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Depakote--How long does it take?

I will be starting my 8-year-old daughter on Depakote tomorrow (she was diagnosed with absence ep. Wednesday).  I was just wondering if anyone can tell me about how many days it takes for this drug to get into your system.  Her ped. neur. said "a few days," but I was hoping for a few specifics (2 days? 4? 10?...)  Thanks so much!


The doctor probably wasn't real specific because Depakote is you can't really give an exact number of days to reach steady state.  Good luck.  I hope it works with zero to minor side effects!  Sometimes it helps to give the Depakote with food if there are gastrointestinal side effects.   

I'm 14 years old and i was diagnosed with tonic clonic (grand mals), absence and myoclonic seizures in late april. i had my first grand mal on april 5th. i was diagnosed with epilepsy a few weeks after that and put on depakote. my neurologist told me that there could be a chance that i would have another grand mal because i was started on a low dosage. and i did have another grand mal in the beginning of that week i was put of depakote. then my dosage was increased and i was fine. ive been on depakote for about 3 months now and it is working good but i have to watch what i eat now because i gained some weight but luckily ive been losing it. just be careful in the beginning if they are starting you on a low dose and building you up. i had to miss my honor society trip that i waited for all year because i had it the morning of the trip. my first seizure i was running late for school and i had my first grand mal. i would have had it in a classroom with a hard floor. i have been lucky both times that i have been home. good luck with your daughter and tell her not to worry she might outgrow it =)

Adam,Do you remember about how long it took the Depakote to start working for you?  My daughter takes (generic) Ritalin (she was diagnosed 2 years ago with Adhd, but I'm kinda hoping her behavior is due to absence and I can eventually take her completely off the Ritalin).  I was just wondering, because I'm really eager to see how she'll react and if we can take her off her Ritalin (and the clonidine she takes at night to help her sleep).  Also, does the Depakote help you to sleep? 

Adam,Do you remember about how long it took the Depakote to start working for you? My daughter takes (generic) Ritalin (she was diagnosed 2 years ago with Adhd, but I'm kinda hoping her behavior is due to absence and I can eventually take her completely off the Ritalin). I was just wondering, because I'm really eager to see how she'll react and if we can take her off her Ritalin (and the clonidine she takes at night to help her sleep). Also, does the Depakote help you to sleep? Well my name is Casey and im a girl lol. well like i said before i started off on a low dosage and then they worked me up to a higher a dosage. i think it took about 2 weeks or so to work. i got a blood test and it showed that my blood level was good. but you have to be careful with the side effects of depakote because it makes you feel hungry and a side effect is weight gain and it did happen to me and i am a very active kid as well i never stop exercising. i play soccer almost everyday of the week. luckily i lost the weight i gained and i am still trying to lose some more. For me, Depakote help me sleep very well. it actually gets me into a dead sleep. before i was on Depakote my mom used to be able to wake me up like right away now i can barely hear her when she tries to wake me up. the medicine doesnt make me tired though. i can stay up til whatever time but when i fall asleep i am out like a light lol. but i think the medicine is working pretty well. best wishes. Casey

You have JME and the Depakote for her child should take anywhere from 2 weeks to 4 weeks to get into her child's system. I would expect to see more seizure activity, until it does.  Drugs do not work like magic, they take a while to get enough into you so it can control it.Absence epilepsy is relatively easy to control.I have JME, and am having a devil of a time controlling mine.I have mainly T/Cs about 85-90% of thie time, and Myolconic jerks along with some Absences.  THe Myos and Absences seem to surface when I am fatigued, lacking sleep, sick, stressed or sometimes by flashing lights or hard fast breathing.I take 1500 mgs of Depakote ER, and have been on this for over one year.  It does work, but does have side effects.  Mostly losing hair, hand tremors, headhaches, and sedation as it is begining to work.  These may wear off with continued treatment, as mine has done--DON'T stop the drug due to side effects give it some time to see if it does work, then the doc will do a blood level and do one every week to two weeks to monitor the level and adjust it as needed to her seizure control.  All I have left are the hand tremors.  But, then again, I take next to the most amount of this crap.  I also take 3600 mgs of Neurontin, which is uesed in conjunction to control the T/Cs as a secondary use of the drug.  That one is primarily used for partial epilepsy.Nancy

Hi,My daughter is 9 years old and started on Depakote ER in March when she was diagnosed with JME.  Her neuro said that the dose normally is reached to the proper levels in 2-4 days.  She has had none of the bad side effects or another seizure since her first day taking it.  She takes hers at bedtime so that the medicine's peak level is in the am when she is more apt to have a seizure.  She has had a few episodes of vomiting 5-8 hours after taking the medicine but nothing else.  The company that makes the med told me that normally if levels are checked during the first 24 hours that the levels have been found to be effective if the dosage is correct with the childs weight.  I hope this helps answer with your question.Kristy

2-4 days definitely sounds good.  But since my daughter is doing a weekly gradual increase, we may not see it that soon.  I'd like to ask you the same question I just asked in a previous post.. have you noticed any behavioral improvements in your daughter since she's been taking Depakote?  I'm so much hoping for this med to take the place of her Ritalin.  And I haven't read anywhere of the characteristics of a child with ab. ep.  So, I'm afraid she may have both (and possibly have to continue Ritalin).  Thanks so much!Melissa

My son is 10  and has generalized loss of consciousness and absense seizures.  He started on Depekote ER the end of May.  His neuro said it would take about 2 weeks for the medicine to take effect because we were slowly increasing his dosage until he reached 1000 mg a day.  I have read that if taken at full dose it should take effect in a few days, it depends how your Dr is prescribing it.  Best of luck to you and your child.  Karen (Harrison's Mom)

That makes complete sense.  I never thought of that, but yeah.. she also is weekly increasing her dosage, so yes, I can see where it would take 2 weeks if you're doing a gradual increase.  I'll just be so glad to get her off the Ritalin.  If you don't mind, I'd like to ask you something.  Like I had mentioned in an earlier post, my daughter was diagnosed with ADHD two years ago.  Well, I've done lots of research on ab. ep., and I haven't really found any details on a child's behavior who has it.  My daughter has little quirks (whether on Ritalin or not--whines and/or cries excessively; seems obsessed with things, like collecting things or having everything gathered together in one location; order and routine; possessive [she freaks out if one of her sibs takes something of hers]; picky about simple things; often scatter-brained [switches from one thought or activity to another; often trails off when she's talking like she's at a loss for words or something]; sometimes violent; somewhat socially alienated) (I could probably go on and on).  But I was curious if your son displays any kind of out-of-the-ordinary behavior, since they're close in age?  Although I'm trying to be optimistic about this, I have a feeling that she may actually have ADHD in addition to the AE.  Also, another question, if you don't mind.  What effect has the Depakote had on your son, other than seizure control?  I mean, have you seen it affect his general behavior?  Thanks so much for you help!Melissa

Hi Melissa,

 My 6 year old girl was put on Depakote yesterday for absence seizures and your description of your daugher in 2005 seems very similar to the way I would describe mine. Did Depakote turn out to be a good drug for her? Did you stop the other drugs?

Thank you. 

Melissa:My 7 year old was diagnosed with absence seizures in June.  He was put on Zonegran and we noticed major changes in his behvaior within the first two weeks--all of the kinds of things you are seeing with your daughter.  He is off zonegran now and we have had him on Lamictal for about a month.  No change in his seizures yet, but he is still far more emotional than he ever was before the medication.  He is also more possessive, easier to anger and absent minded.  He tells us he is frustrated because he has such a "bad memory" --something he never complained about before.  I don't know how much of this is the medication and how much stems from his attempts to understand what is happening to him, but there has definetly been a change for the worse in his behavior since we started the various medications.  jwh

It is about two weeks. Depokote causes decrease of bone. Please be careful. My neice was on it at at age 13 till 18 and she has osteopenia already. Plus she got a new doctor and she told her to get off of that. For one day she will want to have children and it is very bad. Make sure she takes calcium and magnesuim too.take careLisa

my son is 6 years old and has been taking depakote since he was 1 he still has seizures on a daily basis they can not get it controlled so they just keep increasing his dosage i feel his is on too much for his age and weight i also feel that you get immuned to depakote because his seizures have not stopped when you stop,start,decrease,or increase depakote there will be a lot of ups and downs from my experiences with my son somettimes he gets real tired,irritable,sad,hungry all the time,mean stc he has had a lot of different reactions from being on depakote i am not for the drug i think that is just the answer the doctors give when they can not find another cmpatable drug this drug is not even fda approved

I was on depakote for years and its a good drug but the only thing is one of the side affects of it is weight gain so watch your daughters weight closly it also can make you tired but all in all it worked very well when I was young. It takes roughly two weeks to get fully into your system. If you go onto the internet and just type depake you will find all the information you want to know about the drug. That is what I usually do when I am prescribed something so that I know what I am taking and everything about it because the doctors don't always have the time to answer all of your questions or there may be questions you forgot to ask when you were in the office. I have been on every aniconvulsant that is out and now am on the last resort Felbatol with Zonegran at very high dosages and I also have a VNS implanted in me be cause I don't qualify for surgery. I wish I did because I would love to have it. Maybe it would give me a chance on normality.Good luck to you and your daughter:)Pam

Hi Melissa,Hope things are going well with the depakote.My 7 yr old had depakote added, when the topamax and keppra together didn't work. They would work for exactly 2 weeks, and then the breakthroughs would start up again.On May 24, her neuro started her on depakote. We were considering another trip to the er, they were so bad and continuous. She took her first depakote at 12:30 that day. 1 hour later, the seizures stopped. 2 weeks and 2 days later, she had some breakthroughs, and we increased the depakote another 125mg in the a.m. She takes 250mg in the am and 250mg in the pm. We have seen no seizure activity since June 9'th. She is now off of the topamax, and we hope to at least attempt to wean her from the keppra. She told me the other day that she's a walking pill bottle!! Between, the AED's and the vitamins, she does take a lot of pills!!! But she just laughs about it. She's taking it all in stride and dealing quite well with everything!Crystal

My name is TomIIWatkins. I was on Depakote for least 1 or 2 but it did not control my seizures when it came to my GrandMols seizures. It look me least 2 to 3 weeks for it was on system because I was on Neurontin too. How is your daughter doing? I was disouse with a GrandMol Seizures disorder in 8/78. Email at

I read that it takes from 1/2 week to a week on the full dose for the patient for Depakote to take effect.  My 4 year old daughter was on it.  It did not control her absence seizures.  She just started on zarontin, and it seems to be working.  Give the depakote enough time before you switch medications, as each patient's body is programmed to respond to different medications.

I have grand mal seizures and my doctor tried me on depakote. Within 2 weeks I had gained 20 pounds and had 2 seizures. I wasn't planning on having any more kids but your daughter might want kids some day. Depakote is known to cause serious birth defects. Please really think hard before starting her on it. I was taking off of it and put on Topamax. I have been on it for 7 months and I have only had 2 seizures because I forgot to take my meds. I hope your daughter's seizures can get under control without having to put her on Depakote.

I took Depakote for several years starting about 1988. It reduced my siezures from about 80 to 20 per year when they started it. Because of problems with meds prescribed interacting and the neurologist wanting to "eliminate" seizures they had me try some other meds instead. things got totally out of hand and even by changing medicine back in 2003 i had 650+ seizures by July 15. On that date they did my 3rd brain surgery. They did a left temporal lobectomy. MRIs showed dead brain tissue on both sides of the brain caused by lack of Oxygen during grand mals and other tests showed the right hemisphere of the brain was able to function at only 10%. ( In 1956 & 1957 they removed 18% of the right hemisphere. )I am back on Depakote (1500 mg 2 times a day) and Primidone (a total of 1000 mg per day). Yes, i am tired all the time and i still have seizures,  but i am doing better than before the last surgery. In fact i work for the US Forest Service as an Ecologist and in the last two days was in the woods 18 hours.I have been told repeatedly to wait 2 weeks after a change in Depakote dosage prior to testing for blood levels, thus i assume they level off about then. They do have the side effects as people have mentioned of making you tired and as a result being less active and gaining weight. That is the main thing i have seen. If the patient gets too much in the system the hands and body tend to tremble.Hopefully, this will help. If you have furthur questions based on experience with it feel free to send me a personal message. ( )



Hey Im 16 right now and i have my permit. i am taking depikote and lamictil and it works very well! i haven't had a seizure in 3 whole years!

Hi, my son is 15 yrs old and started having seizures the beginning of Feb. 2009-he has been diagnosed with epilepsy. He has been on Depakote for 2 weeks and there are no changes in his seizures. Was this common for you and what type of side effects did you have? Just looking for answers.

hi all, my name is leslie, im 42 and have been diagnosed w/ temp lobe eplipesly at age 15 when i had my first grand mal seizure in my sleep.  i started with tegretol.  when i became pregnant at 19, they swithced me to phenobarbitol, which has controled my gran mal very well, i feel very lucky.  all through out my adult life i have had these bizare 'breakthru' seizures' i never really knew what they were because i was completey aware of what was going on excepty my right leg would get 'stuck'.i have been on various drugs for this since visiting numerous nuerologists  i started to think i had a tumor.i just started the depakote and the side effects are well -ugh -but if i can get off these other epilsepsy will be worth it...

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