Completely Unofficial, Made-Up Migraine Types: The Zombie

Completely Unofficial, Made-Up Migraine Types: The Zombie

Many of you have told me you really identify with one or more of the “Completely Unofficial, Made-Up Migraine Types” I have written about here on  Once in awhile, someone will tell me one of their own made-up categorizations and I think to myself, “Yes! I have that one, too!”  Well over a year ago, a community member named Lisa S. left the following comment on one of my article links on Facebook:

“I call the tough-to-kill ones ‘zombies.’ You try to kill it, you think it’s dead, it gets back up again and takes another bite at you. You take another whack at it, you knock it down, it gets back up again…like in a zombie movie! Even my doc got a kick out of that one.”


Of course other knowledgeable community members mentioned that Lisa could be describing rebound migraine, which could indeed be the case—but not necessarily.  Sometimes, at least in my experience, a migraine attack can persist despite treatment, and it’s not due to the rebound effect (at least according to my own research and my neurologist’s opinion). Rather, the migraine is a zombie, its body unable to be eradicated. Sure, you can wound it and perhaps even temporarily weaken it, but there is no killing the Zombie Migraine.  You treat it the best ways you know how and wait for it to move on to the shadows (and hopefully not to another migraineur victim!).

I keep track of my migraines pretty thoroughly using apps on my phone (my go-to is Curelator), so I have a rich store of data to access when I want to try to figure out why my patterns are changing—and oh, how they change! Recently I had the Zombie Migraine and still can’t figure out what made it different from the episodes that are treatable easily with meds.  Sometimes I can take my medication and the migraine gets gone and stays gone; other times the zombie takes root and the migraine can hang out for a few days, falling and getting up again several times. I looked at the weather, shifts in hormones, my stress levels, my sleeping patterns, diet and exercise regimen, and more. I fear the only explanation I came up with was this: the migraine that visited me was a zombie.

Have you ever had this particular Completely Unofficial, Made-Up Migraine Type? Has the Zombie Migraine visited you recently? How was it different from your regular attacks? How far into the episode did you realize you had a zombie in the mix?

(Big thanks to Lisa S. for inspiring this post with her spot-on idea. Let me know if you have any other made-up migraine types you want to read about!)

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


View Comments (16)
  • JamiLil
    2 years ago

    A lot of my migraines are Hemiplegic which leave me with one arm, one leg, and sometimes one eye, so I tend to think of them as Pirates. Since they can affect my mouth too, I sound like a drunken pirate, “OOh, Arr Jim meeee Laddd!” They can also be Zombies in disguise too, popping back up when I think they’ve gone back to sea.
    My other favourite names are on the day after it has really gone when I have a Lead Head or one full of Lead Jelly.

  • SilverPhoenix13
    3 years ago

    Most of my migraines feel like they’re zombie migraines. No matter what I throw at them, they just keep coming and they last for days on end. The longest one I had lasted for 13 days. Sadly, I usually only get about 24 hours of relief before the next migraine hits.

  • Meaghan Coneys moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi SilverPhoenix13 – Sorry to hear you experience migraine attacks that last for days. I thought you would find these articles helpful –, They provide self care tips for managing symptoms in the midst of an attack. Wishing you all the best today! Warmly, Meaghan ( Team)

  • Shelly
    3 years ago

    This actually made me smile and very few things about migraines make me smile. Hopefully when I’m in the midst of a “zombie” migraine or another type of migraine I will try to think of this article to remind me I am not alone on this painful journey. Thank you for being able to be humorous, it makes this whole headache stuff a little less painful.

  • Wimidwife
    3 years ago

    The “zombie” is my most common migraine. The triptan suppresses it for several hours, then it is back. The most effective thing I’ve found so far is a Toradol injection with several days of Toradol tablets following. I often wake up with these zombies. Rebound headaches have a completely different character and type of pain in my experience.

  • Neely McCormick
    3 years ago

    My “Zombie Migraines” seem to come in waves. I have periods lasting from days to as long as months where no medication or combination of medications will put a dent in a migraine that lingers and depresses me. I can also relate to the “Freight Train” that Wi Wood refers to. They usually hit me after eating tho’ no amount of tracking seems to narrow down any particular food that may trigger it. As Casper6 mentioned, my doctor identifies the Zombies as rebound migraines but my experience doesn’t support that theory. *sigh*

  • Casper6
    3 years ago

    I never thought of putting it like that. But I see how you can call them Zombie Migraines. Since I am in menopause now the severity of my migraines is not as bad as when I was in my late 20’s to 30’s. I am sorry I don’t have any suggestions for you except I agree they sound like rebound migraines. I am in that trend right now my self. Mine seem to come back like clock work about the same time each day. I can sometimes break the cycle by taking my allergy medicine regularly for a few days plus my daily meds. Do you have a migraine specialist you can turn to? Hope you find relief.

  • WI Woods
    3 years ago

    I get what I call “freight train” migraines. They come around a curve out of the blue, smack me down and flatten me and NOTHING will stop them, not even the strongest meds. They often last for days, lately it’s been weeks.

    I’ve had chronic migraines for at least the last 15 years but freight trains are another category altogether. On a scale of 1-10, they are a 15. You beg for someone to put you out of your misery by day 3 or 4. By day 5 or 6 you just try to keep breathing.

  • Meaghan Coneys moderator
    3 years ago

    Hi Wi Woods,

    Thank you for your comment. Your “freight train” migraine attacks sound quite debilitating and seem to last a long time. I thought you would find this article helpful – It provides various self care techniques for while you are in the midst of a migraine. Perhaps you will find one (or a few) that help you. The community member comments are filled with good suggestions as well. Wishing you all the best.

    Warm regards,

    Meaghan ( Team)

  • Cpfarrington
    3 years ago

    Perfect day to read this as this has been my day. I woke up and dared to feel good, after 3 days with a headache, only to have it attack again 5 hrs later. I also find the Zombie attacks hard and fast with no build up.

  • Tamara
    3 years ago

    This is the migraine I’ve had for over a year ….. No matter what we do it comes back over and over. And each time it’s easier and takes less of triggers to cause a full blown migraine. Last week it took around the clock toradol/hydromorph for a day to bring the 9/10 pain down and then 2 1/2 more days of around the clock DHE/maxeran and toradol to bring it down to 5/10. 2 days later – the tiniest pressure change and full blown migraine again, and same thing for the past two days …..

  • Randy
    3 years ago

    My FABULOUS neurologist call those days on end migraines “ATTACKS”. So now I know it’s the Attack of the Zombie! Haha pretty sure it’s a horror movie!

  • Lillian MacCannell
    3 years ago

    The term Zombie perfectly describes my migraines that were a contributing factor to my need to go on long term disability. It seemed that I had more days/hours/minutes with migraines than migraine-free. Thank you for an interesting article.

  • mammapeaches (Susan McManus)
    3 years ago

    Wow! This is the one I relate to for sure!!! Mine always last 3-8 days. I get really excited when I get what I term, “One and done “! The rare migraine that only requires one dose of a triptan! Thank you Lisa S. and Migraine Girl!

  • Lillian
    3 years ago

    I too have experienced those zombie migraines, I never thought about calling them that till now but they ruin your days just the same. In fact last week I had one of those episodes, I woke up with a major migraine took my meds and felt OK for part of the day then it came back with a vengeance for the next couple of days. It left me worn out after it finally decided to mostly die out. Felt like I was hung over after that for the remainder of the week. Those are not fun, not that the rest are but at least with a normal migraine episode you know you can somewhat function and get through your day and not have to spend the rest of your week in bed.

  • Hope and a Prayer
    3 years ago

    It’s the middle of the night and I’ve been sleeping quite peacefully until I slowly become aware of a presence in my room. A darkness hovers over me and as soon as feel the bite, the pain, I become very afraid. I know that it has sunk its fangs into me and I can feel my life force draining away. I want to jump up and run, but the pain stops me. I reach for the garlic and the cross, but too late, The Vampire migraine has found me. It will stay with me in the night, but the pain and the weakness may stay with me all day. As I shun the light almost all the time now, I realize that this is not its first visit. I have heard that vampires have to be invited before they can come into your home. Did I invite this into my head? Was there a food or a drink or an activity or was it just the dreary, overcast weather? How did it find me … again?

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