Questions about Depakote

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Dara, Mar 13, 2008.

  1. Dara

    Dara New Member

    My husband is freaking out about the Depakote and I wanted to get your experiences good and bad about it. I took Depakote for 16 years and had little to no issues. I was 11 yrs old when I started. I know that each of these medications have harsh side effects and are pretty scary. Someone we know was talking to husband about Depakote and scare him. I though if I could read about people's experiences both sides, it might help him a bit.
    Thank you so much for your input!
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    Dara, I have two kids who took Depakote for a while, not for seizures, but for mood stabilization. Depakote was particularly helpful in stopping my son's manic reaction to Zoloft. The only reason we switched to Lamictal (another anticonvulsant/mood stabilizer) is because my kids' symptoms lie on the depressive end of the mood disorder spectrum, and Lamictal works on depression.

    Depakote is one of the few psychotropic medications that has actually been tested on kids, and it is FDA approved for children over age 2. Like any medication, it has side effects, but as long as you make yourself aware of the warning signs and have Sammy's blood tested at regular intervals (as determined by the neuro) for Depakote level, liver function and thyroid, you are protecting Sammy. The fact that you did well on Depakote is one positive indicator of success for Sammy (genetics matter). Given his severe behavior issues and frequent seizures, I personally don't think you have any choice but to start Sammy on an anticonvulsant.

    Good luck. Let us know how it goes.
  3. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    My difficult child 1 took depakote for a while and will still tell you it was extremely helpful for him. We saw a more stable, together, in control kid. He felt like it was easier to remember things, and remember to do things that he should do.

    My little one takes it for a seizure disorder. I don't really think it helps with his moods, but I don't really know. We've had good success with both.
  4. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Dara, the reality is that it's always scary medicating a young child, especially the first time around. Everyone knows someone who has had a bad reaction to virtually every medication around--even the common ones.

    I agree that given the seizure activity and the level of behaviors, you really don't have a choice. Given the diagnosis this is a good medication to start with.
  5. CrazyinVA

    CrazyinVA Well-Known Member Staff Member

    The only side effect my youngest had to Depakote was weight gain. She was quite self-conscious about it, and refused to take it after awhile. That was when she was about 12, though. Hard to say if the normal adolescent "softness" girls sometimes get was part of it.
  6. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    thank you started Depakote when he was 6, and it's been the one constant medication for the last 11 years. No side effects, aside from perhaps a smidge of weight gain initially but he stared out rail-thin and it wasn't an issue. Definitely an effective medication in terms of evening out his moods a bit. It wasn't a cure-all but we saw a noticeable difference within 6 weeks of trying it. Less frequent and less severe raging.

    I agree with SRL that you can probably always find someone whose had a rare but serious side effect to virtually any medication. I also agree with smallworld that Depakote is one of the few medications that actually has a good database in terms of use in children and that's why I didn't freak out *as* badly ;) when thank you's psychiatrist wanted to try it.

    I understand husband's concerns but the reality is, with the number of seizures Sammy is having daily, *something* has to be done and that something is going to be medication. My oldest has grand mal seizures and it took 3 medications to get him stabilized. Each medication of course has the potential for some nasty side effects. But to me (and I'm a real wimp when it comes to medications, would prefer *not* to medicate my kids), the guaranteed negative effects of the seizures far outweighed the relatively rare possible side effects of the medications.

    I don't think it's ever easy to make the choice to start a new medication. It's smart to be informed of potential problems but you have to balance the fears of the possible with what is going on now. Again, I think the wide use of Depakote both for seizures and mood stablization in children, and the relatively rare rate of problems with it, makes it an ideal place to start.
  7. mstang67chic

    mstang67chic Going Green

    We started difficult child on Depakote as a mood stabilizer when he was 10. He's now 18 and still on it with no problems other than the needed tweaks that come with growth spurts. When we started him on it, we were told that it would take at least a month to really see a difference. I could see a difference after 2 weeks. (For the good)

    When he started it, I read that sheet from the pharmacy that comes with the medications. That did kind of freak me out because of A) the possible side effects and B) because that is one of the medications that my severely schitzophrenic mother in law takes. (But now that comes in handy if one of them runs out! lol They both have pills of the exact same mg but take different amounts so we borrow from each other now and then) Honestly though, if you read the sheet for almost any medication, the possible side affects would curl your hair. But anytime you introduce a foriegn substance to your body, those are the possibilities. difficult child's psychiatrist does yearly bloodwork and there has never been an issue with the medication. It does cause drowsiness but we give it to difficult child at night so that's never really been a problem.
  8. KateM

    KateM Member

    Another post confirming the benefits of Depakote. My son has been on and off this medication for several years. He is currently back on it after remedying a rare side effect from this. It is the most beneficial medication for him!

    I second Smallworld's and slsh's posts -- it is a difficult decision to medicate a child, but Depakote has been used with kids for years and has a good safety record. I agree with SRL - with Sammy's multiple seizures daily, medication really is your best ( of few) options.
  9. sandman3

    sandman3 New Member

    Both of my difficult child's take Depakote with much benefit. We have seen NO side effects, not even the weight gain we were warned about. I had a VERY hard time medicating my kids, but once I saw the benefits, I changed my attitude about it. Their father was TOTALLY AGAINST any form of medication in the beginning. But once he saw how much better things were, he changed also. I am still VERY careful and make sure I'm always aware of their status and anything NEW that I see, but no problems have arisen.
  10. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    My difficult child is also on Depakote (with lithobid). He has exhibited some lower school grades this year but I can't be sure it is medication related, and if it is, if it necessarily the depakote. The only physical side effect that made me seriously concerned was when he was titrating up on dosage. Blood levels were being checked and he was at the threshold of "upping" to a slightly higher dosage. About the third day of that dosage, he seemed really "out there" and had an abnormally wild look in his eyes (even for him) and was talking almost calmly about things he normally only says when manic or raging. I got scared and put an emergency call into psychiatrist, lowered the dosage to the previous level, and it has been there since (5 mos.). Fortunately, this happened suddenly so I noticed it quickly and he was back to normal after one day. psychiatrist says it might have been that he needs to titrate slower than usual, especially if on 2 mood stabilizers, and that now that his body has adjusted, maybe he could go up on dosage in the future if needed.

    This is worth it to me to have him on it, as long as needed. I just wanted to let you know it is a slight possibility and not to panic as much as I did if it happened- just call the psychiatrist and probably he'll say to not titrate up anymore. I definitely saw signs for the better in difficult child after being put on depakote.
  11. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    My difficult child was on Depakote for years as many of our difficult children. We went off of it, simply because other medications worked better for him.

    I think a good analogy, that has always helped me - and might help husband - is likening this to a diabetic taking insulin. The diabetic person has to take insulin in order to function, just like sammy has to take something in order to function. And yes there can be side effects with anything - however - you are always in control of what happens. If the medication makes things worse, than you d/c it. Very simple. There is nothing that can take that control away from you. However, on the flip side, if the medication calms the seizures, and stabilizes his brain, as insulin stabilizes the blood sugar - than what an amazing god send.

    I just think that it helps some people to look at the brain like any other organ of the body - rather than the brain only being a mental organism.
  12. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    My difficult child 2 has been on Depakote ER for nine months now for his mood disorder with absolutely no problems from the medication. He's had a few labs drawn to check liver function and he tolerates it fine.

    FWIW, my husband takes Lamictal for simple partial seizures, and although it has controlled them well, he is plagued with insomnia from it. He's now looking at switching to something else like Trileptal, but he's concerned about the dizziness and sleepiness that supposedly go with that medication.

    There are trade-offs, I guess. You won't really know what side effects you'll be dealing with until you try the medication. Like Steely said, you can always stop and switch to something else. The problem with seizures, though, is that they have the potential to do permanent damage if left unchecked. in my opinion that risk alone outweighs any risks you'd face from medications.
  13. Dara

    Dara New Member

    We gave Sammy his first dose this morning. I am a little relieved about it. Yesterday when he fell asleep in the car I thought to myself "wow, he is having tons of seizures right now" It was a very scary feeling to me especially because I had childhood Epilepsy and I remember all of my seizures and they scare me to no end! I took Depakote for 16 years with little issue. I think for us right now everything is so overwhelming. What are the odds to find out your husband has a degenerative muscle disease and 48 hours later find that your son has brain damage...Not a good week! At least for Sammy, there is something we can do and are doing. I just hope it works. The thing that scares me the most in this situation is that there is no way for us to know outwardly if the seizures have stopped or not. Its not like he shakes or stares off or anything like that. That is the thing that freaks me out about this! I just have to hope this medicine works!
    Thank you for all of your input. It helped husband feel better. A friend of his told him about her son hallucinating on depakote and other side effects so he freaked! WHo wouldnt. Your input helped ease his fears greatly as well as the tine dose Sammy gets!
    Thank you again! It is much appreciated!!
  14. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    You were hit with a double whammy of medical diagnoses, that's for sure! Perfectly normal to flip out a little bit. We've gone through some similar stuff in the past few months, so I can sure relate!

    Has anyone considered the possibility that Sammy's behavior issues are connected to the seizures? That is often the case, so you at least have the hope things will begin to improve across the board once the seizures are under control. If he's had abnormal EEGs, I imagine his doctor would want to conduct a follow-up test in 3 to 6 months to see if the Depakote is working. Just a thought...
  15. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I am so sorry you are having to deal with this medical double-whammy! It really stinks.

    The depakote may do a LOT to help with Sammy's behavior problems. It is hard when the seizures are not ones you can see. My Jess has absence seizures. It is really hard to know what is going on sometimes.

    I hope that the depakote keeps the seizures under control and that it helps you have a better quality of life.

    by the way, even if Sammy were to hallucinate, it can be managed. He can go off the medication, have another medication added, many many options for this.