Depakote is used to help treat the symptoms of epilepsy. While there is no cure for this disease, some drug regimens may help control the symptoms so that they do not interfere with the patient's life in a severe degree. It is intended to be used in long-term situations to help manage your symptoms, but your doctor may want to do additional monitoring to help ensure that your body is taking to the medication well.
It is the brand name for the drug divalproex sodium or valproic acid. It is available in a syrup, delayed release capsules and tablets, extended release tablets and enteric coated tablets. This drug may be used in combination with other medications to help treat seizures caused by epilepsy.
In some cases, it may also be used to treat bipolar disorder or similar manic and depressive states. This drug can be used for long-term treatment without concern, though your doctor may occasionally ask for a blood sample to confirm that a safe level of the drug is in your system at any given time.
Prescriptions are often taken three times a day. If you are taking any type of capsule or tablet, you should not crush, chew or split them when you take your medication. If you are using sprinkle capsules, you may mix these with a small portion of soft food such as pudding or applesauce. You should not chew the granules when consuming your dose, and may need to drink a glass of water to ensure that you have consumed all of the medication.
Do not double up on doses of your medication to make up for those you have missed and you should not take a larger dose than what you have been prescribed to avoid potentially serious complications.
Up to 57 percent of users report shakiness when using this med. Other common side effects include nausea in 48 percent of patients, headaches in 31 percent, drowsiness in 30 percent, vomiting in up to 27 percent, weakness in 27 percent, and dizziness in 25 percent. In many cases, these symptoms gradually get better throughout the life of the prescription. If your symptoms do not improve or become worse over time, contact your doctor to determine whether or not you will need a change in your prescription.
Less common side effects, occurring in 5-25 percent of users include hair loss, abdominal pain, diarrhea, flu symptoms, infections, double vision, insomnia, blurred vision, nervousness, weight gain, back pain, memory loss, coordination issues, fever, ringing in the ears or changes in appetite. These symptoms are not necessarily severe, but you should report them to your doctor to determine if a change in your prescription might be necessary. Do not stop taking your medication without specific medical instruction to do so.
In serious cases, patients may report depression, signs of liver damage, signs of pancreatitis, worsening seizures, low body temperature, unexplained bruising, or suicidal thoughts. Any of these side effects should be reported to your medical professional immediately so you can receive the proper treatment. If you begin to develop itching, hives, rash or unexplained swelling, contact emergency medical services because you may be having an allergic reaction to your medication.
If you begin to suffer from dizziness, poor coordination, tremor, confusion, drowsiness, nausea or vomiting you may be suffering from an overdose of your medication. Contact emergency medical services or your local poison control center as soon as possible to get help. There is no specific antidote for this medication so you will need to get immediate medical care to rid your system of the medication.
Some medications are known for interacting negatively with Depakote. These include phenytoin, carbamazepine, rifampin, and phenobarbital which decrease the levels of the medication in your system, thus making it less effective. You should avoid taking high doses of drugs that contain aspirin because they will raise your blood levels and could cause heart-based complications. Other medications, including amitriptyline or lamotrigine may in turn be affected by this drug, which could cause an unsafe reaction in the body. Do not combine it with topiramate as this will increase the ammonia levels in your blood to a level that is unsafe.
Those using the med should not take alcohol or illegal drugs during the length of their prescription. This can make your symptoms worse, and may increase your risk that you may develop side effects, most notably sedation and dizziness. You should inform your doctor if you suffer from any diseases that affect the pancreas, liver or metabolism as this may impact how well you can clear it from your system.