Can Anti-Seizure Medications Be Used Off-Label for Treating Migraine Headaches?

Many types of prescription medications used in the treatment of migraine headaches are off-label medications; these are medicines that are primarily used to treat other conditions. For instance, Depakote and Topamax are anti-seizure medications, but they are also used off-label to treat migraines. Let’s look at these medications for the treatment of migraines:


Depakote (the generic name for this medication is called divalproex sodium) is an anti-seizure drug used for the treatment of epilepsy. This medication is also approved by the FDA to be used for the treatment of bipolar disorder. Aside from being used for mania and epilepsy, Depakote is also approved to be used for the prevention of migraines. However, it should be understood that Depakote is not effective for migraines once a headache has started.

If you are having migraine headaches on a fairly regular basis, and nothing seems to help, ask your doctor if Depakote might help to prevent them from occurring. The usual dose of Depakote is 250 mg; it is usually prescribed to be taken twice daily. The primary objective for taking Depakote is to reduce the severity and the number of headaches.

Can you take Depakote while pregnant? You could be at risk for having a baby born with birth defects, if you use Depakote while pregnant. If you become pregnant while taking Depakote, be sure to inform your doctor. If you are not pregnant yet, but you plan to get pregnant, be sure to inform your doctor before taking this drug for the treatment of migraines.


Topamax (the generic name for this medicine is called topiramate) is also an anti-seizure medication that is used off-label to help keep your nerve cells from getting over-stimulated. Topamax works in the same way that it prevents seizures; it helps to prevent the nervous system from becoming overly excited.

Can you take Topamax while pregnant? Just like with Depakote, you could be at risk for having a baby born with birth defects if you use Topamax while pregnant. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking this drug if you are pregnant or plan to get pregnant.

Author’s note:

I have some first-hand knowledge about Topamax being effective in the treatment of migraine headaches. My daughter used to be plagued with headaches regularly. Her psychiatrist put her on Topamax and she rarely has a migraine anymore. Topamax made a big difference in her quality of life.


Personal knowledge