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Newly DX'd BPII-Doc gave me Depakote ER


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I've just been dx'd w/ BPII and I am totally scared to start the Depakote my doc rx'd me.  I have heard sooooooo many aweful things about the s/e's being pure hell, and I have been chickening out of taking it for the past 2 nights.  He started me off at 500mg.  Is this too high, and does this dose cause a lot of s/e's?  I'm supposed to take 500 for 3-4 days and then move up to 1000mg.  I am so used to taking regular a/d's like celexa, lexapro, and effexor, and the thought of taking an "anti-convulsant" scares the shit out of me.

Does anyone have any positive things to say about Depakote?  If so, please post.  I need all the encouragement I can get.  Thanks in advance.

Brandy

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I don't personally take Depakote.  I take a different anticonvulsant.  But there are a lot of people on this board that do take Depakote and swear by it.  It sounds like your doctor is being careful not to start you off at too high of a dose, and I'm assuming that you will be having blood levels drawn.  As you take a look around the boards here, pay special attention to the meds that people have listed that they are on and you will be able to see several members that are taking Depakote.  Good luck!

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I am also BP II, and I take Depakote ER along with Wellbutrin.

Best thing I ever did.

Ever.

I started out at 500, just like you, and moved up.

I've had no hugely noticable side effects.

But the difference in my moods was dramatic.

I'm employed and stable for the first time in six years.

Unless I wake up one morning with my liver laying next to me crying, they'll have to pry this stuff away from me.

InfoNut

edited to add: I have never noticed a real dopey effect from Depakote. Just in cae I do try to take it at night though.

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I am also BP II, and I take Depakote ER along with Wellbutrin.

Best thing I ever did.

Ever.

I started out at 500, just like you, and moved up.

I've had no hugely noticable side effects.

But the difference in my moods was dramatic.

I'm employed and stable for the first time in six years.

Unless I wake up one morning with my liver laying next to me crying, they'll have to pry this stuff away from me.

InfoNut

edited to add: I have never noticed a real dopey effect from Depakote. Just in cae I do try to take it at night though.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

That is sooooo refreshing to hear.  I have heard so many horror stories about it turning people either a) into a zombie, or B) making them even more depressed than they already are.  The thing is, I suffer from more serious depressive episodes than I do hypomania, so I "thought" it would make sense to rx a med that wont make me dopey.  So far, a lot of what I've read states that people who take/took it did suffer from more depressive episodes than anything else.  That is something else that bothered me with Depakote.

I guess, all in all, I wont know how it affects me untill I bite the bullet and take it.  I am a complete novice to this whole BP thing, and am still in denial, to a certain degree, about my dx. 

I just can't fathom that all of those times when I felt so happy,motivated,determined, and full of life weren't "normal.  Isn't that what life is supposed to be about-being happy, full of life and energy, and setting terrific goals for the future, etc.?  I don't believe in my heart of hearts that these times were really a "problem."  They were times I LOVED and tried to get backconsistently with every a/d I took.  I feel like it has all been a hoax, like I have been duped, and I just can't accept that fact. 

Without something like "hypomania" to look forward to, what else is there to be excited about or look forward to?  I think I'd rather be hypomanic for the rest of my life than be level.  Level is boring-I guess.  I honestly can't remember what it's like to be level or "normal", but hypomania is so good, why bother trying to be stable?  I can understand if someone has irritable or bad anxiety episodes with their hypomania, or if someone is BPI then they definetly need med's to help them, but my situation is different.  I loved being hypomanic.  It feels so good to feel happy and full of energy after a long, deep depression.  I am scared that normal will not be as fun as what I have been looking forward to getting.  I don't want to be disappointed when I finally become stable and life is boring....... I am scared.

Brandy

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Hey Brandy,

Nice to meet another BP2 starting Depakote.  I'm also on lithium, 1200 mg, and Zyprexa, 1.25 - 5 mg, depending.  These two pulled me out of a paralytic, delusional depression, but I now own a lot of clothes and jewelry that I shouldn't, hence the third.

Just wanted to say...

1. These meds can have (seemingly paradoxical) positive effects. For example, I've never expected much from either lithium or Zyprexa as antidepressants, and yet they've really worked for me.

2. It's possible that, as you review the things you miss about your elevated states, they're not all pathological, or lost to you forever.  You're just looking to forestall deterioration and control your direction a bit more when you're in an elevated mood.  (Unlike me, who who once wrote her honors thesis in one night, but has lately been reduced to using her highs to decorate her feet with a permanent marker.)

--sg

who thinks she'll never be happy again during each depression and at outset of most new med trials, but has been proven wrong every time.

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Although Depakote (at 1000mg/day) was sedating for me at first, by stabilizing my mood it helped with depression.  But I still needed 300mg of Wellbutrin (a pretty OK AD for BP depression) to keep me out of depression.

500 mg of Depakote is a low dose for many of us.  However, blood tests will show whether you're at what's considered to be a therapeutic blood serum level, which will help your pdoc decide whether you need more.  I've heard of people on as much as 1500 or 2000 a day.  I think I went up to 1500 at first, and once I stabilized was able to drop back to 1000 and did well on it.

And the serious side effects aren't common or it wouldn't be so widely prescribed.  It's a solid first-line med to deal with mania, because dosage can be increased fairly quickly, so you get results fairly quickly.  And pdocs generally have tons of experience with it because it used to be one of just a handful of BP meds.  And the slightly more common SEs--sedation, weight gain, etc--are often transient, if they occur at all.

Everyone starting any crazymed is convinced they'll get all the worst SEs.  It's often the uncertainty of starting any medication made worse by the anxiety and fear that's so common with BP.

Let us know how it goes.  Remember there's a period of adjustment & transient SEs with many crazymeds, so don't panic if you get some at first.

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Hey Brandy...Im on 1000mg of Depakote ER for seizures and mood stabilizing (bipolar)....and it has saved me...literally. I havent gotten the weight gain...I have a little trouble with some foods upsetting my stomach(like processed foods or foods containing too many preservatives)...and a little hair loss..tiredness...but nothing too bad...everyone has different side effects to different meds...some people have NO side effects at all...some people have many...

The thing about reading these sheets...is that you have to take everything with a grain of salt. If your doc thought that Depakote ER was not the right med for you...he/she wouldnt have put you on it. For example, I had a svere rash with Dylantin back in the 90's. MY doc's fist choice for my med switch wasLamictal, but since he KNEW of my prior rash, and since I also have other drug allergies and am prone to drug interactions, and Lamictal is known to be a tad bit more rashy...he chose depakote ER.

My advice would be to do as your doctor says, and if you cant get over the fear, you need to call your doc ASAP and let them know, because your leaving your health untreated....

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I don't know why I bother reading those damn things.  All they do is totally freak me out, and make me not want to take my med's.  I wont read them anymore!
I'm a firm believer that research is a good thing.  But you'll find after a while that even black box warnings about meds don't mean the side effect is likely, or even that if you get it you'll suddenly croak in your sleep.

My understanding is that liver and pancreatic problems with Depakote come on over a period of time, and can almost always be caught before they get dangerous.  And regular blood tests will usually reveal problems before they're really problems (your quarterly or 6-month blood tests should include both depakote serum levels and liver funtion tests).  Thus it's worth knowing what can happen and what the symptoms are so you can report suspicious symptoms to your pdoc.  But it's not worth obsessing about them.

This from someone who got one little bruise on her ribcage and was convinced that tegretol had given me an evil blood disease.  I've learned my lesson.  B)

My advice would be to do as your doctor says, and if you cant get over the fear, you need to call your doc ASAP and let them know, because your leaving your health untreated....
Ditto. 
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Nah, mine never mentioned caffeine.  It can wire you up, though, so I can understand avoiding it a little.  I drank coffee madly the whole time I took Depakote.

Have you tried green tea?  It completely took care of my headaches when I had stomach sensitivity last summer.  Completely made me fine with no coffee, except I missed the ritual.  Use real basic green tea, avoid roasted varieties.  Sencha is pretty mild flavored but very good for health, tons of antioxidants, you'll get younger and younger...

Even black tea in small doses (to avoid excess caffeine) will help.

Oh, and depakote should help a ton with anxiety.  It is almost inconceivable to me that it would act like an AD in the least.  It will almost certainly help you sleep, especially taken at night.  Take it a few hours before bedtime so you'll have enough in your system to help you sleep.

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Yeah, when I was put on Depakote ER I was in the hospital with a breakdown...severe anxiety/stress...depakote pretty well took care of that. Not to mention it helped level out my moods right from the start, it was the missing piece to my med puzzle.

*I* do still drink coffee in the mornings, its a habit I havent ever been able to break, I am also on topamax and Keppra...about once a month, I have to cut out caffeine all together because I get the shakes REAL bad ( big time stupid, I know). Alot of that is a side effect of topamax, but if your doctor suggests you not drink coffee, take his/her advice....Lisa

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Depakote did help me, but I found its side effects outweighed its advantages.  Took 750mg a day.  It worked A+ for hypomania and mood swings, but it made me slow, tired and lethargic.  Didn't do much for depression either.  Guess it depends on your system. 

PBF

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I didn't have to give up caffine until Risperdal...

I've been on depakote for about 4 months.  I'm about to go off of it because it didn't adequately control my symptoms but I didn't get any horrible side effects.  My body told me when to stop going up.  (I got really emotionally laible at 1250 mg) so we backed off.  But the only side effect I had was bloating.  Like 5 pounds worth, tops.  Didn't even gain a size.  I was sedated for the first 2 weeks, but that's all.  My body balanced out, got adjusted.  Yours will to.  we are a resilient species!

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