Generic Name: divalproex sodium
What is Depakote?
Depakote (Generic Name: divalproex sodium) is an anticonvulsant medication prescribed to treat manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder; alone or in tandem with other medications to prevent and control seizures in patients age 10 and older; and to prevent migraine headaches. It treats complex partial onset seizures that occur on their own, or with other types of seizures.
Patients under age two have an increased risk of fatal hepatotoxicity when taking Depakote. The safety and effectiveness of Depakote for patients over age 65 has not been established.
How to Use Depakote
Before starting or refilling a Depakote prescription, read the medication guide included with your pills, as it may be updated with new information.
This guide should not replace a conversation with your doctor, who has a holistic view of your or your child’s medical history, other diagnoses, and other prescriptions. If you have questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist before you begin taking the medication.
Dosage for Depakote
As with all medications, follow your Depakote prescription instructions exactly.
Depakote is available in several formulations:
- Depakote Tablet: Swallowed whole with water or another liquid in divided doses. Tablets are available in 125mg, 250mg, and 500mg doses.
- Depakote ER (Extended-Release): Swallowed whole once daily with water or another liquid. Tablets are available in 250mg and 500mg doses.
- Depakote Sprinkle Capsules: Capsules can be swallowed whole or opened and sprinkled over a soft food. Taken this way, the mixture should be swallowed entirely avoiding chewing. Tablets are available in 125mg dose. This formulation is only used to treat seizures.
The optimal dosage varies by patient; it is impacted by other medications the patient is taking, condition(s) being treated, and patient’s age. To minimize the risk side effects and attain maximum effectiveness, your doctor may start you on a lower dose, and gradually increase to the desired dosage.
When discontinuing treatment, or decreasing dosage, patients should work with a doctor. Stopping Depakote suddenly can cause serious health problems including seizures that do not stop. . Do not stop taking, or change the dosage of a Depakote prescription without contacting your healthcare provider.
Side Effects Associated with Depakote
The most common side effects of Depakote are as follows: nausea, headache, sleepiness, vomiting, weakness, tremors, dizziness, stomach pain, blurry or double vision, diarrhea, increased appetite, weight gain, hair loss, loss of appetite, or problems with walking/coordination.
Serious side effects include: bleeding problems, high ammonia levels in your blood, low body temperature, allergic reaction, and somnolence in the elderly.
Tell your doctor if you have a history of pancreatic or liver problems, especially those caused by a mitochondrial disorder like Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome. Depakote can cause serious liver damage or inflammation of the pancreas that can cause death, especially in children under two years old.
Taking Depakote may impair your ability to drive, operate machinery, or perform other potentially dangerous tasks. This side effect usually wears off with time. If side effects are bothersome, or do not go away, talk to your doctor.
Most people taking this medication do not experience any of these side effects.
Disclose to your physician all mental health issues including any family history of suicide, anxiety, mania, or depression. Depakote may create new or exacerbate existing suicidal thoughts or mental problems. Call your doctor immediately if you or your child experiences new or worsening mental health symptoms including panic attacks or unusual changes in mood.
The above is not a complete list of potential side effects. If you notice any health changes not listed above, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.
Precautions Associated with Depakote
Store Depakote in a secure place out of reach of children, and at room temperature.
You should not take Depakote if you have had an allergic reaction to Depakote or any ingredients in Depakote. Tell your doctor if you have ever had a rash or allergic reaction to another anti-seizure medication.
Do not drink alcohol while taking this medication.
If you are thinking of becoming pregnant, discuss the use of Depakote with your doctor. Depakote can cause serious birth defects including spina bifida or neural tube defects. Depakote is passed through breastmilk, so it is recommended that mothers use caution or do not nurse while taking it.
Interactions Associated with Depakote
Before taking Depakote, discuss all other active prescription medications with your doctor.
Depakote can have a drug interaction with — or decreased effectiveness because of — certain medications, including certain:
- Antidepressants (e.g., amitriptyline, nortriptyline, phenelzine)
- Antibiotics (e.g., doripenem, imipenem, and other carbapenems)
- Seizure Medications (e.g., carbamazepine, ethosuximide, lamotrigine, phenytoin, rufinamide, topiramate
When filling your prescription, share with your pharmacist a list of all vitamin or herbal supplements, plus prescription and non-prescription medications you take — especially any drugs that cause drowsiness. Let all doctors and physicians know you are taking Depakote before having any surgery or laboratory tests. The above is not a complete list of all possible drug interactions
Depakote: Next Steps
- Free Download:A Parent’s Guide to ADHD Medications
- Free Download: Medication Monitoring Log
- Read: What Is Bipolar Disorder?