Depakote is a prescription drug that was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1983 to treat epilepsy. It is also approved to treat manic episodes in people with bipolar disorder. In children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), Depakote can be effective in addressing impulsive behavior, aggression, and problems with language and social interaction. Since Depakote is also an anticonvulsant, and 25 percent of children with autism also suffer from seizures, Depakote can be a particularly useful drug in these cases. Depakote is also referred to by its drug name, Divalproex sodium, and chemical compound names Valproate, Valproic acid, and VPA.
Depakote may not be suitable for children under the age of 2. Depakote is not appropriate for use in pregnant women. Depakote should be used with caution in people who have a history of liver problems, depression, or blood disorders.
Depakote is a mood stabilizer and an anticonvulsant. Depakote is believed to work by changing the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain.
How do I take it?
Your doctor may take regular blood tests while your child is on Depakote in order to monitor blood levels of the medication. Your doctor will likely begin your child on a very low dose of Depakote and increase the dosage gradually in order to avoid side effects.
Depakote is taken orally one or more times a day. Depakote can be taken with food if stomach upset occurs.
Always follow your doctor’s instructions exactly when taking Depakote.
In several clinical studies, Divalproex sodium (Depakote) has been shown to improve social skills, aggression, unstable behavior, and receptive language.
Serious side effects of Depakote can include liver damage, suicidal thoughts, and pancreatitis.
Common side effects of Depakote are diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, tremors, hair loss, depression, unsteadiness, and changes in vision, hearing, menstrual cycle or weight.
Notify your doctor if side effects worsen, or if partial tablets appear in stools. Call your doctor if you experience abdominal pain, vomiting, and lack of appetite, which can be signs of pancreatitis.
Many drugs can cause allergic reactions that, in the most serious cases, can result in death. Seek immediate medical help if you experience signs of a severe allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing or swelling in the face, throat, eyes, lips or tongue