When you take Depakote, migraines abate, but what side effects take their place?
Let's say you are not an expectant mother, a child under the age of two, or a person with pre-existing liver problems. Let's say you are just a person who suffers from migraines, the headaches notorious for the pain and nausea they provoke in sufferers.
In this hypothetical situation, you are not an expectant mother, a small child, or a person suffering from a condition that interacts badly with Depakote—the illnesses that most commonly interact poorly with Depakote being liver diseases, severe seizures in combination with learning disabilities, and any sort of mental retardation or delayed development.
You do not suffer from epilepsy or bipolar disorder, either—the two illnesses commonly treated with Depakote and other anti-epileptics containing valproic acid. Instead, you are a person who suffers from headaches so painful they make you vomit, and these headaches can last from 6 to 48 hours. (1)
When your doctor prescribes an anti-epileptic drug that prevents your migraines, you are so relieved. And though this drug can be fatal to small children and the developmentally delayed, and the FDA released a warning to health care professionals and patients about “the increased risk of major birth defects in babies exposed to valproate sodium and related products during pregnancy,” these do not apply to you personally, and the medicine is really working. (2)
So why should you worry? If you have already shown certain side effects, you probably are worried. This article is not to frighten you, or cause you to worry. But you should be aware of the side effects of Depakote, and what legal options are available to you if Depakote has already adversely affected your health.
Weitz & Luxenberg would like to provide you with some helpful information, and answer some basic questions about Depakote and migraines.
Why prescribe Depakote? Migraines aren't seizures, are they?
A migraine is not like a seizure. According to the National Institute of Health, a migraine is caused by abnormal brain activity, which is triggered by stress, certain foods, environmental factors, or something else. However, the exact chain of events remains unclear. (1) If you are a migraine sufferer, you can identify some of your own triggers.
“Medical experts believe the attack begins in the brain, and involves various nerve pathways and chemicals. The changes affect blood flow in the brain and surrounding tissues.” (1) Seizures are episodes of disturbed brain function that cause changes in attention or behavior. They are caused by abnormally excited electrical signals in the brain. (3)
There are similarities, but they are two distinct problems whose origin is ostensibly in the brain.
The dangers of Depakote: migraines may be preferable to the side effects
Valproic acid, the active ingredient in Depakote and a few other related anti-epileptic drugs, may cause side effects. Some commonly reported side effects include (4):
- changes in appetite
- weight changes
- back pain
- mood swings
- abnormal thinking
- memory loss
- uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
- loss of coordination
- uncontrollable movements of the eyes
- blurred or double vision
- ringing in the ears
- stuffed or runny nose
- sore throat
- hair loss
Though the side effects listed above are by no means pleasant, some side effects can be more serious. If you have experienced any of the following symptoms, the National Health Institute advises you to call your doctor immediately:
- unusual bruising or bleeding
- tiny purple spots on the skin
- blisters or rash
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- swollen glands
- weakness in the joints
- thinking about killing yourself or planning or trying to do so
In a study, researchers reported that a “small number of adults and children 5 years of age and older (about 1 in 500 people) who took anti-epileptics such as valproic acid to treat various conditions during clinical studies became suicidal during their treatment.” (4) Some of these people developed suicidal thoughts and behavior as early as one week after they started taking the medication.
Only you and your doctor can decide what risks are worth it, in terms of your health and quality of life. Not all people who take Depakote experience side effects. If you have already experienced some of the more severe side effects, however, then you may have already decided that the migraines were better than the side effects of preventing them.
There is help for migraine sufferers who were harmed, not helped, by Depakote
If you have been adversely affected by Depakote and you want to explore your legal options, we can help you learn more, and help you seek the compensation you deserve. Contact Weitz & Luxenberg at 1-800-476-6070, or fill out a form to receive a free legal consultation.
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