Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Depakote (divalproex sodium) is a stable coordination compound comprised of sodium valproate and valproic acid used to treat manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder, epilepsy, and migraine headaches. Generic Depakote (termed divalproex sodium) is available under several other names. Side effects of Depakote include:
- stomach upset,
- mood swings,
- changes in menstrual periods,
- enlarged breasts,
- weight changes,
- tremor (shaking),
- vision changes,
- unusual or unpleasant taste in your mouth, and
- hair loss.
Antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), including Depakote, increase the risk of suicidal thoughts or behavior in patients taking these drugs for any indication. Tell your doctor if you have new or worsening depression, suicidal thoughts or behavior, and/or any unusual changes in mood or behavior.
The recommended initial dose of Depakote to treat mania is 750 mg daily in divided doses. The dose of Depakote to treat epilepsy as monotherapy should be initiated at 10 to 15 mg/kg/day. The recommended starting dose of Depakote to treat migraines is 250 mg twice daily. Depakote may interact with ritonavir, phenytoin, carbamazepine, phenobarbital, primidone, aspirin, carbapenem antibiotics, felbamate, rifampin, amitriptyline, nortriptyline, carbamazepine, clonazepam, diazepam, ethosuximide, lamotrigine, tolbutamide, warfarin, zidovudine, lorazepam, and topiramate. Depakote is not recommended for use during pregnancy; it may harm a fetus. Women should talk to their doctor about using contraception while taking Depakote. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.
Our Depakote (divalproex sodium) 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.
The following serious adverse reactions are described below and elsewhere in the labeling:
- Hepatic failure [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
- Birth defects [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
- Decreased IQ following in utero exposure [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
- Pancreatitis [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
- Hyperammonemic encephalopathy [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
- Suicidal behavior and ideation [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
- Bleeding and other hematopoietic disorders [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
- Hypothermia [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
- Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms (DRESS)/Multiorgan hypersensitivity reactions [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
- Somnolence in the elderly [see WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS]
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.
The incidence of treatment-emergent events has been ascertained based on combined data from two three week placebo-controlled clinical trials of Depakote in the treatment of manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder. The adverse reactions were usually mild or moderate in intensity, but sometimes were serious enough to interrupt treatment. In clinical trials, the rates of premature termination due to intolerance were not statistically different between placebo, Depakote, and lithium carbonate. A total of 4%, 8% and 11% of patients discontinued therapy due to intolerance in the placebo, Depakote, and lithium carbonate groups, respectively.
Table 2 summarizes those adverse reactions reported for patients in these trials where the incidence rate in the Depakote-treated group was greater than 5% and greater than the placebo incidence, or where the incidence in the Depakote-treated group was statistically significantly greater than the placebo group. Vomiting was the only reaction that was reported by significantly (p ≤ 0.05) more patients receiving Depakote compared to placebo.
Table 2. Adverse Reactions Reported by > 5% of Depakote-Treated Patients During
Placebo-Controlled Trials of Acute Mania1
(n = 89)
(n = 97)
|1 The following adverse reactions occurred at an equal or greater incidence for placebo than for Depakote: back pain, headache, constipation, diarrhea, tremor, and pharyngitis.|
The following additional adverse reactions were reported by greater than 1% but not more than 5% of the 89 Depakote-treated patients in controlled clinical trials:
Body as a Whole: Chest pain, chills, chills and fever, fever, neck pain, neck rigidity.
Hemic and Lymphatic System: Ecchymosis.
Metabolic and Nutritional Disorders: Edema, peripheral edema.
Nervous System: Abnormal dreams, abnormal gait, agitation, ataxia, catatonic reaction, confusion, depression, diplopia, dysarthria, hallucinations, hypertonia, hypokinesia, insomnia, paresthesia, reflexes increased, tardive dyskinesia, thinking abnormalities, vertigo.
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 Depakotetreated patients (6%), compared to 1% of placebo-treated patients.
Table 3 lists treatment-emergent adverse reactions which were reported by ≥ 5% of Depakotetreated 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 3. Adverse Reactions Reported by ≥ 5% of Patients Treated with Depakote During
Placebo-Controlled Trial of Adjunctive Therapy for Complex Partial Seizures
|Body System/Reaction||Depakote (%)
(n = 77)
(n = 70)
|Body as a Whole|
Table 4 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 4. 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/Reaction||High Dose (%)
(n = 131)
|Low Dose (%)
(n = 134)
|Body as a Whole|
|Skin and Appendages|
|1 Headache was the only adverse reaction 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:
Body as a Whole: Back pain, chest pain, malaise.
Cardiovascular System: Tachycardia, hypertension, palpitation.
Hemic and Lymphatic System: Petechia.
Musculoskeletal System: Myalgia, twitching, arthralgia, leg cramps, myasthenia.
Nervous System: Anxiety, confusion, abnormal gait, paresthesia, hypertonia, incoordination, abnormal dreams, personality disorder.
Skin and Appendages: Rash, pruritus, dry skin.
Special Senses: Taste perversion, abnormal vision, deafness, otitis media.
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 5 includes those adverse reactions reported for patients in the placebo-controlled trials where the incidence rate in the Depakote-treated group was greater than 5% and was greater than that for placebo patients.
Table 5. Adverse Reactions Reported by > 5% of Depakote-Treated Patients During
Migraine Placebo-Controlled Trials with a Greater Incidence Than Patients Taking
|Body System Reaction||Depakote
(N = 202)
(N = 81)
|1The following adverse reactions occurred in at least 5% of Depakote-treated patients and at an equal or 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 Depakote-treated patients in the controlled clinical trials:
Body as a Whole: Chest pain, chills, face edema, fever and malaise.
Cardiovascular System: Vasodilatation.
Hemic and Lymphatic System: Ecchymosis.
Metabolic and Nutritional Disorders: Peripheral edema, SGOT increase, and SGPT increase.
Musculoskeletal System: Leg cramps and myalgia.
Nervous System: Abnormal dreams, amnesia, confusion, depression, emotional lability, insomnia, nervousness, paresthesia, speech disorder, thinking abnormalities, and vertigo.
Respiratory System: Cough increased, dyspnea, rhinitis, and sinusitis.
Skin and Appendages: Pruritus and rash.
Special Senses: Conjunctivitis, ear disorder, taste perversion, and tinnitus.
The following adverse reactions have been identified during post approval use of Depakote. Because these reactions are reported voluntarily from a population of uncertain size, it is not always possible to reliably estimate their frequency or establish a causal relationship to drug exposure.
Neurologic: Paradoxical convulsion
There have been several reports of acute or subacute cognitive decline and behavioral changes (apathy or irritability) with cerebral pseudoatrophy on imaging associated with valproate therapy; both the cognitive/behavioral changes and cerebral pseudoatrophy reversed partially or fully after valproate discontinuation.
There have been reports of acute or subacute encephalopathy in the absence of elevated ammonia levels, elevated valproate levels, or neuroimaging changes. The encephalopathy reversed partially or fully after valproate discontinuation.
Hematologic :Relative lymphocytosis, macrocytosis, leukopenia, anemia including macrocytic with or without folate deficiency, bone marrow suppression, pancytopenia, aplastic anemia, agranulocytosis, and acute intermittent porphyria.
Endocrine: Irregular menses, secondary amenorrhea, hyperandrogenism, hirsutism, elevated testosterone level, breast enlargement, galactorrhea, parotid gland swelling, polycystic ovary disease, decreased carnitine concentrations, hyponatremia, hyperglycinemia, and inappropriate ADH secretion.
There have been rare reports of Fanconi’s syndrome occurring chiefly in children.
Metabolism and nutrition: Weight gain.
Special Senses: Hearing loss.
Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Depakote (Depakote Divalproex Sodium Tablets)