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Divalproex (By mouth)

Treats seizures. Also treats bipolar disorder and helps prevent migraine headaches.

What works?

Learn more about the effects of these drugs. The most reliable research is summed up for you in our featured article.

Divalproex sodium is used to treat certain types of seizures (epilepsy). This medicine is an anticonvulsant that works in the brain tissue to stop seizures. Divalproex sodium is also used to treat the manic phase of bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), and helps prevent migraine headaches. This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription… Read more
Brand names include
Alti-Valproic, Depakote, Depakote DR, Depakote ER, Depakote Sprinkles
Drug classes About this
Anticonvulsant, Antimigraine

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Valproic acid and sodium valproate for neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia

Neuropathic pain is caused by nerve damage, often accompanied by changes in the central nervous sytem, and fibromyalgia is a related complex pain syndrome. Many people with these conditions are disabled with moderate or severe pain for many years. Conventional analgesics are usually not effective treatment options. In light of the fact that there are similarities between the pathophysiologic and biochemical mechanisms observed in epilepsy and in neuropathic pain, it is not surprising that antiepileptic agents can be used to treat neuropathic pain. The aim of this review was to investigate the efficacy and adverse events associated with use of sodium valproate and valproic acid for the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia. We identified three relevant studies, two in diabetic neuropathy and a third in post‐herpetic neuralgia. Two of the three studies report significantly greater reduction in pain for valproate than placebo, but studies were small (≤ 45 participants) and provided insufficient data for pooled analysis, and the methods of analysis used may have overestimated treatment effect. Adverse events such as nausea, sedation, drowsiness, vertigo, and abnormal liver function are more common with valproate than placebo, but these studies were unsuitable to allow for a comprehensive assessment of harm.

No evidence of efficacy of valproate preparations for treatment of agitation in people with dementia

An updated review (October 2008) of valproate treatment of agitation in demented patients failed to show any improvement in agitation among treated patients compared with those not receiving treatment, and also demonstrated a higher rate of harmful effects, such as falls,infections and gastrointestinal disorders (diarrhoea, nausea) among those receiving valproate preparations. Although further research on the value of valproate preparations is indicated, current evidence does not support use of this drug to control agitation of people with dementia.

Ethosuximide, sodium valproate or lamotrigine for absence seizures in children and adolescents

Epilepsy is a disorder where seizures are caused by abnormal electrical discharges from the brain. Absence epilepsy involves seizures that cause a sudden loss of awareness. It often starts in childhood or adolescence. Three antiepileptic drugs are often used for absence epilepsy: valproate, ethosuximide and lamotrigine.

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Summaries for consumers

Valproic acid and sodium valproate for neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia

Neuropathic pain is caused by nerve damage, often accompanied by changes in the central nervous sytem, and fibromyalgia is a related complex pain syndrome. Many people with these conditions are disabled with moderate or severe pain for many years. Conventional analgesics are usually not effective treatment options. In light of the fact that there are similarities between the pathophysiologic and biochemical mechanisms observed in epilepsy and in neuropathic pain, it is not surprising that antiepileptic agents can be used to treat neuropathic pain. The aim of this review was to investigate the efficacy and adverse events associated with use of sodium valproate and valproic acid for the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia. We identified three relevant studies, two in diabetic neuropathy and a third in post‐herpetic neuralgia. Two of the three studies report significantly greater reduction in pain for valproate than placebo, but studies were small (≤ 45 participants) and provided insufficient data for pooled analysis, and the methods of analysis used may have overestimated treatment effect. Adverse events such as nausea, sedation, drowsiness, vertigo, and abnormal liver function are more common with valproate than placebo, but these studies were unsuitable to allow for a comprehensive assessment of harm.

No evidence of efficacy of valproate preparations for treatment of agitation in people with dementia

An updated review (October 2008) of valproate treatment of agitation in demented patients failed to show any improvement in agitation among treated patients compared with those not receiving treatment, and also demonstrated a higher rate of harmful effects, such as falls,infections and gastrointestinal disorders (diarrhoea, nausea) among those receiving valproate preparations. Although further research on the value of valproate preparations is indicated, current evidence does not support use of this drug to control agitation of people with dementia.

Ethosuximide, sodium valproate or lamotrigine for absence seizures in children and adolescents

Epilepsy is a disorder where seizures are caused by abnormal electrical discharges from the brain. Absence epilepsy involves seizures that cause a sudden loss of awareness. It often starts in childhood or adolescence. Three antiepileptic drugs are often used for absence epilepsy: valproate, ethosuximide and lamotrigine.

See all (26)

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