The Seroquel Withdrawal Blues

Let me tell you a little story

(da da da da dum)

About the Seroquel blues

(da da da da dum)

Those pills are mighty powerful stuff

and they’ll make you constantly snooze

(da da da da dum)

Seroquel was my blessing and my curse

And ever since I said bye bye

(da da da da dum)

I’ve been sufferin’ the Seroquel blues

The withdrawals been making me cry

(da da da da dum)

———————————————————————————————-

(We meant to practice this a lot more for your sake, but, uh, obviously we didn’t. I can’t believe Lucy didn’t howl in protest. My apologies.)

Out of all the bipolar meds I’ve taken, the effects of the controversial antipsychotic Seroquel have been twofold. This drug has been my true blessing and also a total pain in the ass.

(A pain in the brain is more like it!)

I could easily write a 2000-word post about quetiapine (the generic form of Seroquel), but I’ll spare you and write around 1000 words as I have my memoir Birth of a New Brain to write. 

In 2013 my psychiatrist prescribed quetiapine for my hideous, agitated insomnia that hit me out of nowhere.  I filled my prescription but I kept putting off taking my first pill because I was scared of the potential side effects. It wasn’t likely that my head would fall off after taking quetiapine, and I probably wouldn’t start speaking in tongues, but I was plain-old-spooked.

Well, I finally became so desperate that I took the quetiapine and it totally helped me, so much so that I will never tell anyone not to try this stuff if they’re seriously considering it.

Yes, I had major daytime grogginess and yes, that sucked, but suffering with that side effect was worth it since I finally got my all-important sleep. 

My other side effects were weight gain (15 pounds since Fall, 2013) and some late night hunger. Since I worked out every day the “Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan way”* I wasn’t too worried about an extra fifteen pounds. As a former certified personal trainer, I knew I could lose the weight safely when I simply committed to improving my diet.

Extra adipose tissue a.k.a. blubber has been something I was able to live with for the time being. Quetiapine also caused me to have trippy, vivid and disturbing dreams – not nightmares, exactly, but not feel-good/warm fuzzy dreams either.

I also believe that Seroquel may have triggered a weird phenomenon that lasted about nine months. I felt totally inspired to write regularly, and I blogged almost every day. I fell in love with writing all over again.

I remained responsible. I took care of the girls, and I didn’t alarm my husband by writing at all hours of the night as I did when I was hypomanic/manic and hypergraphic. (My hypergraphia will be explained in my book!) 😉

Every morning I woke up, I got the kids dressed and fed, and I drove them to school. I returned home to write for a few hours without fail. I wasn’t manic, but it definitely seemed like my brain was firing unusually, that’s for sure. I can’t think of another explanation for why this sudden burst of writing happened because the only thing I did differently was add quetiapine.

My psychiatrist didn’t think the medication caused any kind of mania either.  I don’t know. Could this have been a seasonal affective disorder of some kind? Maybe. But when I reduced my quetiapine dosage, my daily writing compulsion and my highly creative juices dwindled.  I was still creative and I still wrote, but my need to write was nowhere nearly as intense as it was before.  My intuition was that I had to reduce the (relatively) high dosage of 100 mg/night of quetiapine and not stay at 100mg for the sake of my writing habit and drive. 

So with my psychiatrist’s blessing, over the past year I tapered down to 25 mg a night of Seroquel. Even though 25 mg sounds tiny, it’s not! I’ve still felt groggy during the day, and I wanted to see if I could sleep without relying upon Seroquel.  I don’t know how people can open an eye at 800/mg a day of this stuff – that just shows how different we all are.

It turns out that I can sleep on my own once more!  Hurrah! I’ve been off quetiapine for over three weeks.  However, if I need to take it again I won’t hesitate. I added a $9 magnesium supplement (manufactured by Source Naturals, a reputable company located in my town) and it seems to help me with sleep too. I’ve used lavender essential oil off and on, which is safe and it always helps me (a least a little bit) when it comes to insomnia.

I’ve read that it can take weeks or months for a quetiapine withdrawal period to run its course. I’m not allowing myself to surf endlessly on the internet about it because God knows I’ve done that before, and in this case I think it’s a total waste of time.

What matters most is that each day I feel a little better. I can sense the Seroquel withdrawal blues slowly dissipating.  I’m more alert and my freaky dreams are gone. My “Seroquel belly” is even shrinking a tiny bit.

I’ll have more to report on the withdrawal front next Thursday or Friday. If you’re tapering off a med or suffering some withdrawal blues of your own, good luck and feel free to vent your heart away here.

Until then, take care, and thanks for reading!  

XOXO

Dyane

* Dr. Mohammad Alsuwaidan’s International Society for Bipolar Disorders webinar that (sorry to get all Tony Robbins on you ) totally changed my life!  Exercise Treatment for Mood Disorders: A Neurobioloigcal Rational

http://isbd.org/education/webinar-series

Dr. Alsuwaidan’s brief blog post. This article contains simple “exercise for mood” guidelines I follow religiously every day.

http://kuwaitmood.com/exercise-mood-part-iii-from-science-to-action/

My husband was so convinced that my Alsuwaidan routine has helped my mood that when my exercise machine broke, he went out to Sears that same day (despite being swamped with work) and he got me a better machine. (I know I’m lucky!)

Yes, I could’ve gone walking or hiking or jumped rope or walked up and down the stairs, but he knew how much I loved using my elliptical. I believe my Schwinn is worth its weight in gold. Or chocolate.

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27 thoughts on “The Seroquel Withdrawal Blues

  1. As one whose weight shifted up and down and all around with kids, it’s awesome to learn you’re not letting a little weight bear upon you mentally. My crazy weight gain was one source of my postpartum, but at least THAT I have managed to bring under control. 80lbs down, 20 to go! So, I’m thinkin’ you can conquer that 15 when you’re ready 🙂

    1. Hey there my new blogging friend!

      I also had my weight fluctuate 170 post-kids all the way down to 120 (waaaaaay too thin!) and now here I am, back up 30 pounds. My poor body. Thank God our mortal coils can be so resilient, right?

      I’m so proud of you for losing a whopping EIGHTY POUNDS – woo hoo! That’s an accomplishment, and I am duly impressed. Now you’re on the home stretch with the 20 remaining pounds. Drink your water, girl – that’s my #1 tip. (not too much! 😉 Keep me/your other followers posted of your progress if you feel so inclined – I’d LOVE to find out what helps you in that respect. :)))))))))

      Thanks for your comment and for your encouragement – they are both better than any pint of gelato, for the most part. 😉
      your new fan, Dyane

      1. For the most part, indeed. And huzzah to you, my partner in blogging crime! … You get the idea. 🙂

        Thank you so much for sharing. No one really knew just how much weight I gained because I’m pretty tall (6’1″), and was always…um…fleshed out a bit? not thin, there. When I had to take my son in for a doctor’s appointment and hold him for weighing, the scale read 300lbs. Well there’s only so much I could pin on him, and that’s what finally spurred me to lose weight. I am a huge water drinker! Giving up a few foods has made a difference, too. I do not take in the carbs like I used to, and have sworn off special coffee drinks. I do miss butter, though… (sigh) Cheers -Jean

  2. Hahaha, I love the how you got the family involved with that song, you’re taking that show on the road! (well, the interweb anyway;)) – made me laugh, I wasn’t expecting that.

    Funny because I’ve been off most of my meds and been considering going back on the Seroquel. Ambien just isn’t enough to sleep and doesn’t help with controlling mood / bipolar disorder. My hesitation comes from having tried it before and it making me too groggy during the day to function as well as I’d like. (But my script was for 50 mg, maybe a little would go a long way for me).

    1. I used to take Ambien (before my Seroquel days/daze) and while it helped me, it wasn’t as powerful as Seroquel. Seroquel is a cat of a different color! Meow!

      Why not try 25 mg of Seroquel and see? (I’m not trying to be a doctor, but I’m not advising you do anything dangerous here, of course. You’re awesome and I’d never, ever want to suggest anything unwise to you.)

      Let me know how it goes if you can! XoXo

  3. It was/has been to date my stabilizer…. If I need it I have it. But, it’s a B*tch it over. Good for you girlie, girl! Kisses for Lucy Lu from Paisley P and me 🙂

    1. Hey sweet gal! So good to “see” you here. For some reason my WordPress is messed up and I can’t comment on other blogs. I can only “like” posts! I have 2 requests in to them for help (one is through Askimet?) so you’ll see me over there as soon as it gets resolved.

      Love to you and the Paisley babe. I’ll give Lucy your smooches…..speaking of Lucy, she had a teeny, tiny head-of-a-pin-sized tick on the rim of her eye this morning!!! Poor thing! I got it easily, thank God, and she didn’t make a peep. I hate ticks! I’d love to stick them all on the wing wangs of every guy who ever hurt you! XOXOOXOOXOOXXOOXXO

    1. It’s totally worth it to feel better. I’m so glad that the medication helps you, Mariska! That’s what matters despite the bummer side effects. I’ll drink a big, ‘ol Seroquel smoothie every day if I have to do it! 😉 take care & thanks so much for stopping by as it’s always a pleasure.

  4. Fun and funny song, loved it! I take Seroquel and when I was in a full blown manic phase, even 800 mg wasn’t enough to get me to go to sleep! Right now, I think, that dose would kill me. Nowadays I am on 75 mg down from 150 mg. Used to be tired and sleepy all the time on 150, but slowly decreasing it to 75 mg spiked my anxiety. I wish there was a medicine that could control anxiety as well as Seroquel without the sedating properties. Love and hugs Ms. Blues singer and family. xxxooo

  5. Seroquel, I believe it’s what my son takes. He has spoken of it and says it’s been the best medication to date!?! But that is not what I wanted to say dear girl, I love the photo of your dog. A beautiful lady(?) Heaven better have lots of dogs because I want to be surrounded by them. Ok, now you know I have quirks. I am a bit weird but I don’t bite. If I did I would make sure I take out my dentures. Anyway, love your dog and have a great day. Whats her/his name.

  6. Great video! It shows that you are keeping a positive outlook on things. I am confident that as the days pass, you will indeed feel a bit better each day. Take care of yourself and your wonderful family.

    Vic

  7. Dyane, I absolutely adore the video. Wonderful family affair. You are truly blessed. Glad that the Seroquel withdrawal blues are not too bad, that you are able to sleep. Miss you.

  8. Ah seroquel is such a lovable little devil hey. I find zyprexa to be much worse. The effects are so bad that my doc is now weaning me off it… All I need is sleep and a good anti psychotic drug.

    Anyway strength to you my love.

    X X

    p’s I’m using jasmine oil to help relax me when I lay in bed. What are your thoughts?

  9. Well, at one point in my life, I was on 1200mg of that a day. Yes, I typed that right. I didn’t have much in the way of withdrawal, except for my ability to stay calm disappeared…

  10. I am taking 25mg seroquel and it’s impact is massive. Yes I sleep. I missed one by accident and barely slept a wink. But the bloat, the weight and the sluggishness suck. I am still hoping it will be temporary. This account gives me more reason to talk to my doctor about weaning off after about six months…

    1. Hello dear roughghosts – thanks so much for writing!

      You truly understand how this stuff affects us in both positive and adverse ways. Yes, your reactions may very well be temporary & I hope with all my heart that’s the case.

      I should have mentioned that I made several attempts to go off the 25 mg. What happened was that I woke up in the middle of the night, I freaked, and I took the pill. But I didn’t get too down on myself about it, so that’s good. 🙂

      Anyway, I wish you smooth sailing when the time comes for you to give tapering a go. You could consider cutting the 25mg in half, which is what I probably should have done, although my pill cutter wouldn’t make the amounts accurate since the pill didn’t have a cutting line (sorry to space out on the correct name!) or even go to a compounding pharmacy.
      Whatever you decide to do and whatever happens, please be gentle with yourself.

      I admire you! It takes guts to take Seroquel! 😉

      1. Thanks. I stubbornly resisted the seroquel. It shocks me though how much sleep depends on it (it is a tranquilizer after all) because I always thought it was in and out of the system pretty quickly. I used to encourage brain injured clients to try it if prescribed. That was back when I figured I had licked this bipolar beast…

      2. Dear D, When my cocktail of Prozac and tegretol stopped working I panicked was divorced husband decided he could not hancle bipolar disorder in a wife, I totally self medicated and went from bipolar 2 to one. I had delusions, heard voices, thought I had children from an absentee Denzel Washington handsome type guy from Boise, Idaho. He even had a name. Anyway, after a few Baker acts, and a few voluntary hospitalizations I remained psychotic until Seroquel. And a high dose, 900 but I abused and took 1200. I started having inexorable hunger. So I went to a vitamin store and they sold me Xenadrine (this is in 2000 before Ma Huang, the ephedra in Phen Phen was banned from the market) However, the antipsychotic helped my moods to stabilze and I was able to live in my own skin. After a few years and after they took Xenadrine and others like it off market, I was put on Abilify, because there is not so much of a weight problem. I became suicidal. As I detoxed off the abilify the psychosis came back. Voices, images, paranoia. We were having a hurricane and I just shut the blinds and tuned the black world out. It took me 5 attempts like that to detox off Abilify. Very scary stuff. But it all makes sense that detoxing off an antipsychotic would bring on psychosis. Something had to be done.

        Then switched me to Geodon and after a year, I came down with the worst, least treatable Tardive Dyskinesia it took 3 years and 14 fruitless, discriminatory, stigmatizing neuro and psych appts to find symptom relief. I googled every day and studied neuros credentials, fellowships, internships, the works. I wanted a “Movement Disorder” Specialist. There was this one neuro chick at the Cleveland Clinic who said my shaking was psychosomatic and asked no questions of me. Since latest Nami figures are that 30-50% of us who take antipsyhcotics meds long term will develop a movement disorder, it makes sense to take the smallest dose that will help you. I think antipsychotics saved my life, but I struggle with total hunger all day long. I am hungrier after I eat than before. Sadly, the med that calms the thrashing is also an antipsychotic, Clozaril. I’m literally MARRIED to it. Sometimes I wish I’d never started with the Seroquel. It kicked my eating disorder (exercise bulimia) into high gear. I ran 5 miles a day and played two sets of tennis a day also. Now I have painful, chronic injuries in my spine and can barely exercise. What a long, strange trip it’s been.

    1. Aww, I love that: “diamond ruby” posts! Just checked out your post and you never cease to amaze me with your wanderings. Hope what I wrote makes you smile. XOxoXo p.s. it’s true!

      1. And it was like as soon as I clicked published, a notif came in that you liked the post I was referring you to. Sweet, that’s life. As much as it can sometimes go shaggy and groggy, as much as am an Area Girl. Next month America here I come 🙂

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