Can I Take Seroquel for My OCD?
You have been struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) for months, years, or decades. You have tried almost everything to “quiet” those intrusive thoughts, images, urges, doubts, uncertainties, and emotions, but nothing to date has worked. You are almost at the point of giving up on having a happy and productive life – free of the “noise” that has been disrupting your life since before you could remember.
Quite frankly, you are tired of OCD. You want your OCD symptoms to go away – or at the bare minimum, you want to be able to better your symptoms so they do not consume your days and nights. Unfortunately, however, traditional OCD medications – i.e., SSRI antidepressants, like Zoloft and Prozac, just have not worked for you. You have even tried MAOIs, beta-blockers, prescription antihistamines, and tricyclic antidepressants without success.
Your intrusive thoughts are as vibrant as ever, and your rituals and routines are as entrenched in your daily activities as ever. OCD therapies, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy, a subtype of CBT and the “gold standard” OCD treatment, and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) appear to be working – to a certain degree, however, they, alone are not enough to help you live the life you want – a life free of non-stop, repetitive obsessions and compulsions.
So, what next? Well, if you are struggling with treatment-resistant OCD, meaning that OCD therapies and SSRIs and/or other medications have not worked, your doctor may decide to put you on Seroquel. If you do not know much about this medication or have never heard of it, you may be leery of trying it. You have tried so many OCD medications without success, after all.
Well, if you would like to learn more about Seroquel to determine if it would be beneficial for your OCD symptoms, you are in luck. In this article, you will find the answers to your questions, so you can make the best decision for your health and well-being.
So, could Seroquel work for your OCD symptoms? It depends.
What is OCD?
To determine if Seroquel could work for your OCD symptoms, you must first understand what OCD is and how it works. Obsessive-compulsive disorder, otherwise known as OCD, is a type of anxiety condition that involves non-stop, repetitive intrusive thoughts and/or ritualistic behaviors. The never-ending intrusive thoughts are considered “obsessions” and the ritualic behaviors are considered “compulsions.” Some people grapple with just obsessions or just compulsions, while others suffer from both obsessions and compulsions.
Obsessions may also involve unwanted and upsetting fears, impulses, doubts, mental images, negative emotions, etc. While compulsions may involve checking, organizing, or cleaning physical routines, or mental rituals, like counting or repeating mantras or phrases. Regardless of if you have pure-O OCD (only obsessions) or both obsessions and compulsions, OCD can wreak havoc on your life, health, friendships, relationships, career success, and self-esteem and self-confidence.
Understand, however, that OCD is involuntary. In other words, it is not something you can turn on or off – or stop at will. It is a complex and extremely lonely anxiety condition that can take over your life – if you allow it to. The good news is there are traditional and non-traditional OCD therapies, resources, tools, and even medications that can stop OCD from controlling your life. One such non-traditional medication is Seroquel.
Seroquel is not the typical medication used to treat OCD, although some doctors prescribe it “off-label” to OCD sufferers, who have found little to no success with traditional OCD medications – i.e., SSRIs. So, although this medication was not created for OCD, some people with OCD have found success with this medication.
What is Seroquel?
When traditional OCD medications, like SSRIs, do not work, a doctor may go a different route and prescribe an antipsychotic, like Seroquel. Seroquel (or quetiapine, the generic version of the medication) is an atypical antipsychotic that alters the way neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain) function.
This medication was developed to treat schizophrenia in adults and children over the age of 12 and bipolar disorder in adults and children over the age of 9. In some cases, Seroquel may be combined with an antidepressant (i.e., an SSRI) to treat major depressive disorder (clinical depression) or prescribe “off-label” for OCD in adults.
Is Seroquel FDA-Approved for OCD?
No, it is not. However, it may be prescribed “off-label” for OCD in some cases.
Is a Prescription Required for Seroquel?
Yes, a prescription is required for all versions of Seroquel.
What Forms Does Seroquel Come In?
Seroquel is offered as Seroquel and Seroquel XR (extended release). These two versions of Seroquel are offered in tablet forms.
How Much Seroquel is Needed For OCD?
The typical Seroquel dosage for OCD is 150-600 mg, per day. However, because there is no standard Seroquel dosage for OCD, a doctor may prescribe higher or lower than this dosage. The lowest Seroquel milligram tablet is 25mg. However, the usual starting dosage for OCD is 50 mg a day, which may be gradually increased over time.
Researchers have found a link between insomnia and OCD (due to racing, intrusive thoughts), some doctors prescribe Seroquel at bedtime to help OCD sufferers get sound sleep. Seroquel is known for “quieting” the mind, which makes it a suitable OCD treatment option for people, who are struggling with non-stop, intrusive thoughts, urges, images, doubts, fears, and/or repetitive routines or rituals.
Is Seroquel Effective for OCD?
Yes, researchers suggest that Seroquel can be effective for anxiety conditions like OCD, especially when combined with other OCD treatments, natural remedies, lifestyle changes, resources, and self-help tools, like Impulse Therapy, an online OCD treatment program.
Studies suggest that Seroquel is an effective treatment option for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). According to a 2007 study, prescribing quetiapine for OCD produced a superior response, for instance, fewer intrusive thoughts, fears, urges, negative emotions, and compulsive behaviors.
However, the best response involved a combination of clomipramine, fluoxetine, or fluvoxamine and quetiapine, the generic version of Seroquel. But although research indicates that Seroquel is effective for many people with anxiety disorders, like OCD, it can also cause severe side effects in some people.
Is There Anything I Should Know Before Taking Seroquel for My OCD Symptoms?
Yes, there are some things you should be aware of before taking Seroquel for your OCD symptoms, such as:
- Do not take Seroquel if you are allergic to quetiapine.
- Seroquel can increase your risk of death if you are an older adult with dementia-related psychosis.
- Use caution if you have one or more of the following conditions along with OCD – liver or kidney disease, heart disease, heart rhythm problems, a history of heart attack or stroke, high or low blood pressure, a history of low white blood cell counts, abnormal thyroid tests or prolactin levels, seizures or epilepsy, cataracts, high cholesterol or triglycerides, a personal or family history of diabetes, and/or swallowing difficulties.
- Some young OCD sufferers may experience suicidal ideation upon taking Seroquel, so contact your doctor if you start to experience sudden and/or severe mood swings, and/or changes in your behavior or personality.
- Taking Seroquel for your OCD symptoms, during the third trimester (the last 3 months of pregnancy), may cause Seroquel withdrawal symptoms, breathing difficulties, feeding problems, tremors, flaccid or stiff muscles, and/or irritability or “fussiness” in newborns. Conversely, stopping Seroquel while pregnant may lead to an OCD relapse and/or Seroquel withdrawal symptoms. So, if you become pregnant while taking Seroquel for your OCD symptoms, continue taking it unless otherwise instructed by your doctor.
- If you are a female OCD sufferer, Seroquel may affect your fertility (your ability to become pregnant).
- Seroquel can transfer from you to your nursing infant through your breastmilk, thus breastfeeding while taking this medication is not recommended unless directed by your doctor.
- Do not give Seroquel to a child without first consulting with their pediatrician. Seroquel XR (extended-release) is only intended for adults, and should not be given to anyone under the age of 18.
- High doses or long-term use of Seroquel for OCD can cause a serious, irreversible movement disorder, involving tics, tremors, and/or involuntary muscle movements.
- In severe cases, Seroquel can cause extremely stiff or rigid muscles, a high fever, profuse sweating, mental confusion, irregular or accelerated heartbeats, light-headedness, blurry vision, eye pain, increased thirst and urination, excessive hunger, “fruity” breath, lethargy and weakness, and/or nausea and vomiting.
- Seroquel may cause your blood pressure to rise.
- Seroquel may spike your blood glucose levels, causing high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Thus, if you are diabetic, your blood “sugar” glucose levels will need to be checked regularly, while you are taking the medication.
- Seroquel may cause you to have a false positive drug screening test. So, if you have to take a drug screening test, tell the lab workers and your potential employer that you are taking Seroquel for your OCD symptoms.
What is the Best Way to Take Seroquel for My OCD Symptoms?
The best way to take Seroquel for OCD is:
- Take Seroquel with a full glass of water.
- Seroquel (immediate release) can be taken with or without food. Seroquel XR (extended-release) should be taken preferably in the evening without food or with a light meal (less than 300 calories).
- Swallow the medication whole – in other words, do not crush, chew, or break the tablet(s).
- Do not abruptly stop taking Seroquel. Stopping this medication suddenly could worsen your OCD symptoms.
- Store Seroquel at room temperature and keep it away from moisture and heat.
Does Seroquel Have Side Effects? If So, What Are They?
Seroquel, like all other OCD medications, does come with side effects.
These side effects include:
- An allergic reaction (i.e., hives, breathing problems, and/or a swollen face, lips, tongue, or throat)
- Mood or behavioral changes
- Panic attacks
- Insomnia or sleeplessness
- Anger, aggression, agitation, and/or hostility
- Self-harm or suicide thoughts
- Uncontrolled facial muscle movements (i.e., chewing or smacking your lips, frowning, flickering tongue, excessively blinking eyes, etc.)
- A “mask-like” appearance
- Swallowing problems
- Speech problems
- Lightheadedness or feeling faint
- Blurry vision, tunnel vision, eye pain, and/or “halos”
- A severe nervous system reaction
- Elevated blood “sugar” glucose – i.e., increased thirst, urination, and/or hunger, dry “cotton” mouth, “fruity” breath, sleepiness, dry skin, blurry vision, and/or sudden weight loss
- Low blood cell counts – i.e., a sudden feeling of weakness, fever, chills, cold or flu symptoms, cough, sore throat, red or swollen gums, painful mouth or skin sores, and/or breathing problems
- A lack of energy
- A stuffy nose
- An increased appetite
- Sudden weight gain
- An upset stomach, vomiting, and/or constipation
- Mobility issues
What Medications, Vitamins, Minerals, and Herbs Should I Avoid While Taking Seroquel for OCD?
Medication, supplements, and herbs that should be avoided while taking Seroquel for OCD include:
- Antivirals are commonly used to treat hepatitis or HIV/AIDS
- Heart medications
- Blood pressure medications
- St. John’s Wort
- Seizure medications
- Tuberculosis medications
- Antifungal medications
- Other antipsychotics
- Heart rhythm medications
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Malaria medications
Consult your doctor before combining Seroquel with the following medications:
- Sleeping pills
- Narcotic pain medications
- Prescription cough medications
- Muscle relaxers
- Certain antidepressants
What is it Like to Take Seroquel for OCD?
Seroquel works differently for each individual, so while it may be effective for some OCD sufferers, it may be ineffective for others. However, I believe the best way to determine if Seroquel will work for you is to get an inside perspective from people, who are taking or have taken the medication for their OCD symptoms.
Listed below are personal Seroquel reviews from people, who have taken the medication for their OCD:
“I started taking Seroquel about a year ago to help with OCD-related insomnia and anxiety. It helped me incredibly. I took either 25mg or 50mg each night to help me sleep. Seroquel has helped so much with my OCD. It has also taken the edge off of my anxiety.
I used to get very ‘fixated’ on my intrusive thoughts to the point where I could not sleep. But with Seroquel, I can slow my thinking down, rationalize the situation, and calm down. So, if you’re struggling with OCD and anxiety, and cannot sleep, please reach out for help. Sleep deprivation can worsen your OCD symptoms!”
“Seroquel helped with my OCD intrusive thoughts, but made me VERY agitated, and like my skin was crawling. Even a 1/4 of a tablet makes me feel really anxious.”
“If OCD thoughts are keeping you up at night, Seroquel works well. It turns the brain off with literally 25mg a night, one hour before sleep.”
“I’ve been on and off of Seroquel for about ten years. I take it mostly for sleep and as an antipsychotic. Honestly, Seroquel does not alleviate my looping thoughts. It also has a minimal effect on my anxiety levels.
Sure, it puts me to sleep, but it also makes me feel lethargic. I take it because it is all my doctor suggests for me. All I can say is that it is better than nothing, but I am not a fan of this medication. I never have been. To reiterate, it has zero impact on my OCD symptoms.”
“Seroquel is great after 3 months……but it will make you gain 1,444,765 pounds. No bs!”
“I’ve been on Seroquel since 2007, and it has helped me greatly. I no longer suffer from intrusive thoughts. But I have gained a lot of weight. I take 500mg a day.”
Are There Other OCD Treatments That Do Not Involve Medications?
Yes, there are other non-medication OCD treatment options.
As mentioned above, the typical go-to treatment for OCD is ERP therapy, a subtype of CBT. Other OCD therapies include ACT, psychodynamic therapy, TMS therapy, hypnotherapy/hypnosis, group therapy, addiction therapy, couples, child, or family therapy, individual therapy, trauma counseling, etc. Natural remedies like mindfulness mediation, yoga, acupuncture, vitamins and minerals, and/or CBD can also help you get your OCD symptoms under control.
And, lifestyle changes, like getting proper sleep, adopting a healthy diet, practicing self-care, and getting regular exercise are also good for keeping your OCD symptoms in check. Lastly, self-help tools, like Impulse Therapy, an online OCD treatment program, OCD books and workbooks, OCD support groups and forums, journaling, and developing healthy coping skills and strategies can help you live an OCD-free life – with or without medications, like Seroquel.
- Denys, D., Fineberg, N., Carey, P. D., & Stein, D. J. (2007). Quetiapine addition in obsessive-compulsive disorder: is treatment outcome affected by type and dose of serotonin reuptake inhibitors? Biological Psychiatry, 61(3), 412–414. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2006.12.014
- Maneeton, N., Maneeton, B., Woottiluk, P., et al. (2016). Quetiapine monotherapy in the acute treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Drug Design, Development, and Therapy, 259—276. Retrieved from https://www.dovepress.com/quetiapine-monotherapy-in-acute-treatment-of-generalized-anxiety-disor-peer-reviewed-fulltext-article-DDDT
- Ravindran, A. V., Al-Subaie, A., & Abraham, G. (2010). Quetiapine: Novel uses in the treatment of depressive and anxiety disorders. Expert Opinion on Investigational Drugs, 19(10), 1187–1204. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1517/13543784.2010.515586
- Kreys, T. J., & Phan, S. V. (2015). A literature review of quetiapine for generalized anxiety disorder. Pharmacotherapy, 35(2), 175–188. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1002/phar.1529
- Paterson, J. L., Reynolds, A. C., Ferguson, S. A., & Dawson, D. (2013). Sleep and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Sleep Medicine Reviews, 17(6), 465–474. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.smrv.2012.12.002