Rarely, this medication has caused serious (sometimes fatal) liver problems, usually within the first 6 months of starting treatment. Laboratory tests should be performed before you start treatment and periodically during treatment, especially within the first 6 months, to monitor this side effect.
The risk of serious liver problems is increased in children younger than 2 years, especially if they have an inherited metabolic disorder, severe seizure disorder with mental retardation, organic brain disease, or if they take more than one seizure medication. Talk with the doctor about the risks and benefits of using this medication in children younger than 2 years.
Due to an increased risk for liver problems, people with certain inherited metabolic disorders (such as Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome) should not use this medication. Children younger than 2 years who might have these disorders should not use this medication. Children older than 2 years who might have these disorders should be closely monitored during treatment with divalproex sodium. Talk to your doctor for details.
Tell your doctor right away if you develop symptoms of liver problems or pancreatitis such as unusual tiredness, weakness, swelling of the face, stomach/abdominal pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, yellowing eyes/skin, or persistent nausea/vomiting.
Taking this medication during pregnancy can cause birth defects, may lower your child's IQ, and may increase the risk of your child having certain brain/mental disorders (such as autism, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder). Women of childbearing age should discuss the risks and benefits of this medication, other treatment options, and use of reliable forms of birth control with their doctor. If you are planning pregnancy, become pregnant, or think you may be pregnant, immediately talk to your doctor. If you are taking divalproex sodium only to prevent migraine headaches, this medication must not be used during pregnancy. If you are taking divalproex sodium to treat seizures or mental/mood problems (such as bipolar disorder), do not stop taking this medication unless directed by your doctor. Untreated seizures and mental/mood problems (such as bipolar disorder) are serious conditions that can harm both a pregnant woman and her unborn baby.
How to use Depakote ER
Read the Medication Guide and, if available, the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start taking divalproex sodium and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Take this medication by mouth once daily or as directed by your doctor. You may take it with food if stomach upset occurs. Do not crush or chew extended-release tablets. Doing so can release all of the drug at once, increasing the risk of side effects. Also, do not split the tablets unless they have a score line and your doctor or pharmacist tells you to do so. Swallow the whole or split tablet without crushing or chewing.
The dosage is based on your age, weight, medical condition, response to treatment, and other medications you may be taking. Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products). Use this medication regularly in order to get the most benefit from it. Remember to use it at the same time each day to keep the amount of medication in your blood constant.
If this medication is used for seizures, do not stop taking it without consulting your doctor. Your condition may become worse if the drug is suddenly stopped. Your dose may need to be gradually decreased.
Divalproex sodium does not relieve acute migraine headaches. Take other medications as directed by your doctor for acute attacks.
Inform your doctor if your condition does not improve.
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CONDITIONS OF USE: The information in this database is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of healthcare professionals. The information is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or adverse effects, nor should it be construed to indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for you or anyone else. A healthcare professional should be consulted before taking any drug, changing any diet or commencing or discontinuing any course of treatment.