Epileptic activity occurs throughout the entire brain.  It is a milder type of activity (3 second spike and wave), which causes unconsciousness without causing convulsions.  After the seizure, there  is no memory of what went on.

A seizure consists of a period of unconsciousness with a blank stare, and begins and ends abruptly, without warning. There is no confusion after the seizure, and the child can resume full activity immediately.  Seizures may be accompanied by chewing movements, rapid breathing, or rhythmic blinking.

Absence seizures are short, usually lasting 2-10 seconds. They are very mild, and may go unnoticed by parents and teachers. Absence seizures may recur frequently during the day, however, and the child may have difficulty learning if they are not recognized ant treated.

Absence Seizures are NOT:

deliberately ignoring adult instructions
lack of attention



Depakene® / Epival® is the drug of choice for children with absence seizures who are also prone to tonic-clonic seizures. Often used for children who have seizures that are induced by flashing lights (photosensitivity). 

Can cause

weight gain
hair loss
sedation (rare)

Less Common Side-Effects

skin rash
liver dysfunction (weakness, lethargy, vomiting, jaundice)

If individuals experience vomiting and nausea, it usually happens at the initiation of the treatment, then wears off.

The uncommon side effect most people are concerned about is hepatic (liver) failure (jaundice). The possibility of this is very slight. The deaths due to liver failure from this drug have almost always occurred in children under 2 years of age, and many of these children have had severe health problems along with epilepsy and been on multiple anti-epileptic medications. It is highly unlikely that your child will develop liver problems. If you see a loss of appetite and weight, however, or a yellow colour in the child's skin, you should call your doctor immediately.

Ask your doctor about getting regular Valproic acid levels taken (blood test).



A diuretic that is also used to control seizures, particularly absence seizures.  Side effects are mild but usefulness is limited by the rapid development of tolerance.