Just thought I'd let you know that I successfully take Depakote ER and it has worked wonderfully for me. I used to take Effexor with it - that did work well at the time - but now I'm down to the depakote and it works really well for me. I'm on a very low dose, but don't have any marked side effects. I sleep well and and haven't had an episode in months. Without it, I become manic, anxious and agitated and then the depression sets in.
Its given me a great deal of peace of mind knowing that I've found something that works for me. Its the reason I'm a big supporter of mood stabilizers. Everyone is different and will respond accordingly, but I'm a strong believer that its worth the effort to find a mood stabilizer that works for you. There are lots of options: lithium, lamictal, and I believe that abilify and neurontin are showing promise also.
I gained weight on the effexor, but since I've been level on the depakote, I've been able to gradually shed the pounds and feel the best I have in years. Although the weight thing was annoying, it wasn't reason enough for me to discontinue any medication - I would sooner be healthy and happy with a few extra pounds, than be the skinny stressbag I was before I was medicated ;)