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What is quetiapine?

Quetiapine is pronounced ‘quet-ire-pean’.

Quetiapine (also called Seroquel®, Atrolak XL®, Ebesque XL®, Tenprolide XL® and others) is mainly used to help treat the symptoms psychosis, schizophrenia and mania, and bipolar depression, and to prevent these symptoms coming back.

It can also help sleep if taken at night.

It is made as plain tablets and sustained release (XL) tablets. XL means extra-long release (not extra large).


Quetiapine is often used in adults but it is not “licensed” or officially approved for people under the age of 18. This is because it has not been fully studied in this younger age group. If you are under 18 you may be offered this medicine because we have experience of it and we know it helps adults.

What does quetiapine help?

Quetiapine can help with psychosis (or ‘losing touch with reality’) including:

  • hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not there)
  • delusions (thinking something is true when is it not)

Quetiapine can also help with mania (feeling very high) and depression (feeling very low).

It can also sometimes help the symptoms of anxiety, dementia and depression.

How and when should I take quetiapine?

Swallow the tablets with some water whilst sitting or standing. This is to make sure that they reach the stomach and do not stick in your throat.

If you have the XL tablets and the label says to take it once a day, this is usually best at bedtime as it may make you sleepy at first.

The plain tablets should be taken 2 times per day, usually morning and evening.

You do not have to take quetiapine with or without food.

How long will I have to wait before it works?

This will depend on what you are taking it for.

The effect usually starts in 1 or 2 weeks, and builds over the next couple of weeks.

How long will I need to take quetiapine for?

This will depend on what you are taking it for.

It may be for several months or years.

What if I do not want to take quetiapine anymore?

Do not stop taking quetiapine suddenly.

It is better not to do this without talking it over first with other people such as your family, prescriber, nurse, pharmacist or other healthcare professional.

It normally works out much better if you stop medication in a planned way at a time when your stress levels are lower, rather around exam times, mid-winter and life events.

Your symptoms can return if treatment is stopped too early. This may happen some weeks or even months after you stop taking quetiapine.

When the time comes, you should stop quetiapine by gradually reducing the dose over several weeks.

What should I do if I forget to take a dose?

If you have the XL tablets, start again as soon as you remember if within about 12 hours of your next dose.

If you have the plain tablets, start again as soon as you remember if within about 4 to 6 hours of your next dose. After this just take the next dose as normal.

Do not try to catch up by taking 2 doses at once as you may get more side-effects.

Can I cycle or drive while I am taking quetiapine?

You may feel a bit light-headed at first when taking quetiapine.

Until this wears off, or you know how quetiapine affects you, be careful cycling and, do not drive or operate machinery.

What are the side effects of quetiapine?

Very common

More than 1 in 10 people might get these:

  • Fatigue and sleepiness. This may happen early on and usually wears off. If you feel like this for more than a week after starting, tell your prescriber. It may be possible to adjust your dose slightly.
  • Postural hypotension. This is a drop in blood pressure when your stand up. To avoid this, stand up slowly. Discuss this with your prescriber next time you meet.
  • Dry mouth or not much spit. Suck on sugar-free gum or boiled sweets. If it is bad, your prescriber may be able to give you a mouth spray.
  • Weight gain.  You might find that you are eating more and


Fewer than 1 in 10 people may get these:

  • Restlessness and feeling more on edge. You may feel happier when you are moving around more. Try and relax by taking deep breaths. Your prescriber may be able to give you a medicine to help with this.
  • Headaches can be managed with paracetamol.

Rare side effects

Please see your prescriber if you get any of these rare side effects:

  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is a fever, sweating, confusion, racing heart, muscle stiffness and difficulty moving. See your prescriber straight away if you have had a change in dose or taken other antipsychotics.

Some side effects are the brain getting used to a medicine and these usually wear off in a few days or weeks. Starting slower may help. If you think you might have a side effect, you should ask your prescriber, pharmacist or other healthcare professional.

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Please note: this is a generic information sheet relating to care at Sheffield Children’s NHS FT. These details may not reflect treatment at other hospitals. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professionals’ instructions. If this resource relates to medicines, please read it alongside the medicine manufacturer’s patient information leaflet. If this information has been translated into another language from English, efforts have been made to maintain accuracy, but there may still be some translation errors. If you are unsure about any of the guidance in this resource or have specific questions about how it relates to your child, always ask your healthcare professional for further advice.

Resource number: MH79

Resource Type: Article

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