Expert Answer: Depakote for Migraine Treatment

Please read important information regarding the FDA warning for Depakote and other Valrpoate medications during pregnancy.

Question:How is Depakote used to abort Migraines?

Depakote (generic name Divalproex) is a medication used for Migraine, but it is not typically used for aborting (ending) an attack, though it can be. Instead, it’s ordinarily used to try to prevent attacks from occurring or reduce their frequency and/or intensity. It is FDA approved for this purpose in Migraine patients. However, it is also sometimes used intravenously (IV) in an office or emergency setting for treatment of an acute attack (IV form called Depacon).

Divalproex falls into a category of medications called anticonvulsants or antiseizure drugs. These medications are used to treat a variety of neurological diseases (epilepsy and Migraine) and psychiatric conditions (bipolar disorder). Topamax (generic name topamirate), another medication FDA approved for Migraine prevention, is also an anticonvulsant.

Intravenous use of Divalproex for treatment of an acute attack has been shown effective in some research studies. In one study conducted in 2000, half of patients (16 of 32 people) treated with IV Divalproex for an acute attack experienced mild or moderate (25-80%) relief within 3 hours.

Like all medications currently used for Migraine prevention, Divalproex was not developed to treat Migraine Disease specifically. But as researchers noticed that patients using it for other conditions experienced fewer Migraine attacks, they began to study it for use in Migraine patients.

Experts aren’t sure how Divalproex works to prevent or treat Migraine attacks in the patients who are helped by it. As more is understood about the pathophysiology (functional changes arising out of the disease process) of Migraine Disease we will have an increasingly better understanding about how all the medications used for aborting, treating our symptoms and preventing Migraine attacks work.

For more information about lesser-known treatment options for acute attacks please read Ellen’s piece: How to Treat Migraines without Triptans or Ergotamines.

For more information about preventive options please read Teri’s article: Migraine Management Essential 4: Preventive Treatment.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.
View References
1. Lawrence Robbins. "Intravenous Valproate Sodium Injection For Prolonged Migraine Headache." Published online February 2000.


View Comments (7)
  • BonnieJ
    6 years ago

    casrak have you tried Imitrex tha Epipen worked for me for awhile. But between that and the Epipen for bee stings it was just too comnfusing and I was afraid I would use the wrong one at the wrong time. But it did work well

  • Kim Smith Lawson
    6 years ago

    I have just started depakote… it has given me my life back, so to speak… I can shop without specially ordered sunglasses (which would only help for a few mn then trigger a migraine anyway, even with topamax) but am terrified of the side effects of the combination of taking topamax and depakote together. This is so scary to me. I truly don’t know which is going to be worse…

  • BonnieJ
    6 years ago

    I take Toprimate and it is very effective 95% of the time. I get a severe migraine once in a while. Especially if there is a sudden change in the barometric pressure

  • casrak
    6 years ago

    I too was on Depakote fo rmany years while I was in the military. once I got out however, my LFTs were cosistently high so an outside Dr. took me off of the medication. She then tried me on Topamax, but I experienced numerous side effect. Currently the VA has taken me off of everything they tried (with no success). I have had numerous tests done and 2 LPs with the 3rd one being done today. The other 2 failed. I am at my wits end, because I am suffering from a constant migraine which eases some days, but for the better part of the last 2-3 months I’ve been down and out.

  • Trick37
    6 years ago

    CAUTION: Using Depakote requires a constant and vigilant check of your liver enzymes. This medication has a tendency to “jack up” the numbers in lab tests during its use, and once the numbers jump (like mine did), you’ll require life-long lab checks of you liver because of the permanent damage that it could cause. I would NOT recommend the use of this medication for ANY reason.

  • Tim Banish
    6 years ago

    YES! Depakote has severe side effects on some people. It is typically used for seizures or psychiatric conditions. It caused my brother-in-law to lose all his teeth at 25 years old, rotted from the inside out. I was on it for a while and had the same problem, rotted out my front teeth from inside. I also found it did little to help, still had migraines at the same frequency just not as severe.

  • casrak
    6 years ago

    I agree with you Trick37, I would not recommend this drug for anyone due to the long term effects it causes.

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