Depakote (divalproex sodium) affects chemicals in the body that may be involved in causing seizures. Depakote is used to treat various types of seizure disorders. This medicine is sometimes used together with other seizure medications.
Depakote is also used to treat manic episodes related to bipolar disorder (manic depression), and to prevent migraine headaches. Depakote may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Read the Medication Guide and, if available, the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start taking divalproex sodium and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Take this medication by mouth as directed by your doctor. You may take it with food if stomach upset occurs. Swallow the tablet whole. Do not crush or chew the tablet, which can irritate the mouth or throat.
The dosage is based on your age, weight, medical condition, response to treatment, and other medications you may be taking. Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products). Use this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. Remember to use it at the same time each day to keep the amount of medication in your blood constant.
If this medication is used for seizures, do not stop taking it without consulting your doctor. Your condition may become worse if the drug is suddenly stopped. Your dose may need to be gradually decreased.
Divalproex sodium does not relieve acute migraine headaches. Take other medications as directed by your doctor for acute attacks.
Inform your doctor if your condition does not improve.
Depakote can cause liver failure that may be fatal, especially in children under age 2 and in people with liver problems caused by certain genetic disorders.
You should not use Depakote if you have liver disease, a urea cycle disorder, low platelet counts, or a genetic disorder such as Alpers' disease or Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome.
Follow your doctor's instructions about taking this medicine if you are pregnant. Divalproex sodium may harm an unborn baby, but having a seizure during pregnancy could harm both mother and baby. The benefit of preventing seizures may outweigh any risks to the baby.
Do not use Depakote to prevent migraine headaches if you are pregnant.
Call your doctor at once if the person taking this medicine has signs of liver or pancreas problems, such as: loss of appetite, upper stomach pain (that may spread to your back), ongoing nausea or vomiting, dark urine, swelling in the face, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
Do not stop using this medicine without your doctor's advice. Stopping suddenly may cause a serious, life-threatening type of seizure.
Diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, hair loss, blurred/double vision, change in menstrual periods, ringing in the ears, shakiness (tremor), unsteadiness, weight changes may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. You may rarely see partial tablets in your stool. This may occur if you have certain intestinal disorders (such as ileostomy, colostomy). Tell your doctor right away if you see partial tablets in your stool.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
A small number of people who take anticonvulsants for any condition (such as seizure, bipolar disorder, pain) may experience depression, suicidal thoughts/attempts, or other mental/mood problems. Tell your doctor right away if you or your family/caregiver notice any unusual/sudden changes in your mood, thoughts, or behavior including signs of depression, suicidal thoughts/attempts, thoughts about harming yourself.
Severe (sometimes fatal) brain disorder (encephalopathy) has rarely occurred, particularly in patients with certain metabolic disorders (urea cycle disorders). Tell your doctor right away if you develop unexplained weakness, vomiting, or sudden mental/mood changes (such as confusion).
Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: chest pain, easy bruising/unexplained bleeding, fast/slow/irregular heartbeat, swelling of hands/feet, uncontrolled eye movement (nystagmus), feeling cold/shivering, rapid breathing, loss of consciousness.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: fever, swollen lymph nodes, rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
How should I use this medicine?
Take this medicine by mouth with a drink of water. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Do not cut, crush or chew this medicine. You can take it with or without food. If it upsets your stomach, take it with food. Take your medicine at regular intervals. Do not take it more often than directed. Do not stop taking except on your doctor's advice.
A special MedGuide will be given to you by the pharmacist with each prescription and refill. Be sure to read this information carefully each time.
Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. While this drug may be prescribed for children as young as 10 years for selected conditions, precautions do apply.
What if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.
What should I watch for while using this medicine?
Tell your doctor or health care professional if your symptoms do not get better or they start to get worse.
Wear a medical ID bracelet or chain, and carry a card that describes your disease and details of your medicine and dosage times.
You may get drowsy, dizzy, or have blurred vision. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs mental alertness until you know how this medicine affects you. To reduce dizzy or fainting spells, do not sit or stand up quickly, especially if you are an older patient. Alcohol can increase drowsiness and dizziness. Avoid alcoholic drinks.
This medicine can make you more sensitive to the sun. Keep out of the sun. If you cannot avoid being in the sun, wear protective clothing and use sunscreen. Do not use sun lamps or tanning beds/booths.
Patients and their families should watch out for new or worsening depression or thoughts of suicide. Also watch out for sudden changes in feelings such as feeling anxious, agitated, panicky, irritable, hostile, aggressive, impulsive, severely restless, overly excited and hyperactive, or not being able to sleep. If this happens, especially at the beginning of treatment or after a change in dose, call your health care professional.
Women should inform their doctor if they wish to become pregnant or think they might be pregnant. There is a potential for serious side effects to an unborn child. Talk to your health care professional or pharmacist for more information.
This medicine may cause a decrease in folic acid and vitamin D. You should make sure that you get enough vitamins while you are taking this medicine. Discuss the foods you eat and the vitamins you take with your health care professional.