Valproic Acid

Generic Name: Valproic Acid (val-PROE-ik AS-id)

Drug Class: Anticonvulsant


Drug Uses

This medicine's primary use is to prevent seizures. It is also approved to treat bipolar disorder and for prevention of migraine headaches.

General Information

This information is for educational purposes only. Not every known side effect, adverse effect, or drug interaction is in this database. If you have questions about your medicines, talk to your health care provider.

How it Works

The exact mechanism of action is not proven, but it is believed that this drug's effects are related to an increase in brain levels of a chemical called GABA.

How to Take It

Usual dosing is once daily. The tablets should be swallowed whole and not crushed or chewed.

Possible Side Effects

    • Talk to your doctor if these side effects become severe:
      • dizziness
      • drowsiness
      • nervousness
      • hair loss

    • Contact your doctor immediately if you experience:
      • diarrhea
      • abdominal cramps
      • bruising
      • change in weight
      • tremor
      • changes in mood
      • loss of appetite
      • weakness
      • tiredness
      • yellowing of the eyes or skin
      • severe stomach with nausea and vomiting
      • swelling of the face
      • changes in mentrual cycle


    • Valproic acid should be used cautiously by patients with liver disease and by the elderly.

    • This medication should NOT be abruptly discontinued, due to the possibility of life-threatening seizure activity.

    • This medicine can cause dizziness or drowsiness.

    • Alcoholic beverages can increase the side effects of this medicine and should be avoided.


    • Seek medical attention immediately. For non emergencies, contact your local or regional poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.

Drug Interactions

    • Tell your doctor about all medications that you are taking including:
      • erythromycin
      • cimetidine
      • salicylates
      • carbamazepine
      • diazepam
      • phenytoin
      • and warfarin
      • vitamins

Missed Dose

Take your next dose as soon as you remember. If it is time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular schedule. Do not double doses.


Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Throw away any medication that is outdated or no longer needed.


This medicine can cause fetal damage during the first trimester and should not be used during pregnancy if other options are available. Small amounts of divalproex have been shown to be excreted in breast milk, so should be used with caution while breast-feeding.

More Information

For more information, talk to your doctor, pharmacist or health care provider.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 19 May 2015
    Published on All rights reserved.