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Depakote ER Side Effects Center
Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Depakote ER (divalproex sodium) is used to treat several conditions, including seizure disorders, acute manic or mixed episodes associated with bipolar disorder, and migraine headaches. Depakote ER is an anticonvulsant and mood stabilizer. This medication is available in generic form. Common side effects include diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, hair loss, blurred/double vision, change in menstrual periods, ringing in the ears, shakiness (tremor), unsteadiness, or weight changes.
Dosage of Depakote ER is based on weight, medical condition, and response to therapy. Depakote ER may interact with topiramate, blood thinners, aspirin, acetaminophen, zidovudine, clozapine, diazepam, meropenem, rifampin, or ethosuximide. Discuss all medications you are taking with your doctor. Depakote ER is not recommended for use during pregnancy. It may harm a fetus. However, since untreated seizures are a serious condition that can harm both a pregnant woman and her fetus, do not stop taking this medication unless directed by a doctor. If you are planning pregnancy, become pregnant, or think you may be pregnant, immediately talk to your doctor about the benefits and risks of using this medication. This medication passes into breast milk. While there have been no reports of harm to nursing infants, consult your doctor before breast-feeding. If Depakote ER is used for seizures, do not stop taking it without consulting your doctor. Your condition may become worse if the drug is suddenly stopped.
Our Depakote ER Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
What is Patient Information in Detail?
Easy-to-read and understand detailed drug information and pill images for the patient or caregiver from Cerner Multum.
Depakote ER in Detail - Patient Information: Side Effects
Seek emergency medical attention if the person taking this medicine has nausea, vomiting, upper stomach pain, or loss of appetite, low fever, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes). These symptoms may be early signs of liver damage or pancreatitis.
Report any new or worsening symptoms to your doctor, such as: mood or behavior changes, depression, anxiety, or if you feel agitated, hostile, restless, hyperactive (mentally or physically), or have thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have any of these other serious side effects:
- unexplained weakness with vomiting and confusion or fainting;
- easy bruising or bleeding, blood in your urine;
- fever, chills, body aches, swollen glands, flu symptoms;
- urinating less than usual;
- extreme drowsiness, lack of coordination, hallucinations;
- double vision or back-and-forth movements of the eyes; or
- severe skin reaction -- fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.
Less serious side effects may include:
- mild drowsiness or weakness;
- diarrhea, constipation, upset stomach;
- changes in your menstrual periods;
- enlarged breasts, weight changes;
- tremor (shaking);
- hair loss;
- vision changes; or
- unusual or unpleasant taste in your mouth.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Read the entire detailed patient monograph for Depakote ER (Divalproex Sodium) »
What is Patient Information Overview?
A concise overview of the drug for the patient or caregiver from First DataBank.
Depakote ER Overview - Patient Information: Side Effects
Diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, hair loss, blurred/double vision, change in menstrual periods, ringing in the ears, shakiness (tremor), unsteadiness, weight changes may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor immediately if any of these serious side effects occur: signs of infection (e.g., fever, persistent sore throat).
Tell your doctor immediately if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: chest pain, easy bruising/unexplained bleeding, fast/irregular heartbeat, swelling of hands/feet, uncontrolled eye movement (nystagmus).
A small number of people who take anticonvulsants for any condition (such as seizure, bipolar disorder, pain) may experience depression, suicidal thoughts/attempts, or other mental/mood problems. Tell your doctor immediately if you or your family/caregiver notice any unusual/sudden changes in your mood, thoughts, or behavior including signs of depression, suicidal thoughts/attempts, thoughts about harming yourself.
Tell your doctor immediately if any of these highly unlikely but very serious side effects occur: dark urine, persistent nausea/vomiting, severe stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes or skin.
Severe (sometimes fatal) brain disorder (encephalopathy) has rarely occurred, particularly in patients with certain metabolic disorders (urea cycle disorders). Tell your doctor immediately if you develop unexplained weakness and vomiting or sudden mental changes.
A serious allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but seek immediate medical attention if it occurs. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction include: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Read the entire patient information overview for Depakote ER (Divalproex Sodium)»
What is Prescribing information?
The FDA package insert formatted in easy-to-find categories for health professionals and clinicians.
Depakote ER FDA Prescribing Information: Side Effects
Because clinical studies are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical studies of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical studies of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.
Information on pediatric adverse reactions is presented in section 8.
The incidence of treatment-emergent events has been ascertained based on combined data from two three week placebo-controlled clinical trials of Depakote ER (divalproex sodium) in the treatment of manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder.
Table 3 summarizes those adverse reactions reported for patients in these trials where the incidence rate in the Depakote ER (divalproex sodium) -treated group was greater than 5% and greater than the placebo incidence.
Table 3. Adverse Reactions Reported by > 5% of Depakote-Treated
Patients During Placebo-Controlled Trials of Acute Mania1
|Adverse Event|| Depakote ER
|1. The following adverse reactions/event occurred at an equal or greater incidence for placebo than for Depakote ER: headache|
The following additional adverse reactions were reported by greater than 1% but not more than 5% of the Depakote ER (divalproex sodium) -treated patients in controlled clinical trials:
Cardiovascular System: Hypertension
Hemic and Lymphatic System: Ecchymosis
Metabolic and Nutritional Disorders:Peripheral Edema
Musculoskeletal System: Myalgia
Respiratory System: Rhinitis
Special Senses: Conjunctivitis
Based on a placebo-controlled trial of adjunctive therapy for treatment of complex partial seizures, Depakote was generally well tolerated with most adverse reactions rated as mild to moderate in severity. Intolerance was the primary reason for discontinuation in the Depakote-treated patients (6%), compared to 1% of placebo-treated patients.
Table 4 lists treatment-emergent adverse reactions which were reported by ≥ 5% of Depakote-treated patients and for which the incidence was greater than in the placebo group, in the placebo-controlled trial of adjunctive therapy for treatment of complex partial seizures. Since patients were also treated with other antiepilepsy drugs, it is not possible, in most cases, to determine whether the following adverse reactions can be ascribed to Depakote alone, or the combination of Depakote and other antiepilepsy drugs.
Table 4. Adverse Reactions Reported by > 5% of Patients
Treated with Valproate During Placebo-Controlled Trial of Adjunctive Therapy
for Complex Partial Seizures
|Body System/Event|| Depakote (%)
| Placebo (%)
|Body as a Whole|
Table 5 lists treatment-emergent adverse reactions which were reported by ≥ 5% of patients in the high dose valproate group, and for which the incidence was greater than in the low dose group, in a controlled trial of Depakote monotherapy treatment of complex partial seizures. Since patients were being titrated off another antiepilepsy drug during the first portion of the trial, it is not possible, in many cases, to determine whether the following adverse reactions can be ascribed to Depakote alone, or the combination of valproate and other antiepilepsy drugs.
Table 5. Adverse Reactions Reported by > 5% of Patients
in the High Dose Group in the Controlled Trial of Valproate Monotherapy for
Complex Partial Seizures1
|Body System/Event|| High Dose (%)
| Low Dose (%)
|Body as a Whole|
|Skin and Appendages|
|1. Headache was the only adverse event that occurred in ≥ 5% of patients in the high dose group and at an equal or greater incidence in the low dose group.|
The following additional adverse reactions were reported by greater than 1% but less than 5% of the 358 patients treated with valproate in the controlled trials of complex partial seizures:
Cardiovascular System: Tachycardia, hypertension, palpitation.
Hemic and Lymphatic System: Petechia.
Metabolic and Nutritional Disorders: SGOT increased, SGPT increased.
Skin and Appendages: Rash, pruritus, dry skin.
Based on two placebo-controlled clinical trials and their long term extension, valproate was generally well tolerated with most adverse reactions rated as mild to moderate in severity. Of the 202 patients exposed to valproate in the placebo-controlled trials, 17% discontinued for intolerance. This is compared to a rate of 5% for the 81 placebo patients. Including the long term extension study, the adverse reactions reported as the primary reason for discontinuation by ≥ 1% of 248 valproate-treated patients were alopecia (6%), nausea and/or vomiting (5%), weight gain (2%), tremor (2%), somnolence (1%), elevated SGOT and/or SGPT (1%), and depression (1%).
Table 6 includes those adverse reactions reported for patients in the placebo-controlled trial where the incidence rate in the Depakote ER (divalproex sodium) -treated group was greater than 5% and was greater than that for placebo patients.
Table 6. Adverse Reactions Reported by > 5% of Depakote
ER-Treated Patients During the Migraine Placebo-controlled Trial with a Greater
Incidence than Patients Taking Placebo1
|Body System Event|| Depakote ER
|1. The following adverse reactions occurred in greater than 5% of Depakote ER-treated patients and at a greater incidence for placebo than for Depakote ER: asthenia and flu syndrome.|
The following additional adverse reactions were reported by greater than 1% but not more than 5% of Depakote ER (divalproex sodium) -treated patients and with a greater incidence than placebo in the placebo-controlled clinical trial for migraine prophylaxis:
Body as a Whole: Accidental injury, viral infection.
Digestive System: Increased appetite, tooth disorder.
Metabolic and Nutritional Disorders: Edema, weight gain.
Nervous System: Abnormal gait, dizziness, hypertonia, insomnia, nervousness, tremor, vertigo.
Respiratory System: Pharyngitis, rhinitis.
Skin and Appendages: Rash.
Special Senses: Tinnitus.
Table 7 includes those adverse reactions reported for patients in the placebo-controlled trials where the incidence rate in the valproate-treated group was greater than 5% and was greater than that for placebo patients.
Table 7. Adverse Reactions Reported by > 5% of Valproate-Treated
Patients During Migraine Placebo-Controlled Trials with a Greater Incidence
than Patients Taking Placebo1
|Body System Reaction|| Depakote
|1. The following adverse reactions occurred in greater than 5% of Depakote-treated patients and at a greater incidence for placebo than for Depakote: flu syndrome and pharyngitis.|
The following additional adverse reactions were reported by greater than 1% but not more than 5% of the 202 valproate-treated patients in the controlled clinical trials:
Body as a Whole: Chest pain.
Cardiovascular System: Vasodilatation.
Digestive System: Constipation, dry mouth, flatulence, and stomatitis.
Hemic and Lymphatic System: Ecchymosis.
Metabolic and Nutritional Disorders: Peripheral edema.
Musculoskeletal System: Leg cramps.
Nervous System: Abnormal dreams, confusion, paresthesia, speech disorder, and thinking abnormalities.
Respiratory System: Dyspnea, and sinusitis.
Skin and Appendages: Pruritus.
Urogenital System: Metrorrhagia.
Other Patient Populations
The following adverse reactions not listed previously were reported by greater than 1% of Depakote-treated patients and with a greater incidence than placebo in placebo-controlled trials of manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder:
Body as a Whole: Chills, chills and fever, drug level increased, neck rigidity.
Hemic and Lymphatic System: Anemia, bleeding time increased, leucopenia.
Metabolic and Nutritional Disorders: Hypoproteinemia.
Musculoskeletal System: Arthrosis.
Respiratory System: Hiccup.
Special Senses: Conjunctivitis, dry eyes, eye disorder, eye pain, photophobia, taste perversion.
Urogenital System: Cystitis, menstrual disorder.
Adverse reactions that have been reported with all dosage forms of valproate from epilepsy trials, spontaneous reports, and other sources are listed below by body system.
The most commonly reported side effects at the initiation of therapy are nausea, vomiting, and indigestion. These effects are usually transient and rarely require discontinuation of therapy. Diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and constipation have been reported. Both anorexia with some weight loss and increased appetite with weight gain have also been reported. In some patients, many of whom have functional or anatomic (including ileostomy or colostomy) gastrointestinal disorders with shortened GI transit times, there have been postmarketing reports of Depakote ER (divalproex sodium) tablets in stool.
Sedative effects have occurred in patients receiving valproate alone but occur most often in patients receiving combination therapy. Sedation usually abates upon reduction of other antiepileptic medication. Tremor (may be dose-related), hallucinations, ataxia, headache, nystagmus, diplopia, asterixis, "spots before eyes", dysarthria, dizziness, confusion, hypesthesia, vertigo, incoordination, and parkinsonism have been reported with the use of valproate. Rare cases of coma have occurred in patients receiving valproate alone or in conjunction with phenobarbital. In rare instances encephalopathy with or without fever has developed shortly after the introduction of valproate monotherapy without evidence of hepatic dysfunction or inappropriately high plasma valproate levels. Although recovery has been described following drug withdrawal, there have been fatalities in patients with hyperammonemic encephalopathy, particularly in patients with underlying urea cycle disorders [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
Several reports have noted reversible cerebral atrophy and dementia in association with valproate therapy.
Transient hair loss, skin rash, photosensitivity, generalized pruritus, erythema multiforme, and Stevens-Johnson syndrome. Rare cases of toxic epidermal necrolysis have been reported including a fatal case in a 6 month old infant taking valproate and several other concomitant medications. An additional case of toxic epidermal necrosis resulting in death was reported in a 35 year old patient with AIDS taking several concomitant medications and with a history of multiple cutaneous drug reactions. Serious skin reactions have been reported with concomitant administration of lamotrigine and valproate [see DRUG INTERACTIONS].
Emotional upset, depression, psychosis, aggression, hyperactivity, hostility, and behavioral deterioration.
Thrombocytopenia and inhibition of the secondary phase of platelet aggregation may be reflected in altered bleeding time, petechiae, bruising, hematoma formation, epistaxis, and frank hemorrhage [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS and DRUG INTERACTIONS]. Relative lymphocytosis, macrocytosis, hypofibrinogenemia, leukopenia, eosinophilia, anemia including macrocytic with or without folate deficiency, bone marrow suppression, pancytopenia, aplastic anemia, agranulocytosis, and acute intermittent porphyria.
Minor elevations of transaminases (e.g., SGOT and SGPT) and LDH are frequent and appear to be dose-related. Occasionally, laboratory test results include increases in serum bilirubin and abnormal changes in other liver function tests. These results may reflect potentially serious hepatotoxicity [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS].
There have been rare spontaneous reports of polycystic ovary disease. A cause and effect relationship has not been established.
There have been rare reports of Fanconi's syndrome occurring chiefly in children.
Decreased carnitine concentrations have been reported although the clinical relevance is undetermined.
Hyperglycinemia has occurred and was associated with a fatal outcome in a patient with preexistent nonketotic hyperglycinemia.
Enuresis and urinary tract infection.
Hearing loss, either reversible or irreversible, has been reported; however, a cause and effect relationship has not been established. Ear pain has also been reported.
Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Depakote ER (Divalproex Sodium) »
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