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Anticonvulsants for Schizophrenia

Anticonvulsant medicines such as valproate (for example, Depakene or Depakote) and carbamazepine (for example, Tegretol) are often used along with antipsychotic medicines to treat schizophrenia.

Anticonvulsants can help your mood, and if you take them along with antipsychotic medicines, you may have less severe symptoms during relapses of schizophrenia.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on anticonvulsants and the risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts. The FDA does not recommend that people stop using these medicines. Instead, people who take anticonvulsant medicine should be watched closely for warning signs of suicide. People who take anticonvulsant medicine and who are worried about this side effect should talk to a doctor.


Side effects of valproate may include feeling sleepy and having little energy and an upset stomach. Uncommon side effects can include weight gain, temporary hair loss, headaches, and confusion. The medicines may also make pancreatitis more likely in anyone who takes these medicines and may make polycystic ovary syndrome more likely in women who take them.

Signs of pancreatitis include stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, and anorexia.

Valproate also may cause problems with liver function and blood disorders. You can track these problems with liver function tests and blood counts. Watch for feeling tired, vomiting, and weakness.


Do not use carbamazepine with the medicine clozapine because both of these medicines can cause a severe drop in the number of white blood cells (agranulocytosis).

For more information on anticonvulsants, see Drug Reference. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Miklos Ferenc Losonczy, MD, PhD - Psychiatry
Last Revised August 19, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 19, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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