What is Depakote?
Depakote is a medication known as an anticonvulsant that is used to treat the manic symptoms of bipolar disorder. It is also used to treat seizures and prevent migraine headaches.


When did the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approve the medication?
Depakote was first approved by the FDA in 1996.


Is there a generic version of Depakote?
Yes, the generic version is known as divalproex sodium and is sold in the U.S.


Are there any major differences between Depakote and other antipsychotics used to treat bipolar disorder?
Depakote belongs to the class of medications known as anticonvulsants. Anticonvulsants are sometimes taken to treat the manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder. Depakote is sometimes prescribed when patients experience rapid cycling of mood episodes and works by calming the hyperactivity of the brain during mania.

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Can children take Depakote?
Children under the age of two are at higher risk for liver damage when taking the medication. Talk to your child’s doctor about the risks of using the medication.


Are there potential interaction issues for people taking Depakote and any other drugs?
There are hundreds of drugs which are known to interact with Depakote in major, moderate, or mild ways, so let your doctor know what other medications you are taking before you begin taking the medication. Some of these include hepatic enzyme-inducing drugs, aspirin, carbapenem antibiotics, diazepam, ethosuximide, lamotrigine, phenytoin, amitriptyline, nortriptyline, warfarin, zidovudine, and topiramate.


Are there any other medical conditions that would make someone ineligible for Depakote therapy?
Talk to your doctor about other medical conditions before you take Depakote. Persons with liver disease, mitochondrial disease, and urea cycle disorders are typically advised not to take Depakote.


What is the typical dose that would be prescribed to someone taking Depakote?
The FDA recommends that dosage for treating mania begin at 750 mg daily. The maximum recommended dosage is 60mg/kg per day.


What do I do if I miss a dose?
Take the dose of Depakote when you remember, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. You should never take extra doses of the medication to make up for missed doses.


What side effects can Depakote cause?
The side effects of Depakote can include:
• headaches
• sleepiness
• nausea
• tremors
• fatigue
• vomiting
• dizziness
• blurred vision
• stomach pain
• diarrhea
• weight gain
• hair loss
• coordination problems

It also is recommended that you wait to drive or operate machinery until you know how the medication affects you. It is also recommended that people avoid alcohol and illegal drugs while on the medication, as they can worsen adverse effects. Report major side effects to your doctor immediately, which can include red or purple spots on skin, swelling or pain in joints, bruising, drowsiness, vomiting, change in mental status, drop in body temperature, fever, rash, hives, mouth sores, peelings of skin, swelling of face, and trouble swallowing or breathing. You can also report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or online.


What are the potential psychological side effects of taking Depakote?
Depakote causes suicidal thoughts in a small percentage of people who take the medication. Seek medical help if you experience these thoughts or other changes in your behavior or mood.


What are the potential long-term effects of taking Depakote?
Depakote can cause liver damage, and the risk is more likely to occur during the first 6 months of taking the medication. Signs might include nausea or vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, dark-colored urine, facial swelling, and yellowing of the skin or white of eyes. Cases of pancreatitis among children and adults taking the medication have also been reported.


Is it safe for a woman who is pregnant, about to become pregnant, or nursing to take Depakote?
Depakote can cause birth defects and fetal harm when taken during pregnancy. The drug can be transferred via breast milk and potentially harm a baby. Therefore, talk to your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are nursing before you take Depakote.


Can symptoms occur if Depakote is discontinued?
It’s important not to discontinue use of the drug before talking with your doctor. Withdrawal symptoms of Depakote can include irritability, anxiety, the return of manic or depressive symptoms, dizziness, and tremors.


What should I do if I overdose on Depakote?
An overdose of Depakote could be fatal, so seek immediate help or call the Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-1222 if you overdose. Overdose symptoms can include irregular heartbeat, sleepiness, and loss of consciousness resulting in a coma.


Is Depakote habit-forming?
Depakote has no habit-forming potential, but it is not recommended that you discontinue use of the drug before talking with your doctor, as withdrawal symptoms can occur.


How much does Depakote cost?
According to goodrx.com, 60 tables of 500 mg divalproex sodium cost approximately $170.


Are there any disadvantages to Depakote?
The biggest disadvantages of Depakote are potential side effects which include possible liver damage or pancreatitis. Pregnant women are also typically advised not to take the medication due to the risk of birth defects.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained herein should NOT be used as a substitute for the advice of an appropriately qualified and licensed physician or other health care provider. This article mentions drugs that were FDA-approved and available at the time of publication and may not include all possible drug interactions or all FDA warnings or alerts. The author of this page explicitly does not endorse this drug or any specific treatment method. If you have health questions or concerns about interactions, please check with your physician or go to the FDA site for a comprehensive list of warnings.

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Last Updated: Aug 6, 2018