Working on a psychiatric unit in a major hospital I had seen many patients helped through the aid of just the right combination of medications. For example one of my patients James (not his real name) suffered terribly with schizophrenia. But thanks to Seroquel and other medication James was able to have a somewhat normal life. As a matter of fact the patients I cared for with major depressive disorders also benefited from the drug. But it is a powerful drug.
Most of my patients first started on the drug walked around very drowsy and slept much. Which may be why some physicians have prescribed Seroquel for insomnia. But using it as off label for the treatment of insomnia is not advised according to Web MD.
The FDA has placed two black-box warnings on Seroquel:
First, you should not take Seroquel if you are an older person with dementia, a mental health condition that causes decreased memory, confused thinking, and changes in mood and personality.
People with dementia have an increased risk for dying while on Seroquel. If you or a family member may have dementia, talk with a doctor about this before taking Seroquel.
Secondly, Seroquel may increase your risk for suicide. The risk is greatest when starting treatment or increasing the dose of Seroquel, and may be higher for people younger than 24.
Recently, after morning rounds seeing patients admitted to his hospital through emergency, Dr. David Juurlink tweeted: “Can the next doctor wanting to prescribe Seroquel for sleep,” he said, “just not?”
Of the roughly 20 patients he saw that morning, four had been prescribed Seroquel, for insomnia.
Some of the possible side effects of the drug are as follows:
- Thoughts of suicide
- Worsening depression
- Symptoms of aggression
- Panic Attacks
- Extreme worry
- Acting without thinking
- Abnormal excitement
What Some People Are Saying About The Drug:
“I have gave Seroquel 5 stars as it definitely allows me to sleep right through the night. But I have been on it for 15 years and still experience dreadful side effects. I have reduced from taking 800mg in the morning to 300 mg in the morning yet in the evening and the morning I can barely function and am tired and groggy all day. I have tried to take it earlier and earlier in the evening in the hope of having less side effects in the morning but nothing works. Plus it gives me the appetite of a racehorse. I also have nasty withdrawal symptoms whenever I try to taper off completely. For me this drug is a necessary evil and I really wish I didn’t have to take it.”
“I take Seroquel for my insomnia, within the first 30 minutes of taking it my body starts to tingle like a warning that I’m about to sleep. I climb into bed get really groggy and sleep. The next day is always horrible after taking the pill. I’m tired all day, it’s hard to wake up for school. I don’t want to do anything but sleep. I recommend you take this pill when you know you don’t have to wake up too early.”
“I am currently on 25mg taken 2 hours before bed for insomnia. I have found it to be very sedating and sleep for the entire night. On the first night, around the 2 hour mark after taking, I was not able to function properly. Cleaning my teeth and preparing my clothes for the morning was a big effort. I was lightheaded and dizzy. I have noticed others have had intense dreams/nightmares while on this medication and I did too. The following day, I feel lethargic and drained despite a full night sleep. I have rated it a 7 because it certainly works to relieve my insomnia, but the cluster of side effects are frustrating. I would recommend trying it for the first time when you have the following days free and are not working and adjusting.”
As a Registered Nurse I did see how effective it was with clients with schizophrenia and major depressive disorders, but I also saw the other side of the medication that made them lethargic and sleepy. If you feel you need a sleep aid to help with your insomnia, might I suggest a natural remedy first. I hope that by reading this article you are a better informed consumer.
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