Is Seroquel (Quetiapine) Effective For Anxiety?

man surrounded by pill bottles

Glasshouse Images / Getty Images

Seroquel (Quetiapine) is an atypical antipsychotic medication used to treat mental disorders like depression and schizophrenia. It is also used "off-label" (i.e., a drug that hasn’t been approved by the FDA for the treatment of a particular condition) to treat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It is made up of an active ingredient called quetiapine. The drug comes in both immediate-release and extended-release variations.

Uses

Seroquel is currently approved by the FDA to treat the following conditions:

  • Schizophrenia: Seroquel has proven to be a very effective treatment of schizophrenia in adults. 
  • Bipolar disorder: Seroquel can be used to treat bipolar disorder in adults and children who are at least ten years old.
  • Major depressive disorder: Seroquel is typically used alongside other antidepressant medication to treat major depressive disorder in adults. 

Seroquel is also being studied and used off-label to treat conditions such as depression and anxiety. 

What Does Seroquel Do?

Seroquel works by helping to restore balance to the chemical messengers in your brain. It can help to improve concentration, decrease anxiety, and improve your moods and energy levels. 

The exact way in which Seroquel functions in the brain is unclear, but it is believed to help calm your mood and control symptoms of schizophrenia and depression by working on dopamine and serotonin receptors in your brain.

Scientists believe that the drug blocks dopamine receptors in your brain, preventing increased activity of dopamine in your brain. Increased dopamine activity in the brain has been linked to the development of conditions that are characterized by psychosis.

Anxiety Treatment

Neither the immediate release nor extended-release versions of Seroquel are approved by the FDA for treating anxiety disorders. However, the drug is often used off-label for the treatment of this condition. In fact, the most common off-label use of Seroquel is for the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Research Studies

Seroquel has been studied and is still being researched as a treatment option for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Research shows that Seroquel can be particularly effective in treating generalized anxiety disorder. 

In a large 2016 study, researchers studied the effectiveness of quetiapine as a treatment for generalized anxiety disorder.

The study involved a total of 2,248 participants who either had generalized anxiety disorder or belonged to a control group. At the end of the study, researchers found that quetiapine is an effective treatment for generalized anxiety disorder in adults.

However, research shows that even though Seroquel might be effective for anxiety, people with anxiety disorders who use this medication might experience severe side effects.

When to Use Seroquel

Seroquel should be considered as an anxiety treatment only when other anxiety medications like Prozac, Zoloft and, Celexa have proven to be ineffective.

Using Seroquel or any other anxiety medication regularly and properly is important to ensure proper treatment of your symptoms. If your doctor prescribes Seroquel for your anxiety, it is essential to continue using it for as long as your doctor states.

Even if your anxiety symptoms improve and you feel you no longer need the drug, don’t discontinue use without first consulting with your doctor. 

It’s essential to know that using Seroquel alongside anticonvulsant medication could potentially make them less effective in treating your symptoms. 

Dosage 

Seroquel is used off-label for the treatment of anxiety disorders, this means that there are no standard doses provided by the manufacturer for using this medication.

If your doctor prescribes Seroquel for your anxiety, it’s essential that you strictly follow the dosage they recommend to avoid taking too little or too much.

Your doctor is most likely to examine your medical history, the severity of your condition and symptoms, and your tolerance for Seroquel before recommending a dosage. 

The extended-release version of the medication is more commonly used for treating anxiety disorders. The extended release formulation steadily releases the medication into your body throughout the day. It is typically prescribed to be taken once a day, preferably at bedtime, and comes in 50mg, 150mg, 200mg, 300mg, and 400mg doses.

While you can take the immediate-release version with or without food, it is usually advised that you take the extended-release version without food, or with a very light meal.

Before Taking 

People who have allergic reactions to quetiapine should not take Seroquel. If you notice any symptoms of itching, swelling, hives, or difficulty breathing when using Seroquel, you might be allergic to quetiapine and you should inform your doctor of your symptoms as soon as you can. 

Pregnancy

People who are pregnant are often discouraged from taking Seroquel. Taking this medication in the third trimester of your pregnancy could cause complications for your baby when they are born.

However, if you become pregnant while already on Seroquel, do not discontinue use without first consulting with your doctor. 

Side Effects 

While Seroquel might be an effective treatment for anxiety, there are some common side effects that you might experience while using it:

  • Constipation 
  • Tiredness
  • Dry mouth 
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness 
  • Mood change 
  • Sore throat 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 

Some people might experience more severe symptoms such as: 

  • Lightheadedness 
  • Uncontrolled muscle movements 
  • Blurred visions 
  • High blood sugar 
  • Trouble swallowing or speaking 

Let your doctor know of any new or worsening side effects you experience while using this medication as soon as they occur. 

Warnings and Interactions 

If you notice any symptoms of tremors, confusion, uncontrolled muscle movements, weakness, and high fevers, you should consult with your doctor immediately. 

It’s essential to strictly follow your doctor’s prescription or the manufacturer’s recommendation when using Seroquel to treat any condition, not just anxiety.

An overdose or long-term use of the medication could cause irreversible movement disorders. 

The FDA also warns that using antipsychotic drugs like Seroquel increase the risk of death in older people who have dementia-related psychosis.

Antipsychotic medication like Seroquel can also increase the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts. If you notice any changes in your mood or behavior, or in the mood and behavior of a loved one who’s on the medication speak to your doctor, or call a suicide helpline.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Medline Plus. Quetiapine.

  2. Maan JS, Ershadi M, Khan I, Saadabadi A. Quetiapine. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2020.

  3. Maneeton N, Maneeton B, Woottiluk P, et al. Quetiapine monotherapy in acute treatment of generalized anxiety disorder: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Drug Design, Development and Therapy.

  4. Food and Drug Administration. Seroquel.

Additional Reading