Side Effects of Depakote in Bipolar Disorder

Common and Serious Side Effects of Depakote

Pharmacist serving customer in pharmacy
Pharmacist serving customer. Ariel Skelley/Blend Images/Getty Images

Depakote (divalproex sodium) is an anti-seizure medication that is also used as a mood stabilizer in the management of bipolar disorder. 

By reviewing the common and serious side effects of Depakote, you will feel prepared and informed if prescribed this medication by your doctor.

What are the Common Side Effects of Depakote?

According to the FDA, common side effects of Depakote include:

  • headache
  • sleepiness
  • weakness
  • tremor
  • dizziness
  • vision changes (e.g. blurry or double vision)
  • change in appetite, either loss or gain
  • hair loss
  • weight gain
  • abnormal gait

It's important to discuss these symptoms with your doctor if one or more occur, especially if bothersome or persistent.

What are the Serious Side Effects of Depakote?

Depakote may cause liver damage or inflammation of the pancreas, which could be fatal. Like other anti-seizure medications, Depakote may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in a small number of people.

Depakote can also cause a low body temperature. In addition, allergic reactions, high ammonia levels in the blood, and bleeding problems may result from taking Depakote. Finally, Depakote often causes drowsiness, especially in the elderly.

In the treatment of bipolar disorder, Depakote is a pregnancy category D drug. This means that it can cause serious birth defects to an unborn child.

If you are attempting pregnancy or pregnant, please discuss this right away with your healthcare provider.

Some signs to contact your doctor right away or call 911 if an emergency include:

  • Severe abdominal pain that radiates to your back
  • Pain on the right side of your abdomen
  • Yellowing of the skin or eyes
  • Swelling of your face
  • Persistent nausea or vomiting
  • Change in mood or behavior or suicidal thoughts or behaviors
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Rash or other signs of an allergic reaction

What Should I Do if Taking Depakote for Bipolar Disorder?

Please call your doctor if you experience any symptoms or have any questions or concerns about taking Depakote or about your health, especially when related to your bipolar disorder.

Also, never stop your medication or alter the dosage on your own, as this may lead to harmful consequences. In addition, please inform your doctor of all the medications you are taking, including vitamins or other over-the-counter supplements or medications, as these may interact with Depakote. It's important to attend all your followup appointments with your doctor so you can be properly monitored while taking Depakote.


Banner Pharmacaps, Inc. and AbbVie Inc, approved by the FDA. Medication Guide: Depakote ER, Depakote, Depakene. Retrieved November 15th 2015. 

Disclaimer: There may be other side effects that you experience that are not described above. This article is meant to be educational and is not meant to be all-inclusive or to replace information provided by your doctor.

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