Depakote and Weight Gain

by on May 16, 2012

When considering a new medication, it is always advantageous to research warnings and possible side effects. Oftentimes weight gain is on the list of potential side effects, and for many people this is a deal breaker. What can a patient expect as far as Depakote and weight gain?

Depakote and weight gain is a tricky subject when it comes to patients using the medication for bipolar disorder, since a steep weight increase can cause mood problems to worsen. In a clinical study, up to 9% of people taking Depakote (Divalproex sodium) experienced weight gain. This was seen the most in patients consuming the drug for migraine prevention (8%) or for complex partial seizures (9%). Some subjects have complained of a more extreme weight gain--up to 30 pounds or more.

Exercise to Prevent Weight Gain with Depakote

General advice is to exercise, including weight-training and cardio activity, such as jogging and bicycling. When a person exercises, endorphins--known as "feel good chemicals"--are released, which in and of itself can positively impact a person who is suffering from a condition such as bipolar disorder. Regular exercise, about 30 to 60 minutes a day at least 3 to 5 days a week, is very important in burning calories, building muscle and keeping unwanted pounds at bay.

The Importance of Diet to Prevent Depakote Weight Gain

Eating right is also crucial to combating weight gain while on Depakaote. Whole foods (foods that are unprocessed and unrefined) provide vital nutrients without empty calories. Making sure to consume fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and lean meat can help with weight loss and/or weight stabilization. Limiting alcohol intake, steering clear of saturated and trans fats, sodium, and added sugars is also a good idea. In addition, a patient can speak with their doctor about adding medication that can help prevent weight gain while taking Depakote.

Should a patient be hesitant about taking a medication like Depakote due to its unpleasant side effects, they should understand the pros of a medication usually overshadow the cons. A health care provider needs and wants to hear a patient's concerns, so they can successfully identify and prescribe a suitable medication.