Depakote Side Effects

What is Depakote?

Depakote is the brand name of the generic drug Divalproex sodium also called Valproic acid. It’s an oral medication used in the treatment of epilepsy and some mood diseases.Depakote is a mood stabilizer and an anticonvulsant which helps in restoring the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. [1, 3, 4]

Depakote Side Effects

Depakote was first made in 1881 and put to medical use in 1962 and has become the most widely recommended antiepileptic drug worldwide.Depakote is marketed under several brand names. These brand names include:

  • Depakene
  • Depakote Sprinkle
  • Depacon
  • Convulex
  • Depakote ER
  • Epilim
  • Depakote DR
  • Valproic
  • Stavzor

Uses of Depakote 

Depakote is a prescription medication that belongs to the groups of drugs called anticonvulsants drugs and is used in the treatment of the following conditions:[1, 2, 3, 4]

  • Depakote is used to treat epilepsy and manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder
  • It’s used to help avert a migraine
  • Depakote is also useful in averting seizures in people with partial, absence and generalized seizures.
  • Behavioral disorders associated with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
  • A doctor may also prescribe Depakote for other off-label uses. These uses include the treatment of conditions such as agitation, dementia, and hiccups.

Depakote Dosage Information


An average dosage guideline for taking Depakote include:[5, 7]

  • For adults with mania, the starting dose is 750mg in divided doses.
  • For those with a migraine, the starting dose is 250mg twice daily.
  • For adults with epilepsy, the initial dose is 10-15 mg daily and is increased weekly by 5-10mg. The maximum dose doesn’t exceed 60mg daily.
  • For senior adults, they’re started at a lower which is gradually increased depending on their response to the treatment. This is because of a decrease in unbound clearance of valproate and possibly a greater sensitivity to somnolence in senior adults.

Depakote Side Effects

In as much as Depakote is needed, it comes with undesired side effects. Some of these side effects may require medical attention and some may subside as the body adjusts to the medication. If you have any concerns about side effects consult with your doctor. Common side effects include:[1, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]

  • Hair loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in weight
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Dizziness
  • Indigestion
  • Black, tarry stools
  • Somnolence
  • Tremors
  • Joint pain
  • Memory impairment
  • Painful or irregular menstrual periods
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Hoarseness
  • Cough
  • Delusions
  • Dysphoria
  • Crying
  • Headache
  • Nervousness
  • Paranoia
  • Difficult or painful urination
  • Runny nose
  • Sweating
  • Unusual weakness or tiredness
  • Tingling of the feet or hands
  • Dry mouth
  • Lack of coordination
  • Muscle tightness or tension
  • Slurred speech
  • Twitching
  • Swollen joints
  • Increased need to urinate
  • Leg cramps
  • Puffing cheeks

Allergic reaction

If you experience any severe allergic reaction to this medication, ensure to go for an immediate medical checkup. Signs of a serious allergic reaction include itching, severe dizziness, rash, breathing difficulties, and swelling of the throat, face, or tongue.

Other serious side effects

Other serious side effects include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Dark urine
  • Chest pain
  • Persistent vomiting
  • Yellowing of the eyes or skin
  • Swelling of the legs, arms, face, feet, and hands
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions
  • Unexplained bleeding or easy bruising
  • Pain in the right side of the stomach
  • Panic attacks
  • Involuntary eye movement (Nystagmus)
  • Insomnia
  • Abdominal pain that worsens after eating or radiates to the back
  • Feelings of agitation or restlessness
  • Loss of consciousness
  • A worsening depression
  • Rapid breathing
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Tenderness when pressing on the stomach
  • Shivering
  • Body aches or pain

Withdrawal side effects

It is not advisable to quit Depakote without consulting with your doctor first. When a person suddenly quits an anticonvulsant drug like Depakote, it can cause other problems or serious withdrawal side effects. These withdrawal side effects include:

Bipolar relapse

For people who take Depakote to control mania associated with bipolar disorder, when they quit Depakote they may experience mania because the drug that was helping control the manic episodes has been taken away.


When the brain starts adjusting to function without Depakote, a person will experience poor concentration, memory problems, foggy thinking, mood swings and physical symptoms which contribute to feelings of confusion.


When coming off this drug some people experience feeling anger to the point of rage. This is because Depakote helps calm a person and when they quit it, it leads to the raged feeling.


This is another common withdrawal side effect. Quitting Depakote can cause a person to feel depressed and it could be because of changes in neurotransmitters involving GABA.


If a person is epileptic and they suddenly quit Depakote they may experience rebound seizures if they stay untreated.It’s crucial to consult with your doctor about a good tapering method to help reduce the risk of having seizures.


After quitting this drug, some people may feel extremely tired with low levels of energy that can last for a few weeks.

Suicidal thoughts

Some people experience deep depression when they discontinue using Depakote to an extent of feeling suicidal especially for those with a medical account of suicidal actions or thoughts.


Withdrawal can cause increased anxiety and anxious thoughts. This side effect is quite common and will gradually subside over time.

Mood swings

When an individual quits Depakote, it’s usual that they’ll experience general mood swings. A person can go from being depressed to anxious and even angry. Mood fluctuation may continue until your body adjusts to being without Depakote.


If a person was taking this drug to treat a migraine and they stop using it, they may experience a rebound migraine. Others who were using it for other purposes may experience general headaches upon discontinuation.

Weight loss

A majority of people gain weight when they are on Depakote, so when they stop taking it they may gradually lose weight as their body adjusts to functioning without the drug.

Muscle weakness

Some individuals may experience muscle pain or weakness when they quit Depakote which should gradually improve after several weeks.

Other withdrawal side effects include concentration problems, dizziness, vision changes, nausea, tremors, insomnia, and irritability.

Overdose side effects

Some cases of Depakote overdose are mild but severe toxicity may lead to death after acute ingestion.Overdose side effects include:

  • Fainting
  • Irregular or slow heartbeat
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Coma
  • Tachycardia
  • Confusion
  • Worsened seizure control
  • Respiratory depression necessitating intubation
  • Hallucinations
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Ataxia
  • Cerebral edema
  • Somnolence
  • Dizziness
  • Hypothermia or hyperthermia
  • Headache
  • Hypotension
  • Irritability
  • Tremors
  • Chorea

Reference List

  9. Depakote Side effects

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