Community Forum

Weight Gain and Depakote


Okay so I went to see my neurologist yesterday and he told me some not so good things about my medicine.  Well lately I've been gaining weight..but I exercise everyday for 20 to sometimes even an hour a day and I lift weights.  I did the no carb thing but that was short lived but I still counted calories and all that and I havent lost any weight.  My neuro was like "ah you gained weight" and I'm like yeah thanks for reminding me.  He said it's because of the Depakote..I was pissed cuz I forgot about that side effect.  And he said I can never go off of the depakote b/c when I was just on lamictal I kept having seizures.  So I heard Topamax makes you lose weight instead of gain like on depakote.  I was wondering..if you have JME-can you take topamax instead of depakote???


Hi,  I also have jme.  From all the literature I have read, topamax works very well for it.  While I couldn't stand taking it, topamax is well suited for jme.  Of course ask your neuro.  As for me, depakote works fine. 

My daughter just started taking depakote 3 days ago.  I am worried about side effects.  Do you have any problems with this medication?  You hear so many complaints about it- I'm sort of looking for some positive feedback from people who have taken it.  Thanks,   Karen

My son has been on Depakote for almost 10 years now, and I have to say our experience has been very positive. For one thing, I was initially told that Depakote had a lower incidence of cognitive side effects (i.e. many drugs effect "thinking" more dramatically), and I believe it. My son has been on Depakote throughout schooling (since 1st grade) and his only poor school performance has been motivation-related (not liking the teacher, etc.) -- overall he tests very well (while on Depakote), was admitted to the gifted program while on Depakote, and generally makes A's and B's (except in those instances noted above!!!). It has controlled his seizures VERY well (only 10 in almost a decide) with one exception -- when he entered puberty, things changed (as we had been told could happen) -- his body was apparently a little too accustomed to the Depakote and started "dumping" it (very little was retained in his bloodstream). He had 3 seizures in 7 months -- which is VERY frequent for him (prior to that he went 29 months without one). At that point, his neuro added Lamictal "on top" of the Depakote, and he's been virtually seizure-free since (he's had one in over a year, and that was after forgetting his medication for two nights in a row). He's on 1250mg per day now, due to his being a pretty big 14-year-old (weighs 145lbs., which may indeed be partly due to the Depakote). I'd say that's really the only "side-effect" we've had any evidence of (weight gain). That's something of an issue for him, but not too much -- it may, of course, be more important to a girl!

Good luck!

Hi, I have been on topamax and i am now on depakote. With topamax you do lose weight but sometimes if your doctor notices you are losing to much weight then he will take you off it. By the way my name is leah and i am 14. I also have JME. I was taken off Topamax because it still was giving me headaches and i was allergic so if you are very sensative to medication then you prolly wont work on topamax especially since it is a new medication. New medications really dont work for peolple who are sensative to medication. You will usually have to stick with the old medication. I have taken all the new medication like topomax, zonegran, lamictal, and keppra and none have worked so I am now starting the old. I stayed on the keppra just to find out 7 months later that it didnt control my seizures enough. I just started Depakote actually. I was wondering if you can give me some other side effects or any other information on it. It will be appreciated. ThanxLeah~*~

hii take carbamazepine (generic for Tegretol), and i have gained all of this weight (about 20 lbs).  does anyone know how to get rid of it (safely and sanely)?  I play sports (volleyball) and it hasn't seemed to have left.  i can't run as fast or jump as high.   Late,ash

Leah,I was on Depakote for 15 years, the main side affects are the liver damage. I took alot  of vitamins for that while I was on it. But what I really noticed was the hair damage. My doctor did not tell me about that at all. My hair would grow to my shoulders and then break off. Even if I got it trimmed it would still break off. So mabe take prenatal vitamins for your hair. mirrorcat21

i was diagnosed with JME this past december. THE DAY BEFORE MY 16TH BIRTHDAY!!!! and yes im not allowed to get my permit until june now, even after i spent a long time studying the permit book!!anyways ive been taking Depakote since december. Recently ive noticed that it has made me so tired! ive gained about 12 pounds, probably just because its making me sleep too much and i think the meds hav increased my apetite. Im an elite softball player and i enjoy working out , but the constantly being tired thing is getting old..i come home from school n just want to sleep!!..ive only been on the medicine for a month so im really hoping it doesnt get worse..and also weight gain is the last thing that i need!

Hello. I use to take Depakote when I was like 20. I am now 30. It made me gain so much weight and i had lots of mood swings, not to mention it didnt control my seizures. I am now on Topamax and it is having a opposite effect, but it has only been a few months. I hope depakote works for u.

i think i will completely refuse to take something that will cause weight gain, mostly for health reasons. someone who is going into the fitness field (kinesiology) isn't supposed to be chubby. what the hell kind of role model could I be then...? And then I might as well give up my dreams of competing at the Olympic level in distance running or triathlon because if I get chubby, I can't compete with the other ladies. And that is the truth. I'm already a little on the thick side LOL. Most of all, I don't need to put on weight because I may go "nuts". I've experienced anorexia once in my life already, I don't need it again. Lawd and Lawd only knows why I didn't end up killing myself. My body fat was low enough that my monthly cycle stopped for at least a year. Funny, I excercise constantly now, even more than I did when I was anorexic back in high school, but things are more under control because I am eating well and eating enough and not obsessing. And my cycle is normal. Life is one big parody....I'm kind of curious to know what kind of effect an eating disorder can have on your brain. I carried on like that for awhile...

Hi everybody,Sounds like all of you are very active people.  Increasing exercise and lifting weights and participating in sports all have one thing in common - they build and maintain muscle mass.  Guess what - muscle mass is heavier then fat so yeah - you might be gaining some weight in your efforts to lose weight....especially if you are not eating right and regularly.  The key is everything.  Eat smart and with reasonable portion size.  The exercise will help to maintain your muscles as well as other parts of your body (heart, lungs, etc.) but excessive exercise can build more muscle and thus add more weight.  Don't go only by the can't tell you how much muscle you have and how much fat you have.  Look in the mirror - work on what you see there!  If there is fat accumulating where it wasn't before or where you don't want it - target those areas with some exercises that will burn that fat and make good muscle instead. I think weight gain is a side affect we all deal with.  What I have found is that I reached a certain point and then the gain stopped.  I have used portion control and exercise to maintain that weight for several years now.  Is it where I would like to be?  No - but it is better then where I could be if I didn't take control of it.  I still have periodic increases of about 10 pounds and sometimes a monthly increase of 5 pounds (water weight) but both are short lived and reduced by increasing both exercise and water intake for a few days.Your primary care doctor can help you develop plans to help stabilise and maintain a healthy body and healthy weight for you - even with added weight from the med side effects.....but you have to keep it up.  Don't give up and don't use the meds as an excuse for gaining weight.....excess weight causes far more health problems then you want to add to what you already have to deal with.  Eat smart, exercise wisely and moderate.  You'll be okay....maybe not a size 4 but I never thought a size 12 was all that bad anyway!Later........................Lee  

I have complex partial siezures and I've also had tried Depakote that started my weight gain of over 60lbs. I've switch several time with each drug adding to my weight gain. the problem being it slows down your metabolism. The south beach diet is what has worked for me I lost 65lbs and I still plan on lossing more! I under stand that this diet isn't for you so I would recommend a diet that will help you speed up your metabolism that is the main source of the porblem! Good Luck! WendyS

I was on depakote for a couple years, when I was first diagnosed.  I hated it. I gained about 60 lbs, nothing I did helped me fight the weight gain.  Then I started having other problems, hair loss, tremors, and more.  I had to have my dose cut and then was put on Topamax.  Yes, I lost 15 lbs the first month. I think I lost about 30 to  40 lbs at the begining. My doctor took me off of it because I was loseing too fast.  I had to switch doctors, and he put me back on Topamax. I didn't lose any weight the second time, but I wasn't gaining like I did before either. I was staying about the same.  For me that seems pretty good.You use your own judgment, and consult your doctor about it.  I found my option, you should find yours with your doctor's help.

I have the same problem as doksdarlin. I was placed on Depakote in my early 40's after an episode of Status epilepticus. I take 300mg of Dilantin and 20- 250 mg of Depakote a day. I gained 60+ lbs in about 7 weeks during a stay in the hospital. My hair falls out (and breaks off), I have tremors and even though I eat healthy and exercise 45 minutes a day, I cannot lose the weight I gained. I want to be healthy, but I see no light at the end of the tunnel. Is there anyone else who is taking as large a dose as I am and maintaining their weight w/o seizures?

Hello, I too was on Depakote for the 1st couple of years after being diagnosed (age 19-21).  After never being over 100 lbs. (I was healthy, I swear it), I shot up to about 145 in 8 weeks (yeah, that can't be healthy).  The way my doc then described it was, 'This will slow your metabolism & also make you hungry.'  Throw a little depression in there due to weight gain, & voila!   For me, I did Atkins (it was fairly new then).  I lost 25 lbs. in about 7 weeks, & then begged a new doc to switch me to something else, which was Tegretol.  I find that losing weight is still a challenge after 5 years on this medicine (but do-able with determination), and gaining weight for 'no reason' is not applicable.  I know if I put on a few pounds that it is from a few weeks of eating pure junk & not exercising, whereas eating anything on Depakote made me gain. Ache

great replies so far (well, not so sure about the pot/booze one) but anywaysi'm on depekene (same as depakote) and i think the weight gain is a concern of course.  i also have JME.  been on depekene for a long time yes, the weight gain will even out and stop (i've been the same size/weight for at least 5 yrs now).  i think when u are new on the drug to watch your diet and exercise and  that is the best you can hope for.  i've heard the stories of how ppl have lost tons of weight AFTER going off of depekene, but for me personally, i've stuck with the depekene.  don't know if i want to risk it - depekene is typically the best for JME.  if it is working and you want to get your license, i'd suggest to stick it out.  you'll need a certain # of years seizure free for a license.  definately, don't go the route of pot and booze...this is not good advice!!!hope this helps a bit with your decisioncassandra

OK.  Was diagnosed with epilepsy in 1992.  Been on Felbatol, Tegretol, Lamictal, Topamax and Depakote.  NOW my regimen includes Lamictal and Keppra.  Told nothing about any of the syndromes, learned these in medical school when I had to drop out after one year due to my absence seizures.  On Tegretol for 10 years.  Contraindicated for patients with absence seizures according to the FDA.  Read your inserts.  Ask your pharmacist.  None of the online literature will state so.  But it exacerbates the condition.  Was put on Depakote, gained 43 pounds in 6 weeks.  If I was not able to eat every two hours, I was about to pass out.  I was stunned.  It felt like my stomach was a cavern and if you stood in it, and spoke, it would echo.  I guarantee it!  I felt so down on myself.  But learned to deal with it.  I had been heavier before and lost over 60 pounds in med school.  So I was OK.  But I too exercised like a mad woman to try to take the weight off.  It only made me more hungry!  Topamax caused the opposite effect.  I could go days without eating and not feel hungry.  Neither were good for me.  I took off those Depakote pounds without even trying.  Ate whatever I wanted, whenever I felt like eating, and managed to come from 225 to now 175.  Not healthy, ladies.  Not at all.  I lost control of my seizures without the Depakote, had the best control ever with it.  I tell my family I would rather be fat than be a vegetable.  I had no control and almost lost my job because of it.  My personality changed and I drove my family and coworkers nuts.  Now I am taking Lamictal and Keppra.  Appetite is improved.  I eat three meals a day and I even noticed I am gaining a little weight back, but I think it is due to my healthy appetite.  The Depakote and Topamax screwed up my metabolism royally.  Almost as bad as my Tegretol experience.  I have to manage to get some exercise in now and be sure I don't get that weight back on.  But I am feeling so much better with the Keppra.  I like it.  I think!  I am not sure yet since I am still titrating up, but I feel so much better, so much more clarity when I think-- only tired more.  Sleepiness is a side effect, so I am sure that has something to do with it.  But I can deal with that, like all the other meds.  I pray for the magic bullet-- the one pill we can take to do away with this disorder, and also be comfortable without the side effects.  Hopefully medical progress will bring it soon, in my lifetime.  Keep your chin up and speak with your neurologist often.  My experience has been that I have had to be a little more aggressive with my doctors than normal people or normal circumstances might require.  But I have been successful, even though they think I am a pain.  Oh well-- I am not paying hundreds of dollars for his office to blow me off.  I stongly encourage you to speak with your doctor about your medications if your weight causes issues for you.  There are other options, but I am not certain of your E experience either.  What you have been taking may be the very best for you and it will be an adjustment, but you will be fine.  I am certain of it.  Having E is full of challenges (now 12 years for me!) but I am certain you can make it through them just like I did. Jamie

i was just put on this medicine thursday and from then on i have seen a INCREASE in my appetite i am just afraid that i am going to gain alot of weight and i need to keep it down for my extracurriculur activities. also this medicine kinda makes me feel weird like i walk around and i feel like im being pulled from side to side? anyone else with these problems? just curious!

Hi,Was diagnosed with JME at 20 (am 25 now) and have been on various medications, including depakote (delepsine) for about 3 years now. In those 3 years I have gained a little over 22 pounds. Recently though I've been trying other combinations - 3000mg of Keppra and have been trying to loose the depakote. That resulted in 3 tonic-clonic seizures in 1 day once I was off the depakote (I used to take 800mg of Depakote and 2000mg of Keppra). So as it is I can't live without depakote. Keppra does nothing for me, except perhaps keeping the myoclonic jerks at bay.In any case, as I was stepping out of depakote, when I was only using 500mg, I lost, in 14 day period 11 pounds, and I felt healthier, happier and had a lot more energy too. I didn't even excercise, I just lost those pounds. I was so tired and exhausted when I was on 800mg. Now I can do so many things.I guess what I'm suggesting is that if your brain can handle it, perhaps you need your dose of depakote lowered just a bit. As it is right now I have not been getting tonic-clonic seizures (the worst of the worst when it comes to JME seizures, imo), only a few abcenses. Therefore I'm thinking about trying lamicital again, just for the abcences. The myoclonic jerks do not bother me, I've gotten used to them, I just don't want the tonic-clonic ones or the abcenses.In any case, always consult your neurologist :-)

I know you posted this a loooooong time ago, but I just came across it as I'm pretty new to this site. I'm a 27 f with JME and have been taking Depakote for 11 years with great success, no tonic clonics and only moderate myoclonic jerks. However, I'm in the process of changing over to Keppra because the side effects stink! At first I did okay with the weight gain, but lately it's been hard to keep off...I'm always having this "full" feeling in my body and I've gained about 15 pounds. I'm taking 750mg of Depakote, and can't wait to start taking less. I was wondering how your seizure control has been on the Keppra/Depakote combo? Have you maintained your weight loss? If you have any advice, let me know, thanks! Hope you are well.

After brain surgeryIn 1995(repaired an A.V. Malformation), scar tissue that developed caused me to have ongoing seizures. I was put on every anti-seizure drug at the time, but was allergic to all of them, except Depakote. Weight gain was the first side effect that I noticed from the drug. I have been on the Depakote until February of this year, when I heard that Topamax might control my seizures. This meant no more going in to get my valproic acid levels checked, no more being tired, and most importantly, I could lose the 50 plus pounds that I put on over the past ten years. After being on the Topomax for three weeks, I had a seizure. The first one in five years. I realized one thing for sure then. The weight gain sucks, but the grand-mals suck even more. I have not found a diet that seems to work miracles yet, but I am not giving up yet. For now it is smaller portions, and plenty of exercise. Atleast I can maintain my weight by doing this.Take Care,maddy 

From the time I was 15 on up to 27, depakote was the only aed I was taking. I actually lost wieght at first ( went from 110 to 95 in about 3 months), then had trouble maintaining a wieght that was even close to healthy ( I had trouble staying at 110, and am only 5'6"). I think it was because the depakote made me so sick, it was very hard for me to force myself to eat. Different aeds have different side effects on different people I guess. Now, taking lamictal and clonazepam, I stay between 115 and 120.

From the time I was 15 on up to 27, depakote was the only aed I was taking. I actually lost wieght at first ( went from 110 to 95 in about 3 months), then had trouble maintaining a wieght that was even close to healthy ( I had trouble staying at 110, and am only 5'6"). I think it was because the depakote made me so sick, it was very hard for me to force myself to eat. Different aeds have different side effects on different people I guess. Now, taking lamictal and clonazepam, I stay between 115 and 120.

I was diagnosed with JME when I was 16 (am currently 23) and was placed on Depakote.  I hated it.  I was shaky and had weight gain and was very sleepy.  I spoke to my doc about changing meds and switched to Lamictal.  I had weight loss and it was apparent to my peers (they thought I went on a diet).  I have loved my experience with Lamictal. 

Hi there, I have been taking Depakote for a while now & hav noticed weight gain as well. I was told that Topamax was an alternative & that it caused weight loss, which sounded great. However, beware of Topamax as one of the side effects is a loss of cognitive ability - it makes 20% of users forgetful (or stupid, as it was explained to me). Because I am in law school, my doctor said Topamax was a bad idea because of this particular side effect. Just something to think about - try checking with your doctor about it.

He everyone. I know it's an old post but here is 0.02$. Four year ago I was on Depakote - within two years I gained OVER 100 LBS. Then it simply stopped working for me. My doc put me on Tegretol/Tomamax combo, I went to gym - 5days/week, 2hrs/day - withing a year I lost 120 lbs...go figure...but Topamax makes you stupid; you forget things, constantly searching for words, can't retain simple info, have to re-ask, etc. Many people address T-max as "my stupid pills". Right now I'm in the process of switching over to LAmictal / Tigretol combo - will see what's going to happend!

Do not take topamax!!!!! it makes you skinny and stupid, as even said by a Dr. Trust me it is not the rite med for any body. It makes you spacy, dead tired, never able to think, and skinny as a stick. even though that is probably what you want write now because you are frustrated dont do it, just stick with the diet and i am sure y ou will see results in about a months. I am in the same boat This is the second time i been on depakote since the last time i switched to topamax. I gained about fifty pounds, but dieting write now and hopefully it works.
peace out and good luck with your meds

I take Depakote for my seziures, and I never really gained weight, but I got the other side effect from the medicine which was the hair loss, but now my side effect is gone so, maybe yours will be gone after a while as well.

Also, my doctor told me that Depakote was the best kind of medicine out there for seizures, so maybe you should stay on it.

My husband has EP. He went on Depakote in college and gained about 100lbs. He is now on Topamax and lost all that, and then some. He's been on the Topamax for several years now and it seems to be working pretty well! Good luck!

Well, I'm now 18 I was 15 when I was diagnosed with JME and I'm currently taking Depakote. What I have completly noticed is between that time the weight gain, and now I have to go on a diet provided by a nutricionist the neurologist recommended, to see if that would help me. I think that is the actual side effect that I have noticed at least on my account.

Ok, this is what I did.

I'm also on a similar drug that has the same side effect. So my neuro put me on 25mg Topamax twice a day and that kind of settled it. Problem is about switching is that full force Topamax actually makes most people feel incredible sick all day long. Even being on the little amount I was on made me feel sick (also made me teary eyed at night/irritable, gave me pins&needles in my feets, hands and upper lip AND gave me AIWS -Alice in Wonderland Syndrome). So just ask for a bit of Topamax to balance out the appetite/weight gain.

I was diagnosed with jme at the age of 15. When the doctor wanted to put me on medication at that point in time I refused to go on it because he warned me of the side effects. A few months later I experienced a grand mal seizure and was started on depakote that night at the hospital. I have been on it ever since and that was just short of 10 years ago. In those 10 years I have had extreme tiredness (all the time), hair loss, and worst of all gained a total of 80-100 pounds. Granted I can't blame all the weight gain on the Depakote. After gaining the majority of the weight I became depressed and was also put on an anit-depressant which lucky for me also causes weight gain. I have gained about 20 pounds since going on the anit-depressant the rest was all while just on depakote. In the 10 years since I had that grand mal seixure I have never had another jerk, tremor, or grand mal seizure but my dr still insists that I will be on this medication for the rest of my life b/c "jme is not a type of epilepsy that you typically grow out of." I have recently discussed with him going off of the depakote b/c I just recently got married and my husband and I want to start trying to have children so I am hoping that by going off of the medication I will start to shed some of these extra pounds. I know a lot of people think that we are making such a big deal about weight and they way we look when this medication is helping to control our seizures but the weight I am at now is not a helathy weight for me or if I get pregnant my child. I am 5'1" and weigh approx 200 pounds. This is extremly hard for someone who was thin their whole life. Its not that I even eat a lot. When I sit down to meals I eat one serving if I even finish that and rarely do I snack between meals and no matter how active I am I just seem to keep gaining. When talking to my dr about getting pregnant he said being I have to drive he would prefer that I go on another medication while pregnant instead of stopping completly but he said if I can find a way around driving then he wouldnt mind me stopping the depakote and just waiting to see what happens wihtout any medication. This is the option I am leaning towards but I just have to find someone to drive me everywhere which will be very inconvenient. Anyway I'll keep everyone up to date and let you know the progress.

i gained 30 pounds on this med. i then developed an eating disorder and lost it all.
when i was on it i was always hungry and ate my luch and then my friends lunches. it was embarrasing !
ask for a different medication.

I take depakote also. I gained like, a lot of weight from it which sucks. I did ask if I could switch to some meds that would not make me gain weight and look all fat. But, unfortunately for me, the neurologist dude said that I can't because it was something about other meds won't help my seizures or something. How f***ed up can that get! Oh well, gotta live with it...damn! Good luck to you all with the depakote stuff.


I use to take Depakote when I was young I had to watch my weight as well. It didn't help to much for my seizures but at that point Depakote and Dilatin were the best for treating my type of seizure. Well after I had a little boy everything changed! my hormones of course had changed so I started to gain weight. My eating habits were still the same as there always were so they messed around with the dosage and it only got worse. So finally the only thing I could do was through a threat out to my Dr that if he didn't do something I would take myself off!!! well it worked! I now take Limictal within 1 month I lost 10 pounds! I have two different types of seizures jme and grand Mals as well as Bipolar. I would ask your Doctor again or get a second opinion!!! the weight gain will ONLY GET WORSE!!! trust me I started it when I was 14! there are better meds out there. I was told the same thing. Good Luck!

I haven't heard to much on Topamax. I wanted to try it but my Dr wouldn't let me. I also have JME and Grand Mals. I would ask about Limictal.It works very well for me. If you looking towards Topamax b/c it makes you lose weight I wouldn't take it I tried to get for that reason b/c Depakote made me gain as well. I guess Topamax isn't very good from the research I've done and from the Dr's I've seen in Boston

I was on Topamax for a while, it seemed to work pretty good for the seizures. But, it took a lot of my thought process away. I couldn't even spell. Example-I was at the doctors, had to pay with a check, I couldn't spell the numbers.
I do know how you feel, Because I am on Lyrica which is an off shoot of Depakote. And yes, I have gained twenty pounds, no matter how little I eat and how much exercise I do. My one doctor had warned me of this, but wanted me on the med anyway. It is very frustrating, I needed new clothes, because after a short while, mine didn't fit. ugh


yea, I've been on Depakote for almost 2 1/2 yrs. now and wen i started i weighed 139 pounds and over a 1 1/2 yr period i gained almost 60 lbs! i'm now bouncing between 190 and 200, and 4 some1 5'3'', 5'4'' and only 17 yrs old I am a high risk obesity.  i get a lot of pressure frm my parents and they make me feel bad most the time as if i'm trying not to lose weight. the depakote makes it really hard but if any1 has any method to lose weight i would eternally grateful =]



I was actually diagnosed with bipolar when I was 14, I had to see a psychiatrist right away, and was diagnosed with type one...later on in life I found I'm a type 2, not a type 1 as they thought I was at first...but I suffered until I was 17 1/2. I can relate a bit on the depakote.

If you're gaining too much weight from depakote and it interferes with your life on those circumstances, talk to your neurologist about switching. It's very important you do. I'm 5'9 and I went from 125 pounds to 223 pounds in a year. I got so dehydrated because I was tired all the time, and I decided to sleep constantly...I couldn't walk up too many stairs, I was always thirsty but still didn't get enough water because I was too overweight. 

I had a toxicity incident in october of 2008 from lithium and depakote played a hand, my blood pressure scared the shit out of my family doctor, he asked me if I was having chest pains and warned me of diabetes. I almost had to go through dialysis, my kidneys were damaged for months, I had a traumatizing hospital experience to get over after that, it wasn't worth the depression I suffered for being overweight for that long, especially in my adolescence. After I got out of the hospital I lost 95 pounds in 3 months because I educated myself with books stacked on my desk on neurobiology, medical literature, and everything I need to know on properly treating my disorders. I demanded my psychiatrist do what's best for me with my own knowledge, because I was never going to go there again. 

So watch out for that...depakote's weight gain can be okay for some, not for all. Be happy with yourself and your life.

Have you tried Stavzor???


I originally was put on 3000 of Depakote and gained over 50lbs. Ugh!  ruined my college years.  After graduating, my dr suggested Topamax in conjunction with the Depakote.  We lowered my Depakote and added Topapmax.  The result = I lost all the weight, which was a great thing, however, the Topamax made my thought process extremely slower.  I am now off of it and on Zonegran, which is similar, but with less side effects!  Please ask your doc about either Zonegran or Topamax as an add on and lowering the Depakote.  (I've been on Depakote, Tegretol, Top, Keppra, Zonegran, Diamox and Depakote is the best for my JME).

Good luck

I don't know much about depakote, but I was taking tegratol for four years and gained 60 plus lbs my dr decided to switch my meds to tompax because the weight gain was causing depression I've been on it now for about 2 years and it has been the worst thing that has ever happen to me. I feel like this biggest air head ,  a lot of times I get questioned by people about doing drugs because I space out and don't realize it and I have to then explain that thats a side effect of my medication. My dr will not change it because i havent had a siezure which is reasonable but rediculous at the same time. I used  to be a straight a student i just graduated this year with mostly b's and there was no weight loss i tried everything atkins counting calories running working out vegeitarian nothing worked it just maintains your weight. Topamax is something no one  should have to go through its horrible. Its the worst drug on the market

Hey Galinda,

My boyfriend is in this same exact situation. He currently is on Depakote & it was making him gain weight. Then they started to switch him onto Topamax, the side effects took a terrible toll on him. The Depakote did make him gain weight, but the Topamax made his memory terrible, he couldn't remember anything, he had trouble talking and doing simple things. So they took him off of it. The Topamax, however, did balance out the fact that Depakote made him eat a lot, thus gaining weight.

Side effects are a real bugger, he was just taken off of Zorantin last week, because it was making him pyscotic. It's been a trip.

When I was in eighth grade I was put on depakote (2004). I was already a chubbier kid, but I did notice some weight gain. Eventually I was weened off the depakote after 3 years. I was seizure free for about 2 years. I finished high school, and I was doing great. But now I'm back on it after I had a seizure last friday. :/ Oh well, that's life. I'm gonna make sure I talk to my new Neurologist about different medications that could treat me with less side effects... Lepitral, Topamax, Keppra, maybe even medical marijuana. I just figure that if I'm gonna be on these meds the rest of my life, I might as well live with the least amount of side effects.

im right where you are i am 18 have jme and gain weight because of also causes hairloss impaired vision birth defects and other dumb stuff.i hate it.

Hi, I was diagnosed with JME when 13 (1983) and since I have been taking Depakote @ 1500mg/day. I used to have no problem with weight due to my extremely active lifestyle and great metabolism. Unfortunately, since I had my second child (2002) and soon after divorced, there were too many changes in my life such as depression, emotional and physical stress, hormones, being a single parent... After all this I couldn't lose the weight I had gained from the 2nd pregnancy until I tried Zonegran (which was the 'new' doctor's idea to lose weight). As soon as I started taking it, the weight came off fast (30lbs in 3 months) but not only that, I started to become manic bipolar (which I never had been diagnosed with before) and after 6 months of Zonegran I was given Lexapro due to extreme depression. After only one month of the combination of Zonegran and Lexapro I was suicidal and had to stop immediately. I was put back on Depakote again and changed Lexapro to Cymbalta and overnight (unbelievable) I felt the deep depression subside. I had to stop the Cymbalta after not long though because I was a zombie at work. I couldn't stay awake on my desk. Of course the weight came back almost as quickly as it had gone with the med change. A couple more years of being overweight and I tried another medication with a new doctor (Topamax). The result was pretty much the same... I lost the weight very fast, but without notice I started to become depressed until one day I walked into my doctor's office crying non-stop and they decided to intern me in the hospital for at least a week :( until the Depakote got back in my system and the depression left me...From my personal experiences... as my first neurologist said... "If it works, don't change it!"I exercise a lot - I am even training for a full marathon right now and I am a size 14... was always a size 4 before I had my children... I am extremely upset about this weight, but having been through those awful experiences in my past, I guess being sane with a few extra pounds is better than skinny and mentally unstable...Good luck to all of you... and remember we are all different, so 'one size does not fit all'... what works for one of us won't necessarily work for all... just be happy for who you are and thankful for having meds to control seizures (which are worse than a few extra lbs)God Bless

Oye, your story, is the story of my life. I have been on Depakote for about fifteen years now. My seizures were adolescent onset and after a mis-diagnosis from eleven to fourteen and two wrong medicines, I changed doctors and medicine. I began taking Depakote as a fourteen year old, over the years, the pounds crept on. I had once been a very active and athletic girl, but my body changed on me through adolescence, less sports activity, and the Depakote. I packed on those pounds; it wasn't so noticeable at first because it was maybe five pounds in a year, but eventually, my doctor commented on the fact that I was gaining wait. I wasn't having seizures, so I wouldn't consider trying some of the new generation of meds. My Dr. suggested that I become more active once again and work out for an hour a day and eating healthy. I tried, but I have to admit that I also suffer with chronic fatigue from the medicine and alternately deal with depression; I was not successful in maintaining a workout schedule, though I was conscious of my eating habits. It didn't help. I kept gaining weight. At the ten year mark on Depakote, I was twenty four years old, lived on my own in an awesome apartment, had a government job and had learned to cope with the side effects of the Depakote. I finally let my Doctor convince me to change medicines. Over the next year I transitioned onto Topamax; I will admit that I didn't feel half bad while I was on the combo of drugs. The weight gain and retention that I faced on Depakote alone began to melt away. The problem that I really noticed while on the Topamax was that I began having problems with my vocabulary and my speech pattern changed. When I transitioned off of the Depakote, it was not too long before I had a seizure. I was devastated having been seizure free for eleven years at that point. I moved home to NJ from MD. Ultimately, though I had lost weight, I no longer felt like myself so when discussing our next move, my doctor and I decided to try something different. When I did not have success on the Topamax alone, I quickly grew frustrated and changed meds a bunch of times. I tried Keppra and for weeks was as sick as a dog; my body did not tolerate it. I tried Lamictal and I immediately got a rash. It became apparent that Depakote was the drug that worked best for me, so I went back on it after much discussion and deliberation. By the time I went back on the Depakote, I was twenty seven years old. Six months later, I began having hot flashes, my eyes were twitching all the time and I noticed that I was now photosensitive. I went back to my doctor and Felbatol was added to my regime. The good news is that I have now been seizure free for two years and I once again lost a lot of weight; the bad news is that the side effects of the Felbatol included insomnia. I got really sick when I started Felbatol; I pretty much didn't eat for three months straight and I wasn't sleeping. I was constantly exhausted and was never hungry. Eventually, my doctor was able to help me find a balance. For a while I was taking anti-nausea meds in order to assist me in eating; sleeping meds were added into my regimen and my life steadied out a bit. Eventually, depression meds were added into the cocktail of drugs that I take because after all the chaos of the past three years, I was suffering. Cymbalta was the drug of choice this time; during a previous episode, I tried Celexa, but had a horrible experience. I had really high highs and then would crash and fall asleep, sometimes at inopportune times; not to mention the tremors that constantly left me on edge. I feel better on the Cymbalta, though adjustments need to be made to the dosage.

All of that being said, I would not go off of Depakote, but consider taking both. I eventually noticed issues taking the Topamax, but each person responds to drugs differently. I have had more success managing weight with Felbatol. Each drug has its side effects and you have to figure out what you can live with. The Topamax I struggled with because I began speaking funnily and struggled with my vocabulary. The Felbatol I struggle with because of the insomnia; I had already struggled with it occasionally, but the situation was exacerbated with the Felbatol. There is no good answer. Talk to your doctor and be brutally honest about how you feel on the Depakote, what you are looking to change and see what he/she has to say. I am lucky that I have a fantastic doctor who works with me!

If you need to talk, have questions, or whatever, you can email me at

Best of luck to you,

That was my story, too. I did get off of regular depakote and my dr. placed me on several meds until he tried depakote er (extended release). It works similar to depakote, but the weight gain I experienced was gradual unlike the rapid gains I had with reg, depakote. I am again seizure free, and I have come to the conclusion that a little weight gain is what I'll pay for being without seizures!

Although topamax is alluring because of the weight loss that you'd experience, the lack of concentration and to not even be able carry on a conversation caused me to ask my dr. to take me off this med only after taking it for 2 weeks.

 Good luck with finding the med that works for you!

I gained 60 lbs in 5 months on Depakote, despite me trying to tell the doc it was the meds. As soon as I made him change it, the weight started pouring off. I am not a fan of Depakote. Not only is there weight gain, but headaches too. Sure, I was controlled, but I was controlled for 6 years with a combo of Lamictal and Topamax. I'm now on Phenobarbital for financial reasons and 99% controlled. Only the occasional partial, but no TC's. If it's just a couple lbs., hang in there. However, significant gain despite exercise can't indicate a bigger problem. Best wishes to you.


~~~Life is a one lap race. It's not about winning; it's about enjoying the ride.~~~

My doctor put me on depakote. When he put on this I was 100 lbs. after he switched me off and put me on another medication I was 150 and 8 months later I can not shake off this weight. I am very athletic person I play volleyball, basketball, ice hockey and lacrosse when I play these sports I exercise up to 3-4 hours a day and can still not shake this weight off. Did you figure out how to get rid of the weight??????

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