Seroquel Life Hacks
I owe my sanity and stability to Seroquel. I was really apprehensive when it was first prescribed because I heard the horror stories about brain fog and excessive weight gain. I was terrified about turning into a zombie potato but I was pretty desperate for symptom relief so I took the plunge. I’m so glad I did! It wasn’t a smooth transition because the side effects were pretty intense at first. A lot of people refuse to try Seroquel for these reasons alone, but there is a lot of nuance when taking this medication that you can work with so it can work best for you.
Get Enough Sleep
Seroquel is a very sedating medication. It’s no surprise that getting enough sleep is important for it to work effectively. In my experience, I need to allow for at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep (sometimes more) for it to work optimally and to not feel like a zombie in the morning. Depending on what your schedule looks like, you may need to adjust your bedtime to work within those time frames. Sleep hygiene is also really important because it will help you develop healthier habits and routines and the better they are, the better the Seroquel will work.
If you’re a Seroquel newbie, know that your body will adjust. It can be a real shock to your system at first but the brain fog and lethargy will lift, leaving you feeling more like yourself and less like the aforementioned potato.
Understand Peak Time
Peak Time is when a medication reaches its maximum concentration within the body. Seroquel’s peak time on average is about 90 minutes and that’s when you’ll start to experience the sleepy side effects. Understanding that can assist you in scheduling your sleep routine around the Peak Time. I take my meds about an hour and a half before I plan to go to bed and by the time I wake up, I feel refreshed and and not groggy at all because it’s out of my system.
Note Your Food Intake
I’ve noticed a huge difference in how quickly Seroquel works depending on what’s in my stomach. If I take it after I’ve eaten, the Peak Time can be delayed by hours and if I take it on an empty stomach it’s accelerated much faster (and uncomfortably). After a lot of trial and error, I found that taking my medication within the first few bites of dinner is the best timing for me. I don’t have to wait for hours to get sleepy and I don’t crash so hard that I can barely get myself to bed. Experiment to find your sweet spot.
Make Healthier Choices
Seroquel is notorious for its weight-gaining side effect and for that reason alone many people avoid it entirely. When I was playing medication roulette with my psychiatrist, I requested to try every weight neutral medication out there. When none of them worked, it was one of my last resorts and I frankly didn’t mind the idea of gaining a few pounds if it meant reclaiming my sanity. I did end up gaining some weight but was successful in losing it after making some lifestyle tweaks such as eating healthier foods and exercising.
Personally, my weight loss journey came down to a few important factors: eating a diet high in protein, low in carbs and processed foods, not eating after dinner and getting plenty of exercise (especially cardio). Seroquel can increase cravings for highly caloric, carb-dense foods but working them out of my diet decreased my overall desire for them. My current eating habits have completely made the Seroquel night munchies (if you know, you know) a thing of the past.
Talk To Your Doctor About Side Effects
Just as I was starting to reap the benefits of Seroquel, I started noticing the onset of what felt like Restless Leg Syndrome. They didn’t go away and they started making it more and more difficult to get to sleep. Just when I was ready to throw my scripts out the window and start anew, I had a med check with my doctor and mentioned how painful my nights had become. Instead of scrapping the Seroquel as I had anticipated, he prescribed a low dose of a benzodiazepine instead. That little pill completely put a stop to my misery and my legs have lived happily ever after.
Make sure to speak with your prescribing doctor about your concerns. You you might be surprised that there are other work-arounds for your current medications and you won’t have to completely start over with a new prescription.
Betty’s Bottom Line
Don’t be afraid to try Seroquel just because of its bad wrap! If your doctor brings it up as an option that means that it could be the right choice for you. Keep an open mind and remember that the side effects can go away as you begin to acclimate and that there are practical solutions to dealing with the worst of them. It’s so important to keep all medication options open as you try to find the ones that work best for you on your Bipolar journey.