Quetiapine fumarate is an atypical antipsychotic drug used to treat psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. It may be used alone or in combination with other psychiatric medications. It is taken orally, and is available only by prescription, under the supervision of a medical practitioner.
The drug works by altering the neurotransmitters or chemicals in the brain by acting on the receptors. These include the serotonin and dopamine receptors. Many psychiatric conditions are caused by an imbalance of the various chemicals involved in the functioning of the brain, and it is in this way that quetiapine fumarate takes effect.
Psychiatric illness is complicated and may be caused by a many factors, both intrinsic and external. It is for this reason that the treatment of psychiatric illnesses is also multi-factorial, and may include a variety of health professionals such as psychiatrists and psychologists. Non-drug and complementary practitioners, such as nutritional therapists, massage therapists or relaxation specialists, may also be involved.
The treatment of psychiatric illness is often difficult, and the treating doctor may have to try out a number of different medications or combinations of medications before finding the optimum treatment. Both response and possible side effects will be taken into consideration. Quetiapine fumarate is often added as an adjunct in patients who have not responded to one drug only, but it may be used alone in some cases.
The dose and dosage regimen of quetiapine fumarate will be established by the prescribing doctor and will depend on the condition being treated. It is usually started at a low dose and gradually increased. There is an extended release preparation that is usually taken once daily, and a non-sustained release preparation that is usually taken twice daily.
As with any medication, quetiapine fumarate may interact with other medicines so these should be discussed with the prescribing physician, as should pregnancy, desired pregnancy, lactation, or any diseases or allergies. Quetiapine fumarate may cause drowsiness, so it should not be taken with other sedative drugs or alcohol, and driving or working with heavy machinery should be avoided. Patients taking the drug should be careful when standing up, especially when starting therapy, due to the possibility of postural hypotension.
Quetiapine fumarate may cause side effects such as dizziness, drowsiness, headache, dry mouth and gastrointestinal problems. Less commonly, it may cause cardiac or hematological side effects. Any untoward effects should be discussed with the prescribing doctor.