Seroquel® and Schizophrenia

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Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by major dysfunction socially or occupationally and an impaired perception or expression of reality. A person with schizophrenia usually demonstrates disorganized thinking and experiences delusions and/or hallucinations. Primarily affecting cognition, the disorder also affects behavior and emotions. Schizophrenia is usually diagnosed in late adolescence or early adulthood and is found equally in males and females. Experts estimate that 1/3 of patients diagnosed with schizophrenia recover fully, 1/3 of patients improve but fail to make a full recovery, and 1/3 remain unwell.

There is no diagnostic laboratory test available to positively diagnose schizophrenia. Doctors base their diagnosis on the self-reported experiences of the patient along with any signs observed during the evaluation. Symptoms of schizophrenia can be either “positive”, meaning that the symptoms are in addition to normal behavior or experience, or “negative”, meaning that the symptoms are a lack of normal behavior or experience. “Positive” symptoms include delusions, hallucinations, and disordered thought processes. “Negative” symptoms include lack of motivation, poverty of speech, and non-present or inappropriate emotions.

Anti-psychotic medications, such as Seroquel, are usually the first line pharmacological therapy for schizophrenia. The most common side effect of Seroquel usage is sedation, especially during the first week of treatment, but gradually tapering off as the treatment continues. Minor side effects experienced by patients taking the medication include dry mouth, dizziness, headache, nausea, and anxiety. Serious side effects linked to taking Seroquel include sudden numbness or weakness, confusion, suicidal thoughts, uncontrollable muscle movements, and problems with speech, balance, or vision. Seroquel is also believed to expand a patient’s appetite, causing the patient to eat larger regular meals and gain a substantial amount of weight.

An association between Seroquel usage and a higher risk of blood sugar disorders, such as hyperglycemia, type 2 diabetes, and diabetic keroacidosis, was discovered in 2003. This led the FDA to make a request to the manufacturer asking them to revise the warning label for the medication to reflect this new information. Studies by four medical societies, the American Diabetes Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the North American Association for the Study of Obesity, and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, named Seroquel as one of six medications considered anti-psychotics that can promote high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes. Researchers found that patients taking Seroquel were over 3 times more likely to develop diabetes than patients taking some of the older anti-psychotic medications. After the report was published, doctors were warned to carefully monitor their patients taking Seroquel to ensure that none of the patients were developing diabetes. If diabetes is left untreated, it 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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