hit counter

Depakote (Valproic Acid) Withdrawal Symptoms + How Long They Last

Depakote (Valproic acid) is a compound that is utilized as an anticonvulsant to help prevent seizures in epileptics. It also has mood stabilizing properties and is approved to help treat and prevent mania among individuals with bipolar disorder. In some cases it is prescribed for the treatment of migraine headaches as well. Other off-label uses for Depakote include: impulse control disorders and spasms.

Most people that use it for the intended purposes of treating epilepsy and/or mania in bipolar disorder find that it works quite well. Despite the fact that the drug can be very effective, the way it works is not well understood. Some hypothesize that it may work on voltage-dependent sodium channels and may increase GABA to prevent both seizures and mania. Studies in animals have lead researchers to believe that this may inhibit the reuptake of the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain.

Although many people take this medication for a period of time, some have a difficult time dealing with side effects. Various side effects include: hair loss, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, indigestion, and vision problems. Additionally it may lead a person to gain weight and cause memory problems. The potentially debilitating side effects are reasons people typically end up withdrawing from this medication.

Factors that influence Depakote (Valproic acid) withdrawal

When coming off of any medication, there are various factors that play a role in determining how long the withdrawal process takes as well as the severity of discontinuation symptoms. These factors include things like: the time span over which you took the drug, the dose that you were on, whether you quit cold turkey or tapered, as well as other personal factors.

1. Time Span

How long were you taking Depakote? Those who were on it for a long term may have a more difficult time withdrawing than someone who was on it for a shorter term. In general, the longer you were on a medication, the more your body becomes dependent on it for functioning. Someone who is on Depakote for a few months is likely going to have an easier time coming off of the drug than someone who was on it for years.

2. Dosage

Individuals that were on a higher dosage tend to have a more lengthy withdrawal than individuals on a lower dose. When you are on a high dose, your brain and body become used to the higher levels of the drug for functioning. Therefore it takes longer to taper as well as readjust after you quit from a high level of the medication.

The initial starting dose of this drug is 25 mg/kg per day in an extended release (ER) formula. The dose is then titrated upwards to the lowest possible dose that yields therapeutic effects. The maximum recommended dose is 60 mg/kg per day. If you are at the upper end of the spectrum (e.g. 60 mg/kg per day), you may have a tougher time withdrawing.

3. Cold Turkey vs. Tapering

It is always recommended to conduct a gradual taper off of anticonvulsant medications. Since this is a drug that affects various neurotransmitters as well, it is important to gradually taper as opposed to quitting “cold turkey.” By slowly tapering, you are giving your body and brain some time to gradually adapt as you get used to functioning with less of the drug.

If you quit cold turkey, you may experience more debilitating withdrawal effects for a longer period of time. Quitting cold turkey essentially strips your nervous system of a stimuli that it was used to receiving for a long period of time. In some cases, by not tapering, it is thought that you may shock the nervous system and it may take even longer to readjust to functioning without the drug.

Most sources suggest tapering at a rate of 20% to 25% every 2 weeks.  You could taper slower or quicker, but this makes roughly for about a 2 month withdrawal period.  Even 25% may be too quickly for you if you have been on the drug for a long period of time at a high dose.  Take the time to work with a professional and come up with a custom plan to minimize withdrawal symptoms. To be on the safer side you could even reduce at a rate of 15% every 2 weeks.

4. Individual Factors

Other individual factors will play a role in determining the difficulty of your withdrawal. These factors include things like: social support, daily habits, and your individual sensitivity to drug withdrawal. People that get wrapped up in physical symptoms and/or those who constantly analyze every symptom that they experience during withdrawal may have a much more difficult time handling the process.

It is also important to note that some people may be on other drugs and/or transitioning to a new medication which may ease many of the withdrawal symptoms. It is important to avoid comparing yourself to what other people are experiencing and/or how long their withdrawal lasts. You may experience a much quicker withdrawal or yours may be much longer and more drawn out – it totally depends on your circumstances.

Depakote Withdrawal Symptoms: List of Possibilities

Below are a list of possible symptoms that you may experience when coming off of Depakote. Keep in mind that you may not experience every symptom listed below and that the severity of what you experience will largely be based on individual circumstances.

  • Anger: Some individuals report feeling anger to the point of rage when they initially come off of this drug. It may have to do with the fact that the drug itself tends to elicit a calming response – inhibiting the reuptake of GABA. When stopped, this may lead a person to feel more angry than usual.
  • Anxiety: If you notice that you feel more anxious and less relaxed, it’s largely due to withdrawal. It is pretty common to experience anxiety and have anxious thoughts when you initially stop this medication. If you didn’t have anxiety prior to taking this drug, you should gradually become less anxious over time.
  • Bipolar relapse: For those who have bipolar disorder and are on the drug to help control manic cycling, you may experience mania when you quit. When you take away the drug that was helping control the cycling, it is possible to experience a shift in mood.
  • Concentration problems: A very common problem that people report during the first couple weeks of withdrawal is concentration problems. These can be more severe if you quit cold turkey or taper too quickly. In general you may have a difficult time staying focused and completing work or school-related tasks.
  • Confusion: There are a combination of symptoms that contribute to feeling confused. These include things like: foggy thinking, poor concentration, mood swings, memory issues, and physical symptoms. The confusion should ease up as your brain gradually begins to function without the drug.
  • Depression: Another common symptom to experience is that of depression. Although Depakote does not prevent cycling into depression, coming off of it can lead a person to feel depressed. It could be in part due to neurotransmitter changes, particularly involving GABA.
  • Dizziness: Perhaps the most common symptom associated with the withdrawal process is that of dizziness. Many people report feeling extremely dizzy and or have sensations of vertigo. If you feel dizzy, just know that it will improve in time. If you quit cold turkey, this may be significantly more severe.
  • Fatigue: Do not be surprised if you feel pretty tired with low energy for the first couple weeks after you quit this drug. Do your best to work with the energy that you’ve got and eventually you should notice your energy levels increase.
  • Headache: Many people experience general headaches when they stop this medication. Individuals that were taking Depakote for migraines may notice rebound migraines upon discontinuation.
  • Insomnia: This drug tends to calm people down and can make individuals sleepy. When you discontinue, you may notice that you experience an inability to fall asleep at night. This may be in part due to anxiety and/or inadequate GABA.
  • Irritability: It’s pretty normal to feel irritable when withdrawing from this drug. Expect the irritability to slowly decline in intensity over the course of a few weeks following your last dose.
  • Mood swings: It is common to experience general mood swings (non-bipolar) upon discontinuation of this medication. One moment you may feel very angry, the next depressed, and the next very anxious. Just know that you may experience some general fluctuation in moods as you recover from withdrawal – these will eventually subside.
  • Muscle weakness: Some people tend to experience muscle weakness and/or pains when they initially quit this drug. This weakness should improve gradually over the course of a few weeks until you no longer feel weak.
  • Nausea: In some cases, people end up feeling nauseated if they taper too quickly or during the first week of withdrawal. This nausea may be unpleasant, but keep in mind that it will eventually subside.
  • Seizures: If you have epilepsy you may experience rebound seizures during withdrawal if you remain unmedicated.  It is always important to make sure that you slowly taper from AED’s or you could experience a seizure.  If you are unsure of a good tapering protocol, talk to a professional.
  • Sleep changes: You may experience changes in your sleep patterns during withdrawal. In other words, you may have difficulty falling or staying asleep or you may sleep too much. You may also have difficulty sleeping at normal times (e.g. sleepy during the day and unable to sleep at night).
  • Suicidal thinking: In some cases, the depression that people deal with during withdrawal can lead to suicidal thinking. If you are feeling suicidal and haven’t felt this way before taking the medication, you should recover to normal thinking in some time. In the meantime, be sure to see a therapist and talk about your feelings if they are extreme.
  • Tremors: Withdrawal can lead some individuals to experience shakes or tremors upon discontinuation. These can be minimized if a proper tapering protocol is followed, but if a person quits too quickly, the tremors may be severe.
  • Vision changes: It is common to experience vision changes while taking the drug. Some people experience similar vision changes when they withdraw as well. Over time your vision should return to normal functioning – give it some time.
  • Weight loss: Since many people gain weight when they take Depakote, it should be obvious that they are going to lose it when they stop taking it. If you gained weight while on the drug, you should eventually lose most of it as time continues to pass. The weight loss will not be immediate, but should occur gradually.

How long do Depakote withdrawal symptoms last?

There is no exact timeline for withdrawal from Depakote that applies to everyone. Your experience when coming off of any drug is going to be unique and largely based on individual circumstances. There have been cases of people withdrawing from this medication and feeling better within a week or two, and there have been other cases of people still experiencing withdrawal effects months after their last pill. In most cases, withdrawal symptoms should start to gradually lessen over a period of weeks to months.

The half life of the drug ranges from 9 to 16 hours, therefore the drug itself will be completely cleared from your system within 2 days. Although the drug will be cleared from your body in a relatively short-order, it doesn’t mean that you won’t experience any withdrawal following the second day. Depending on how long you took this medication, it may take a relatively lengthy time period for your nervous system to readjust for functioning without the drug.

Additionally this is a drug that is thought to affect neurotransmitters in the brain – particularly GABA. It may take some time before your GABA levels to reach normal levels after your withdrawal. During withdrawal do your best to realize that these discontinuation effects are not permanent – you will eventually recover to how you were before you used Depakote.

In the meantime, be sure to engage in healthy activities such as: exercise, eating right, and staying socially involved. Over time, you should notice that withdrawal symptoms gradually subside and you feel more like your old self. If you have gone through Depakote withdrawal and would be kind enough to share your experience in the comments section below, you may really help another person who is facing withdrawal.

Related Posts:

MHD News (100% Free)

* indicates required

132 thoughts on “Depakote (Valproic Acid) Withdrawal Symptoms + How Long They Last”

  1. Has anyone experienced tingling hands and feet taking this? I was on 500mg for 4 years and after 3 years started to get those symptoms along with dizziness, headaches and nausea. I have stopped for two weeks now and symptoms are good some days and bad others.

  2. I believe I was misdiagnosed bipolar because of a reaction to Prozac. Nonetheless I took depakote for about 4/6 months. First it was great although I gained a little weight. Then the side effects started taking over my life – nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, trouble walking.

    So I quit cold turkey a week ago, the dizziness has kept up a little and today was the worst, nausea, vomiting, vertigo for about 6 hours straight. Not sure if I should go to the ER or not – this withdrawal is worse than the side effects. I’m never ever doing western medicine again in my life.

  3. Wow! I’m 30 and I’ve been on depakote for about 8 months for bipolar after having my second ever manic episode. 1000mg every night before bed. This stuff makes me feel like a soulless robot and now I want to get off it more than ever. My psychiatrist told me I’ll have to take this stuff for 5 years! He’s so smug about it, I don’t trust him and I know he’ll never agree to it but I’d rather go manic once a year than experience the horrors of this drug long term. Thank you to everyone who commented. I’ll be sure to taper off it one way or another.

  4. I was on Depakote for several years. Suddenly I started to develop tremors. Eventually, they became to bad that both arms, hands and my head would shake. The first neurologist I saw thought it was Parkinson’s and sent me to a specialist. He determined it was the result the Depakote and had me switched to Lamictal. He put me on Primodone, and kept upping the dose until the tremors are only occasionally in my hands. He said they would probably never go away, but could be controlled.

  5. All comments I have read… it’s just great and I hope that it’s keep on going to help people who really get trapped with such medication or medications….I’M a 54 Years of Age. I have been put on depakine 500 chrono and magadon (Nitredon) 5mg. Depakine 1500 mg and Magadon 15mg each night for almost 2 Years. It’s not really easy to just let it goes like Cold Turkey as I did it and I did suffer and still suffering after 6 weeks of all mentioned withdrawals symptoms.

    I think the best is that people who wants to get off such medication is on a gradual basis… that doesn’t mean whom already off to go back and start again… but just to be patient as Eduardo mentioned, withdrawals symptoms could stay for more than it has been mentioned depending on consumption but I am sure % it’s all a matter of time. One more thing to pay attention to, never ever break those tablets… if you do it means that you basically using more than proscribed to you in the first place.

    Again, please remember it’s just a matter of time and all your suffering will disappear. Good luck all.

  6. I’ve been on 500mg of Depakote for the last 14 years for bipolar. I’ve started dealing with memory loss and also finding it difficult to concentrate. I’ve recently started seeing a new doctor, who noticed that my blood panel results showed that I wasn’t taking enough Depakote to have a real impact and since I’m still taking Seroquel I should be fine stopping Depakote.

    So I have started tapering off Depakote gradually and have been dealing with the same side effects everyone has listed, but I reassure myself that in time they will pass and that I’m making the right choice. It definitely helps reading everyone’s comments through this process.

  7. OK everyone I have the biggest problem ever while taking depakote 1000 mg ER for 5 days. First off I have rapid cycling bipolar disorder and I have been in all of those meds. Every antipsychotic meds you can say I have been on and every mood medication too. My body keeps rejecting all the meds. The doctors started me on this depakote about a week and a half ago and from the first few days, I was expecting to be more stable but the side effects were too much for me like severe personal change. Let me explain…

    1. This pill was causing me to be very very angry and irritable to the point of punching the doctors or hurting them to the point of sending them to the hospital. 2. I was going in and out of the hospital for days and feeling like a insane person. 3. I can’t stay out of the bathroom doing bloody diarrhea. 4. I can’t here anyone repetition or I will go crazy. 5. My neck was so tense that I can’t keep my self in one spot that my head will go forward with so much pain that I feel like I am going to die.

    6. Rage and panic attacks like no other. 7. I can over react in a snap that people will be scared of me. 8. I feel hot or Cold or both. 9. My stomach feels very sour that I cannot eat well. 10. My body hurts so much that I can’t get any sleep whatsoever. Now everyone knows this issue, I just left the pill last night and I am not going to take it anymore. I rather quit cold turkey than wean off.

    Today is 10/1/16 and I feel very tired and I got some sleep today but my mood is changing for the better. I am a good, gentle fun loving guy that hates injustice or no compassion for anyone who has hate and greed for money. Now please comment if you understand me. Oh yeah I am 26 years old and I have been on meds for half of my life.

  8. I’ve been on this medication with Keppra for over 15 years. I am slowly being taken off epival by tapering. It’s been about 4 months in the process now, from 1000 mg a day to now 500 mg per day. And in 3 months time I will be going down to 250mg a day with a possibility of increasing my Keppra dosage to 1500mg a day (right now I’m on 1000mg a day).

    My withdrawal symptoms are: vision changes almost immediately (it’s worse than I thought lol!), mood swings, irritable, light headed feelings, feeling faint at times, confusion especially in the afternoon. I sleep very very well, and my new symptom is weight loss. I was a size woman’s 16-18 and now I am a size 14-12. Less bloated overall and a increase in energy I noticed right away.

    I hope this helps anyone going through it like me. Keep your spirits up and remain positive!!

  9. I have the diagnosis bipolar and schizo-affective disorder. I still receive a cisordinol injection every two weeks. However, since April 2016 I have been taking my Depakine 2000mg once a day very irregularly. As of 5 days ago I quit cold turkey. I have been taking Depakine since 2012. I am 43 years old. I was sick to my stomach once and threw up after dinner.

    Also it’s taking longer to fall asleep. What I do is take 3 drops of 5% CBD oil twice a day. What I notice is that I am feeling better. My slight depression is gone. Furthermore, I have the feeling that I am thinking clearly now. The reason why I dared to stop with Depakine is that I have stopped consuming 6-8 alcoholic beverages daily since February 2016. I have also stopped with smoking cannabis.

    I now strongly have a feeling that it was alcohol that was causing the mania in the first place. However, it has only been 5 days cold turkey and I will post another comment in a week or so to let you all know how it is going. Does this mean it’s likely going to be an easy ride for me or is hell around the corner?

  10. I was on 1,000 mg of Depakote for 20 years for a simple partial seizure with only one secondary generalization. Totally controlled seizures. No obvious side-effects and only a 10 lb. weight-gain. However, 3 years ago discovered it had caused osteoporosis and high sex hormone binding globulin in my liver which caused low free testosterone. Got off over a 8 week period.

    The good news: I have been seizure-free off all seizure meds. for 3 years! The bad news: I have experienced significant anxiety and mild depression since and it hasn’t gotten better. (Taking Effexor, meditating, CBT, etc. to manage) since I wasn’t anxious before going on Depakote on while on it, there are 2 possibilities.

    First, I could have developed an anxiety disorder while on Depakote and this anxiety was being treated inadvertently through Depakote’s increasing GABA. Second, over 20 years my brain cells that generated GABA became atrophied, depending on Depakote to generate GABA, and once the Depakote was gone I wasn’t able to generate it on my own.

    • How is your depression now? I’m thinking I have the same problem. It’s been 2 years and I still have depression after depakote withdrawal.

  11. I was on a thousand milligrams of Depakote for almost a year. The doctor ordered it for migraine headaches. After experiencing Tremors confusion and high levels of irritability, I decided to taper off very slowly. I went down to 750, 500, 250 followed by 125mg. I had nausea after a few days. The tremors are subsiding. I do not have migraine headaches currently.

    My doctor told me because I don’t have a seizure disorder it was ok to stop immediately at 750 milligrams. I would not recommend that to anybody. Several years ago I was on a different anti-seizure medication for intense nerve pain. B/c I knew nothing about them. I stopped sadly because there was no relief from pain. A day or two afterwards had a grand mal seizure.

    I have no history of seizures. I would highly recommend going extremely slow no matter what the doctor encourages you to do. It has been 2 weeks and I’m looking forward to never having to take this medication again.

  12. Hi all, I am now tapering Depakote now, I started 22 days ago. I was on 250mg when I started and I am now on 60mg. I am having tough times, I feel quite depressed even though I taper slowly. I have been on depakote for approximately 10 years (was on 1000mg for a long time). The only thing that helps me to feel better, is going swimming. It is also quite warm at the moment, which makes tapering even more difficult. I have to trust that I feel better sooner or later and therefor I don’t want to reinstate to a higher dose. Good luck, Jerry

    • I am now off depakine since Wednesday, I still feel not so good, tired and depressed. Sleep is fine, and without other symptoms. I have no energy to do things like painting or playing saxophone. I am only watching TV a lot, and I swim 20 min. a day.

      • It is the following Wednesday 9 September, 7 days without Depakote. While I had quite a good day yesterday, today is not good. I have little nausea, feel depressed too, just feeling not good in my head. The weather is good here, 25 degrees, sunny, it is also 25 degrees inside, so I have my ventilator on. I went to the swimming pool too, many kids there, but the lanes for lane-swimming were ok. I am looking forward to watch the keynote of apple tonight. I really hope my condition will improve…?

    • It is now saturday the 10th of september. I am still not feeling good. Depressed. I took a cold shower, which helps a bit. It is warm and sunny again, 25 degrees and I am planning for a swim this afternoon. I have to accept that it is as it is. The coming week it will be even warmer, some days around 29 degrees.

      • Hi Jerry, I hope you are doing well. I just wanted to say that I have been off Depakote for about two months, its definitely getting better, but it takes time. You can read my posts above. Do your best to work through it and give your body time to adjust to not having medication in it any longer. I also highly recommend doing something active every day, this has helped me a lot. Walk, jog, swim… anything to get your body moving. I hope things are getting better for you, as well as everyone else who has posted here. We’re all in the same boat. :)

        • Hi Marc, thanks for your reply, it gives me the feeling not to be totally alone during this taper. My shrink, who I met recently, suggests that is easy to stop with Depakote. Also because I had to taper from 250mg (I was on 1000mg in the past) she said it should be easy for me. My experience is that is not easy at all.

          Overall I feel quite depressed. In the mornings it I feel the worst and in the evenings the best. I have jumped now for two and half week, so two and half week without depakote. You are right Marc, it is good to sport, to exercise, if possible I swim every day for 20 minutes, which compares to 700 meters.

          I eat with my parents every evening which helps me to try to stay positive. My mother gives me little presents which is really kind of her. Marc, I really hope you get better even more. I will keep checking the thread with your story. And I wish all good luck with quitting Depakote!

      • Hi, first I want to compliment the creator of this blog/article who makes it possible for us to write about our experiences with depakote. Really thank you for that! I am now without depakote for appr. a month. I am still not feeling good. I don’t feel a lot of difference since the last time I posted here. Still depressed and also my stomach feels not really good.

        I have increased sporting, I swim now 6 days a week and on monday, when the pool is closed, I have started with fitness one week ago. I hope that the sporting will help me heal faster from my lack of depakote in my brain and body. Also sporting helps me to feel better during the day. My motto is; “I will fight and I will win!”

        I also have a belly (I got that thanks to medication) which I want to get rid off, so that is another goal. I must believe that my body and brain can heal in the end, even though that is not what I experience now. I have to go through to the tunnel to reach the light. I have to focus on the light and not on the tunnel. Every day I make another step forward. That’s my penny for today! Thx. Jerry

    • I am now almost 2 months off, and slowly I am feeling better, my mind is less foggy, I am more active, I keep my house cleaner, I am playing more on my saxophones, my memory is better. There is also a con still; my intestines are very sensitive, I have the feeling I have to go to the toilet a lot, but then when I am on it, nothing comes out.

      It is very annoying. While using depakote I had diarrhea a lot, so I think it is related to quitting depakote. I think my intestines have gotten lazy. If it doesn’t change I will visit my doctor for it. Overall I am glad I stopped with depakote. I will keep you up to date.

      • Update; I am not doing well separately. Even though I am more active, I still have problems with my intestines. Going to the toilet is no problem, but I have often a bad feeling in my belly area. Because of that I get the feeling of anxiety. Anxiety is belly related. And because of that it is more difficult to go out the door and do things.

        I try to do them, but not with joy. I also have used Zopiclone, sleep medication, for a couple of days. And quitting that also makes me feel not good in the brain. I still sport; fitness and swimming. So being off for more than two months is something I am happy with, but still I am hoping for improvements.

    • Update; I am three months off Depakote. I am doing better, mentally I am improved, only having some intestine problems. Having difficulties going to the toilet. But it is getting better. I am using a very little bit of zopiclone (sleep medication) to sleep ok. Planning to go to zero again tonight. I had sleeping problems too, but the last three days were ok again.

  13. Thanks for having this forum. I too have been improperly misdiagnosed – and it was 30 years ago. I was given Tegretol and then later Depakote to take. I suffered classic side effects that were bizarre to say the least. A recent EEG from a new neurologist confirms that I have “normal” brain functioning and have no need to be taking the medicine. I very slowly have been weaning off the drug – as of late under the neurologists care.

    I have been off the drug about 12 days. No withdrawal symptoms occurred until 2 days ago. Now I experience periods of intense anxiety, muscle spasms, muscle stiffness and ease of cramping. Its as though my body is reformatting itself right before my eyes. I am sensitive to heat and cold. I have sweats. My concentration is very forced.

    The drug gave me a severe dry cough for years – now that I am off of it – the cough is almost gone except from some residuals. I do use the 4-7-8 deep breathing relaxation technique to relieve anxiety episodes. I seem to be getting more tired. I had some insomnia for a couple of nights – but that was because I was also taking the Ubiquinol supplement (which is helpful) but I hadn’t realized that is can cause sleeplessness.

    So now I am cutting back the dosage of that – especially in the evening. Last night it seemed to help and I slept all night. I seem to really have to focus on what I am doing now. But am trying to exercise – walking – and to stay in social settings. But what I know I need to do is to STOP ANALYZING all of the changes that are occurring actually minute by minute. I am a Catholic priest – who is medically retired because of this drug actually – but I am also a member of a Benedictine based religious community.

    My goal is to use the daily structure of the Rule I follow to guide me through – prayer, meditation, works of helping people – to hopefully when this withdrawal is over – to get back to some useful work for the Church – I am 68 years old – and God may not be finished with me yet! I ask your kind comments on my post and of course ask that infamous question – will these strange experiences of withdrawal ever stop – and how long will it take.

    My doctor tells me the worst should be over in a week and then get rapidly better after that! I am praying that he is right. Be assured of my prayers of healing and hope to all who have posted here and all who are “victims” of this dreadful drug. Staying here, now, with God is always the safest thing to do. And remember: he is now carrying you in his arms – so RELAX, REST and RECUPERATE!

  14. I took Depakote for over ten years. I was misdiagnosed with Bipolar Disorder (I have ADHD) and like an idiot did not get a second opinion. I began to question the drug after I developed liver issues– and learned on my own that this drug should not be taken by anyone with any kind of a liver problem.

    I went off it over a two-week period and never looked back. As I do not have seizures or Bipolar, I have not been in danger of relapsing. What I have experienced is improved thought, vastly improved long term memory, more sociability, weight loss (15 pounds in 5 months) without trying (no constant cravings for carbohydrates and chocolate), no dry mouth, easier time speaking foreign languages, improved vision (it had made depth perception a problem), a desire to move, and I have regained my ability to remember my dreams.

    A generally improved feeling of well-being– after stopping, it the psychiatrist casually mentioned that it has a “slight depressive effect”.

  15. Not related to withdrawal, although my daughter is starting her withdrawal now. But, her ammonia level due to Depakote has had her sleeping 20 out of 24 hours/day! Please!! If you take Depakote, HAVE YOUR AMMONIA CHECKED!!

    • @ Kelly Lambert – I am taking my daughter off of depakote now (she was on for migraines). Besides rebound migraines, she has gotten so sleepy the doctor checked her for mono. Mono test was negative and nothing showed up on her CBC, but they did not check ammonia. Are there any other symptoms of high ammonia? What did you do to detox???

  16. I was taking 250mg of the generic depakote ER. I have been on it a year and a half. I was on such a huge dose at first I could hardly wake up some days. I had no energy at all whereas historically I was very active. My weight has finally seemed to plateau with a 30 weight gain. Most of the time I am very careful what I eat and consume modest portions. Over time my doctor at my request has weaned me down to current dosage.

  17. Only took 250mg a day for about 6 months. Doctor put me on it for anxiety without even listening to my concerns so when I saw another doctor he took me off. My withdrawal symptoms right now are headaches, heart palpitations, WAY increased anxiety, irritability, and insomnia. I’m hoping I lose a few lbs but other than that I can’t wait for this to end.

  18. My husband was on depakote for 15 years for epilepsy and now he’s been off for a month but still has horrible tremors or should I say shaking of his hands and arms. That is the reason his doctor took him off this medication what started as tremors eventually became shaking. He was taking 1000mg a day. What I need to know is does anyone know how long it will take for the shaking to stop? The doctor is sure it will but it sure seems to take a long time. Thanks for any feedback. Louise

  19. I am coming off the medicine cold turkey. I only took the medicine half a week, and the withdrawal is lasting me longer than that. My side effects were super severe for the medicine-throwing up and nausea when I was on it. Now that I am off of it, I have had difficulty swallowing and talking, and my vision occasionally gets so blurry, it is like being blind. Don’t ever take this medicine, and NEVER quit cold turkey or without tapering. There are more side effects, but I mentioned the most prominent ones.

  20. I went through an episode of mania last year and was prescribed depakote for it. I used up the last of my medication a few days ago without making sure I had a refill set and I experienced a withdrawal dream. Rather nightmare. I dreamt that I hurt people during my manic state and have no true recollection of what happened.

    Thankfully once I woke up I came to, but I don’t think I’m ready to come off this drug yet. Cold turkey is not the way to go most of the time for a reason.

  21. I’ve been on Depakote 1000mgs for 3 months and due to the side effects (terrible tremors, shortness of breath and sweating profusely), I have to get off of this medication and now after reading everyone’s posts, I’m scared. But the side effects aren’t worth continuing this drug. I’m going to call my doctor tomorrow. I thought I could stop cold turkey but seeing this, guess not. Does anyone have good advice for me?

    • Hi Shanti, I am certainly not a medical professional, just the guy above struggling through my own withdrawal. I will say however, DO NOT stop cold turkey. I think you would feel pretty terrible if you did. Your doctor is going to strongly suggest you continue on your medication and it is not recommended for people who need it to stop.

      I feel they need to say this to cover themselves and because they are probably right in many cases. With that said, we know are bodies better than anyone. Go with your gut instinct, if your side effects are that bad and you feel it isn’t reacting to your body in the right way, then insist they wean you off. It took me about 3 months to slowly wean off and I have still had some withdrawal symptoms, but they have been bearable.

      I would also suggest that you get adequate rest, don’t stay up late, get to sleep early so your body gets it’s rest. And I would exercise a little if you can. Even just walk a little in the morning. I feel that the exercising has helped ease the anxiety for me. I hope that helps. I hope you start to feel better soon.

      • Marc how are doing now? I have been taking 250 mg of the ER depakote for a long time. Last Thursday my doctor who I have a lot of confidence in said I could stop taking it. This is my 4th day off of it and I have felt a little depressed today and had some brain fog but otherwise no physical effects. I already feel more energetic and have lost some weight. Should I maybe take 1/2 a dose every other day for a while. I welcome any comments or suggestions.

        • Hi Dave, I had replied to this, I’m not sure why the page never updated. I’m doing ok. I’m still dealing with positional vertigo. It started to get better and now has gotten a little worse again. The vertigo mostly occurs when I change from a lying position to sitting up and/or standing. I don’t drink a lot of water at all, so I think dehydration could be a lot of the problem.

          I’ve started jogging a little each day. And I started sipping on water throughout the day. I hope you’re starting to feel better. Sorry the first comment never made it through. As far as taking a half dose, I don’t think its advisable, but I would just ask your doctor and see what they say.

          • Look up BPPV. Symptom: Vertigo hits about two seconds afterward whenever the head is moved rapidly, then fades away over about 15-30 seconds. BPPV exercises clear it up.

  22. Really well written & informative article on Depakote. Comments by readers who are or have withdrawn from this medication was helpful… Thanks. I’m a small female weight and in comparison seem to be on a high dose compared to others here… hoping withdrawal won’t be too challenging given my prescribed level. Anemia, hair thinning, worsening of vision, hormone levels all over the place & fatigue is the reason to get off this medication… but in fairness it has been an effective medication in past 5 years. So helps to know what I may experience.

  23. Hi everyone, I agree that it is good to read others stories, it truly helps to know you are not alone. I have been on Depakote ER for about 2 years (2000mg daily). I didn’t really agree that I was bi-polar, I think they had to put a label of some kind on me. I will say that it did help with some mood swings that I had. I gained quite a bit of weight on it, about 30 lbs I would say. I was also on 50mg of Zoloft.

    They tell you not to drink alcohol while taking these, but I was a little dumb and I did on certain weekends and drank quite a bit. I can’t say that I had any bad side effects from anything except my depression started to increase. I asked my doctor to take me off the Zoloft. I think I weaned off in like 2 weeks from what I can remember. Some anxiety, but not too bad.

    My depression started to worsen to the point where life seemed hopeless. I have a loving family, good job, and pretty good health… so people who cared about me always tried to help and say “You have all these positive things, no need to feel depressed.” They were right, but every day I had to drag myself out of bed to go to work.

    I was never suicidal but at one point I was talking out loud to God or whoever would listen and said “If this is all life has to offer, just don’t let me wake up, this sucks.” I finally decided to quit drinking about 7 months ago with hopes that that was the cause of my depression. It wasn’t, I was still depressed. So I truly felt Depakote was what was causing my depression.

    I researched a little and saw others with the same complaint. I went to my doctor about 6 weeks ago and said I was done taking Depakote, please start weaning me off it and I explained why. She stressed that it is not recommended for those who are bi-polar etc. and it is not advisable to stop taking the medication. She is a great doctor, listened well, and always did blood tests to check med levels, liver function etc.

    But I said, “I understand you have to advise me of getting off and you need to cover yourself as a doctor, but I don’t want to be on this anymore and I think if I am bi-polar it is a very mild case.” So I went from 2000 to 1500 for 2 weeks. Then from 1500 to 1000 for 2 weeks. I had a follow up appt with her and we agreed all was going well. I just started taking 750mg for 2 weeks and will continue to drop down 250mg every 2 weeks.

    My anxiety and paranoid feelings have increased a bit and I manage it by telling myself it’s expected. I have had some dizziness and one day of nausea. With all that said, I feel pretty good and my depression is definitely getting better. I also started exercising which I also think is key. I hope whoever reads this finds it helpful and informative.

    Best of luck and health to all of you. Be strong for yourself, exercise (even just walking) and take care of yourself. We only get one life, make the best of it. Lastly, I will say that I am looking forward to not taking anything but a daily vitamin!

    • Just wanted to add an update… So I started the weaning off process about 3 months ago. I am going on my third week at 250mg. I can honestly say that the only side effects I am really having is quite a bit of anxiety and some lack of concentration. I have had some mornings with minor bouts of heart palpitations.

      I’m planning to take the 250mg for one more week and then be done completely. I honestly can’t wait to be off it completely. I have been trying to eat and sleep good, as well as get some exercise. I need to work on exercising a bit more to relieve the anxiety. I will say that overall, I feel pretty good. Weekends seem really good.

      I have anxiety during the week probably because of some stress at work. I asked my doctor to prescribe me some type of anxiety medication that provides instant relief to panic episodes. Although she was reluctant, she did prescribe me something, I haven’t had to get/use that prescription yet. I told her it was a last resort safety net if my anxiety got really bad.

      I’m determined to be strong and work through this and be a happy, healthier me. I keep telling myself there are people going through radiation/chemo and much worse things, so I will stay positive and allow this struggle to make me a stronger, better person. I hope this helps anyone who is reading it. Staying positive! :)

      • Another update…I stopped taking my last dose of Depakote a week ago. My anxiety is starting to get better, and no longer have those occasional feelings of paranoia. However, I seemed to have started with the common side effect of dizziness (vertigo). Yesterday morning I woke up for work and as soon as I lifted my head up, the entire room started spinning, it was a bit scary.

        It kept happening and I laid back down, closed my eyes and took some deep breaths. It seemed to go away as the day went on and then didn’t occur that much. This morning I woke up again to feelings of vertigo, although not nearly as severe as yesterday. Gotta tell ya, this sucks, but I know it will go away in a week or two, so I’ll just keep taking some deep breaths and do my best to control it.

        I’m almost there, can’t wait to feel like myself again. I’m thankful I only took Depakote for 3 years, otherwise, I can’t imagine the severity of the side effects. Staying positive, just keep moving forward. Hope anyone who reads this is doing well.

        • Another update, if anyone even reads this, hopefully my story will help you. Here I am two months later. I have had some good weeks and bad ones. I finally realized I was wallowing in my anxiety and vertigo but wasn’t doing much to help correct the problem. My exercise that I preach about was infrequent and I wasn’t working hard on staying hydrated.

          I finally told myself, if you don’t want to put in the work, you deserve to be miserable. As of last Saturday I have been jogging every day and drinking plenty of water. My vertigo is already improving. Work stress causes some anxiety each morning, but the past week has been very good.

          I’m determined to be part of the solution and not part of the problem and pitying myself. Exercising, sleeping good, and staying hydrated have been key. I will say it again, if I’m nt willing to put in the work, I deserve felling crappy. Only we can help us, nobody else.

          Since adopting this attitude, I’ve been feeling better each day. Stay positive, don’t worry about reaching your goal, celebrate each step to reaching it, be easy on yourself and be proud of your work to getting and feeling better. I’m no longer looking for anyone’s approval, the only approval I need is from the guy I see in the mirror each day.

          One funny note to add, it’s funny how fast time goes by. When I wrote this I started by saying I was on Depakote for 2 years, then in my last post I said 3 years, well I finally talked to my wife and we figured out exactly when I started and ended and it was 3 & 1/2 years. Where did that other year go? :)

          • Thanks Marc for your informative feedback while tapering – fantastic. Yes the mind is powerful and will over take if we let it too. I have only been on Sodium Valproate for 4 weeks when I started tapering. I have been tapering 3 weeks from 1000 mg, far too high for me.

            I was given it to come off Valium and so I didn’t have seizures. I have been Valium clean for 8 weeks. I am down to 400 mg, and I am coming down 100 mg a week. Planning to be off it in another 2 to 3 weeks. Yes I have had sickness, sleep is up and down yet, but not too bad.

            The lesser the dose the better I am feeling, but can get very tired. Have slept big hours some nights and once or twice a week only shorter of 5 to 6 hours. Lost my appetite completely when they put me on it. Haven’t gained weight yet. I have been sensitive to some foods and experience bloating. Plus some headaches.

  24. In the Fall of 2002, I went into a deep clinical depression and finally went to my doctor and she prescribed Prozac. After a couple months I was feeling great, and then I was feeling too great and on an emotional high. Not long after I had an episode which I later found out was mania. I then started seeing a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with bipolar disorder in 2003 and was told I would have to be medicated the rest of my life.

    At first I was on a “merry go round” of trial and error meds…one of which almost killed me due to an allergic reaction. Finally was prescribed Depakote ER and started with 500mg daily. I did pretty good but did have horrible weight gain, fuzzy thinking, and felt like a robot with little to no emotions. I stayed on that dose for years like a good patient.

    Later when I was having some life stresses, my doc upped my dose to 1000mg daily which I took for years and had only one blood test done. I switched docs cause I felt she was not taking care of my health concerns. Depakote causes liver enzymes to elevate and she never prescribed blood work. When I got a new doc, she was shocked that I had not been tested for depakote levels but a couple times.

    She had me get blood work done and weaned me down to 500mg again and I felt better. I was depressed when I started seeing her so she put me on Lexapro for awhile but my body is sensitive to meds and I actually got suicidal on it so I weaned off Lexapro. I felt much better, but have wanted to wean off Depakote too. So sorry this is long…I wanted to give a framework for my story.

    My new doc was supportive of me tapering off which was delightful and shocking to me at the same time. So she suggested I start cutting my pill in half every other day for 2 weeks. I did that and did have headaches, confusion/foggy, brain, and nausea but that cleared up. Then she had me cut down to half a pill every day for two weeks but told me to return to my reg dose if it was too hard.

    That’s when the anxiety, irritability, and panic attacks started. Also started having restless sleep. So went back to regular dose. I’m also having weird tingling at night on one side of my body, some twitching, and feel like I have a pinched nerve on my left side. I’m scared it’s that drug induced Parkinsonism as a withdrawal symptom. I’m discouraged cause I feel stuck on this drug as if addicted or else my brain/body is addicted.

    I have been taking Depakote for 13 years now, so prob need to slow the taper down even if it takes a year or years. I have had memory issues ever since I started Depakote. I just hope one day to be off this. I think my manic episode may have been drug induced from too much serotonin pooling and then got manic and diagnosed bipolar. So glad to found this site and hear your stories! Wish everyone well and grace in the journey! It’s good to not feel alone.

  25. I’m curious about the interchangeability between Epival and Valproate Acid. Supposedly it’s only a brand change but I’ve been feeling weird withdrawal symptoms since changing over. My doctor had me on Epival and it suddenly became unavailable so the pharmacist asked the doctor if it was ok to switch to Valproate Acid. Since I’ve switched I’ve felt nauseous, dizzy and shaky, all symptoms I usually get with withdrawal from a medication. I haven’t changed any other mess or forgotten any pills so it seems like it can be the only thing that fits. Has anyone else ever had a problem switching between the two?

  26. I have been on generic Depakote 1500 daily for 8 years for migraine prevention. I have been getting off it gradually for the past 3 weeks. Now I am done but am suffering migraines every day. It started during the last week off getting off Depakote and has continued now a week after stopping. I also had other symptoms, brain fog, sleepy, dreams, etc. But the migraines are what’s really bothering me! Will this taper off? I’m tempted to go back on Depakote. But will wait if I know the headaches will get better.

    • @ Roxanne – I just took my daughter off of depakote for migraines. She is also having terrible rebound pain and sleepiness. I am assuming this is all withdrawal. How long did it take for your symptoms to improve?

  27. I was taking depakote for about 3 weeks, started with 250 and then moved up to 500mg, for bipolar II. I started having severe dizziness and headaches so my psych told me to stop taking it, cold turkey no taper. Almost immediately I got severe brain fog with brain zaps (sharp pains in head) every now and then the fog turns into a migraine and I can actually treat it. I have been having pains in my arms and hands.

    I have been off for almost a month, I was clear, no symptoms for almost 2 weeks and then out of no where the fog came back for a day or two. I have seen a neuro and have another appointment for a second opinion, but so far no diagnosis, just symptoms. I wish I never took depakote, now I am having confusion, trouble speaking, tremors and still foggy. Hoping it will get better over time. I have learned that I am very sensitive to medication, I had a similar experience with lithium toxicity. I think I may try herbal supplements.

    • I give my apologies beforehand, as this might be a lengthy post for those short on time. I had taken Depakote for nearly 15 years, 500 mg roughly twice a day on average for mood stabilization. After decades of toxic induced chemical imbalances, I was fortunate enough to gain a space of time for recovery to see what life could be.

      Depakote played a significant role in helping to stabilize my life at a critical time period. But like most similarly situated through misdiagnoses, I don’t believe it was ever intended to be a long-term solution, or that medication was ever needed in the first place. My initiation into pharmaceuticals came at my most vulnerable state, way before black box warnings, not very long after high school.

      With no one within my family to advocate for other alternatives, I swallowed the pills like a ‘good kid.’ Looking back, I can honestly say my life as it could have been, regretfully ended that day. Your loved ones should be your greatest ally in being true to your authentic self, not what is conveniently expedient.

      The following is a few prominent symptoms I experienced while taking Depakote: lethargy, indifference, irritability, memory/concentration deficits, depression/anxiety, increased weight gain. It was my girlfriend that saw me suffer this way for over a decade, before she suggested… “Isn’t it OK to be yourself, than a pill dictate who you are?” As simplistic as it was, I never really considered it.

      At some point I was falsely led to believe I had a lifelong disease, and I allowed fear to overtake common sense. The decision to taper off all medication was nearly three years ago. Physicians I was seeing at the time provided a sensible tapering plan that took 3-4 months to complete. Since then, It’s as if I’ve lived two totally separate lives, and I’m constantly having to reconcile them.

      Rather than something linear, it’s analogous to looking at pieces of shattered glass for a memory. Waking up each day in and of itself can be incredibly disorientating that it literally can take the first few hours to become better orientated, all the while being careful of what your first meal is that could potentially really wreck your day.

      The real work has been in dealing with these realities as I’m certain some will relate, on top of Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) caused by medications like Depakote. After three years recovery, these are the following symptoms that I battle with daily: fatigue, anxiety, dizziness/headaches, panic attacks, mood swings, diet sensitivities, memory/concentration issues, social maladaptation, anhedonia, and depersonalization. On the surface it seems like an existential crisis of the worst kind, but it’s better than it’s ever been for some 30 years.

      Although it’s not quite good enough to land a job just ‘anywhere’, for obvious reasons. I’m nowhere near as emotionally volatile as I was on Depakote, but I’m left to ponder the wreckage it’s done to my closest relations. If I’m angry about anything , it’s feeling as though I lost a large part of my life unnecessarily to a collusion of entities that continue to harm others as I’ve been.

      For those seeking recovery within the United States, you will be hard pressed to find any tangible means of support that is otherwise freely available through agencies within such countries as the United Kingdom that hold the pharmaceutical industry to a much higher standard. Kind Regards…

  28. Coming off of 1000mg after a year on it after finding out I’m not bipolar. I’m tired and have a headache with dizziness. I hope things get better. I didn’t know it was so bad.

  29. I’ve been on Depakote for 5 1/2 years. The doctor put me on 1500 mg per day. I am trying to wean myself off of it now. I am definitely not feeling like myself at all and I hope that this is a very short-lived problem. I cannot seem to get other psychiatrists to prescribed this medicine to me.

  30. During four years of trial and error, working with my GP and psychiatrists to help with manic episodes and suicidal ideology, I had tried 14 different medications, mainly antipsychotics and mood stabilizers with sedatives to boot. I was later diagnosed whilst an inpatient at a mental health hospital (third trip) with bipolar and shortly after, emotionally unstable, personality disorder.

    One more unsuccessful attempt of drug therapy combined with psychotherapy, I gave up hope, I’d had seizures and had to be revived. I was later informed by my pharmacist that the medications I had been given were having a paradoxical effect, i.e., not interacting properly and poisoning me. After 16 months of letting my body rest and trying my best to stay stable, I cracked, and ended up blacking out for hours only to be awoken by a police officer on a roundabout coming off a duel carriageway.

    I went and I asked for help. I spoke with my GP and local mental health services and got an appointment. After a quick five minute discussion she recommended depakote. Being desperate I agreed to try them. It’s been six months and I’ve gained 40 pounds in weight in odd places, I have basically every side effect on the label plus more and now I’m contemplating coming off of them.

    Tapering seems to be the method that worked with other drugs I came off so I’ll try that… I fear I have done my body even more long lasting damage. This drug should be a last measure, it’s also affecting my mental state considerably. Never felt so horrible. 500 mg twice daily and you won’t feel manic, you won’t feel a lot I found, other than lethargic. I’d rather put my life at risk by having a manic high once or twice a year. Best wishes for the people’s taking this. Get better soon.

  31. I just reread your blog Ashley, I am sorry to all if I sounded like this drug was evil. It has worked well, but I also believe it has affected my health with the extreme weight gain, I developed gut problems and had to have a colon resection last Oct, now I have severe swelling in both lower legs so with the weight I a struggling to get off, developed water retention I am upset. I worked 40 yrs in the medical field but was clueless to my own needs.

    I had a great psyche Dr. but he had a heart attack the end of 2013 and had to give up his practice. I have had my primary prescribe the meds but need to find another good Dr if there is one. Again thank you all I am so glad I found this site, made me. Feel I am not alone in this battle. Even family members make it hard b/c they don’t know how it feels when you are sick from trying to withdraw. Cris

  32. Thank you everyone for your honest answers. I have been on 1000 mg of Depakote ER age for at least 10 yrs. withdrew in 2009 and did well, but got very depressed in 2013 a hard time in life and was put back up to 1000 mg. was told I am bipolar and not to take SSRrI’s. Having severe tinnitus and yes weight gain, in 2009 I lost 60 lbs, worked at it after the withdraw, back up again.

    When I have tried over the past few months to withdraw I just feel sick, unsteady, unable to drive bad panic attacks, anxiety nausea feeling crazy. I am also angry I got hooked on this poison, know the neurons in my brain are. More messed up from this toxic stuff. Will keep trying, the tinnitus is awful. Thanks for the support.

  33. I have been taking Depakote for years for mood stabilization. I had to quit cold turkey, because there is a chance I could be pregnant and because I keep trying to get pregnant. Yesterday morning was my last dose of it (Thursday November 5, 2015). That night, I started getting a headache. It wasn’t the worst I ever had, but it felt like my brain was slightly splitting open. Keep in mind, I was taking 1000 mg in the morning and 1000 mg at night because of severe mood swings.

    Last night I also experienced nausea to the point where I was almost throwing up. This morning I awoke to more nausea and yet another headache. They are going to put me on another medication for my mood swings, but I have a feeling I am in for an extremely bad withdraw. I am not me, emotionally. The mood swings I used to have are different from the ones I am having now. Admittedly I had worse mood swings before I started Depakote than I am having with the withdraws.

    I feel like Depakote has helped me a lot throughout the years and if there was not a risk of potential harm to a baby, then I would still be on it. However, there is no way that I am going to let my baby suffer in any way, if I can avoid it. A baby is an innocent being. The harms Depakote can do to a baby, affects them their whole life. So, my withdraw symptoms are just a temporary thing compared to the harm this can do to something so innocent as a child.

    Once I have my first baby and stop breast feeding, then I may go back to Depakote, but until then I will have to see how Latuda works for me. I hope this helps inspire someone. -Ashley-

  34. Interesting to hear everyone’s experience. I’ve taken 500mg Depakote with 300 mg Lithium for nearly 20 years for bipolar. There were recent speculations after death of spouse that I have more PTSD than bipolar. I’m extremely health conscience, however learned after colonoscopy this summer that I have lymph colitis. I have weaned myself off lithium, with reluctancy from psych doctor.

    I’m 56 years old and these meds are starting to have a tremendous toll on my physical health. Desire support. My plan is to slowly began tapering the Depakote over a period of one to two years at the same time implementing the GAPS (Gut and Psychology Syndrome) nutritional approach to help with healing. Will avoid as much unnecessary stress as possible for healing.

    • Hi, Janice. I can’t tell you what to do with what you put in your body or don’t put in your body. However, I will share with you an experience I had going the natural route. I was taking something over the counter called 5 HTP for anxiety/anger issues related to my mental illness. I was on no other medication at this time in my life. I ended up in legal trouble, because I flipped into a manic episode and lost control of my mind.

      I think if you want to do anything than just ask if you can take lower dosages. There have been too many incidences where people go off their psych medication and end up hurting someone or themselves. I ask you as a follow patient to reconsider going all the way off the psych meds. The psych meds are stronger than the natural pills are and I do not know if the natural pills will be enough to keep your brain healthy. I offer this information to be of help to you and for no other reason than that. -Ashley-

  35. I currently take Depakote 250mg, one in the morning & one before bed. I’ve been taking it for 6months now & considering on getting off them. Read my symptoms & tell me what you think. In the last 2wks I have not been sleeping well at night. During the day, if I fall asleep sitting up, I start reaching out doing the things in my dreams. I’ve started talking in my sleep & wake myself up & look around & no ones there.

    Mom & I live together & she’s my greatest supporter. Sometimes when she’s talking to me I fall asleep & start talking about something off the wall from what she’s talking about. At this time I’m not driving cause I don’t feel I would be safe enough for others. The main symptom I have is malaise & just feeling loopy. Never did this before taking this medication. lesiamiller.andersonp[at]yahoo.com.

  36. Reading this dialogue has been out of control helpful. Thank you to everyone. I have been on Depakote for a little over a decade. I have bipolar disorder and chronic migraines. I take 1500mg of the generic divalproex every evening. My body has reacted so severely over the years. The gastrointestinal side effects in particular have become debilitating. It is time for me to finally get off of it.

    I have tried other options and given tapering a go before, but this is the first time I will be doing it without the introduction of another mood stabilizer and without the supervision of a Western medical professional. I am going to spend three months in the Amazon and work with a Shaman; however, I need to start the tapering process here.

    If there are any other experiences and ideas that can be shared I would be INCREDIBLY grateful. My trust for medical professionals has been REALLY abused. I have some traumatic experiences that unfortunately just preclude a psych visit as a healthy option for me. I am also taking 40mg of Prozac and could use some help establishing a companion tapering plan.

    I recognize that doing this without a western medical professional is considered very dangerous which is why I want to be meticulous in my research. Any help would be amazing. Peace and gratitude.

    • Erin: I know your post is from 2015, still I hope your shaman experience went well. I would just caution that before people work with Shamans & Ayahuasca or any herbs provided by the Shaman, that they research the interaction between Ayahuasca/herbs, and whatever meds they are on. I have known of cases of people who have died because of the interaction.

  37. I was put on Depakote (250 mg) for about 8 years after some hypomanic episodes after coming off of 20 mg Paxil cold turkey my junior year of college. I was also put on Paxil (10 mg) and seroquel (25 mg). After talking to my doctor, he told me to halve the pill and take that for two weeks, then get off of it completely. I experienced some mood swings, but after a month or so, stabilized.

    I am still taking Prozac and seroquel, but I feel much more stable after getting off of this mood stabilizer. I think I was misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder and the hypomanic episodes were induced by SSRI discontinuation. I don’t know for sure, but after feeling better getting off of depakote this is my best guess. I am currently tapering off seroquel and that is proving to be much harder.

  38. Thank you so much for the excellent article and the comments. It is so difficult to get decent information out of the medical community regarding what to expect in situations like this (typically a questioning look and comments like “withdrawal symptoms? There are no withdrawal symptoms”).

  39. I went off cold turkey after being on it for about 17 years. I started on regular depakote and then switched to a generic (for financial reasons). My two symptoms have been dizziness and a bad taste in my mouth after I eat or drink something. I also have experienced some confusion, although that is getting better daily. I have been off the medication for about a month.

  40. I’ve been on Depakote 1000mg for 20yrs. and have been trying to get off of it for the last 8 months because of weight gain. The first time I tried it was too sudden and my head hurt really bad, even though I’d been taking it for bipolar, not migraines or seizures. I went back on 1000mg and have been trying again to get off it, much more gradually.

    I’ve had restless leg syndrome, random sharp pains in my body, tingling, and the worst – confusion, always at bed time or in the middle of the night – waking up not knowing where I am, having the very scary and lost sensation of not being familiar with my own brain, not really knowing where to go with my thoughts. It’s like Depakote changed the format of my brain and now it’s having to readjust. I’ve never had such a hard time getting off a medication. After each decrease in dose I wait until my head has adjusted before decreasing again. I’m determined to get off this stuff!

    • Hi Laura yes I’m really struggling coming off depakote. I have had really bad anxiety and my GP had today started me on beta blockers to control the anxiety. Try and stick with it and good luck coming off them dreadful tablets.

    • Keep at it. I’m down to 125mg and stopping today. I’ve done it before a week at a time and gave up. Gained nearly 50 pounds from being on it. Now I need to be off it. For restless leg try ferrous gluconate. I’ve had since childhood hood and found an iron supplement is the only thing that worked. Gluconate has the least side effects like constipation.

    • Hi, I also had that sensation not to be familiar with my brain, I had it last night and it was when I was in bed. It was quite scary, finally I took sleeping medication and fell asleep. I have jumped off of depakote since three weeks now. I think it is the hardest medicine I have ever tapered. Luckily I have no obligations, so I mostly stay home. Except from swimming daily and do my shoppings.

  41. Hi, I have just started to reduce depakote (my consultant and doctor) both reluctant in me doing this, but I suffer (and struggling) to deal with server depression and very low mood and really disagreed with taking depakote for eight months as I do not have bipolar!! I started withdrawing with having half a tablet daily for two weeks, then half every other day for two weeks, and my periods are all over the place (normally regular). My depression and anxiety has been hard for me to control, but I’m determined to fight through and control the effects and get the awful depakote out my system once and for all.

    • Sandra, I hope you are having success with coming off of Depakote, would you mind sharing details about your menstrual irregularities? My girlfriend is experiencing similar symptoms. Thanks!

  42. I have been on Depakote for over a decade. I gained weight right away, 15 lbs. That didn’t bother me. Excess saliva and a sore throat has bothered me.

  43. I started withdrawing from depakote weeks after having been off of it. I guess everyone is different. Now I have been experiencing shakes, tingling skin, mood swings, and social isolation.

  44. I’ve been on Depakote for about 20 years? They had me on 2000mg a day! I usually look up meds before I take them although that was impossible at the time. I’m 55 yrs old & I tapered off over the past 4 years to one pill which was 500 mgs a day. I just stopped a couple of days ago & so far I’m just experiencing tremors. I didn’t realize I shouldn’t have been on that high of a dosage & I’m not sure if I can split these pills in half or just let it work itself out.

    • NO Anne! The pills can NOT be broken, but there is a 250mg you can take! I am in the process of weening off the depakote, after 15 years of taking it. I have been taking 500 mgs. My neurolgist passed away, so while hunting for a new one, several drs wanted me to take 1000 mgs. I refused! NO way! I spoke with my oncologist and gastro and they were like, ABSOLUTELY NOT!!

      So now I am struggling to take myself off this poison! I am so happy I found this sight and everyones comments. I feel like I am not alone! It is scary! The lack of sleep and the blurred vision and my hair falling out are just some of the things affecting me! I will be very happy when I can say this is behind me! May everyone be blessed with a quick recovery from this nastiness and back on track enjoying life!

      • Ladies, I have been on Depakote ER again since 8/2023 1000mg before since 2000 till 2010, when I tapered off. Don’t know how I did it. In early 2013 I went through a very rough time, became very depressed, lost my job and went back on this stuff. It helped, but I gained 40 + lbs. hate and had a # of health issues.

        So a month ago I started to cut down 125 mg a week plus, I developed extreme dizziness especially when driving, extreme panic, I had this before afraid I would get into an accident, felt like I was seasick when driving and have no one to help me. I am 64, so just 4 days who I went back to the 1000 mg, and feel back to normal. I am very angry I am controlled by this stuff, have an appt with a new PCP end of July, praying she can advise and help me, or recommend a good Dr to help me wean off, very very upset over the driving issue.

        You have to go to the store, even in stop and shop I felt totally dizzy and unstable walking up the isles, so upsetting.

      • You must not split depakote ER . They are extended release tablets and are supposed to be taken whole. Splitting them would make the drug go into your system a lot quicker so would effectively make the dose larger for a shorter time… probably making your symptoms worse.

    • My brother was on depakote for 5 years and his doctor just recently took him off of it because it caused a drop in his platelets. Since coming off this med he has lost 20 pounds and seems to be very anxious also has trouble sleeping at night, but my mom and I are happy he no longer takes it. He was taking it for the aggressive behavior due to autism so he has improved.

      • I have a daughter who is on 500 mg/day but also on Lamictal for seizures (she also has ASD and ADHD). Depakote was reduced 20% over the summer, and at first all the symptoms that I thought were supposed to be Lamictal side effects (lack of sleep/anxiety/tremors) are from the lowered Depakote!

        I just read somewhere that biotin is a B vitamin that is often low in Depakote users. I’m thinking having a) plan for better sleeping with alternative supplements (like valerian root, lithium supplement, melatonin) or with non-addictive meds; b) plan to address anxiety; and c) taking Biotin supplementation prior to the decrease may help all of the symptoms and make withdrawal easier.

  45. I was on depakote er for 15 years taking 1250 mg. I tapered off, potentially too fast I’m not sure, and am experiencing a few obvious symptoms. It’s also worth noting I gradually moved to lamictal as well so source of the symptoms aren’t 100% depakote. The most annoying two are the confusions and the shaking. I shake all day like I’ve drank 5 cups of coffee. The confusion/stupidity/memory thing is terrible.

    I easily get sidetracked and it takes a bit to realize what I was doing. I have a hard time remembering simple things as well like restaurant names, etc. – heart palpitations are there occasionally. Dizziness Is BAD whenever I randomly get it. It’s really really bad and even laying down I’m crazy dizzy and miserable. It goes away pretty quickly though. Very weird. I’m sure there are more but… I can’t remember haha.

    • It all will improve. Be patient and seek a reliable doctor that can support you in this process. I wrote about my experience above. All the best!

  46. I also MAY have similar circumstances as Pat Murray described in his/her comments. However, I have never tried to go off of any of my medications ever…..and am working with all of my doctors including a neurologist to determine the best course for me. I am 52 years old, and cannot become an MD with a bipolar diagnosis.

    • I am on Depokote, trying to get off, with the help of my doc, and am also on Seroquel. I am tapering slowly. The reason my doc wanted me to see a neurologist is I had alot of tremors, and difficulty walking. I was kind of pitching forward as I walked. The neurologist diagnosed drug induced Parkinson’s from the Depakote. He wanted me to go off of Depakote. Then he was going to check to see if I still had the tremors. It isn’t easy to go off of this drug.

  47. I have been kept on this drug for at least a decade. My doctor built me up to recently taking 1000 mg per day. Diagnosed (wrongly, I believe) with bipolar disorder. I am 64 and trying to go off slowly. Clearer mind, no mood swings but am so sick and I am so angry. This same doctor used to have me on 900mg of seroquel until I successfully got completely off. I am so angry that I have allowed myself to be over medicated with no information about withdrawal, side effects and recommended dosage information. Just an appointment for 10 min. and a prescription and I’ll see you in 2 months – as well as never any blood tests!

    • Pat Murray – Been through very much the same thing. Looks like I had an ammonia problem since started on 800mg Seroquel 7 years, started weaning off it a couple years later and got down (manageable) to 100-150. A couple years ago, convinced the Shrink that I had Autism from an MRI image done for research in 2011, couldn’t deny the cerebellum.

      Started me on 250, then 500 Divalproex, as I pared the Seroquel down to 12.5 with the Divalproex going to 1000. It was a month after that I found my ammonia high. seeing mt GP tomorrow about it. Anticipate that I’ll be doing better with less meds soonish. Why take something for (suspected) bipolar when it’s making it worse?

    • I had been on Depakote for a few years to help my Bipolar disorder with psychotic features and migraines. Don’t know if it helped with the BPD and PTSD or not. I quit cold turkey, because my “doctor” had me on too many different medications that didn’t match. I ended up with serotonin poisoning from their incompetence. And they never had me go in to be seen after that.

      They switch meds without taking blood levels, and discount everything I have to say. So I quit taking everything. Now I am terrified to even go to the doctor. I have been having multiple seizures a week for weeks now (didn’t used to have seizures), migraines, nausea, lack of appetite, vomiting, stomach pain, dizziness, confusion, blurred vision, rage, trouble sleeping, tremors, and hallucinations. I go days without sleeping sometimes.

      I get a few hours of sleep after three days of none, then back to no sleep. Sometimes after days of no sleep I crash for 12 or 18 hours. But for the last week, never more than 5 hours and back to no sleep for a few days. I have been depressed and intermittently suicidal. This stuff is bad news. My head is more clear being off of it. But when I get too upset about something, I have crazy seizures.

      It’s scary. Too many symptoms coming off of this stuff. When I was taking the meds I physically couldn’t get out of bed (but that was the serotonin poisoning from other meds). Couldn’t eat for days. No appetite, and no energy to eat. I feel that I was on deaths doorstep. Seriously. But these people that pulled their medical license out of a cracker jacks box don’t seem to care. I don’t know what to do, and I feel so alone and miserable.

      • Tears of a sad clown: Osho says “insomnia is not a disease but a certain way of life”. There is an article online about it that changed my thinking on insomnia being a devastating ‘problem’ that not only terrified me, but caused me to miss work in the morning. Ever since I changed my thinking on insomnia being a fatal flaw, I’ve been sleeping just right.

        Master Osho also tells us that “Psychiatry is an art, not a science”, which led me to treating my Psychiatrist and Therapist more compassionately. They’re trying to help, they just aren’t using the alternative medicine and plain information + understanding that I would prefer. I regret that I was given heavily sedative medication, Depakote and Zyprexa, that aggressively affects my nervous system for a period of 4 years (starting at 21 years old) to combat my bipolar ‘diagnosis’.

        It helped and it has fundamentally changed who I am; perhaps for the good- experiencing a time period in life without serious mood swings. I recently stopped seeing the psychologists and quit both medicines cold. I was sleeping less when I was ON the medications surprisingly. Now my body is often achy and exhausted but I have significant energy when I wake up in the morning, which is everything to me.

        I actually look forward to starting my day; the primary difference for me being off the mood stabilizer. I hope to never see serious lows again. But if/when I do, I can approach with a meditative strength that has been gifted to me during this process.

        Jim Carrey, famous bipolar comedian/actor tells “suffering leads to salvation”. Hope you are feeling well today! Many of us have suffered our share and, therefore, can and will touch our salvation. Bless you!

  48. I took depakote for 2 years for bipolar. Mostly depression and not mania. I decided to see what I would feel like without depakote and quit cold turkey. I did not feel any mood changes, anger etc. I did feel nausea, fatigue, higher blood pressure, headache, chest discomfort, gastrointestinal upset, ears ringing. I started taking 1 pill daily to ween down slower and symptoms are more tolerable but I do still feel slightly ill all the time with waves of worse symptoms. I actually think I am thinking more clear, I feel more joyful. Sure hope withdrawals will end soon.

    • I have quit cold turkey after being on Sodium Valproate since 2001. Mentally I feel so much better, calmer, more in control and even motivated to eat well. But physically I feel awful. Nausea, going hot and cold, very lethargic, muscle weakness, vision problems, upset stomach, my appetite is reduced too but am not complaining about this one.

      I can’t walk far without tiring myself out. I’ve been off it for a week now. Hopefully the withdrawals will lessen soon. I’ve had insomnia for years so can’t attribute this to the withdrawals.

  49. Thank you for this article. I have been on seizure medication for 37 years, depakote for the last decade of it. My neurologist had me taper off the medication but didn’t warn me about withdrawals but I had done my homework. Medication free for 2 months I thought the withdrawals were over, I have not had a seizure but I did end up in the E.R. later because of a sudden reoccuring of so many symptoms of withdrawal. When my neurologist saw me at the hospital he said the CAT MRI and EEG were all normal and that I was just anxious. I was prescribed Ativan for anxiety when I left the hospital. I don’t know what triggered these symptoms to reappear but I suppose my situation is very rare.

    • I have taken depakote for 22 years. I tapered off and I have lost 15 lbs., have no appitite, confusion, difficulty concentrating, heart palpitations sleep disturbances and night sweats.

      • Confusion, irritability, inability to concentrate, headache, tremors, heart palpitations, sweating, thirst, sensitivity to warm weather, insomnia, and anxiety are symptoms of my withdrawal after ten years of taking 500mgs of first Depakote (valproate acid) and later Magnesium valproate. I am 56, and weight 80 kilograms (170 pounds approximately). After three months the concentration is improving, the irritability has lessen, but still have insomnia at night. Glad I found this information!

      • Have you gotten better? I am on depakote and am having thyroid issues. How long did your withdrawal last? how did you taper? I am on 500 mg 2x a day and my Dr. doesn’t want me to stop taking the medicine, so I am not having any help with that.

        • I’ve been taking depakote for over two decades. What they fail to mention is stopping Depakote cold turkey not only causes anxiety and panic attacks but psychosis as well. I stopped taking my medication for 5 months after I leaving my previous psychiatrist because I thought I didn’t need it.

          I started experiencing auditory hallucinations and became convinced I had died and caused the world to end. Very scary yes but every time I forget to take a pill (I’m back on Depakote ER 500mg/ 3 times a day)–even if its for just a few days I relapse. I am seizure free without the medication but now need it for bipolar.

          I’m gonna print this article and show my new doctor. Hopefully I can wean off it because being on Depakote for literally the majority of my life has given me thyroid problems, PCOS, and irregular monthly cycles.

      • Very restless, irritable, can’t sit still,pacing with nowhere to go, insomnia, and having trouble concentrating. I was on 2000 mg a day and my doctor cut the dosage in 1/2 because of my inability to walk without falling. I have been put on this high dosage because of my bipolar symptoms and was on it for 2 years.

        • I’ve been pacing back and forth for years but didn’t know it was because of Depakote! The majority of your symptoms sound the same as mine. Thank you. :-)


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.