Depakote is an anti-seizure drug manufactured by the Abbot Laboratories, which is commonly known as divalproex sodium or valproic acid. The drug is used to treat epilepsy, migraine headaches and some mood disorders. It is believed to work by increasing the amount of GABA, a chemical neurotransmitter in the brain. GABA is a chemical that helps to prevent the brain signals from causing seizures. This effect of Depakote helps in restoring the natural balance of the chemicals in the brain and lessens the acute mood swings, particularly the ones associated with manic depression. Depakote was first approved for the treatment of epilepsy in the year 1983. Significant success was seen with the use of Depakote which allowed The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve it for the treatment of bipolar disorder in the year 1995. Within one year of its trial, the drug began to be used as a migraine prevention medication.
The drug, however, showed negative effects on patients suffering from schizophrenia. When Abbot Laboratories tried to use Depakote to bring down the agitation and aggression in elderly patients without the approval of FDA, they had to face federal charges as the drug caused more harm to the patients. Depakote comes with high risks of severe side effects due to which the FDA has made it mandatory for the manufacturers to produce the drug with a list of black-box warnings. There are high risks of severe liver damage in the first six months of the use of Depakote. Several cases of pancreatitis have also been registered with the consumption of Depakote resulting in rapid death after showing symptoms. The drug is strictly prohibited for children under 2 years of age. Depakote is manufactured in various forms such as Depacon injections (valproate sodium), Depakote, Depakote ER and Depakote CP (divalproex sodim), Stavzor (valproic acid) and Depakene. The FDA has approved the drug to be used for seizure treatment for adults and children over 10 years of age, and for the treatment of migraine for people over 16 years of age.
USES OF DEPAKOTE:
1. Depakote increases the amount of gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA) in the brain. This helps in soothing the over-stimulated nerves and stabilize the mental state of the patients.
2. Depakote helps in preventing the changes in the brain’s electrical system that lead to seizures and cause epilepsy. The drug is used in combination with some other drugs in case of complex conditions of partial seizures.
3. The drug also works as a mood stabilizer and helps in treating bipolar manic episodes such as elevated energy and mood levels, reckless behavior and agitation.
4. Depakote is used in combination with serotonin reuptake inhibitors for the treatment of acute bipolar depression.
5. The other important use of Depakote includes reducing the occurrence of severe and painful migraine headaches. The medicine suits best for those who experience 2 to 3 migraine headaches weekly.
SIDE EFFECTS OF DEPAKOTE:
1. The common side effects of Depakote include slow mental behavior and tiredness.
2. Some patients using Depakote have also experienced hair loss, nausea, weight gain and tremors.
3. In Women, Depakote typically causes polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which leads to the development of ovarian cysts and hinders their ability to get pregnant.
4. The most severe side effect of Depakote occurs in pregnant women resulting in severe birth defects in their children. The drug causes the defects to develop into the fetuses in the very first month of pregnancy and also passes into their breast milk.
5. The most common birth defects reported include spinal cord or brain damage, heart defects, malformed limbs or brain, malformed face, autism and extra fingers or toes.
6. Depakote is also believed to develop suicidal tendencies and thoughts in mentally unstable patients.
7. The drug can cause liver damage characterized by loss appetite, vomiting, dark urine, swelling of limbs and eyes, nausea, pain in the right side of the stomach, etc.
8. Depakote can also cause mental disturbances such as panic attacks, anxiety, depression, agitation, restlessness or insomnia.
9. The drug may also result in life-threatening pancreatitis characterized by abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea or tenderness in pressing the stomach.
10. Patients with certain metabolic disorders may develop Encephalopathy, a severe brain disorder as a possible side effect with the use of Depakote.
11. The other common side effects of Depakote include Diarrhea, blurred vision, unsteadiness, dizziness, hair loss, weight gain, and memory impairment.
12. The serious side effects of Depakote include chest pain, excessive cold or shivering, unexplained bleeding, Nystagmus, irregular heartbeat, rapid breathing, swelling of hands and feet, loss of consciousness, etc. along with rashes and itching.