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Depakote Side Effects

Updated on May 28, 2010

Divalproex ER and Depakote ER

Divalproex ER (left) and Depakote ER (right)
Divalproex ER (left) and Depakote ER (right)

Depakote is a medication used to treat mania associated with bipolar disorder. This medication is also used to treat certain other conditions like epilepsy and migraine headaches. Like with other medications, Depakote side effects can be problematic for some people.

One of the common side effects of Depakote that many people find troublesome is weight gain. One woman who I spoke to said she gained eighty pounds while on Depakote. This woman, who was not overweight when I spoke to her, was able to lose the excess weight only after being switched to another medication. While an eighty-pound weight gain is an extreme example, many people gain a few pounds while taking Depakote.

A potentially serious side effect of Depakote is liver damage. While taking Depakote, the physician will order periodic blood tests to screen for liver problems. Depakote may not be a viable treatment option for people who already have liver conditions.

Other common Depakote side effects include dizziness, back pain, hair loss, headache,amnesia, rash, increased appetite, insomnia, leg and arm swelling, abnormal thinking, nervousness, staggering, emotional upset, constipation, blurred or double vision, and extreme drowsiness. Pancreatitis is a rare Depakote side effect. Depakote side effects can resemble the flu or a cold. It can cause bronchitis, sore throat, fever, weakness, abdominal pain, and runny nose.

Stomach upset, diarrhea, and nausea are common. People who experience these gastrointestinal symptoms may find it helpful to take Depakote with food. My doctor recommended eating a small snack, so I eat a few crackers when I take my dose and it seems to help.

Depakote should not be taken by pregnant women because it has been linked to autism, autism spectrum disorder, and developmental delay of infants born to mothers who took Depakote while pregnant. Some people experience increased suicidal thoughts. When being prescribed Depakote for the first time, the patient should discuss what Depakote side effects should be reported to the doctor.

Though the list of possible side effects is long, the only side effect of Depakote that I ever experienced was nausea. Some people have considerable difficulty taking this medication while others develop no side effects.

A positive side effect that I have experienced with Depakote is the treatment of my migraines. Even though I am on Depakote for bipolar disorder, I rarely get any migraine headaches any more. When I am off the Depakote medication, I get migraines as often as once or twice a week.


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      Katherine 5 years ago

      I just got diagnosted with Pancreatitis from taking Depakote. And I have also gotten diagnosed with some neurological like symptoms too attributed to the Depakote!! Help!

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      Lori Colbo 6 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      I had serious hair loss with depakote. Good hub.