Depakote's Dosage: What to Know

Medically Reviewed By Amber R. Watson, PharmD

This drug has boxed warnings Trusted Source PubMed Central Highly respected database from the National Institutes of Health Go to source , the most serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Boxed warnings alert doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Risk of pancreatitis. Treatment with Depakote or Depakote ER may cause pancreatitis (inflammation of your pancreas). Pancreatitis can be life threatening in rare cases. Immediately notify your doctor if you notice symptoms of pancreatitis while taking Depakote. Symptoms may include sudden abdominal pain, fever, and vomiting.

Risk of damage to the liver. Taking Depakote or Depakote ER can cause liver damage as a side effect. This risk is highest during the first six months of treatment with Depakote. In rare cases, this liver damage can be life threatening or even fatal. Notify your doctor right away if you develop symptoms of liver damage while taking Depakote. Symptoms may include jaundice, appetite loss, or weakness.

Risk of harm to a fetus. Depakote and Depakote ER aren’t considered safe to take while pregnant. The medications may cause congenital anomalies (commonly known as birth defects) if taken during pregnancy. Let your doctor know immediately if you become pregnant while taking Depakote.

For a detailed overview of these warnings, view this article.

Depakote: Introduction

Depakote and Depakote ER are brand-name prescription medications that contain the active drug divalproex. They belong to a class of drugs called antiepileptics. Depakote and Depakote ER are available in a generic form.

These medications have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to:

  • treat certain types of seizures in adults and children ages 10 years and older
  • treat manic or mixed episodes related to bipolar disorder in adults
  • help prevent migraine headaches in adults

In this article, you’ll find additional information about Depakote and Depakote ER’s dosage and details on how to take the drug. For a comprehensive overview of Depakote and Depakote ER, view this article.

Finding a healthcare professional

If you’re interested in taking Depakote and Depakote ER, search here to find a doctor who might prescribe it.

This article describes typical recommended dosages for Depakote and Depakote ER. These dosages are provided by the drug’s manufacturer.

Always follow the dosage of Depakote and Depakote ER that your doctor prescribes.

Depakote: Dosage

Commonly recommended Depakote and Depakote ER dosages are shown below.

You should take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you.They’ll recommend the best dosage for seizures, dosage for helping prevent migraine headaches, or dosage for bipolar disorder for you.

Depakote forms and strengths

Depakote and Depakote ER are available as follows.

Form Strength
delayed-release (DR) tablets* • 125 milligrams (mg)
• 250 mg
• 500 mg
extended-release (ER) tablets† • 250 mg
• 500 mg
delayed-release sprinkle capsules • 125 mg

* Delayed release means that the medication delays the release of its active drug until the tablet passes through your stomach.
† Extended release means that the medication slowly releases its active drug into your body over time.

Typical recommended dosages

Usually, doctors will prescribe a low dosage of Depakote and Depakote ER at the start of treatment. Then, they’ll adjust the dosage over time if needed. Ultimately, your doctor will prescribe the smallest dosage of Depakote and Depakote ER that gives the desired effect.

Depakote dosing and uses vary depending on the form of the drug you’re prescribed, as described below.

Adult’s dosage

Recommended dosages for Depakote and Depakote ER in adults are described below. Certain dosages are based on a person’s weight in kilograms (kg). 1 kg is about 2.2 pounds (lb).

Depakote DR tablets dosage

Doctors prescribe Depakote DR tablets to treat the following conditions at these dosages.

Condition Starting dosage Maximum dosage
manic episodes related to bipolar disorder 750 mg daily, divided into two or three doses per day 60 mg per kg (mg/kg) per day, divided into two or three doses per day
focal onset impaired awareness seizures 10 to 15 mg/kg per day* 60 mg/kg per day*
absence seizures 15 mg/kg per day* 60 mg/kg per day*
helping prevent migraine headaches 250 mg twice per day 1,000 mg once per day or 500 mg twice per day

* This dose is given once per day unless the total daily dose is greater than 250 mg. In that case, the dose should be divided and taken twice per day.

Depakote ER tablets dosage

Doctors prescribe Depakote ER tablets to treat the following conditions at these dosages.

Condition Starting dosage Maximum dosage
manic episodes related to bipolar disorder 25 mg/kg once per day 60 mg/kg once per day
focal onset impaired awareness seizures 10 to 15 mg/kg once per day 60 mg/kg once per day
absence seizures 15 mg/kg once per day 60 mg/kg once per day
helping prevent migraine headaches 500 mg once per day 1,000 mg once per day

Depakote DR sprinkle capsules dosage

Doctors prescribe Depakote DR sprinkle capsules to treat certain types of seizures at these dosages.

Condition Starting dosage Maximum dosage
focal onset impaired awareness seizures 10 to 15 mg/kg per day 60 mg/kg per day
absence seizures 15 mg/kg per day 60 mg/kg per day

All of the doses in the table above are typically given once per day, unless the total daily dose is greater than 250 mg. In that case the dose should be divided and given twice per day.

Children’s dosage

Doctors prescribe Depakote DR tablets, Depakote ER tablets, and Depakote DR sprinkle capsules to treat certain seizures in children ages 10 years and older. Specifically, this includes focal onset impaired awareness seizures and absence seizures.

Recommended dosages for Depakote and Depakote ER in children are described below. Certain dosages are based on a person’s weight in kg. 1 kg is about 2.2 lb.

Condition Starting dosage Maximum dosage
focal onset impaired awareness seizures 10 to 15 mg/kg per day 60 mg/kg per day
absence seizures 15 mg/kg per day 60 mg/kg per day

All of the doses in the table above are typically given once per day. However, your doctor may change this if Depakote DR tablets or Depakote DR sprinkle capsules are being used and the total daily dose is greater than 250 mg. In that case, the dose should be divided and taken twice per day.

Length of treatment

Doctors typically prescribe Depakote and Depakote ER as a long-term treatment for certain types of seizures and a long-term method for helping prevent migraine headaches. You’ll likely take it long term if you and your doctor feel it’s safe and effective for these conditions.

Doctors may prescribe Depakote and Depakote ER as a short-term treatment for manic or mixed episodes related to bipolar disorder. After the symptoms of a manic or mixed episode have eased, doctors may switch you to a different long-term treatment.  

Depakote: Common questions about dosage

Below are some common questions related to Depakote and Depakote ER’s dosage.

Is Depakote used for anxiety? If so, what’s the dosage for anxiety?

Depakote and Depakote ER aren’t approved for treating anxiety. However, doctors may still prescribe the drug off-label for this and other conditions. (“Off-label” refers to prescribing a drug in a manner other than how it’s approved for use).

To learn more about off-label uses of Depakote, talk with your doctor.

Is Depakote taken in 150-mg doses?

Depakote and Depakote ER don’t come in a strength of 150 mg. So it’s unlikely that you’ll take this dose.

To learn more about Depakote’s forms and strengths, see the “Depakote: Dosage” section just above. If you have questions about your dose of Depakote, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Do doctors prescribe Depakote to treat agitation? Is there a recommended dosage for agitation?

Depakote and Depakote ER aren’t approved for treating agitation. However, doctors may still prescribe the drug off-label for this and other conditions. (“Off-label” refers to prescribing a drug in a manner other than how it’s approved for use).

Talk with your doctor if you’d like to learn more about off-label uses of Depakote, including a possible dosage for agitation.

Can Depakote be taken for depression? Do doctors prescribe a certain dosage for depression?

Depakote and Depakote ER aren’t approved for treating major depressive disorder, commonly called depression. Still, doctors may still prescribe the drug off-label for this and other conditions. (“Off-label” refers to prescribing a drug in a manner other than how it’s approved for use).

Depakote and Depakote ER are approved to treat mixed episodes related to bipolar disorder. With bipolar disorder, you may have symptoms of bipolar depression and mania. With mixed episodes, these symptoms may happen at the same time. However, Depakote is not approved for treating bipolar depression itself.

If you’d like to learn more about off-label uses of Depakote, such as taking the drug for depression, talk with your doctor.

Depakote: Dosage considerations

Your doctor will consider several factors when prescribing the dosage for Depakote and Depakote ER. These factors include:

  • your age
  • your weight
  • the condition you’re taking Depakote or Depakote ER to treat
  • the severity of your condition
  • the form of Depakote or Depakote ER you’re taking

Your prescribed dosage may also vary based on other medical conditions you have or other medications you may take.

Depakote: How to take

Depakote and Depakote ER come as tablets or capsules that you swallow. Depakote delayed-release sprinkle capsules may also be opened and sprinkled on soft food. This should then be swallowed, not chewed, immediately.

If you have difficulty swallowing capsules or tablets, view this article. It provides suggestions on how to take this form of medication. Also, talk with your doctor or pharmacist about ways to take your medication.

ACCESSIBLE DRUG LABELS AND CONTAINERS

If you find it challenging to read the label on your prescription, tell your doctor or pharmacist. Certain pharmacies provide medication labels with large print or braille. They may also offer labels containing a scannable code that your smartphone can convert from text to speech. If your pharmacy doesn’t provide these choices, your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend a pharmacy that does.

If it’s difficult for you to open medication bottles, ask your pharmacist if they can dispense Depakote and Depakote ER in an easy-open container. They also may recommend ways to help make it easier to open the bottles.

Depakote: Missing a dose

If you miss a dose of Depakote and Depakote ER, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it’s nearly time for your next dose, simply skip the missed dose. Take your next dose at the regularly scheduled time. Do not take more than one dose of Depakote at once.

View these medication reminder options to help avoid missing doses. You could also set an alarm or download a reminder app on your phone.

Depakote: Overdose

If you take more than the recommended dosage of Depakote and Depakote ER, serious effects can occur. Do not take more Depakote and Depakote ER than your doctor prescribes. 

Symptoms of overdose

Symptoms that an overdose of Depakote and Depakote ER could cause include:

In rare cases, death has occurred following an overdose of these drugs.

What to do in case of overdose

Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much of this drug. Also, you can call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use its online tool. However, if your symptoms are severe, call 911 or your local emergency number. Or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

Depakote: What to discuss with your doctor

Talk with your doctor or pharmacist for additional information about Depakote and Depakote ER’s dosage. Keep in mind that the dosages presented in this article are typical dosages provided by the drug’s manufacturer. Your doctor will recommend the dosage of Depakote and Depakote ER that’s right for you and your condition. Always follow the dosage that your doctor prescribes for you.

As with any medications you’re taking, do not change your Depakote and Depakote ER dosage without a recommendation from your doctor.

In addition to discussing Depakote and Depakote ER with your doctor, you may find the following articles helpful in learning more:

  • Overview of Depakote and Depakote ER. For comprehensive details on Depakote and Depakote ER, see this article.
  • Information on side effects. If you’d like to know about possible side effects of Depakote and Depakote ER, view this article.
  • Details about seizures, bipolar disorder, and migraine. To learn more about the conditions doctors prescribe Depakote and Depakote ER to manage, see these articles about:

Disclaimer: Healthgrades has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.


Medical Reviewer: Amber R. Watson, PharmD
Last Review Date: 2022 Sep 3
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