Seroquel® and Bipolar Disorder

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Bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic-depression, is a mental condition characterized by periods of extreme mood. The moods range from unbridled mania to severe depression. People with the disorder tend to flow back and forth between extreme moods and normalcy. The severity of bipolar disorder can range between mild annoyance and serious lifelong disability. It has been estimated that around 4% of the adult population of the world suffers from bipolar disorder and the disorder is considered the 6th leading cause of disability in the world.

There are four different states of bipolar disorder; depressive, manic, hypomanic, and mixed. The depressive state of bipolar disorder is characterized by persistent feelings of anxiety, anger, guilt, isolation, sadness, hopelessness, and/or loneliness. Physical symptoms of a depressive state include loss of appetite, sleep disturbances, fatigue, and chronic pain (with or without a known cause). Patients report a loss of interest in activities that they normally enjoy, problems concentrating, social anxiety, irritability, and suicidal thoughts.

The manic state of bipolar disorder is characterized by feelings of euphoria, elation, irritation, and/or suspicion. There is an increase in the rate and quality of physical and mental tasks, with over-activity, racing speech, and increased energy common. The attention span is low, the need for sleep is reduced, and concentrating is difficult. The hypomanic state has the same effects, but at a reduced level and a shorter duration. The mixed state is when symptoms of both the depressive state and the manic state occur simultaneously.

The common treatment for bipolar disorder is medication combined with therapy or counseling. Medications can include anti-psychotic medications, such as Seroquel, which reduce the effects of the manic and depressive episodes. Minor side effects experienced by patients taking Seroquel include dizziness, headache, nausea, somnolence, dry mouth, and anxiety. The serious side effects linked the Seroquel usage include confusion, uncontrollable muscle movements, sudden numbness or weakness, suicidal thoughts, and problems with balance, speech, or vision. Substantial weight gain has been noticed in some patients, leading to the belief that Seroquel expands the appetite, causing these patients to eat larger regular meals.

A link between Seroquel usage and an increased risk of blood sugar disorders, such as type 2 diabetes, hyperglycemia, and diabetic keroacidosis, was discovered in 2003. This prompted the FDA to request that the manufacturer revise the warning label for Seroquel to reflect the new data. Clinical studies by four medical societies named Seroquel as one of the six anti-psychotic medications that were found to promote high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes. The studies found that the patients taking Seroquel were 3 times more likely to develop diabetes than others taking older anti-psychotic medications. After the report was released, doctors were advised to monitor patients taking Seroquel to make sure that none were developing diabetes. Untreated cases of diabetes can cause a diabetic coma and/or death.

More Seroquel Information

Seroquel (generic: Quetiapine) is a prescription drug belonging to the class “atypical anti-psychotics”. Commonly used in the treatment of schizophrenia, Seroquel was created and is marketed by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. The medication received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1997. While the drug is mainly used for treating the symptoms of schizophrenia, it is also prescribed to treat bipolar disorder and is used “off-label” in the treatment of sleep disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, restless leg syndrome, and alcoholism.

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