Migraine Symptoms: Anger & Irritability
By Diana Lee—February 11, 2012

Anger and irritability are some of the lesser-recognized symptoms of migraine disease. These symptoms are most often experienced during the prodome phase.

The prodome phase comes before the migraine attack itself and serves as a warning of an impending migraine attack. The prodome phase can start as early as 24 hours before the onset of a migraine attack.

This anger, impatience and irritability are some of the most often misunderstood aspects of migraine disease for family members and friends. We often do not realize these tendencies are related to our migraine attacks and cannot warn our loved ones of this, either. It is not uncommon for those closest to us to perceive us as having a bad or nasty attitude that comes out of nowhere. The reality is that it can be extremely difficult for us to control this tendency, especially when we haven’t yet made any association between these symptoms and our migraine attacks.

It can be incredibly helpful to discuss this tendency toward anger and irritability with your loved ones. It may help to ask one of them to kindly point out to you that you may be experiencing the prodome phase of a migraine attack because he/she has noticed you’re acting more irritable than usual. It takes a special relationship for someone to be able to pull this off without creating more tension and anger, however. Make sure you pick someone who is capable of alerting you without attacking you or holding it against you. It shouldn’t be raised as a value judgment any more so than any other symptom of migraine disease. You certainly don’t choose to vomit or experience pain, and you don’t choose to be short tempered, either.

If you find it difficult to manage the level anger and irritability you experience during a migraine attack or it starts to interfere with your relationships, consider getting some help. Psychotherapy, mindfulness, meditation and relaxation techniques can be helpful in managing this symptom. While you may not be able to control whether you experience it, you can control how you react and whether you let it take over and change your personality.

References: Psychological Precedents of Migraine in Relations to the Time of Onset of the Headache: The Migraine Time Line. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1526-4610.1997.3704217.x/abstract.

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About Diana Lee

Diana Lee is a blogger, lawyer & health advocate who's been disabled by Chronic Migraine. She's passionate about educating patients & combating stigma

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