HeadMeds gives young people in the United Kingdom general information about medication. HeadMeds does not give you medical advice. Please talk to your Doctor or anyone else who is supporting you about your own situation because everyone is different. Please read more important details about our site.

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Quetiapine

Return to Quetiapine overview
  1. Use and Action
  2. Warnings and side effects
  3. Sex, drink, weight and everything else
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I have taken about eight different medications over the past five years as I battle my diagnoses

You can drink alcohol while taking quetiapine, but it could make you very sleepy

  • You can continue to drink alcohol while taking quetiapine but having the two together might make you very sleepy.
  • So, during the first few days, it might be best to stop drinking alcohol until you see how the medicine affects you.
  • If you want to drink alcohol, remember that you might be sleepy and make sure you can get home safely.

Do not drive a car or ride a bike just after you start taking quetiapine

  • Taking quetiapine may make you feel tired or dizzy, and may affect your eyesight, when you start taking it.
  • This could affect you if you drive a car, ride a bike, or do anything else that needs a lot of focus. It might be best to stop doing these things for the first few days, until you know how it affects you.
  • Do not worry - most people drive as normal while taking quetiapine.
  • You must tell DVLA if you have bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder or other mental health conditions that could affect your driving.
  • You can be fined up to £1,000 if you do not tell DVLA about a medical condition that affects your driving.
  • You may be prosecuted if you are involved in an accident as a result.

Try not to take quetiapine for the first time just before your exams

  • You might feel very sleepy, have blurred vision or not feel as alert as usual.
  • You should talk to your doctor about any future exams if you are starting quetiapine.
  • You might decide together to delay starting it until you have done them.
  • If they are more than a month away, however, you might find that it is better to start quetiapine to improve your motivation to study.
  • Do not worry - most people do exams as normal while taking quetiapine.

Quetiapine is not a banned substance in sport

  • Quetiapine is not a banned substance in sport.
  • It can, however, produce a false positive test for methadone or tricyclic antidepressants on a urine drug screen.
  • You could also feel very sleepy, have blurred vision, or feel less alert when you start taking it. This might affect your performance in sports where you need a lot of focus.
  • You should not participate in sports where you need to focus until you know how quetiapine affects you.
  • Do not worry - most people do sports as normal while taking quetiapine.

Your weight may be affected by quetiapine

  • A side-effect of quetiapine can be either weight loss or weight gain.
  • Weight gain is more common than weight loss.
  • It is very difficult to know how it will affect each person who takes it but if you start to have problems with your weight while taking quetiapine, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about this.
  • Your doctor should measure your weight regularly when you are taking quetiapine.
  • Most of the weight gain is in the first 6-12 months and then it levels out.
  • As you grow you will gain weight naturally, but anything more than that should be watched.
  • Good practice for doctors suggests this routine for checking the weight of people who start taking antipsychotic medicines like quetiapine:
    • Get your weight noted before you start
    • Get your weight checked every week for the first 6 weeks and again at week 12.
    • Get your weight and waist measurement checked at least every 6 months
  • You could do these measurements yourself, and keep a chart to show your doctor.
  • If you put on weight, there are other antipsychotic medicines you can try which are less likely to make you put on weight, and ways to try and lose it again.

Quetiapine may make you feel very sleepy, and have strange effects on your sleep

  • In the first few days of taking quetiapine, you could feel extremely sleepy.
  • Taking quetiapine with alcohol or some other medicines could make this even worse.
  • If you have been taking quetiapine for a few weeks, and you feel very sleepy, you should go back to your doctor to see if there is something else that you can try.
  • Quetiapine can also cause sleep talking, sleep walking, and people have done other activities while they were asleep, like eating.
  • You might also have strange dreams or nightmares.
  • Talk to your doctor if any of this worries you.

Let your family and friends know you are taking quetiapine so they can support you and help you look out for side effects

  • The side-effects of quetiapine might put a strain on your friendships and relationships, especially in the first few days of taking it.
  • You might feel dizzy and sleepy, or irritable.
  • These side-effects should get better after a few days.
  • You should then be getting the good effects of quetiapine, and that should improve your relationships in itself.
  • It might actually be a great idea to choose a good friend to tell about your medicine when you start taking it. (Or - even better - to take a friend with you to the doctor before you start taking the medicine!)
  • They could look at the medicine leaflet, or at this website.
  • They could help you to understand whether the medicine changes your behaviour, or gives you side-effects (sometimes it is hard for us to see it ourselves).

Quetiapine can have side-effects that might affect your sex life

The good effects of quetiapine may have a good effect on your sex life as your symptoms settle and you can concentrate on your relationships.

There are some side-effects that include:

  • Not feeling like you want to have sex
  • For men and women, swelling of your breasts, and very occasionally milk flow
  • For women, effects on your periods
  • For men, difficulty in getting an erection, or a painful erection that could last a long time (priapism-seek immediate medical advice).
  • If you get a rash or put on weight, you simply may not feel as sexy.

These effects should pass after the first couple of weeks. If they do not, and this is a problem for you, go back to the doctor and see what else you could try.

We do not know if quetiapine can affect fertility

  • There is nothing to suggest that quetiapine affects fertility.

Is it safe to take quetiapine in pregnancy?

There is no yes or no answer to this question. When deciding whether or not to take quetiapine during pregnancy it is important to weigh up how necessary quetiapine is to your health against the possible risks to you or your baby, some of which will depend on how many weeks pregnant you are.

Remaining well is particularly important during pregnancy and while caring for a baby. For some women, treatment with quetiapine in pregnancy may be the best option for both mother and baby.

Quetiapine is not seen as high risk and has a low rate of transfer across the placenta in to a baby.

There is information on over 800 mums who took quetiapine.

There does not appear to be an increased risk of malformations, miscarriages or having a baby born early

Later in pregnancy from month 4 onwards an increase in dose may be required to keep body levels the same

Quetiapine may slightly increase your chance of getting high blood pressure linked to pregnancy (pre-eclampsia), putting on extra weight and gestational (pregnancy-linked) diabetes

To reduce the chance of a blood clot in your leg you may be advised to have a course of blood thinning injections. Your doctor can advise you about this

If you take quetiapine close to delivery your baby may have some side effects or discontinuation symptoms

Discontinuation symptoms such as being irritable, crying or problems feeding and sleeping are usually mild and go away in a few days without treatment

Is it safe to breastfeed my baby whilst taking quetiapine?

  • Quetiapine is passed in small amounts to the baby in breastmilk. Breastfeeding may help with any discontinuation symptoms.
  • You should discuss the risks and benefits of breastfeeding with your midwife or doctor.
  • Remember that it is important for you to remain well whilst you are bonding with and looking after your baby. For this reason, it may be best to take medicine for your mental health when breastfeeding.
  • Make sure that your doctor, nurse, or health visitor checks your baby for any side effects.
  • If your baby was premature or has health problems, then you will need to be extra careful about taking medicines whilst breastfeeding. It may be best not to breastfeed if this is the case, however you should discuss this with your doctor or midwife.

Quetiapine can produce a false positive result in some drug tests

  • Quetiapine can produce a false positive test for methadone or tricyclic antidepressants on a urine drug screen.
  • Talk to your doctor about this if it is a problem for you.