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Depakote Alternatives

Last Updated on December 14, 2023 by Carol Gillette

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Alternative to Meds Center is very familiar with effective Depakote alternatives, providing natural solutions for mental health issues, bipolar and psychosis issues, migraines, and other unwanted symptoms.

Individuals who seek Depakote alternatives do so for a variety of different reasons, but primarily to address their health and mental health in a more natural way. We help people to reduce or get off Depakote using the best holistic methodologies available.

Does Your Diagnosis Require Depakote?

successful depakote alternatives
Antipsychotic withdrawal has been our specialty at Alternative to Meds Center for a decade and a half. We invite you to review our published evidence regarding the long-term success of our clients. We know that there could be overlooked root or underlying causes for mental as well as physical symptoms, and these can be resolved without toxic drugs in the vast majority of cases. For many, this is a superior solution to being labeled and put on a never-ending regimen of drugs that may be having demonstrable side effects.6
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Holistic Alternatives to Depakote vs Prescription Drugs

We know that for many, there are better ways of life than remaining on mood-stabilizing type drugs and fighting side effects or other problems.

holistic alternatives for depressionDepakote ( divalproex sodium, Valproic Acid ) is an anticonvulsant prescribed for the treatment of epilepsy and migraines. It is also frequently prescribed as a mood stabilizer for the treatment of manic episodes of bipolar disorder and in some cases of schizophrenia.6

Depakote is often used for manic depression, particularly in cases where patients have been non-responsive to antidepressants or other medications. Many doctors that treat patients who suffer from bipolar disorder, and the patients as well, would agree that bipolar can be a challenging disorder to treat. Even though there is a constantly rising number of new pharmaceutical compounds that are meant to stabilize manic depression and address bipolar, mania, and pain, drugs are just not always completely satisfactory for many patients and they may wish to seek out holistic Depakote alternatives.

Talk Therapy as a Natural Alternative to Depakote

The American Psychological Association reports that benefits of exposure therapy include an increased ability for participants to confront their fears, as they become better able to manage associations that had previously been triggers of apprehension.14

open dialogueHopeful results have been reported out of Finland, from the “Open Dialogue” programs. A variety of benefits from this social setting-based treatment include shorter hospital stays for acute and severe psychiatric episodes, as well as a drastic reduction – 65% – of those needing to remain on medication, and an astounding 82% having no or minimal psychotic symptoms after 2 years post-treatment. Additionally, only 23% remained on disability allowance at the two-year mark following treatment in Open Dialogue programs.12

Talk therapy is well documented as an effective natural alternative to Depakote or other medications, with many genres of psychological therapy to explore. Using complementary health approaches is becoming increasingly popular in the US and around the world. Some types of therapy are further discussed below.

Counseling and other forms of Depakote alternative therapy include:
  • CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) 10,11
  • ODT (Open Dialogue Therapy) 12
  • EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) 13
  • Animal therapy, such as equine-assisted therapy 32

CBT and Exposure Therapy as Natural Depakote Alternatives

antipsychotic natural alternativesA customized program of natural alternatives to Depakote can blend CBT and other psychological therapies during in-house treatment at Alternative to Meds. Relaxation techniques can be combined with exposure or other therapies to ease the process of working through personal difficulties. Attaining a complete internal peace could be thought of as a gradual, step-by-step process, in contrast to a one-shot result.

Exposure therapy 15 along with cognitive behavioral therapy 11 especially when supported with nutrition and targeted supplementation, exercise, and other activities can positively impact recovery.10 Krakvik et al reported that CBT counseling produced long-lasting benefits, making the transition from treatment back to normal life routines significantly easier.10

A synergistic effect can be achieved by combining CBT or other talk therapies with, for example, adequate omega-3 fatty acids, and a clean nutrient-dense diet. Blending alternatives to Depakote has shown even better effectiveness and higher rates of improvement for our clients.16

Natural Alternatives to Depakote

A synergy is created when combining specific supplements, exercise, and diet as natural alternatives to Depakote that for some may operate in similar ways as pharmaceuticals in the management of mood, but with significantly lower risks or no risks of side effects.

Natural Alternatives to Depakote Include:
  • holistic depakote alternativesImproved diet,* organic where possible, unprocessed whole foods, gluten-free diet 17,39,40
  • Minimize the use of glutamate-containing foods or MSG 18
  • Eliminate sugar and maintain frequent protein intake to control blood sugar levels 8,9,41
  • Eliminate caffeine completely, especially late in the day or before retiring 19
  • Tryptophan 20
  • Clean out toxic body burden** 21,22
  • Isolate/correct nutritional deficiencies 23
  • Exercise, especially cardio, yoga, or walking 24
  • Lithium orotate 25
  • Taurine 25
  • High dose niacin and vitamin C 26
  • Omega-3 fatty acids and eicosapentaenoic acid 16,27,28
  • GABA supplementation 7
  • Adequate exposure to sunlight 42
  • CBT and other forms of counseling 43

*Diet has been found to be effective in the treatment of schizophrenia.40
** Studies show toxic exposure negatively affects mental health.

Depakote GABA deficiencyNature magazine published an article in 1993 in which the researchers found that naturally occurring GABA is found to be in low plasma concentrations in bipolar dispositions.7 The department of psychiatry at Nassau University Medical Center published an article in 2005 about hypoglycemia presenting as acute psychosis.8 And again in 1999, the American Journal of Emergency Medicine found that hypoglycemia was masquerading as psychosis and acute cocaine intoxication in emergency room visits.9 In one case report, stopping caffeine demonstrated a sudden remission of the severe course of a seasonal bipolar disorder after 10 years of psychopharmacological treatments.19

Improved Diet as an Alternative to Depakote

Certain diet-related factors have shown remarkable positive impacts when applied to persons with schizophrenia or similar symptoms. Several diet changes have proven to significantly reduce the severity of psychiatric symptoms, such as eliminating gluten, eliminating glutamate found in MSG, and adding omega-3 fatty foods.17,18,27,28,39-41

Some specific nutritional supplements have also shown positive improvements such as the amino acid tryptophan, and EPA or eicosapentaenoic acid, and lithium orotate.20,25,27

Orthomolecular Treatments as an Alternative to Depakote

The Canadian psychiatrist Dr. Abram Hoffer has published several long-term studies on treating schizophrenia using different forms of niacin. One study found that 7 out of 10 patients with schizophrenia remained well at one year and 5-year follow-ups after receiving nicotinic acid in orthomolecular treatment. Dr. Hoffer also reported similar results in his ten-year-long double-blind study where niacin and high dose vitamin C were part of the treatment plan. These examples of the efficacy of orthomolecular medicine are well-known in Dr. Hoffer’s works, and why we are confident in using these orthomolecular treatments, and others in programming our clients. We attribute much of our clients’ successes to the work of Dr. Hoffer and other pioneering doctors.26,29

Discovering Why You Started Having Symptoms

Our focus is to discover why you started having symptoms and offer a scientific solution to the underlying problem. Most alternative treatments aim to improve an individual’s health overall, under the belief that this can help the body to be more effective in fighting mood problems, particularly mood swings and depression. For some, as an example, not taking care of themselves and their health may result in high blood pressure or heart problems.34 For others, mood problems, mania, even psychosis may result. Physical or emotional stress may worsen bipolar disorder or depression.35 So, learning how to handle stress better through mood stabilizer alternatives such as psychotherapy (talk-therapy), developing proper nutritional habits, and regular physical activities may help keep the disorder under control. Individuals are often put on this drug without knowing all the potential consequences of Depakote withdrawal. Our medical director helps people reduce dependency upon psychiatric drugs by way of creating effective natural alternatives to Depakote.

Determining Underlying Causes

depakote neurotoxin removalTo effectively withdraw from these drugs, Alternative to Meds Center uses lab testing to help determine the underlying causes of the original issues. Endocrine problems that are untreated are vastly recognized for causing difficulties with mood.36 Also, food allergies can cause extreme mood swings for some people.30 Since toxicity may be one of the culprits 2 we have robust neurotoxin removal programs, use supplements that support the production of inhibitory neurochemistry, and our program aims at using natural substances to stabilize neurochemistry.

The purpose of the body detoxification process is to rid the body of accumulated neurotoxins that may have contributed to chronic symptomology.21,22 We provide custom nutritional therapy such as IV therapy, and also use massage, acupuncture, yoga, Qi Gong, peer support, exercise training, and many other adjunctive holistic therapies which can address and relieve symptoms that may need to be managed before discontinuing Depakote. Once the client is stable and calm, that is an optimal point when the medication can be safely reduced. Our holistic Depakote alternatives treatments are effective and compassionately delivered under medical supervision.

Pregnancy and Depakote Alternatives

depakote pregnancy alternativesMany women with bipolar disorder who want children may consider choosing between using alternatives during pregnancy and risking the chance that their child could suffer drug-induced birth defects.37 Unfortunately, all pharma-based mood stabilizers available are suspected of being harmful to a developing fetus in humans.38 Fortunately, there are several viable and potentially very effective Depakote alternatives. Many alternatives to Depakote can be effective by themselves and may help to lessen and prevent mood swings to a point where patients are able to lead satisfying lifestyles. In situations where Depakote has been deemed as unacceptable by doctors and patients due to health complications, antipsychotic alternatives can help allow patients to achieve a comfortable, gradual Depakote tapering process.

Reducing the Risks

You may be worried about the risk of liver damage (hepatotoxicity) or other possible consequences of Depakote, as discussed on AbbVie, the drug manufacturer’s website.4

In the 2020 edition of the book entitled, “LiverTox,” published by NCBI, acute or chronic liver injury is described thus: “not uncommonly, valproate can cause several forms of clinically apparent hepatoxicity.” The book also reports over 100 fatal cases on record due to liver toxicity issues caused by Depakote.33

NOTE: For instructions on reporting adverse effects of pharmaceutical drugs, MedWatch is a program under the umbrella of the FDA that can help.5

Integrative Depakote Alternatives Approach

mood microbiome connectionWith a combined medical and holistic approach, it may be possible to get off Depakote and also be mentally healthy. Sufferers of bipolar mania or psychosis may often find themselves choosing between living a life with uncomfortable side effects or opting for an alternative approach to Depakote and where guidance is not available, will be worrying about figuring out how to manage serious mood swings. Other individuals may find despite exhausting processes of trial and error with several different drugs or combinations of medications, their mental health symptoms persist and cause major problems.

There are other treatments for these scenarios using natural alternatives to drugs within a comprehensive treatment program that may be able to effectively address the problem.

Alternative to Meds Center Program for Depakote Alternatives

equine therapy Alternative to Meds CenterAlternative to Meds Center is located in Sedona Arizona. Our pristine facility is nestled within a short distance to the breathtaking beauty of Sedona’s famous red rocks, offering many opportunities to explore the hiking trails and majestic vistas nearby. We offer a wide range of therapies, including gentle, supervised equine-assisted therapy, and other outdoor activities designed to encourage empowerment and confidence. Our holistic treatment programs have helped many suffering from migraines, bipolar disorder, and other unwanted symptoms to discover natural alternatives to Depakote and other drugs, and we can help you or your loved one too. You are invited to review the many adjunctive therapies offered at Alternative to Meds Center on our services overview page.

Please call us to find out more information about insurance, or to have a more in-depth conversation about other important questions you may have.


1. Aucoin M, LaChance L, Clouthier SN, Cooley K. Dietary modification in the treatment of schizophrenia spectrum disorders: A systematic review. World J Psychiatry. 2020 Aug 19;10(8):187-201. doi: 10.5498/wjp.v10.i8.187. PMID: 32874956; PMCID: PMC7439299. [cited 2021 Aug 4]

2. Brown J S, “Introduction: An Update on Psychiatric Effects of Toxic Exposures.” Psychiatric Times [Internet] 2016 Sep 30 [cited 2021 Nov 24]

3. Aucoin M, LaChance L, Kidd S, “Diet and psychosis: A Scoping Review.” Journal of Neuropsychobiology [Internet] 2020 [cited 2021 Nov 24]

4. “Depakote: Frequently asked questions.” Abbvie Pharmaceutical information from drugmaker [Internet] published 2020 [cited 2021 Nov 24]

5. Med Watch: The FDA Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program.” [Internet] [cited 2021 Nov 24]

6. Depakote (divalproex sodium) Tablets FDA Access [cited 2021 Nov 24]

7. Low Plasma GABA Is a Trait-Like Marker for Bipolar Illness NEUROPSYCHOPHARMACOLOGY 1993-VOL. 9, NO. 2 Frederick Petty, Ph.D., M.D., Gerald Kramer, Mark Fulton, M.D., Frederick G. Moeller, M.D., and John Rush, M.D. [cited 2021 Nov 24]

8. Acute Hypoglycemia Presenting as Acute Psychosis Tanveer Padder MD, Aparna Udyawar MD, Nouman Azhar MD, Kamil Jaghab MD From the Department of Psychiatry, Nassau University Medical Center, 2201 Hempstead Turnpike, East Meadow NY 11554 USA.First Published December 2005. [cited 2021 Nov 24]

9. Brady WJ Jr, Duncan CW. Hypoglycemia masquerading as acute psychosis and acute cocaine intoxication. Am J Emerg Med. 1999 May;17(3):318-9. doi: 10.1016/s0735-6757(99)90140-7. PMID: 10337905. [cited 2021 Nov 24]

10. Krakvik, B., Grawe, R., Hagen, R., Stiles, T., “Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Psychotic Symptoms: A Randomized Controlled Effectiveness Trial” US National Library of Medicine [Internet] 2013 Mar [cited 2021 Nov 24]

11. Health Quality Ontario . Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for Psychosis: A Health Technology Assessment. Ont Health Technol Assess Ser. 2018;18(5):1-141. Published 2018 Oct 24. [cited 2021 Nov 24]

12. Seikkula J, Olson ME. The open dialogue approach to acute psychosis: its poetics and micropolitics. Fam Process. 2003 Fall;42(3):403-18. doi: 10.1111/j.1545-5300.2003.00403.x. PMID: 14606203. [cited 2021 Nov 24]

13. Van den Berg DP, de Bont PA, Van der Vleugel BM, de Roos C, de Jongh A, Van Minnen A, Van der Gaag M. Prolonged exposure vs eye movement desensitization and reprocessing vs waiting list for posttraumatic stress disorder in patients with a psychotic disorder: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 2015 Mar;72(3):259-67. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.2637. PMID: 25607833. [cited 2021 Nov 24]

14. Krakvik, B., Grawe, R., Hagen, R., Stiles, T., “Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Psychotic Symptoms: A Randomized Controlled Effectiveness Trial” US National Library of Medicine [Internet] 2013 Mar [cited 2021 Nov 24]

15. APA Div 12, Society of Clinical Psychology, “What is Exposure Therapy?” Clinical Practice Guidelines, [Internet] 2017 Jul [cited 2021 Nov 24]

16. Amminger, Schafer, Papageorgiou, Klier, Cotton, Harrigan, MacKinnon, McGorry, Berger, “Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids for indicated prevention of psychotic disorders: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial” US National Library of Medicine [Internet] 2010 Feb [cited 2021 Nov 24]

17. Firth J, Gangwisch JE, Borisini A, Wootton RE, Mayer EA. Food and mood: how do diet and nutrition affect mental wellbeing? [published correction appears in BMJ. 2020 Nov 9;371:m4269]. BMJ. 2020;369:m2382. Published 2020 Jun 29. doi:10.1136/bmj.m2382 [cited 2021 Nov 24]

18. Plitman E, Nakajima S, de la Fuente-Sandoval C, et al. Glutamate-mediated excitotoxicity in schizophrenia: a review. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2014;24(10):1591-1605. doi:10.1016/j.euroneuro.2014.07.015. [cited 2021 Nov 24]

19. Leonardo Tondo, Nereide Rudas, The course of a seasonal bipolar disorder influenced by caffeine, Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 22, Issue 4, 1991, Pages 249-251. [cited 2021 Nov 24]

20. van der Heijden, F., Fekkes, D., Tuinier, S. et al. Amino acids in schizophrenia: evidence for lower tryptophan availability during treatment with atypical antipsychotics?. J Neural Transm 112, 577–585 (2005). [cited 2021 Nov 24]

21. Environmental Exposures and Depression: Biological Mechanisms and Epidemiological Evidence Annual Review of Public Health Vol. 40:239-259 (Volume publication date April 2019) First published as a Review in Advance on 2019 Jan 11 [cited 2021 Nov 24]

22. Collaborative on Mental Health and the Environment Mental Health and Environmental Exposures from the Learning and Developmental Disabilities Initiative, 2008 Nov. [cited 2021 Nov 24]

23. Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses Indian J Psychiatry. 2008 Apr-Jun; 50(2): 77–82. T. S. Sathyanarayana Rao, M. R. Asha, B. N. Ramesh, and K. S. Jagannatha Rao [cited 2021 Nov 24]

24. Mittal VA, Vargas T, Osborne KJ, et al. Exercise Treatments for Psychosis: A Review. Curr Treat Options Psychiatry. 2017;4(2):152-166. doi:10.1007/s40501-017-0112-2.[cited 2021 Nov 24]

25. Lakhan SE, Vieira KF. Nutritional therapies for mental disorders. Nutr J. 2008;7:2. Published 2008 Jan 21. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-7-2 [cited 2021 Nov 24]

26. Hoffer A, Osmond H. TREATMENT OF SCHIZOPHRENIA WITH NICOTINIC ACID. A TEN YEAR FOLLOW-UP. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 1964;40(2):171-89. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.1964.tb05744.x. PMID: 14235254. [cited 2021 Nov 24]

27. Malcolm Peet, Eicosapentaenoic acid in the treatment of schizophrenia and depression: rationale and preliminary double-blind clinical trial results, Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids, Volume 69, Issue 6, 2003, Pages 477-485. [cited 2021 Nov 24]

28. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica Fat consumption and schizophrenia O. Christensen M.D., E. Christensen First published: November 1988. [cited 2021 Nov 24]

29. Orthomolecular Treatment of Orthomolecular Schizophrenia Association of Great Britain; London, England, September 28-30, 1971. A. Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.P.A. [cited 2020 Dec 31]

30. Is There a Connection Between Food Allergies and Mental Health? Integrative Psychiatry 2012 Sep 6 [cited 2021 Nov 24]

32. White-Lewis S. “Equine-assisted therapies using horses as healers: A concept analysis.” Nurs Open. 2019;7(1):58-67. Published 2019 Sep 27. doi:10.1002/nop2.377 [cited 2021 Nov 24]

33. LiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; 2012-. Valproate. [Updated 2020 Jul 31]. Available from: [cited 2021 Nov 24]

34. Wheat G, Carter A, McAfee T, Thompson RS, Gayman J, Meuchel K. Addressing a neglected coronary heart disease risk factor in an HMO: exercise counseling and fitness testing at group health cooperative. HMO Pract. 1996 Sep;10(3):131-6. PMID: 10160289.[cited 2021 Nov 24]

35. Kim EY, Miklowitz DJ, Biuckians A, Mullen K. Life stress and the course of early-onset bipolar disorder. J Affect Disord. 2007;99(1-3):37-44. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2006.08.022 [cited 2021 Nov 24]

36. Fava GA. Affective disorders and endocrine disease. New insights from psychosomatic studies. Psychosomatics. 1994 Jul-Aug;35(4):341-53. doi: 10.1016/S0033-3182(94)71755-2. PMID: 8084985. [cited 2021 Nov 24]

37. Koren G, Nava-Ocampo AA, Moretti ME, Sussman R, Nulman I. Major malformations with valproic acid. Can Fam Physician. 2006;52(4):441-447.[cited 2021 Nov 24]

38. Galbally M, Roberts M, Buist A; Perinatal Psychotropic Review Group. Mood stabilizers in pregnancy: a systematic review. Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2010 Nov;44(11):967-77. doi: 10.3109/00048674.2010.506637. PMID: 21034180. [cited 2021 Nov 24]

39. Huang Q, Liu H, Suzuki K, Ma S, Liu C. Linking What We Eat to Our Mood: A Review of Diet, Dietary Antioxidants, and DepressionAntioxidants (Basel). 2019;8(9):376. Published 2019 Sep 5. doi:10.3390/antiox8090376 [cited 2021 Nov 24]

40. Kim EJ, Lim SY, Lee HJ, Lee JY, Choi S, Kim SY, Kim JM, Shin IS, Yoon JS, Yang SJ, Kim SW. Low dietary intake of n-3 fatty acids, niacin, folate, and vitamin C in Korean patients with schizophrenia and the development of dietary guidelines for schizophrenia. Nutr Res. 2017 Sep;45:10-18. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2017.07.001. Epub 2017 Jul 19. PMID: 29037327. [cited 2021 Nov 24]

41. Knüppel A, Shipley MJ, Llewellyn CH, Brunner EJ. Sugar intake from sweet food and beverages, common mental disorder and depression: prospective findings from the Whitehall II study. Sci Rep. 2017;7(1):6287. Published 2017 Jul 27. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-05649-7 [cited 2021 Nov 24]

42. Gu S, Huang R, Yang J, Sun S, Xu Y, Zhang R, Wang Y, Lu B, He T, Wang A, Bian G, Wang Q. Exposure-lag-response association between sunlight and schizophrenia in Ningbo, China. Environ Pollut. 2019 Apr;247:285-292. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2018.12.023. Epub 2019 Jan 14. PMID: 30685669. [cited 2022 June 20]

43. Rathod S, Phiri P, Kingdon D. Cognitive behavioral therapy for schizophrenia. Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2010 Sep;33(3):527-36. doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2010.04.009. PMID: 20599131. [cited 2022 June 20]

Originally Published Oct 30, 2018 by Diane Ridaeus

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.

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