Depakote Migraine

Is the Depakote migraine connection best for you? Depakote and headache actually makes for a good combination. Depakote is an older anti-seizure drug that is very effective for treating recurring headaches.

This is a drug that we consider to be one of the best headache medications if you are having 2-3 headaches per week or more than one disabling headache per month. Interestingly, this medication has side effects which are actually BENEFICIAL to headache patients. One of the side effects is sedation. Great you say!

If you take Depakote (valproic acid) before bedtime, not only can it help get you to sleep, but it also treats the headaches by reducing the frequency and severity of them. Additionally, it is now available in an extended release formulation, which means you only have to take it once a day.

I have seen Depakote be very effective in patients who have chronic daily headaches, and especially effective in people who have migraines. This anti-seizure drug is taken in low doses. Many patients have asked me how it works and unfortunately the mechanism of action in the brain still is unknown. What is known is that it is one of the most effective preventative medications for chronic migraine.

What you are looking for is a reduction in the frequency and severity of your headaches. The dose will be adjusted until you are stable (1 headache per month or so).

Keep in mind this is also a great drug if you suffer from depression and migraine. Valproic acid has been shown to have benefit in lifting mood.

  • Side Effects

Like other anti-seizure drugs, Depakote can cause numbness, tingling and some mild dizziness. These side effects usually wear off after a few months of therapy.

Some patients are afraid of Depakote having read that it causes weight gain. While this happens in less than 10% of patients, it is reversible when the medication is stopped.

The newer form of this drug, as mentioned is extended release. As a result there is far less incidence of gastritis than with the original pills which were taken two to three times a day.

You should probably not take Depakote if you have a history of liver disease, are pregnant or have a condition known as PCOS(poly cystic ovarian syndrome). This anti-seizure medication is contraindicated in pregnancy and is Class D. It has been known to cause birth defects. If you have a condition such as seizure disorder which could be more harmful for the baby, then there are other choices that can be taken during pregnancy. Lamictal (lamotragine) is one such option.

If you think the combination of depakote migraine might work for you, speak to your provider.

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