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Anticonvulsants for Schizophrenia

Anticonvulsant medicines are used for seizures. Psychiatrists began to use these medications for patients, particularly people with bipolar disorder. Anticonvulsant medicines are sometimes used with antipsychotic medicines to treat schizophrenia. The main medicines used are valproate and carbamazepine. They can help your mood. If you take them with an antipsychotic medicine, you may have less severe symptoms in a relapse of schizophrenia.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on anticonvulsants. They pose a risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts. The FDA does not advise that people stop using these medicines. Instead, people who take an anticonvulsant should be watched closely for warning signs of suicide. People who take an anticonvulsant and who are worried about this side effect should talk with their health care provider.


Brand names of valproate include Depakene and Depakote. Side effects may include feeling sleepy, low energy, and an upset stomach. Other side effects can include weight gain, temporary hair loss, headaches, and confusion.

This medicine may make polycystic ovary syndrome more likely in women who take it. The medicine may also make pancreatitis more likely in anyone who takes it. Signs of pancreatitis include stomach pain, nausea and vomiting, and loss of appetite.

Valproate also may cause blood disorders and problems with liver function. Signs of these include feeling tired, vomiting, and weakness. You can get tested for these problems with liver function tests and blood counts.


Brand names of this medicine include Tegretol and Carbatrol. Do not use carbamazepine with the medicine clozapine. Both of these medicines can cause a severe drop in the number of white blood cells in the blood. This is called agranulocytosis.

Do You Have Thoughts About Suicide?

If you or a loved one has thoughts about death or suicide, call 911 or the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) and press 1, or use other emergency services. Or you can chat with a trained counselor online at

Author: StayWell Custom Communications
Last Annual Review Date: 8/19/2010
Copyright © The StayWell Company, LLC. except where otherwise noted.
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