Anticonvulsants are among the various medications prescribed for use by patients diagnosed with bipolar disorder. The condition results in seizures and manic episodes in patients, and abnormal changes in mood and behavior. Depakote, belonging to the category of anticonvulsants is prescribed to help manage the manifestations and the symptoms of the condition, along with other medications prescribed for treating it. Affecting an estimated 03 percent of Americans, the condition is the result of congenital defects and changes in brain structure. Subsequent sections will offer detailed information about the medication, and the possible side effects of Depakote when anti-convulsant medications are used for a long period.

Overview and properties of Depakote  

The anti-epileptic drug and anticonvulsants is typically prescribed for managing migraine headaches, and symptoms associated with bipolar disorder, as mentioned above. The medication, available as an extended-release medication apart from delayed release formula, offers multiple properties as mentioned below:

Common symptoms of bipolar disorder

Bipolar disorder is typically classified as bipolar I and bipolar II. Symptoms associated with the conditions include the following:

Frequently occurring side effects of Depakote

While the medication comes with the possibility of undesirable effects, certain effects are known to be frequent in nature. For instance, the patient is likely to either feel drowsy or have feelings of dizziness. Consequently, patients may experience difficulties in performing routine activities or in respective professions. Individuals tasked with operating heavy machinery or responsible for handling hazardous equipment/machinery may need to stay off duties till the symptoms subside fully. Tasks that demand increased alertness and fast reflexes, are to be discontinued till normalcy is restored.

Other frequently occurring undesirable effects include:

Allergic effects of Depakote

As outlined above, Depakote comes with the possibility of side effects. Allergies are another possible outcome of the medication. Most individuals tend to consider allergies as a trivial condition that does not require attention or medical intervention. However, allergies have the possibility of developing in to a serious condition, and it is necessary for caregivers to be aware of possible allergies and take suitable remedial actions, depending on the condition. Certain allergies are not cause for alarm, such as hypersensitivity and rashes.

Individuals may sometimes experience fever with allergic reactions. The outbreak of blisters, sores in the mouth, and swelling in the tongue/eyes/throat or lymph nodes are other possible symptoms of allergies. One of the complications of swelling that is severe in nature could be difficulty in breathing and swallowing. This includes swallowing liquid food and solid food.

Need for careful monitoring of patients

Depending on the severity and the age of patients with the condition, there may be a need for caregiver support. It is necessary for caregivers or family members to be aware of possible effects and symptoms that need to be monitored and handled accordingly. Certain effects are not necessarily dangerous, and will not require any separate medications, as the symptoms are known to subside naturally. However, in certain instances, symptoms may be impulsive and could turn serious or dangerous, to the patient or with the patient. Suicidal tendencies can actually cause harm to others as the individual is most likely to remain focused only on committing suicide and is not likely to be concerned about others.

Depression in patients is likely to manifest in erratic behavior that comes with the possibility of causing harm to others. The conduct of the patient, behavior/symptoms clearly point to possible actions in patients – such as restlessness, or feelings that are clearly agitated in nature. Extended aggression and lack of sleep are also indicative of possible suicidal tendencies.  Caregivers and family members need to be cautious and monitor any unusual increase in activity. Simple comparisons can help determine any change – a silent person turning suddenly talkative, sudden irritation, and changes in mood. All these symptoms are indicative of possible suicide attempts by the patient.

Possible drug interactions

All drugs come with the possibility of drug interactions, with other medications, supplements and herbal formulations or remedies. The mechanism of action of Depakote and its properties are responsible for possible interactions with anesthetics, wherein the outcome of the anesthetic is likely to be more than the desired or expected outcome of the anesthetic.  A stronger anesthetic effect is not safe in certain instances, and this makes it necessary for caution.

Patients on other anti-seizure medications are likely to experience drug interactions. The interaction could result in an increase in the levels of Depakote. The consequence of this increase is the risk of exposing the patient to the side effects of the drug. In such circumstances, it is necessary to modify the dosage and keep the possibility of drug interactions as low as possible.  Depakote is also likely to interact with migraine medications, by increasing the levels of ammonia in the body. When ammonia levels increase significantly, there is the possibility of hypothermia and other conditions; it is therefore necessary to modify/discontinue either of the medications to prevent such interactions.

Overview of impact of undesirable effects and drug interactions of the medication

The possible list of side effects of the medication ranges from mild, moderate to severe. While undesirable effects may be experienced by patients on the medication, it is also necessary to note that some users may not experience any effects whatsoever. The actual duration of the effects or the intensity may also differ among patients.

Individuals are likely to wrongly assume that drug interactions and drug side effects are the same in terms of impact on users. However, drug interactions affect individuals in a manner that is totally different from that of undesirable effects. To put it in other words, the interaction caused by the combination of two medications will affect all individuals in a similar manner, unlike side effects that impact patients differently. The effects are generally common among users.

Drug interactions could also result in stronger side effects of either of the medications. This could vary from person to person, in a manner that is similar to that of undesirable effects.

Black box warning 

The FDA categories drugs and issues warnings regarding the possible effects and outcomes of medications. One of the highest levels of warnings is the black box warning of the FDA, which essentially alerts patients, caregivers and medical professionals about the risks associated with the medication. A drug that comes with a black box warning needs to be treated with utmost caution, in terms of prescription dosage and schedule. I tis also necessary for individuals to carefully read and understand the various symptoms or outcomes associated with the warning.

Depakote comes with the risk of causing liver damage among children below 02 years of age. Other categories of patients who are at risk of ending up with liver damage are those who are diagnosed with neurometabolic syndromes. It is therefore essential for patients to undertake necessary liver function tests. This will help ascertain the actual condition and prevent or pre-empt possible liver damage among patients with liver ailments. Patients on the medications are ideally prescribed tests before taking the medication, during the course of treatment and after completing treatment. This will help to identify any possible damage and help patients and caregivers to take suitable remedial measures.

Special warnings about Depakote

Pancreatitis is a possible condition that may occur as a result of the medication. This refers to inflammation of the pancreas, and the possibility of the condition is strong. Patients are expected to seek and avail urgent treatment, to avoid the possibility of serious or fatal outcomes. Pancreatitis refers to inflamed pancreas, and patients are likely to end up with the condition any time.

Depakote and impact on pregnant women

Depakote is likely to cause complications on the fetus, and pregnant women are advised to avid the medication. The extent of damage or sicknesses are severe with life-long implications and this makes it necessary for patients to choose other medications and prevent complications. The range of effects on children in the womb include defective limbs, effects on the head, spinal cord, and the heart. Babies may grow up with relatively lower IQ levels, with a serious disability in cognition. Children affected by the medication when in the womb generally suffer from emotional disorders and this makes it necessary for mothers and caregivers to stay off the medication and prevent catastrophic consequences in the lives of children.

Organ damage and complications

Side effects of Depakote in the form of allergies have extended complications. For instance, there is the possibility of complications in organs of the body and possible organ damage in serious conditions Though it is relatively rare in occurrence, it cannot be fully dismissed. Hypersensitivity is known to cause swelling in the area surrounding the organs – this includes the liver, heart, kidneys and muscles of the body. This could result in possible serious complications, depending on the condition. There are clear tell-tale symptoms of this condition – pain, fatigue, and swelling in the face. Necessary laboratory tests will help rule out or confirm impact on the liver.

There is a need for caution when certain conditions are observed. For instance, caregivers who observe any indications of internal bleeding need to immediately seek medical intervention for the patient. Clear indications include discoloration on the skin, for instance, there may be either purple or red spots that form on the skin. Other indications include a tendency to bruise easily, with bleeding from the most trivial of bruises. Nose bleeds or bleeding from the mouth are also indications of possible internal bleeding.

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