PRESCRIPTION MEDICATION

Divalproex

type of medication:

Divalproex is a commonly prescribed medication (anticonvulsant) that’s often well-tolerated and effective.


Treatment for:

Bipolar

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divalproex

How it works, what it treats, side effects, and more.

Mimi Winsberg, MD

Chief Medical Officer, Brightside Health
Stanford-trained psychiatrist with 25 years of practice

At Brightside Health, our psychiatric providers specialize in finding the right medication for your specific needs. As part of your treatment, your provider may recommend divalproex. They’ll go over how the medication works, and answer any questions you may have.

In the meantime, we’ve provided some general information about this medication below. If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact us at [email protected].

Divalproex, commonly sold under the brand name Depakote, is a prescription medication used to manage certain types of seizures, but it also has a special use if you have bipolar disorder. Our providers at Brightside prescribe divalproex to treat manic episodes related to bipolar disorder.

The medication is a type of anticonvulsant that works by increasing a chemical in your brain called GABA. GABA calms the nervous system and stabilizes your mood.

At Brightside, our psychiatric providers specialize in personalizing treatment for each person. We give you personal attention and expert advice you can count on—and explain all your options. By using our expertise, we’ll work to find the medication that’s right for you. It’s important to make sure you understand how medications work and what to expect so that your treatment is worry-free.

If your Brightside provider prescribes divalproex, they will explain how it’s used as a treatment for your specific symptoms of bipolar disorder.

Divalproex may also be used to prevent migraine headaches.

If you have bipolar disorder, divalproex can help stabilize your mood and reduce symptoms of mania.

These include:

  • Engaging in risky or dangerous activities 
  • Excessive energy
  • Extreme excitability
  • Feeling distracted
  • Facing thoughts

Your Brightside provider specializes in finding the right balance of medication to manage your symptoms and help you feel your best. 

Making sense of different medications, their uses, benefits, and side effects can be challenging. That’s where we can help. Brightside providers have an in-depth knowledge of the strengths and drawbacks of each medication. You’ll get all the information you need to make an informed choice about your treatment.

At Brightside, we can assist you in finding the right treatment to help you feel better. Many different factors influence how you respond to medication. We understand that you may have questions about taking a new medication and whether it will help you. You’re not alone—many patients have similar questions.

With divalproex, you may notice its effects within hours, but it can take several weeks before you see a decrease in the frequency of your manic episodes.

Before starting a new medication like divalproex, it’s important to get a comprehensive health assessment from a provider who understands your health history. You should only take divalproex if a physician or other qualified psychiatric provider prescribed it for you.

Before you start taking divalproex, you may have some questions about how long you’ll need to take this medication. The length of time you need to take divalproex will depend on your diagnosis and specific symptoms. Your provider may prescribe this medication for many years—even after your condition is under control.

Your Brightside provider will work with you to determine what course of treatment is best for your specific needs. Most importantly, we recommend that you keep taking your medication until your provider says it’s time to stop—even after you start to feel better.

You should know that divalproex has been used for decades to successfully treat mania related to bipolar disorder. However, research has linked divalproex use to liver and pancreas problems. Your Brightside provider will closely monitor the effects of divalproex on your liver and pancreas.

To get the best results with medication, it’s important to consistently measure progress during treatment. This is known as Measurement Based Care, and it’s the approach we use at Brightside. It’s common to adjust the dose and/or medication when starting a new treatment until you find just the right fit.

Many people worry that medications will alter their personality or change who they are. As long as you’re taking the right dosage, divalproex will not change your personality. Actually, it will help you feel like yourself again by stabilizing your mood and emotions.

Just remember to keep taking your medication as prescribed—even when you start to feel better—and talk to your Brightside provider if you have any questions or concerns.

When prescribing any medication, our providers work to make sure you experience as few side effects as possible.

Side effects from divalproex are usually temporary, but talk to your provider if any of these symptoms become severe or don’t go away:

  • Abnormal thinking
  • Agitation, mood swings 
  • Back pain
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Changes in appetite
  • Constipation 
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Hair loss
  • Headaches
  • Problems with walking or coordination
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Uncontrollable eye movements
  • Uncontrollable shaking of a part of your body
  • Weight changes

In rare cases, divalproex can also cause severe side effects. Contact your provider if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Drop in body temperature
  • Fever
  • Peeling or blistering skin
  • Rash or hives
  • Small purple or red spots on the skin
  • Swelling of the face, eyes, lips, tongue, or throat
  • Swollen glands
  • Tiredness
  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Vomiting 
  • Weakness or swelling in the joints

At Brightside, your health and safety are our highest priorities. We make sure you get individual attention and guidance to make you feel your best.

Your Brightside provider will prescribe divalproex to help you feel better. After you start to feel these positive effects, you may want to stop taking the medication. However, if you suddenly stop taking divalproex, it can cause serious problems—including anxiety, dizziness, tremors, and worsening of bipolar disorder symptoms, which may require immediate attention.

Make sure to talk to your provider before stopping or changing how you take your medication so they can create a plan that gives your body enough time to adjust. This will keep you feeling well and prevent symptoms from returning.

If you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are nursing, please talk to your provider before starting or making any changes to a medication. For some, the benefits of staying on a prescribed treatment during pregnancy can outweigh the potential risks.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning about the use of divalproex during pregnancy. Their warning is based on research showing children born to women who took divalproex during pregnancy have lower IQ scores compared to children whose mothers took other anticonvulsant medications.

Divalproex does pass into breast milk. Talk to your healthcare provider about your breastfeeding questions.

Divalproex is generally considered non-addictive and is not habit-forming. However, it’s important to remember that you may still experience withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking it suddenly.

You can view the FDA black box warning for divalproex here. If you have questions about whether the black box warning for divalproex applies to you, please talk to your provider.

GETTING STARTED WITH BRIGHTSIDE

The right medication, tailored precisely to you.

Start your journey towards life-changing care in a matter of minutes. You’ll receive compassionate support and expert advice the entire way.

Meet 1:1 with your provider

Complete a quick questionnaire, then connect 1:1 with your dedicated provider to discuss your needs.

Get your prescription

Your provider will pinpoint the most effective medication for you and send it to your pharmacy of choice.

Track how you feel

Weekly check-ins help you keep track of symptoms, giving your provider data to make adjustments.

View your progress

Watch your scores and well-being improve along the way with our Proactive Progress Tracking tool.

OUR PSYCHIATRY plans

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Because quality mental health care shouldn’t be out of reach for anyone.

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PERSONALIZED

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Pay with insurance
or $95/month

  • Prescription to pharmacy of choice
  • 1:1 video sessions with your dedicated psychiatric provider
  • Proactive progress tracking, anytime messaging, & more

comprehensive

Psychiatry + Therapy

Pay with insurance
or $349/month

  • Prescription to pharmacy of choice
  • 1:1 video sessions with your dedicated psychiatric provider & therapist
  • Proactive progress tracking, anytime messaging, & self-guided lessons

We accept insurance.iInsurance coverage varies by state. Get started to check your eligibility.

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Real stories.
Real results.

Read More Reviews

“I feel MUCH IMPROVED! My medication works well for me, and the personal care I have received has been wonderful! My provider listens to me with understanding and compassion.”

Tonya T

“5/5. My provider is excellent and takes time to understand my symptoms and make informed medication determinations. After many years of being on multiple medications, I am feeling much relief after less than two months of treatment.”

Anonymous

“Happier than I have been in years. One of the best decisions of my life was trying Brightside.”

Michael P

“I was impressed with how fast I was able to get an appointment as the wait in my area is months long. I received helpful medication quickly, which is also hard to get here. My provider is terrific, helpful, and kind. The zoom appointments are great for my hectic life. Really love this program so far!”

Anna W

“Very easy and simple to get the medication I needed. Since starting to use Brightside, I have begun to feel so much better about myself and I wake up every day with a sense of excitement that wasn’t there before!”

Brandon D

“It is so convenient to get medication and a therapist that work with my schedule. The quality of care is beyond top notch, and being able to see someone on Sundays is so convenient for people who work during the week.”

Anonymous

Real stories.
Real results.

“I feel MUCH IMPROVED! My medication works well for me, and the personal care I have received has been wonderful! My provider listens to me with understanding and compassion.”

Tonya T

“5/5. My provider is excellent and takes time to understand my symptoms and make informed medication determinations. After many years of being on multiple medications, I am feeling much relief after less than two months of treatment.”

Anonymous

“Happier than I have been in years. One of the best decisions of my life was trying Brightside.”

Michael P

“I was impressed with how fast I was able to get an appointment as the wait in my area is months long. I received helpful medication quickly, which is also hard to get here. My provider is terrific, helpful, and kind. The zoom appointments are great for my hectic life. Really love this program so far!”

Anna W

“Very easy and simple to get the medication I needed. Since starting to use Brightside, I have begun to feel so much better about myself and I wake up every day with a sense of excitement that wasn’t there before!”

Brandon D

“It is so convenient to get medication and a therapist that work with my schedule. The quality of care is beyond top notch, and being able to see someone on Sundays is so convenient for people who work during the week.”

Anonymous

Read More Reviews

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