Keppra vs Depakote - Comparison of Side Effects  & Uses

Keppra

It is the brand name of a medication called levetiracetam, which belongs to a group of drugs called anticonvulsants. It works by stabilizing electrical activity in the brain.

Uses

This medication is used to treat epilepsy, sometimes in combination with other drugs. Epilepsy is a central nervous system condition in which brain activity becomes abnormal, ultimately leading to seizures or periods of loss of awareness, unusual sensations, and behavior.

Epilepsy is a fairly common neurological disorder that affects over 3 million Americans and an estimated 65 million people worldwide.

The most common symptom of epilepsy is repeated seizures. Other symptoms may also include:

  • short blackouts;
  • confused memory;
  • sudden bouts of blinking without apparent stimuli;
  • a convulsion with no temperature;
  • the person suddenly falls for no clear reason;
  • intermittent fainting spells, during which bowel control is lost;
  • sudden bouts of chewing;
  • repetitive movements which seem inappropriate;
  • the person becomes stiff;
  • for a short period, the individual is unresponsive to questions;
  • the sufferer seems dazed and unable to communicate;
  • the sufferer becomes fearful for no reason;
  • peculiar changes in senses.

Dosage

This anticonvulsant is given two times a day, once in the morning and once in the evening, about 10–12 hours apart. It can also be given as a drip into a vein when oral administration is not possible.

The effect of this anticonvulsant lasts for around 18 to 24 hours. Its peak effect can be observed within about 4 hours for an extended-release tablet and within one hour for an immediate release tablet.

Side Effects and Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • becoming aggressive;
  • weakness;
  • nasal congestion;
  • sleepiness;
  • irritability;
  • decreased appetite;
  • infection;
  • feeling tired;
  • dizziness.

Less common side effects may include:

  • muscle weakness;
  • loss of balance;
  • swollen gums;
  • unusual changes in behavior;
  • easy bruising;
  • feeling very weak;
  • trouble breathing;
  • hallucinations;
  • painful mouth sores;
  • extreme drowsiness;
  • skin sores;
  • confusion;
  • pain when swallowing;
  • severe tingling;
  • problems with walking.

To make sure that this medication is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • a history of mental illness;
  • depression or other mood problems;
  • a history of suicidal thoughts;
  • kidney disease (or if you are on dialysis).

Drug Interactions

Let your doctor know if you are taking anything that could make you feel drowsy, particularly:

  • diphenhydramine (Sominex, Dicopanol, Banophen);
  • Diazepam (Valium);
  • sleeping medications, like – alprazolam (Xanax);
  • antihistamines, such as – cetirizine (Alleroff);
  • Zolpidem (Edluar, Intermezzo);
  • muscle relaxants;
  • Symbicort;
  • narcotic pain relievers, like – codeine.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

There are no well-done studies to determine the safety of this medication during pregnancy, hence, it is not recommended for use in pregnancy unless considered vital by your doctor.

Also, breastfeeding is not recommended while taking this medication since it passes into breast milk.

Depakote

It is the brand name of a drug called divalproex sodium. It works by increasing the amount of a neurotransmitter (GABA) in the brain.

Uses

It is used to mitigate the manic phase of bipolar disorder, treat seizure disorders, and prevent migraine headaches.

Dosage

The usual recommended daily dose is 750 mg. The dosage should be increased as rapidly as possible to achieve the lowest therapeutic dose that produces the desired clinical effect.

Side Effects and Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • tremors;
  • diarrhea;
  • weakness;
  • mild stomach pain;
  • problems with balance or walking;
  • mild nausea or vomiting;
  • double vision;
  • mild dizziness;
  • blurred vision;
  • headaches;
  • unexplained weight gain;
  • changes in appetite.

Rare side effects may include:

  • purple pinpoint spots under your skin;
  • changes in your mental state;
  • severe drowsiness;
  • vomiting;
  • worsening seizures;
  • cold feeling;
  • swollen glands;
  • tiredness;
  • easy bruising;
  • swelling in your face or tongue;
  • unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, gums);
  • trouble breathing;
  • severe tingling or numbness;
  • a red skin rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling;
  • skin pain;
  • chest pain;
  • burning in your eyes;
  • a sore throat;
  • worsening cough with fever;
  • muscle weakness.

Alcohol

Avoid drinking alcohol while taking this medication since drinking alcoholic beverages can increase the risk of side effects, especially drowsiness, dizziness, or blurred vision.

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

This medication passes into breast milk and may negatively affect the infant, therefore, it should be avoided by nursing women.

More importantly, taking this medication during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects and may lower your child’s IQ. Avoid the medication if you are pregnant or plan to fall pregnant.

Drug Interactions

It may negatively interact with other medications, especially:

  • aspirin;
  • acyclovir (Zovirax);
  • medications for anxiety or mental illness;
  • tranquilizers, sedatives, or sleeping pills, like – diazepam (Valium);
  • antibiotics, like – imipenem (Primaxin), meropenem (Merrem), or ertapenem (Invanz);
  • tolbutamide;
  • anticoagulants, like – warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven);
  • zidovudine (Trizivir);
  • bystolic;
  • clonazepam (Klonopin);
  • tricyclic antidepressants, like – nortriptyline (Pamelor, Aventyl) or amitryptiline (Elavil);
  • rifampin (Rifadin);
  • other medications for seizures, like – felbamate (Felbatol), carbamazepine (Tegretol),  phenytoin (Dilantin), lamotrigine (Lamictal), or topiramate (Topamax).

Addiction

Since stopping a seizure medication like this one can suddenly cause serious withdrawal symptoms or other problems, do not stop taking this medication without talking to your doctor first.

Bottom Line – Keppra vs Depakote

Keppra (active ingredient – levetiracetam) is an anticonvulsant medication that is used to prevent and treat seizures. It belongs to a group of drugs called anticonvulsants.

Depakote (active ingredient – divalproex sodium) is an antipsychotic medication which is prescribed for the treatment of epileptic seizures and manic episodes, and the prevention of migraines.

References

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1059131106001129
https://www.ucb.com/our-science/Our-clinical-studies/keppra-levetiracetam
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1528-1167.2001.00007.x/pdf

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