HeadMeds gives young people in the United Kingdom general information about medication. HeadMeds does not give you medical advice. Please talk to your Doctor or anyone else who is supporting you about your own situation because everyone is different. Please read more important details about our site.


Medication type:

Mood stabiliser

Other names:
  • Depakote "DEP-a-coat"
  • Epilim "Epilim"
  • Episenta "Episenta"
  • Epival "Epival"
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Taking Lithium
On a journey out of a very black hole, medication, particularly lithium, has provided some much needed foot holes, it’s just other stuff has, longer term, helped me not to slip back down

What can it be used for?

  • 18 & Over
    If you are 18 or over, the doctor can prescribe sodium valproate (as Episenta) or valproate semi-sodium (as Depakote) for you as a licensed medicine for mania that happens with bipolar disorder. Other preparations of sodium valproate (such as the brand Epilim) are very commonly used “off-label” for mania. Sodium valproate and valproate semi-sodium are also used 'off label' to help prevent the return of symptoms of mania. Sodium valproate is also licensed to treat epilepsy. It is also used 'off label' to treat other conditions such as severe aggression.
  • Under 18
    If you are under 18, there is less research about its use and effectiveness in young people. Even so, specialists might prescribe it ‘off label’ if it is the best medicine for you.

Ways to take and what's in it?

  • Tablets

    Valproate semi-sodium is available as tablets (250mg and 500mg strengths)

  • Tablets

    Sodium valproate, if used, is also available as crushable tablets (100mg strength), enteric coated tablets (200mg and 500mg) controlled release tablets (200mg, 300mg and 500mg strengths), liquid, syrup and granules!

  • Tablets

    Valproate tablets contain colours that might cause an allergic reaction if you are allergic to aspirin

Valproate should not be prescribed to women or girls of childbearing potential unless they are on the pregnancy prevention programme (PPP). This is because children born to women who take valproate during pregnancy are at significant risk of birth defects and persistent developmental disorders.

All woman and girls who have been prescribed valproate should contact their GP and arrange to have their treatment reviewed. If you are pregnant and taking Valproate you should contact your GP immediately. But you should not stop taking valproate without medical advice.