Valproic acid is a drug used to control certain types of seizures -- specifically, complex partial seizures and simple or complex absence seizures -- in people with epilepsy. The prescription medicine helps prevent the abnormal brain signals that lead to a seizure and may also prevent seizures by affecting sodium channels in the brain. Side effects of valproic acid include shakiness, nausea or vomiting, headaches, and weakness.
What Is Valproic Acid?
Valproic acid (Depakene®) is a prescription medication used to control seizures in people with epilepsy. Specifically, the medication is approved to treat complex partial seizures and simple or complex absence seizures.
Epilepsy is a brain disorder that occurs when there are recurring, brief changes in the electrical system of the brain. This change in brain activity can lead to a seizure (see Epilepsy Symptoms).
Valproic acid works by increasing the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a natural brain chemical that stops or slows down other brain signals. Increasing GABA helps prevent the abnormal brain signals that lead to a seizure. The medication may also prevent seizures by affecting sodium channels in the brain.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Depakene [package insert]. North Chicago, IL: Abbott Laboratories;2006 October.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: Approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed May 31, 2007.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 7th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2005.
National Library of Medicine (US). Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMED). NLM Web site. Available at: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?LACT. Accessed May 31, 2007.
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