Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Seroquel - A patient's review part 1

I was prescribed Seroquel 9 days ago for Bipolar Disorder. I have yet to recieve my official diagnosis of Bipolar I or Bipolar II but I strongly suspect I fall into the Bipolar II category, although I am not a doctor so who knows.....

I will be completely honest in admitting that it freaked me out that this drug is also used to treat more serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. I know that is completely prejudiced and I am throwing stones in my completely fragile glass house, but I am only mentioning that for the benefit of someone else who might have the same reservations. My advice...give it a shot. It is working well for me.

The episdode that precipiated the diagnosis and prescription was one of hypomania that probably lasted several weeks, if not months followed by a severe bout with depression. During the depressive episode I was also experiencing multiple anxiety attacks that seemed to just get more and more intense with each episode. I had become reclusive and withdrawn with very little appetite. I was experiencing severe headaches and was extremely agitated and irritable. I was (and still am) awaiting an appointment for a psych consult, but my family M.D. decided to go ahead and prescribe Seroquel when the anxiety attacks became so severe that the thought of leaving the house would produce another one, simply from the fear of having an anxiety attack in public. Clearly my head needed to get put back on straight. I was not functioning.

O, so I started out with a 50mg a day dosage, to be taken in the form of 25mg twice a day. The first pill, which I took at about 5:30 p.m, knocked me out COLD for the rest of the night. I was dead to the world, and my husband even checked my pulse a few was a bit frightening. I started to have serious doubts about the medication. I am a stay at home mother and it is imperitive that I am able to function! But the next morning when I woke I felt somehow 'different'. My depression hadn't magically disappeared but I felt more stable. People who have suffered a bipolar or similar mental crisis can understand what I mean when I say I had been walking around with the feeling of one toe balanced on the tip of a steep mountain and it felt as if any moment I could fall tumbling into the abyss of instability. Suddenly, after one dose of Seroquel I felt like I had two feet firmly planted on solid ground. I was still dealing with issues but there was definately a rapid relief to the unstable feeling I had been carrying around. Now that I have been on the drug over a week I have seen a significant improvement in my over all mental health. Dare I say I am almost back to normal?

My prescribed dosage has me increasing the dosage to double the amount on the 7th day. I honestly thought about skipping that step and staying on the low dosage (as we all tend to do...we are smarter than the doctors of course) but as day 6 approached I started noticing that perhaps some of my symptoms were returning. I could feel the melancholy and irritablity creeping back. My ability to concentrate was slipping and I felt like I was having a setback. Perhaps the doctors know what they are talking about after all. Apparently there is some tolerance build up to the drug in the beginning and most patience gradually increase to a dosage that is a proper fit for their condition. So yesterday was day 8 and I took my first double dose last night. Once again I slept like a baby. I am extremely drowsy this morning, even after getting 9 hours of sleep. But some of that wore off a bit the first time so I am hoping that will happen again. The morning dose is kicking my butt today and I feel like I am walking through quicksand. I am hoping this subsides quickly or I am going to have to buy stock in Red Bull.

I will keep a running update of my expereince with this drug for readers who are interested or are looking for real life experience with it. I am only finishing my first week, there might be a lot more to report about this drug within the next 60 days. Here are the current side effects I have experienced some are good, some are bad:

Racing heart beat especially in the first few hours after taking a dose. This seemed to lessen after the first 4-5 days.
Extreme dry mouth....imagine eating a bag of cotton balls and then rinsing your mouth out with sand...sour candy helps a bit, it stimulates your saliva production.
Dry sinuses...imagine the sand and cotton having taken a side trip through your nostrils..
Drowsiness is worse within the first few hours after taking the drug. I feel very very sluggish. My caffiene intake has almost tripled in the mornings
Decreased Appetite I won't lie...this is a good thing in my opinion, but I have read where this drug has the opposite affect in other patients.
Increased Cravings for Nicotene If you are a smoker, even a light one like myself, be prepared to be feeling the need to light up pretty often.
Decreased Desire for Alcohol this is a bonus in my opinion. I don't really have any desire to drink, even my usual weekend beer or two (or six), and when I did try to drink a few beers at a ball game I became very cranky and felt lousy.

I can say that this drug has not in any way stifled my creativity, which was a HUGE concern for me when taking any psychotropic drug. Writing is my life! Someday I hope for it to be my livelihood as well, so anything that was going to cast a cloud on that was a big concern for me. I can honestly say that if anything it has helped improve my concentration and cleared my thoughts, helping me to more thoroughly design characters, form plots, and organize my ideas. It has not in anyway limited my creativity.

This is the link to the manufacturer, with specific information about patients with bipolar disorder, I started my research here before taking the drug. It is a good starting point for info.


The Flying Circus Mom said...

Thank you for doing this. My appt. is rapidly approaching and I am fearful of what the Dr. is going to put me on...I have become comfortable with my bi polar over the years....not sure if I want to change...

Liz said...

I am so glad it seems to be wroking for you...