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Supporting Your Loved One

Tips and tools to help them get the most out of therapy

If you have a family member or friend with bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder, also called depression, it is important to watch for and try to prevent suicidal thoughts and actions. Make sure to:

  • Pay close attention to any changes, especially sudden changes, in mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings. This is very important when medication is started or when the dose is changed
  • Call the health care provider right away to report new or sudden changes in mood, behavior, thoughts, or feelings
  • Keep all follow-up visits with the health care provider as scheduled. Call the health care provider between visits as needed, especially if there are concerns about symptoms

Here are some additional things you should know and ways you can help.

Understanding bipolar disorder

People with bipolar disorder will have times when their mood is "normal" and balanced, or close to that. But they will also have times of extreme mood swings. These are called "episodes."

Although it may sound strange, your loved one could be experiencing an episode and not even realize it. You should familiarize yourself with the warning signs of a depressed "low" or manic "high," and you can aid your loved one by letting his or her health care professional know right away when you detect a warning sign.

Whether you are the spouse, a significant other, a family member, or a close friend of someone with bipolar disorder, your support is important. There are a few basic things you may be able to do to assist your loved one in managing bipolar disorder. Understanding the condition and its signs and symptoms is an important one. Learn more about support.

Understanding depression

Depression is a serious condition that can impact the way people feel about themselves and act toward others. People with depression no longer enjoy the things they used to. They may feel sad most of the time. Sleep may be difficult. It can be hard to concentrate or remember things. They may also experience aches, pains, or loss of appetite. They may feel helpless and unable to make things better. Many people with depression feel that life is no longer worth living. They may feel hopeless, like there's "no way out."

Some people with depression will experience just one episode. Most, however, will experience more than one and have the disorder throughout their lives. Whether you are the spouse, a significant other, a family member, or a close friend of someone with depression, your support is important. There are a few basic things you may be able to do to assist your loved one in managing depression. Understanding the condition and its signs and symptoms is an important one. Learn more about support.

Help with medical appointments

It's important for your loved one to keep scheduled medical appointments. This is true during episodes of illness and even when your loved one isn't having symptoms. If you are a spouse or significant other, you should consider attending medical appointments with your loved one's permission to get information firsthand from the health care professional.

Remind your loved one about medical appointments and offer to give him or her support during the appointment or to provide transportation, as needed.

Help with medication

Your loved one may not want to take prescribed medication. Side effects may be a concern. Do what you can, within reason, to enable your loved one to discuss the need for medication with his or her health care professional promptly. The health care professional should promptly be told about the following concerns.

  • If your loved one is complaining about side effects
  • If your loved one doesn't think a medication is working the way it should
  • If your loved one stops or is thinking about stopping taking a prescribed medication

Plan for future bipolar disorder episodes

Having a plan in place may let you and your loved one feel a little more in control. Make arrangements with your loved one during stable periods to help reduce problems during future episodes of illness. Talk about the possible need to put certain safeguards in place. These safeguards might include taking away credit cards, banking privileges, and car keys, and having a plan about when to go to the hospital.

Make sure you know where to find the following things.

  • Contact information for your loved one's health care professionals and pharmacy
  • A list of your loved one's medications and dosages
  • Your loved one's insurance information, such as plan names, coverage, and approved providers
  • Contact information for bipolar disorder support groups or crisis lines

Important Safety Information About SEROQUEL XR

Elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis (having lost touch with reality due to confusion and memory loss) treated with this type of medicine are at an increased risk of death, compared to placebo (sugar pill). SEROQUEL XR is not approved for treating these patients.

Antidepressants have increased the risk of suicidal thoughts and actions in some children, teenagers, and young adults. Patients of all ages starting treatment should be watched closely for worsening of depression, suicidal thoughts or actions, unusual changes in behavior, agitation, and irritability. Patients, families, and caregivers should pay close attention to any changes, especially sudden changes in mood, behaviors, thoughts, or feelings. This is very important when an antidepressant medicine is started or when the dose is changed. These symptoms should be reported immediately to the doctor. SEROQUEL XR is not approved for children under the age of 10 years.

Do not take SEROQUEL XR if you are allergic to quetiapine fumarate or any of the ingredients in SEROQUEL XR.

Stroke that can lead to death can happen in elderly people with dementia who take medicines like SEROQUEL XR.

Stop SEROQUEL XR and call your doctor right away if you have some or all of the following symptoms: high fever; excessive sweating; stiff muscles; confusion; changes in pulse, heart rate, and blood pressure. These may be symptoms of a rare, but very serious and potentially fatal, side effect called neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS).

High blood sugar and diabetes have been reported with SEROQUEL XR and medicines like it. If you have diabetes or risk factors such as obesity or a family history of diabetes, your doctor should check your blood sugar before you start taking SEROQUEL XR and also during therapy. If you develop symptoms of high blood sugar or diabetes, such as excessive thirst or hunger, increased urination, or weakness, contact your doctor. Complications from diabetes can be serious and even life threatening.

Increases in triglycerides and in LDL (bad) cholesterol and decreases in HDL (good) cholesterol have been reported with SEROQUEL XR. Your doctor should check your cholesterol levels before you start SEROQUEL XR and during therapy.

Weight gain has been reported with SEROQUEL XR. Your doctor should check your weight regularly.

Tell your doctor about any movements you cannot control in your face, tongue, or other body parts, as they may be signs of a serious condition called tardive dyskinesia (TD). TD may not go away, even if you stop taking SEROQUEL XR. TD may also start after you stop taking SEROQUEL XR.

Other risks include feeling dizzy or lightheaded upon standing, decreases in white blood cells (which can be fatal), or trouble swallowing. Tell your doctor if you experience any of these.

Before starting treatment, tell your doctor about all prescription and nonprescription medicines you are taking. Also tell your doctor if you have or have had low white blood cell count, seizures, abnormal thyroid tests, high prolactin levels, heart or liver problems, or cataracts. An eye exam for cataracts is recommended at the beginning of treatment and every 6 months thereafter.

Since drowsiness has been reported with SEROQUEL XR, you should not participate in activities such as driving or operating machinery until you know that you can do so safely. Avoid becoming overheated or dehydrated while taking SEROQUEL XR. Do not drink alcohol while taking SEROQUEL XR.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or intend to become pregnant. Avoid breast-feeding while taking SEROQUEL XR.

The most common side effects are drowsiness, dry mouth, constipation, dizziness, increased appetite, upset stomach, weight gain, fatigue, disturbance in speech and language, and stuffy nose.

Do not stop taking SEROQUEL XR without talking to your doctor. Stopping SEROQUEL XR suddenly may cause side effects.

This is not a complete summary of safety information. Please discuss the full Prescribing Information with your health care provider.

Approved Uses

SEROQUEL XR is a once-daily tablet approved in adults for (1) add-on treatment to an antidepressant for patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) who did not have an adequate response to antidepressant therapy; (2) acute depressive episodes in bipolar disorder; (3) acute manic or mixed episodes in bipolar disorder alone or with lithium or divalproex; (4) long-term treatment of bipolar disorder with lithium or divalproex; and (5) schizophrenia.

Please read the accompanying Medication Guide and full Prescribing Information, including Boxed WARNINGS.

Click here to see the Prescribing Information for SEROQUEL XR, including Boxed WARNINGS .

Click here to see the Medication Guide for SEROQUEL XR .

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.FDA.gov/medwatch or call  1-800-FDA-1088.

 This site is intended for US consumers only.

The information on this Web site should not take the place of talking with your doctor or health care professional. If you have any questions about your condition, or if you would like more information about SEROQUEL XR, talk to your doctor or pharmacist. Only you and your health care professional can decide if SEROQUEL XR is right for you.

Patient photos are intended to be representative of typical patients with bipolar disorder and/or major depressive disorder and are not of actual patients.