|Lamictal. One of many anticonvulsant drugs originally created for use in treating epilepsy, now with a strong market for bipolar disorder and other mental health disorders.
Anticonvulsant medications were originally developed to treat seizures, but they were found to help control moods as well. They are used as mood stabilizers also. Anticonvulsants are often called antiepileptic drugs (abbreviated "AEDs") or antiseizure drugs (abbreviated "ASDs").
One anticonvulsant commonly used as a mood stabilizer is valproic acid, also called divalproex sodium (Depakote). For some people, it may work better than lithium.  Other anticonvulsants used as mood stabilizers are carbamazepine (Tegretol), lamotrigine (Lamictal) and oxcarbazepine (Trileptal).
Depakote/Depakene (sodium valproate, valproic acid, divalproex sodium)
Anticonvulsants during pregnancy, birth defects:
Depakote is an anticonvulsant that was originally used to treat epilepsy, but the use of which was later expanded to treat migraine headaches, and used for serious mental health disorders.
Published studies have found that women taking anticonvulsant medications during pregnancy run a substantially higher risk of having a child with birth defects. This is of serious concern to the bipolar community, since some of the epilepsy medications involved in this study are also used as mood stabilizers, and women who take any of these drugs for migraine headaches should also be aware of the findings.
Increase in Suicide Risk for those taking Antiseizure or Anticonvulsant Drugs
There is some link between suicidal ideation and actual suicide attempts to anticonvulsant or antiseizure drugs. These drugs were originally designed in treating seizures, but their use was expanded to treating migraine headaches and for mental health disorders such as bipolar disorder.
While the actual numbers of suicides was not large, their is a significant increase in suicidal ideation, with use of anticonvulsant drugs. The actual rate of suicidal ideation appears to be double with the use of anticonvulsant drugs used in treating epilepsy, in comparison to that with of a placebo.
Actual statistics on increased risk are, "4 suicides and 105 reports of suicidal symptoms among the 27,863 patients who were given the drugs compared to no suicides and 35 reports of suicidal symptoms among the 16,029 patients treated with placebos." That represents a 0.43 risk risk for those on antiseizure or anticonvulsant drugs, compared to a 0.22 risk for those with similar health conditions not on antiseizure drugs.
Anticonvulsant Drugs Sources:
1. Carey, B. (2008, Feb 1). F.D.A. Finds Increase in Suicide Symptoms for Patients Using Seizure Medications
. New York Times.
2. Drugs Linked to Suicidal Behavior. (2008, Jan 31). MSNBC.
3. Mula1, M., Hesdorffer, D. C. Suicidal behavior and antiepileptic drugs in epilepsy: analysis of the emerging evidence
. (2011, June 16). Drug Health Care and Patient Safety. 2011; 3: 15–20. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3132858/
4. What medications are used to treat bipolar diosrder?
(2009, June 15). National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).
- Off-site links
The Ethics and Science of Medicating Children
, Jacqueline A. Sparks, The University of Rhode Island; Duncan, B., (Spring, 2004). Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry
, Volume 6, Number 1
Pages Related to Anticonvulsants or Issues in Psychiatry
- Moral Management
: Successful non-pharmaceutical holistic treatment for mental heath in the 1800's.
Movement - Penn State University
Appeal to Mental Health Professionals
for professional non-pharmaceutical treatment options and clinical studies
of mental health
NAMI - Mental Health Disorder Recovery
The Medical Model
of mental health. Psychiatric labeling
and what can be done to prevent stigma of mental illness