What is Depakote used for?

Depakote is the brand name for divalproex sodium which is also called valproic acid. It is an anti-seizure drug prescribed for the treatment of epilepsy, some bipolar disorder, and migraine headaches. Its use in the management of seizures is due to the fact that it affects certain chemical substances in the brain that are involved in causing seizures.

Depakote should not be used by pregnant women because of its teratogenicity, especially in causing spinal bifida, serious malformations and also in the lowering of the Intelligence quotient (IQ) of children that were exposed to Depakote. It should only be prescribed for the management of epilepsy in pregnant women if all other available options proved ineffective.

The risk of hepatotoxicity is very high when Depakote is used for a prolonged period of time, with the risk being higher in children under two years old than in adults. Depakote has also been known to cause severe pancreatitis in both adults and children. Therefore, before deciding on using Depakote, the risks should be carefully weighed against the benefits.

Depakote tablets are formulated for oral administration and they should be swallowed whole. The tablets are supplied in different strengths which contain 125 mg, 20 mg, or 500 mg of divalproex sodium. The extended release tablet, Depakote ER is formulated to be administered orally once daily and it should not be chewed or crushed before use because it can cause irritation of the mouth or the throat.


Read the instructions on the prescription label and follow them strictly in order to get the best results. Always adhere to the dosing instructions as given by your doctor, do not increase your dose or discontinue the administration of the drug without medical advice.
The prescribed dose will depend on individual patient’s condition being treated and also on the responses.

In the management of Complex Partial Seizures in adults and children 10 years of age or older, treatment should be initiated at 10 to 15 mg/kg daily. This dose can be increased every week by 5 to 10 mg/kg in order to achieve the maximum therapeutic response.
In managing Simple and Complex Absence Seizures, the initial dose should be 15 mg/kg daily which can then be increased by 5 to 10 mg/kg daily until the seizures are brought under control.

Depakote may also be used in adjunctive therapy in the management of epilepsy. However, as the dose of Depakote is increased, it will affect the bioavailability of the other anti-epileptic drugs being used.

The usual initial dose prescribed is 750 mg daily in divided doses. The dose should then be titrated upward rapidly so as to achieve the desired therapeutic effect with the lowest dose possible. The maximum daily dose recommended is 60 mg/kg per day.

Depakote is used in the prevention of migraine in adults. The recommended initial dose is 250 mg given twice in a day.
Usually Depakote ER doses are larger than the Depakote dosing; in most cases, the equivalent dose for Depakote tablets is usually 8- 10% of the Depakote ER doses. However, this is not always the case; therefore you should consult your pharmacist and doctor before using any of the formulations.
Depakote overdose occurs in most cases when more than 120mg of Depakote tablet is administered daily. Some of the overdose symptoms may include: loss of consciousness, shallow breathing, somnolence, or weak pulse. There are no available treatments for the overdose and it can only be addressed symptomatically.


Some of the common Depakote side effects include:
Blurred or double vision
An increase or decrease in appetite
Flu like symptoms
Weight gain
Memory impairment
Ringing in the ears
Hair loss
Irregular or painful menstrual periods

Some of these effects get resolved in time without medical advice. They should be reported to your doctor if they persist and become worrisome.
The serious side effects that should be reported to your doctor immediately they are observed include:
Chest pain
Easy bruising
Unexplained bleeding
Joint weakness
Rapid breathing
Loss of consciousness
Cardiac arrhythmia
Swelling of hands or feet
Involuntary eye movements
Unsteady gait
Cold and shivering
Abnormal mood swings
Unusual purple spots on the skin

Depakote can increase the risk of sunburn, therefore tanning beds and excessive direct sunlight should be avoided. Also, avoid taking alcohol and Depakote as this can worsen some of the side effects such as sleepiness or drowsiness, impaired judgment and difficulty in concentrating.


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