1. It has given me the ONLY deep, good sleep I have known as an adult. And that is saying something important. Being introduced to Seroquel at the age of 45 literally introduced me to the world of good sleep… sleep of a kind I’d never known since I was an infant. I take it for Bipolar Mania/Depression— 200mg at bedtime— and the drug is fantastic for reining-in the extremes of those mental poles.
2. Psychiatrists have a nickname for Seroquel: “brain glue”. And this is because it has a way of knitting together the various parts of your brain, so your brain works better, more smoothly, with fewer glitches. (Interestingly, psychiatry does not know HOW Seroquel does this—- it just….DOES, for some reason).
3. It has a wonderful way of “washing your brain clean” during its overnight use. You wake up, and your brain feels like someone has rinsed it with cool rainwater all over… all your stale, obsessive, insoluble, bad thoughts seem to be cleansed away! It is a glorious feeling and makes you want to start your day on the best footing. (Maybe it balances out your brain’s sodium—potassium juices?)
The possible negative flipside of this is that it makes it hard to stay fixed on an ongoing career, worldly or scholarly pursuit: You wake up, think about the career/fitness/learning goals you had set for yourself yesterday, which had seemed SO damned important, and you’re like… “Meh. Whose idea was it to get so worked up on THAT bullshit yesterday? Certainly not mine!”
In other words, Seroquel not only washes away a day’s “problems”… it also has a way of washing away ALL the gung-ho, aggressive, ambitious, goal-setting plans you had yesterday. You wake up and think, “Oh fuck THAT project! It’s not nearly as important as I’d thought it was, only yesterday.”
How detrimental this side-effect might be depends on who you are, your age and station in life: If you’re a “Zen” type person who places emphasis on remaining in the Now Moment, letting bygones be bygones, “don’t-push-the-river”, then this attribute of Seroquel is delightful! But if you’re a college student or highly ambitious person who needs to be setting longterm goals which must be rigorously focused on, adhered to religiously, every single new morning, with an aggressive stick-to-it-iveness… then this effect can be pernicious.
4. It makes it harder to remember all your REM dreams. This is because it makes you sleep so soundly, it’s as though it takes you “underneath” your usual busy, monkey brain, allowing you to sleep deeply without obsessive, ruminative or scary dreams.
5. Because you sleep SO soundly on it, you sometimes awaken with little memory of the night’s sleep. You wake up and it feels like you’ve been asleep for an hour at most… when it’s actually been 8 hours! Nights “zoom by fast” on Seroquel.
6. It can cause pronounced dry mouth.
7. At its peak effect, it makes your nasal passages inflate and swell, so much so that sometimes you have the terrifying feeling of not being able to breathe at all. I absolutely HAVE to have a bottle of oxymetazoline nasal spray right by my bed on the nights I take Seroquel (which is every night). I also have to wear a nasal strip externally on my nose, to allow me to breathe. Without these aides, my nose will seal up tighter than a drum, giving me a very scary feeling of not being able to breathe.
8. It is quite possible that Seroquel leads to sudden and difficult-to-control weight gain. Mind you, it is nowhere near as bad in this respect as
Depakote, that other traditional Bipolar remedy… which is Satan’s Own Drug. Several medical people I know have suggested that Seroquel might have precipitated Type 2 Diabetes in me, or at least hastened on a thereto latent family predisposition. I personally cannot say whether these claims are true, but my caveat stands.
9. Seroquel is given to patients at WIDELY VARYING dosages. Some people might be prescribed Seroquel at a teency-tiny nightly dosage of 25 mg, in which case it functions merely as a mild sleep aide, just a skosh more powerful, more sedating than other popular prescribed sleep aids like Ambien, Lunesta, Restoril, Sonata, etc. Other people— usually those afflicted with quite severe schizophrenia/psychotic symptoms— might actually be told to take it at a staggering 700–1300 mg per day. (How these people FUNCTION at this dosage, I cannot imagine; this dosage would knock ME on my ass with sleepiness and disorientation. But, as I understand it, if their chronic psychosis is really bad, they need to have these whopping doses to function passably in life).
10. Surprisingly, the intense sleepiness that Seroquel brings on dissipates quickly, if you have slept the prescribed 8 hour night. You wake up, and there is a deep sense of having been refreshed, and then…. within 15-20minutes, the sleepiness is gone, with no grogginess or logy-ness to slow you down in the mornings. This predictable “half-life” is a wonderful trait of the drug, I must say. However, if you
haven’t let the drug run its course… and you have to get up and function for some ungodly reason, you may well feel like a zombie. You might give others the impression that you are drunk or stoned (I think I freaked out my little nephew once when he was a tiny boy: he saw me staggering and slurring midway through my Seroquel “trip”). Obviously you don’t want to drive a car or fly airplanes or operate your bandsaw or your wood chipper until the drug has gone through your system.
In summary, Seroquel is a mixed bag. Me, I personally love it– despite its appreciable side effects— and would not wish to cycle off of it anytime soon. Your Bipolar folks simply HAVE to get their sleep, in order not to turn into the creature from the black lagoon. Really, ALL psych drugs are this way: you have to decide for yourself whether the good effects outweigh its various, potentially problematic, side-effects. Sometimes, it’s worth it, even WELL worth it to you. Other times, the side-effects are so problematic, you just can’t stick with it, and should probably ask your psychiatrist for a different drug, or cocktail of drugs.