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The recommended Depakote® dosage varies, depending on what the drug is being used for, which drugs are being used with it, and the patient's weight. This drug can be very dangerous if it is not administered properly, and a doctor will take the time to determine the best dosage for a patient. Patients on Depakote® may also be asked to undergo periodic blood tests to check on the level of medication in the blood, and to look for the signs of liver damage, a notorious side effect of Depakote®.
Depakote® (divalproex sodium) is manufactured by Abbot Laboratories. It was initially marketed for the treatment of seizures, and later approved for use in treating mania and headaches. The drug is manufactured in 125, 250, and 500 milligram (mg) tablets, with both time-release and sprinkle capsules available. The time release capsules are designed to be swallowed whole, while the sprinkle capsules can be broken open for the purpose of mixing time-release granules with food to make Depakote® easier to take.
In the case of mania, the recommended Depakote® dosage is 750 mg a day, divided into several doses. The level is usually adjusted upwards over time, depending on how the patient responds to the medication. Epileptics start out on 10 to 15 mg of the drug per 2.2 pounds (one kilogram) of body weight, while migraine sufferers begin with 250 mg twice a day. Patient weight is critical with Depakote® dosage, to confirm that the patient does not exceed safe levels of the drug.
It is important to take the drug at the same time every day, and skipped doses should be avoided, if possible, as this can interfere with the efficacy of a Depakote® dosage. Doubling up on a dose is not advised. Some patients find that taking their Depakote® with food reduces the development of gastrointestinal problems, while others prefer to take the drug without food. It is important to avoid chewing Depakote®, as this breaks down the time release coating and causes the drug to flood the system.
In addition to liver problems, Depakote® can also cause pancreatitis, hair loss, fatigue, weight gain, breathing problems, insomnia, polycystic ovary syndrome, confusion, bruising, and nausea. It is important to discuss side effects with a doctor when perfecting a Depakote® dosage, as side effects can indicate that there is a problem, and they can also degrade quality of life for the patient. This drug can also cause permanent damage to organs such as the liver if it is not administered with care, and patients should not be afraid to speak up about the problems they experience so that they can be quickly addressed.