Crisis Textline at 741741.
- Not in the United States? Find a helpline in your country with Befrienders Worldwide.
- Call 911 or your local emergency services number if you feel safe to do so.
If you’re calling on behalf of someone else, stay with them until help arrives. You may remove weapons or substances that can cause harm if you can do so safely.
If you are not in the same household, stay on the phone with them until help arrives.
Most of Seroquel’s side effects are expected to be the same in children as those in adults. But in studies, the following side effects were reported more often in children ages 10 to 17 years old, than in people ages 18 years and older:
- increased heart rate
Seroquel also caused increased blood pressure in children. This side effect was not reported in adults.
Get answers to some frequently asked questions about Seroquel’s side effects.
Will I experience withdrawal symptoms if I stop taking Seroquel?
Yes, it’s possible. Withdrawal symptoms are side effects that can happen from suddenly stopping a drug. Symptoms that have occurred from stopping Seroquel abruptly include:
If you want to stop taking Seroquel, talk with your doctor. They’ll taper your dose to help prevent withdrawal symptoms. This means you’ll take smaller doses over time so your body can adjust to not having the medication.
Can Seroquel be used for sleep? If so, does taking it for sleep cause different side effects?
Sometimes, a drug that’s been approved by the FDA for certain conditions is prescribed for a different use that hasn’t been approved. This is known as off-label use. At this time, it is not recommended that doctors prescribe Seroquel to treat insomnia.
If you have questions about taking Seroquel for sleep, talk with your doctor.
If I take a low dose of Seroquel, such as 25 mg, will I experience fewer side effects?
It’s possible. Like any drug, certain doses of Seroquel may cause side effects in some people and not in others.
Talk with your doctor if you have questions about potential side effects of Seroquel based on your prescribed dose.
Does Seroquel cause any long-term side effects?
Yes, long-term side effects are possible with Seroquel. These side effects may start while you’re taking Seroquel and continue for a long time. They may even continue to affect you after Seroquel treatment is stopped.
Some of these side effects include:
- changes in weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar
- tardive dyskinesia (uncontrollable movements of the jaw, lips, and tongue)
- injuries from falling, which may take time to heal
Talk with your doctor if you have questions about any side effects you experience with Seroquel.
Learn more about some of the side effects Seroquel can cause.
Risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors
Seroquel has a
According to studies, antidepressant drugs increased the risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in people ages 24 years and younger. Seroquel is not an antidepressant drug. But this risk applies to Seroquel because of its use for depression that happens with bipolar I disorder or bipolar II disorder.
Due to this risk, doctors will watch closely for suicidal thoughts and behaviors when Seroquel is prescribed for people under the age of 25 years. Keep in mind that Seroquel is not approved for treating bipolar depression in children. And the drug isn’t approved for any uses in children younger than age 10 years.
What might help
Tell your doctor right away if you have any of the following:
- thoughts about suicide or dying
- suicide attempts
- new or worsening depression or anxiety
- restlessness, agitation, or irritability
- anger, aggression, or violence
- panic attacks
- insomnia (trouble sleeping)
- engaging in harmful behavior
- any changes in mood or behavior
Increased risk of death in certain older adults
Seroquel has a boxed warning about the increased risk of death in adults ages 65 years and above with dementia-related psychosis.
Antipsychotic drugs, such as Seroquel, can increase the risk of death in older adults with this condition. In studies, the most common causes of death in older adults were related to heart problems and infection.
What might help
Due to this serious risk, doctors usually won’t prescribe Seroquel to older adults with dementia-related psychosis. If you or a loved one has dementia, talk with your doctor about which medications are not safe to take.
- moving the mouth, tongue, or jaw
- lip smacking
- blinking a lot
- puffing out the cheeks
- making noises
What might help
Tell your doctor right away if you notice any of the changes listed above. They may suggest that you stop Seroquel treatment. If so, they’ll suggest a different treatment for your condition.
Like most drugs, Seroquel can cause an allergic reaction in some people. But this side effect wasn’t reported in studies. Symptoms can be mild to serious and can include:
- skin rash
- flushing (temporary warmth, redness, or deepening of skin color)
- swelling under your skin, usually in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
- swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe
What might help
If you have mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, such as a mild rash, call your doctor right away. They may suggest a treatment to manage your symptoms. Examples include:
- an antihistamine you swallow, such as Benadryl (diphenhydramine)
- a product you apply to your skin, such as hydrocortisone cream
If your doctor confirms you’ve had a mild allergic reaction to Seroquel, they’ll decide whether you should continue taking it.
If you have symptoms of a severe allergic reaction, such as swelling or trouble breathing, call 911 or your local emergency number right away. These symptoms could be life threatening and require immediate medical care.
If your doctor confirms you’ve had a serious allergic reaction to Seroquel, they may have you switch to a different treatment.
Keeping track of side effects
During your Seroquel treatment, consider taking notes on any side effects you’re having. You can then share this information with your doctor. This is especially helpful when you first start taking a new drug or using a combination of treatments.
Your side effect notes can include things such as:
- what dose of the drug you were taking when you had the side effect
- how soon you had the side effect after starting that dose
- what your symptoms were
- how your symptoms affected your daily activities
- what other medications you were taking
- any other information you feel is important
Taking notes and sharing them with your doctor will help them learn more about how Seroquel affects you. They can then use this information to adjust your treatment plan if needed.
Seroquel has several warnings, including
Seroquel has boxed warnings for the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior and for the increased risk of death in certain older adults. Boxed warnings are the most serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. Seroquel may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in children and in adults ages 18 to 24 years. It’s important to note that Seroquel is not approved for use in children younger than 10 years old.
To learn more, see the “Side effects explained” section above.
Seroquel may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions. This is known as drug-condition interaction. Other factors may also affect whether this drug is a good treatment option for you. Talk with your doctor about your health history before starting Seroquel. Factors to consider include those described below.
Increased risk of stroke in older adults. Antipsychotic drugs such as Seroquel may increase the risk of stroke and transient ischemic attack in adults ages 65 years and older with dementia-related psychosis. For this reason, doctors usually will not prescribe Seroquel for older adults with dementia-related psychosis.
Seroquel also has a boxed warning about the increased risk of death in certain older adults. For details, see “Boxed warnings” above.
Your doctor will check your blood sugar level before and during your Seroquel treatment. They’ll also monitor your blood sugar during your treatment. Before starting Seroquel, let your doctor know if you have diabetes and which medications (if any) you take to treat it.
High cholesterol. Taking Seroquel may increase your cholesterol. High cholesterol can raise your risk of heart attack and stroke. If you have high cholesterol, tell your doctor before starting Seroquel. They may monitor you more closely during your treatment. Or they may adjust your cholesterol-lowering medication if you take any.
Hypothyroidism. Seroquel can affect how well your thyroid gland works. If you have hypothyroidism, Seroquel may worsen your condition. Your doctor may monitor your thyroid level more closely while you’re taking Seroquel.
Changes in blood pressure. Seroquel may cause low blood pressure when changing positions, which can raise your risk of a fall. Seroquel may also increase your blood pressure. If you’re taking drugs to lower your blood pressure, or if you’ve had certain heart problems in the past, your risk of low blood pressure may increase. Talk with your doctor about any problems you may have with your heart or blood pressure.
Changes in heart rhythm. Seroquel may cause changes in your heart rhythm. You may have a higher risk of this side effect if you have certain medical conditions or if you take certain drugs that affect your heart rhythm. If these factors apply to you, talk with your doctor about whether Seroquel is safe for you.
Changes in white blood cell counts. Seroquel may lower your levels of white blood cells. Your risk of this side effect may be higher if your white blood cell counts are already low or if you’ve taken medication in the past that’s lowered them. For this reason, your doctor will likely check your white blood cell level before and during your treatment with Seroquel.
Cataracts. Taking Seroquel may cause eye problems, such as cataracts or glaucoma. If you already have one of these conditions, the drug may worsen them. For this reason, your doctor may recommend that you get an eye exam before starting Seroquel. And during your Seroquel treatment, be sure to tell your doctor about any changes in your vision.
Seizures. Seroquel may cause seizures. If you’ve had seizures in the past, you may have a higher risk of them while taking this drug. Talk with your doctor about whether Seroquel is safe for you.
Constipation or urinary problems. Seroquel can cause constipation or problems urinating. If you already have these problems, let your doctor know. They’ll determine whether Seroquel is safe for you to take.
Liver problems. Seroquel is broken down by the liver. If you have liver problems, let your doctor know before starting this medication. They may prescribe a lower dose of Seroquel for you, which could help lower your risk of side effects from the drug.
Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Seroquel or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe it for you. Ask them about other medications that might be better options.
Alcohol and Seroquel
You should not drink alcohol while taking Seroquel. Combining Seroquel with alcohol can worsen certain effects of the drug and of alcohol, such as sleepiness and problems with thinking and movement.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Seroquel
It’s not known whether Seroquel is safe to take while pregnant. Seroquel may cause side effects in children who were exposed to the drug as fetuses during the third trimester of pregnancy. These include extrapyramidal symptoms, which can include:
- uncontrollable movements
- muscle contractions
Taking Seroquel in the third trimester of pregnancy can also cause side effects in a newborn. Examples of these symptoms include excessive sleepiness, tremor, and trouble breathing or feeding.
If you become pregnant while taking Seroquel, tell your doctor right away. They’ll give you more information about the possible risks and benefits of continuing to take Seroquel during pregnancy.
It’s not known whether it’s safe to take Seroquel while breastfeeding. The drug passes into breast milk, but it’s unknown whether this could cause harm to a child who’s breastfed.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant or breastfeed, talk with your doctor before taking Seroquel.
Like most drugs, Seroquel may cause side effects. Some are mild and may go away on their own. But others are serious and require medical attention. Below are some questions to ask your doctor about possible side effects of Seroquel.
- Does Seroquel cause sexual side effects, such as low libido (sex drive)?
- Is my risk of weight gain higher if I take Seroquel long term?
- Does my risk of tardive dyskinesia depend on the dosage I take?
To learn more about Seroquel, see these articles:
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Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.