Medication Monday: Depakote

The Super Bowl and the NFL season may be over, but Medication Monday, the weekly series that introduces various mental health medications, goes on. This week we are talking about Depakote (Divalproex).

This medication is used to treat the manic stage of bipolar depression. It can also be used to treat migraine headaches and seizures. As is the case with other mental health medications, Depakote works by acting on natural neurotransmitters in the brain, restoring a healthy balance.

As with most mental health medications, there are several side effects that users should know about. These include diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, hair loss, blurred/double vision, change in menstrual periods, ringing in the ears, shakiness (tremor), unsteadiness, weight changes may occur. Users may also occasionally notice undigested tablets in their stool. Any or all of these side effects should be immediately reported to one’s doctor.

It should also be noted that in rare cases it can cause serious, potentially fatal liver complications. Concerns about this possibility, or about any of the side effects listed above, should be discussed with one’s doctor. Medication Monday is not meant as a substitute for medical advice, nor should it be considered medical advice. Rather, it is a brief informative introduction to some of the mental health medications currently available on the market.

And scary as some of these risks and side effects sound, the fact is your doctor will have prescribed this medication despite these risks because they believe it is the right medication for you. Side effects aren’t awesome, but getting better is, and as someone who avoided taking mental health medication for a long time, in part, because of concerns over side effects, I can tell you that I wish someone had told me that sooner. Hopefully, this series helps to not only inform, but also destigmatize mental health medications, so that we can all start feeling better.

Sources: NAMI – Valproate (Depakote); WebMD – Depakote.

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