I got an email from Doc Awesome this morning that read, “Need a favour. Remind me your experience with Seroquel. What did you start on (how much and when take). Then how did you reduce and did you switch to something different.” Gladly. Firstly, though, the same disclaimer from the last time I wrote about it: I am not a doctor. And having said that, please remember that medications aren’t masking agents, placebos, or whatever else you might’ve been led to believe. They stimulate an actual physiological reaction in the brain that makes them vital to the effective (albeit not total) treatment of mental disorders, OCD included. If you have any questions about them, see your family doctor. Better yet, see a psychiatrist.
Anyway. Seroquel, which is also known by its generic name Quetiapine, is an antipsychotic, not an antidepressant. There haven’t been any long-term studies regarding its treatment of OCD, though anecdotally it’s great at reducing anxiety. Unfortunately, it might also knock you out. I take a relatively light dose every night; typically I’ll be sound asleep within thirty minutes and won’t move until my alarm goes off the following morning. Again, I’m on a relatively modest dosage. I started on a much heavier one, which basically zombiefied me. Then I switched to Seroquel XR, or extended release. If the regular drug’s like a knockout punch before bed, the XR turns your day into a fifteen-round heavyweight bought. It also made my sinuses feel like they were imploding; I was back on the regular formula almost instantly. I tried splitting the dosage, taking one pill after supper and one before bed. Briefly, I tried taking one at night and one in the morning; when that didn’t work I was stuck, and so I went back to taking it all at once. Eventually, as my ERP kicked in, I scaled back from 150mg to 100mg. Now I take 50mg; soon I’ll be taking 25mg.
So where does that leave us? On the plus side, Seroquel reduces anxiety (handy when you’re battling an anxiety disorder) and helps with sleep, which is a vital to recovery. On the negative side it can leave you feeling exhausted…and that’s where diet kicks in. I won’t say I’ve discovered a magic bullet that totally eliminates Seroquel’s sleepy symptoms – but I have found a pretty good one that goes like this:
- Two cups of coffee. I drink nuclear-strength coffee, by the way. Life’s too short for bad coffee, as Gord Downie says. Ditto bad cheese.
- Almonds and pumpkin seeds
- Vitamin C and D
Plus, starting next week, a new super multivitamin my buddy Graham introduced to me. I have more energy than I’ve had in ages, and I’m starting to wonder if the last couple years of feeling tired had less to do with medication and more to do with crappy diet (medication was a great excuse, obviously). One of my main goals for my thirty-third year is developing a menu that emphasizes healthy, brain-friendly food. Add “energy-promoting food” to the list. It’s amazing how great I’ve been feeling lately, Seroquel notwithstanding.