Seroquel Weight Gain: Why it Happens and How to Counter it

Seroquel, also known by its generic name quetiapine, is a commonly prescribed medication used to treat various mental health conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder.

Seroquel was developed by Zeneca Pharmaceuticals in the 1980s. After rigorous research and clinical trials, the U.S. FDA granted approval for Seroquel in 1997 to treat schizophrenia. Over time, its efficacy in managing other mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, became evident, leading to additional FDA approvals. Seroquel gained popularity for its relatively favorable side effect profile compared to older antipsychotics and was often prescribed off-label for various mental health disorders.

The patent expiration in 2011 facilitated the entry of generic versions, increasing accessibility and affordability. Despite its success, Seroquel has faced controversy and litigation, including a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. Ongoing research continues to deepen our understanding of its mechanism of action and potential new applications.

However, while Seroquel can be highly effective in managing these conditions, it is not without side effects some of which can be serious. One of the most concerning side effects for many patients is weight change. Studies have revealed that approximately 23 percent of individuals who use Seroquel experience weight gain of 7 percent or more of their original body weight.

Weight changes associated with Seroquel can manifest in different ways. Some individuals may experience significant weight gain, while others might encounter weight loss or fluctuating weight. Understanding the link between Seroquel and weight changes is crucial for both patients and healthcare providers to make informed decisions about treatment and lifestyle adjustments. In this article, we will delve into the factors contributing to Seroquel-induced weight changes, potential mechanisms, and strategies to manage them.

Factors Contributing to Weight Changes

Several factors contribute to the weight changes observed in individuals taking Seroquel:

1.      Metabolic Effects: Seroquel interacts with certain neurotransmitters in the brain, leading to metabolic changes that can affect appetite, metabolism, and fat storage. The drug can increase insulin levels, promoting fat accumulation and hindering the breakdown of fats.

2.      Appetite Stimulation: Seroquel has been linked to increased appetite, causing patients to experience intense cravings and consume more calories than usual.

3.      Sedation and Reduced Physical Activity: Some individuals on Seroquel may experience sedation and fatigue, leading to reduced physical activity and a more sedentary lifestyle, which can contribute to weight gain.

4.      Hormonal Imbalances: Seroquel can disrupt the balance of hormones that regulate appetite and satiety, such as leptin and ghrelin, further influencing weight changes.

5.      Individual Variability: Each person’s response to Seroquel is unique, and genetic factors may also play a role in determining how the drug affects their weight.

Potential Mechanisms

The mechanisms behind Seroquel-induced weight changes are not yet fully understood. However, researchers have proposed several hypotheses:

1.      Histamine Blockade: Seroquel’s antihistamine properties may contribute to increased appetite and subsequent weight gain.

2.      Serotonin and Dopamine Modulation: The drug’s impact on serotonin and dopamine receptors in the brain might affect the reward center and pleasure-seeking behaviors, leading to overeating.

3.      Increased Cortisol Levels: Seroquel has been associated with elevated cortisol levels, which can promote fat accumulation, particularly around the abdominal area.

How Fast Do You Gain Weight On Seroquel

The extent of weight gain can vary from person to person. Some individuals may experience significant weight gain, while others may not gain much weight at all. The majority of this weight gain typically happens during the initial 12 weeks of treatment and doesn’t show a clear correlation with the dosage administered.

How To Counter The Weight Gain On Seroquel

Weight changes can be a significant concern for individuals taking Seroquel, but there are strategies to help manage these effects:

1.      Lifestyle Modifications: Adopting a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity can help offset the weight gain associated with Seroquel. Working with a registered dietitian and an exercise professional can provide personalized guidance.

2.      Medication Review: If weight gain becomes a significant issue, patients should consult their healthcare provider to explore alternative medications with fewer metabolic side effects.

3.      Behavioral Therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other behavioral interventions can help patients develop healthier eating habits and coping mechanisms to manage weight changes.

4.      Monitoring and Awareness: Regular monitoring of weight and body measurements can help detect changes early, allowing for timely intervention.

5.      Combination Therapy: In some cases, doctors may prescribe medications to counteract Seroquel-induced weight gain, though this approach should be carefully considered based on individual needs.


Seroquel is a valuable medication in managing mental health conditions, but weight changes can be a challenging side effect for some patients. Understanding the link between Seroquel and weight changes can empower patients and healthcare providers to take proactive measures to minimize these effects. A comprehensive approach that includes lifestyle modifications, medication reviews, and behavioral interventions can help individuals maintain a healthy weight while receiving the necessary treatment for their mental health conditions. Regular communication with healthcare providers is crucial to ensure the best possible outcomes while balancing the benefits of Seroquel with its potential side effects.


Dr. Oche Otorkpa PG Cert, MPH, PhD

Dr. Oche is a seasoned Public Health specialist who holds a post graduate certificate in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, an MPH, and a PhD both from Texila American University. He is a member of the International Society of Substance Use Professionals and a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health in the UK. He authored two books: "The Unseen Terrorist," published by AuthorHouse UK, and "The Night Before I Killed Addiction."
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