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Seroquel Withdrawal - reality check

Hi, I have been on Seroquel for 5 years up to 1100 mg (yes, one thousand one hundred) and two years ago because of severe side effects (problems focusing and severe trembling) and because my moods were very stable my psychiatrist accepted to lower it progressively to find a dosage that would allow me to function well with less side-effects. It's been two years of gradually eliminating this drug.

Everything went well up until Sept 2011 when I reached 125 mg. My moods were perfect but the insomnia kicked in mildly but when I reached 100 mg my family doctor told me to take either Gravol or Benadryl to help me because the insomnia was really worsening. That did help me but when I reached the day (a monthe after)  to go down to 75 mg it didn't work anymore for the Benadryl but a double dose of Gravol did. When I reached the day to go down to 50 mg (another month after) the Gravol worked only for about 6 hours and without it I coudn't even take a nap. I thought that my body would adapt gradually but it never did.

The plan with my psychiatrist was to take more time (an additional 4 months) for the remaining 50 mg but after trying to reach her and getting an appointment in a month and a half I decided that I couldn't live like that for an additional 4 months of torture. As a bipolar my sleep is very important. So, after a month I took away another 25 mg and I started to shake, got severe nausea and huge headaches. After two weeks of that I let go of the last 25 mg and thought I was dying. I had cancer before and went through chemo and the nausea was comparable. I kept telling myself that each day was getting me closer to being healthy and free of that extremely addictive drug but after 4 days I saw my family doctor who prescribed me Ativan 1 mg. I slept almost normally for a few days until the negative side effects of Ativan kicked in, the nausea became worst ( I couldn't look at certain food) and worst I started to have suicidal thoughts when nothing was wrong in my life and also feeling very irritable. I read the description of the side-effects of Ativan and quit that thing after 7 days of it and the day after the severe nausea was gone and the suicidal thoughts were just a bad dream (that could have taken my life!).

At that point I realized that my poor brain is trying to get back to normal after years of heavy duty Serqquel use and that it may be too sensitive at the moment to add anything else. Beside my lithium, my synthroid and my Tamoxifen (post-cancer therapy) I don't take anything else not even a Tylenol. After quitting the Ativan, the severe insomnia (about six 20 minutes bouts of sleep during an entire night in bed and an incapacity to nap kicked back but since I knew what was on the table I kept repeating to myself  that eventually I would start to sleep again.

As of today, a month after stopping completely Seroquel I see slow progress, three days ago I was able to have a 5 hours sleep (cut in two) and last night I got a total of 6 and a half hours (2 hours-4 hours-half an hour over a 9 hours period). The nausea disappeared last week and only a mild discomfort is left in my stomach and the light headache is still there but it could just be the lack of sleep.

I wrote this because I couldn't find the info on the internet and usually people who take the medication at a low dosage report no side effects and the pharmaceutical companies were writing that the effects lasted only a week and were light. It is for those who take over 300 mg that I was reaching out to. Even though I am on my way and nothing is perfect right now I am improving and even though my body aches of not sleeping my mood is lively and my concentration is back. My psychiatrist had told me that my severe depression of 8 years ago might have affected permanently my capacity to focus and concentrate and for an avid book reader like me I had put the books aside after trying to read but getting tired of reading the same paragraph over and over again. Guess it was the Seroquel after all who did that because I just read an entire book in three days and I was so proud of myself.

People say it is not addictive but I don't agree. I want to add that this drug helped me when I was vulnerable and it allowed me to do the necessary changes in my life, in my beliefs and in my way of interacting with other people and the world in general. That is why I am able to live without it. The drug was a tool. The drug can numb your symptoms and you think that your problems are gone but these powerful drugs will never produce a miracle in yourself, you have to do the work. I am happy to be off of it but I know that I needed it even though it had great side-effects.

Good luck to anyone going through the same withdrawal and who is trying to cope. I will post later when the effects are gone in order to leave a full testimonial of Seroquel withdrawal.

23 Responses
585414 tn?1288944902
  Yes I experienced withdrawal symptoms when I was changed from Seroquel to Risperdal and had to titrate off on at the rate my psychiatrist told me to. That is not uncommon. Its chemically separate phenomenon from addiction and if a person follows their psychiatrist's titration schedule in time these concerns will pass. Also when a person takes an antipsychotic (out of the ones currently available) temporary movement disorders such as akathesia can create a sense of motor restlessness and discomfort and those can be treated with a side effect pill within a psychiatrists' discretion. Also each person responds differently to each medication so you might be able to tolerate one medication more than another. Find out more about available options and discuss this with ytour psychiatrist.
   Also be aware there a new generation of antipsychotics in clinical study the NMDA receptor modulates (google, "A New Class of Antipsychotics in Development, Psychiat
585414 tn?1288944902
Posted too quickly.  Also be aware there a new generation of antipsychotics in clinical study the NMDA receptor modulates (google, "A New Class of Antipsychotics in Development, Psychiatric Times) that are showing  a far more favorable side effect profile.This has some websites for informational purposes you could discuss with your psychiatrist on all currently available treatments:
Avatar universal
Tks for your comments. It is good to be in a place where people can relate to what you go through. I take note of your links to the new meds but since there were no relapse since the two years withdrawal of Seroquel we decided to stick to Lithium and see for the next weeks for any signs of my moods getting off balance. The plan is to go back to a small dosage of Seroquel if it happens but with the severity of the withdrawal side effects I just went through I might bring your suggestions to my psychiatrist!!!!!!

Tonight I had a HUGE breakthrough, I started to doze in front of the tv!!! After weeks of not being able to sleep this is good news.

I want to add something I didn't put in my list and it was that I started to take Omega 3 three weeks ago as I found info saying that this could help with the connectivity of the brain cells and with withdrawal symptoms. Is it just time or the Omega 3? but it surely didn't hurt except for the fact that I didn't take the enteric coated ones..... didn't appreciate that with nausea.

I took Risperdal for a few days 8 years ago and stopped because I was getting very weird anxiety attacks from stupid things. Everything got back to normal when I quit. These meds give a different reaction from person to person. You have to try, Effexor given to me to alleviate the depressive symptoms got me even more depressed and after just a couple of months of using it I had to go through pretty bad withdrawals side effects.

Seroquel did it's job for 5 years. You have to go out of it gradually because even when you do so like me it is difficult. Or can be very difficult depending on the person but I think there is not enough info about that.

I agree with the addiction comment, I'm french so my vocabulary is not perfect, it is more like the brain is learning to function differently with the meds and when you stop it has to learn to function without it. That can take a certain time and you feel weird in the head in the beginning and it is a bit frightening. But after a month and with my ability to read back I can say that the brain has recovery resources that are incredible. It is fascinating but not in the worst of the withdrawal symptoms!!!!
2159979 tn?1336839531
Marielou, merci beaucoup pour des renseignements utiles. Moi aussi, j'ai besoin de telle information quoique hier, pour la deuxieme fois, j'ai pris la decision de n'en plus employer Seroquel. En tout cas, merci. BTW, I am not French, but, as you very apparently do with English, I LOVE, French and feel deeply the beauty of Gallic culture - to the roots. Your posts are so very important, and someday I wish to contribute my experiences also, if I may, because the pain is too great, and no one seems to understand how to help. I am addicted to Seroquel, but must, alas, say goodbye to my old friend, because it hinders, more than helps, now. At any rate, I am going to try eating more foods that help make serotonin, avoid all stimulants (coffee, soda, sugar, etc.). In addition, I am will do Transcendental Meditation each day, and exercise. Seroquel can extremely useful; but, it can turn into a nightmare. Really, thank you for starting this thread. It is needed, and greatly appreciated. My name is Harry. I live in California.
574118 tn?1305138884
Merci pour vous les deux. je ne suis ni Francais ni Americain mais malheureusement un intoxiqué par le seroquel. I only take 150mg but i have been trying like hell to reduce it but in vain. each time i cut 12.5 (half a pill) i up it back to 150 again. i have been like this for a year and half now with no success. I called Astra Zenica office in Cairo/Egypt where I live they told me it isn't addictive on the contrary it's against addiction, now I am sure I was right and it's bloody addictive. I remember to have stopped risperidone many times cold turkey with no harm done, but seroquel forget about it.

I shall go back to read carefully your mail to see how to do it. The problem each time i cut my dose, i have mixed states and i am relying on it as my main regimen.

Avatar universal
I have never been on as large a dose of Seroquel as you. For me, 400 mg (my current dose) has been plenty. I suffer from Bipolar Type II and this medication was a small miracle when it was first prescribed, but that was several years ago. It pulled me out of a major funk then and allowed me to sleep. Now I can't sleep without it and I think it is addictive for that reason; or at least it should be characterized as a drug that can cause dependence. My diagnoses, along with some of their signs and symptoms, are as follows: I have anxiety and depression, along with hypomania which primarily causes impulsivity, insomnia, intrusive thoughts and suicidal ideation. I also suffer from social anxiety. This isn't the complete list, but we'll stop there. As a mood stabilizer, Seroquel has worked to some degree, but I am lethargic most of the time, I have poor memory, and little to no motivation. When I take it, I can’t get enough sleep. I don't LIVE, I exist. I feel that I have a learned helplessness with the issues surrounding my mental health. While I have a healthy body -- knock on wood – it is a shame that, mentally, I feel as if I have a terminal illness. But I digress -- back to the Seroquel and your post ...I felt an affinity to what you wrote right away, having found your comment when I googled, “my poor brain bipolar.” Your description of your problems with focusing; striving to find a dosage that would allow you to function well with less side-effects; the instructions from the doctor to take Benadryl for sleep (as if this would help with chronic, severe insomnia); the frustration of having available appointments scheduled so far out with the expectation that you’ll manage through the torture for months and months; your description of how, as a bipolar, sleep is very important to you (this struck me because this has become an obsession for me because, without sleep, I can’t cope); that a family doctor would prescribe you anything without contacting your psychiatrist first, especially a strong benzodiazepine like Ativan; that you take Lithium, which is the next med my provider wants to “try;” that eventually, after weaning off of Seroquel, your mood is lively and your concentration is back (my primary reason to titrate off of it).  It was a scary thought that, as your psychiatrist told you, your severe depression of such a lengthy time might have affected permanently your capacity to focus and concentrate, but that you proved him/her wrong. All of those things that you wrote about resonated with me. People say Seroquel is not addictive but, like you, I don't agree either. It was helpful at one time and I’m glad it’s available, but it isn’t the answer. You said the drug was a tool and, by the same token, I would call it a weapon to fight a war with many fronts. But now, I wish to press on without it, under the care of my healthcare team. At any rate, I appreciate you sharing your progress.

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