What Is Delayed Release Valproic Acid Used For?
Delayed release valproic acid works for epilepsy by increasing the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a natural brain chemical that stops or slows down other brain signals. Increasing GABA helps prevent the abnormal brain signals that lead to a seizure. It is also thought that delayed release valproic acid may prevent seizures by affecting sodium channels in the brain. It is not clear exactly how delayed release valproic acid works for migraines or bipolar disorder.
Delayed release valproic acid capsules are "delayed release," which means they are specially designed to prevent the medications from dissolving too early in the digestive tract (which can be irritating to the stomach and esophagus). Delayed release valproic acid is similar to (but not equivalent to) Depakote® (divalproex sodium) tablets. Both medications provide valproate in a delayed-release form; however, delayed release valproic acid soft gel capsules are smaller and, therefore, easier to swallow, compared to Depakote tablets.
Delayed release valproic acid is approved for complex partial seizures in children age 10 and older. It is also approved to treat absence seizures in children, although an exact age range is not given. For any use, delayed release valproic acid should be avoided if possible in children younger than two years old, due to the risk of liver damage. Studies have not shown delayed release valproic acid to be effective for bipolar mania or migraines in children.
On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend delayed release valproic acid for something other than the uses discussed in this article. This is called an "off-label" use. At this time, there are several off-label delayed release valproic acid uses, including the treatment of the following conditions:
- Bipolar disorder (long-term treatment)