Rage, rage against the…everything: anger as a symptom, side effect of migraine

This disease is a slippery little one—as soon as you think you have your patterns nailed down and know just what to expect, something changes. Your aura gets more intense. Your triptan stops working (or, as in my case, starts triggering side effects so mind-numbing you have to switch prescriptions). Your vision is suddenly staggering hours before the migraine begins, making you wonder what in the world is happening to you.

One not-so-welcome migraine symptom has been rearing its very ugly head with more frequency for me: anger and irritability.

Rather than talk about this symptom from a general perspective (my friend Diana Lee does that expertly in this February 2012 blog post—a must-read), I’ll talk a minute about how this unruly beast has surprised me and those close to me a time or two in recent months.

I guess it’s been awhile now that I’ve angered more quickly than usual. I feel the way I did as a teenager, knowing the situation did not merit my frustration and knowing that any inherent annoyances in the situation paled in comparison to my unexpected rage. “What is wrong with me?” I thought, apologizing to an employee or my boyfriend after snapping or, more rarely, blowing up completely. It took me a good long time to note a pattern: these periods of rage came shortly before my now-frequent migraine attacks settled in.


Once you’ve snapped at someone, it’s hard to say, “Um, I think maybe I’m getting a migraine and that’s why I yelled at you.” It’s difficult to know for sure what’s going on with your unexpected irritability, and unfortunately it takes a full-blown migraine attack for you to realize that this is indeed what’s happening, and by then you might have hurt someone’s feelings.

Do you feel angry and irritable at any point during your migraine episodes? How do you cope?

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