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Spotlight on Seroquel for Bipolar Depression

written by: AngelicaMD • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 4/30/2011

Seroquel (quetiapine) is an atypical antipsychotic drug that has been found to be effective for treating schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression and generalized anxiety disorders. Read on for an insight into Seroquel for bipolar depression - its benefits and side effects.

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    Seroquel for Bipolar Depression

    A person with bipolar disorder, a psychiatric condition also known as manic-depressive illness experiences alternating episodes of being overly excited and depressed as well as experiencing periods of normalcy. This is a life-long disorder that is usually treated with mood stabilizing drugs like lithium, antidepressants and other antipsychotic medications. Among the antipsychotic drugs now being prescribed for the treatment of bipolar depression is Seroquel.

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    What is Seroquel?

    Seroquel and Seroquel XR (extended release form) are used and prescribed for the treatment of:

    • The acute depressive episodes associated with bipolar disorder
    • The manic phase and mixed episodes of bipolar disorder
    • Long term treatment of bipolar disorder

    Seroquel (generically known as quetiapine) is an atypical antipsychotic drug that works by altering the actions of natural chemicals (neurotransmitters) in the brain. Although the exact mechanism of action of this drug is unknown just like those of other psychotropic drugs, it has been proposed that it helps restore the balance of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and histamine-1 by blocking their receptors.

    As a result, patients who are in the depressive state of bipolar disorder are able to think more clearly, concentrate and have more positive self thoughts. They may feel less nervous or anxious and can take a more active part in daily life. Sleep and appetite are improved and suicidal thoughts are decreased. The drug also helps to prevent severe mood swings.

    Seroquel for bipolar depression has been found to bring improvement of depressive symptoms faster than many antidepressants. While patients usually respond to other drugs by the second week of treatment, those treated with Seroquel improve within a week and some are found to be in remission by the sixth week. Researcher Richard Weisler, MD, of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine and Duke University Medical Center noted those findings from a study funded by AstraZeneca (the makers of Seroquel) that was presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in 2008.

    For acute depressive episodes quetiapine (Seroquel) oral tablets are usually prescribed to be taken starting at a low dose (50 mg), once daily at bedtime, with incremental dosage increase daily up to 600 mg. It may be given with other drugs for bipolar disorder such as lithium. Maintenance doses for bipolar depression may be taken twice daily up to 800 mg per day in incremental doses as prescribed by the doctor.

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    Side Effects of Seroquel

    Although seroquel is well tolerated by many people the most common side effects include dry mouth, sedation, sleepiness, headaches, and dizziness. Although unlikely, serious side effects that warrant immediate medical consultation are restlessness, shakiness (tremor), signs of infection, mental or mood changes and difficulty in swallowing.

    NB: The content of this article on Seroquel for bipolar depression is for information purposes only and is not intended to replace sound medical advice and opinion.

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    References

    Seroquel for Bipolar Depression: Sources

    1) AstraZeneca, “Seroquel”, http://www1.astrazeneca-us.com/pi/Seroquel.pdf

    2) WebMD, “Seroquel”, http://www.webmd.com/drugs/drug-4718-Seroquel+Oral.aspx?drugid=4718&drugname=Seroquel+Oral

    3) WebMD, “Seroquel May Help Depression, Anxiety”, http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/news/20080506/seroquel-may-help-depression-anxiety