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What Is Depakote & How Does It Treat Epilepsy?

Learn about the medication Depakote and how it is used to treat epilepsy from Steve Wolf, MD and Patty McGoldrick, NP in this Howcast video.

Transcript

Depakote or Valproic Acid has been around since the 1970's and used for the treatment of epilepsy. It is also known by other names including: Depakene, its generic name is Valproic Acid, there’s also a brand called Stavzor and it’s called other names in other countries. It’s a great anti-seizure medication because it’s indicated for both generalized seizures, where the brain starts firing at both sides at the same time. Focal seizures that start in one area and spread. It works in an interesting mechanism more on gaba receptors to help prevent the brain from having seizures. And again, as Pat has mentioned, it’s been around for a long time with very good response rates. Side effects with Depakote include things like weight gain, some people can have an increased appetite and gain weight on it. There can be some hair thinning or hair loss, there can be liver issues, so we check liver function when we’re checking the levels of the Depakote. That’s one of the medications that you really do need to check blood levels every once and a while. So, basically, liver, hair and increased appetite are the main side effects. It does have an FDA black box warning, so you can have basically, an allergic reaction to it. Where it can affect your liver enzymes, it can affect your red cell count, your white cell count. So as Patty mentioned, it needs to be checked, but that shouldn’t stop you from using it. It’s a strong, effective medication with a good response. As far as the side effects, a lot of them can be monitored, such as hair loss. You can use certain shampoos like, Selsun Blue, take vitamins such as zinc to prevent some of the cosmetic issues that can happen. And again, the side effects don’t occur in everybody. Depakote is a really well-tolerated medication for both generalized and focal epilepsy. Side effects include: increased appetite, liver issues and hair loss or hair thinning. That can be monitored with blood tests.

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