Review of Depakote in Preventing Migraines

Side Effects and Drug Interactions of Depakote for Migraine Prevention

A woman suffering from a migraine.
A woman suffering from a migraine.. Eric Audras/Getty Images

Depakote is an anticonvulsant medication used to treat seizure disorders and treat manic episodes in bipolar disorder. It's also considered a "level A" or "effective" medication for preventing migraines, according to the 2012 American Headache Society and American Academy of Neurology treatment guidelines for the prevention of episodic migraines.

What are the Side Effects of Depakote?

Some common side effects of Depakote include gastrointestinal symptoms, like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, and an increase or decrease in appetite.

Common nervous system side effects include dizziness, headache, tremor, problems with walking or coordination, and thinking problems, like memory loss.

Some other side effects include:

  • hair loss
  • fatigue
  • rash
  • weight gain
  • bruising
  • insomnia
  • emotional changes like nervousness or depression
  • visual changes
  • back pain
  • upper respiratory symptoms (i.e., runny nose, bronchitis, etc.)
  • ringing in the ears

A serious side effect of Depakote is that it can cause liver damage, especially within the first 6 months of use. It has also been known to cause fatal pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas. In addition, Depakote may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in a small number of people. Finally, it can cause a low body temperature, drug reaction, as well as drowsiness in the elderly.

Pregnant women should not take Depakote because of its tendency to cause birth defects. Also, Depakote can cause other problems with a patient's blood count, so your doctor may need to order blood tests from time to time while taking Depakote.

Please note that this list is not meant to include all side effects. If you experience any bothersome and/or persistent side effects or have any concerns related to taking Depakote, please discuss them with your doctor.

Are There any Medications that Interact with Depakote?

Yes, just as most medications will interact with one or more prescription or over-the-counter remedies, this is the case with Depakote as well.

For example, certain medications that pass through the liver, such as phenytoin and carbamazepine, will be metabolized more quickly when you are on Depakote.

This is why it's important to inform your doctor of all the medications you are taking, including over-the-counter medications, herbals, and any vitamins or supplements. Your health care provider can help you understand whether or not you should be concerned about medication interactions.

What Does This Mean for Me if I'm Prescribed Depakote?

If you are prescribed Depakote, it's important to take the medication as indicated. Do not stop or change your dose without first consulting your neurologist. With the guidance of your doctor, Depakote can help prevent your migraine attacks, and if it ends up not being the right medication for you, that's okay too. There are a number of migraine preventive options out there.

Sources:

Banner Pharmacaps, Inc. and AbbVie Inc, approved by the FDA. Medication Guide: Depakote ER, Depakote, Depakene. Retrieved January 1st 2016.

Depakote Package Insert. Abbot Laboratories. Revised November 2009. http://www.rxabbott.com/pdf/dep3.pdf

Loder E, Burch R, Rizzoli P. The 2012 AHS/AAN guidelines for prevention of episodic migraine: a summary and comparison with other recent clinical practice guidelines. Headache. 2012;52:930-45.

DISCLAIMER: The information in this site is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for personal care by a licensed physician. Please see your doctor for diagnosis and treatment of any concerning symptoms or medical condition.

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