Depakote Side Effects

by on March 13, 2012


Prescribed primarily to patients with bipolar disorder in the UK, the US, and Canada, Depakote can be used to treat a variety of other symptoms. There are also several Depakote side effects that individuals should be aware of before they take the medication. The most dangerous side effect is a dramatically increased risk of extremely severe birth defects. Liver damage is also a concern among Depakote users, but most patients taking the drug only experience mild side effects such as drowsiness, poor coordination, and weight gain.

Common Depakote Side Effects

There are many possible side effects so it isn’t uncommon for individuals taking the medication to experience at least one adverse reaction. The most common side effects of Depakote are mild and generally subside with continued treatment. These symptoms include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • An increase or decrease in appetite
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Back pain
  • Lightheadedness
  • Heartburn
  • Flu like symptoms
  • Unexplained hair loss

If any of these side effects are interfering with your daily activities, become worse, or persist for several days, contact your doctor to discuss other treatment options or to adjust your Depakote dosage.

Serious Depakote Side Effects

depakote Some side effects can be more serious. Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Uncontrollable eye movements
  • Blurred vision
  • Persistent sore throat
  • Memory loss
  • Unusual thoughts
  • Lack of coordination
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Abnormal mood swings
  • Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears
  • Skin rash or blisters
  • Fever
  • Confusion
  • Hives
  • Joint weakness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Unusual skin spots that are purple in color
  • Swollen glands
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or actions

Because this medication works within the brain, serious psychiatric side effects may occur suddenly, with little or no warning. Report any changes in mood, behavior, or thoughts to your doctor immediately. Instances are rare, but side effects can also result in serious organ damage and other severe complications.

Depakote and Liver Damage

Certain individuals are at a higher risk of serious and even fatal liver damage when they take Depakote. Children under the age of 2 are the most vulnerable, followed closely by children and adults who take multiple medications to control their seizures. Severe seizure disorders, mental retardation, cognitive disabilities, and liver disease can also increase the risk of more serious damage. Side effects of Depakote that could be a sign of liver damage include:

  • More frequent or more intense seizures
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Weakness and loss of energy
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Facial swelling

If any of these symptoms occur while you are taking Depakote, contact your physician at once. Discuss the risks and benefits of your child’s health while taking this medication with his or her pediatrician before making a treatment decision.

Depakote can be very effective in several different treatment scenarios. Very young children, pregnant and nursing women, and patients with underlying conditions are typically the most likely to experience serious Depakote side effects, but everyone should discuss the risks of a new medication and carefully consider the benefits before starting any type of treatment plan.