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Crying as a migraine trigger

In a previous post I mentioned how, at times, it seems as if crying a little bit will help ease the pressure in my head.

I’m not sure if that’s a real phenomenon or an imagined one, but there’s one tear-related thing I know triggers a migraine for me: really hard sobbing.
While I cry at the drop of a hat (a Hallmark commercial or a bad movie will sometimes get me faster than real-life sadness will!), I don’t often have long sob-fests as I did when I was a kid or a hormone-filled teenager.

Cue the grave illness of my sweet baby cat and her death a few weeks later, and things changed: I felt (and occasionally feel) the inconsolable sobs that I’d not experienced in many years. After Wally’s initial heart disease diagnosis but before her death, I was crying a lot but mainly holding it together, tear-wise. My mind was not in the bookstore very well, which was difficult as Christmas holiday shopping season was fast approaching and I needed to be at my job many hours a day. But when Wally died the first week of December, I started to sob and felt I barely stopped for days. Being at work helped since I could immerse myself in distraction, but being at home where I was constantly reminded of her absence just led to more tears.

Of course many things contributed to my few days of migraine in early December—a migraine is often the result of a perfect storm of triggers, as we well know. But I can say for sure that sobbing over Wally’s death pushed my slight discomfort into full migraine territory. My nasal passages got all stuffed up and my eyes were so puffy I didn’t quite look like myself. Jim continually encouraged me to try to calm down, especially because I was working myself up and increasing the chances of a full-fledged migraine. But it was hard to stop.
Things are a little better now—yesterday I went a whole day without crying over Walls (with the exception of some teary-eyed moments). It seems to be getting better, but I know I’ll always miss her.

Have you ever cried so hard you triggered a migraine? And/or has the stress of losing someone close to you spun you into a migraine episode?

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

Comments

  • JayAnne
    4 years ago

    My son’s wedding was just this month. I felt like I had to detach myself from my emotions, just to keep a full blown migraine at bay. There was talk of my being an “ice queen”. There was so much I wanted to say, so many hugs I wanted to give, but I couldn’t. I was already hurting from flying, poor sleep, and pent up emotions anyhow. Yet another special day that was robbed from me by migraines. The medications I did have to take made it so I don’t remember half the day anyhow.

  • Courtney Thomas
    7 years ago

    If I cry at something on TV or a song (yes, I too am a crying like that) then I do not notice any pain. But a full on sobbing cry will trigger a pounding migraine and that makes me want to cry even more cause it hurts so bad. Its a never ending battle there cause when I have a migraine and cry it never turns out well.

  • Courtney Thomas
    7 years ago

    Mandy Shipman that’s what I have to do too

  • Mandy Shipman
    7 years ago

    I rarely get migraines but crying also gives me a very bad headache. I know if I cry I better take something to knock the edge off cause its coming…

  • Connie Hammis
    7 years ago

    Sobbing definately a trigger for me, but also… knowing I need to sob and holding it in because I don’t want the migraine… causes a migraine anyway!

  • Lovely Charlotte
    7 years ago

    Last night I cried so hard that I took two prescription strength advils and it did not avail the pain. My eyes were so puffy and red and warm that I had to put a cool cloth over them to ease the swelling. I haven’t cried that hard for at least a year or two..or more..but that is the first time that a headache that severe happened because of crying.

  • Ann Pest
    7 years ago

    in a feature you wrote a few years ago you mentioned starting to use petadolex as a migraine preventive. did it work for you? any side effects?

  • Ellen Grachow Dockery
    7 years ago

    Oh absolutely – crying DOES trigger MY migraines! They have for years – and I didn’t really put two and two together – but now I can see the connection. And the last time I had a sob fest, mostly frustration about my life and the pain I can’t get rid of – it definitely gave me a headache, which morphed into a full-blown migraine. At other times, severe crying jags (one caused by my marriage’s demise), left me sick for several days with a migraine… and it’s happened for as long as I can remember. So coupled with the usual stresses of daily life, crying about something can send me down for the count. Not fun.
    Oh, yes, losing a beloved pet is a major migraine. Sorry to hear about your loss… I’ve had cats (dogs too) all my life – and losing one is like losing a family member, at least for me.
    Thanks for the article!

  • Paula Jean Ciskowski
    7 years ago

    For me, it also triggers hives. And cold sores. So I learned a long time ago that sitting around crying not only doesn’t help, it actually makes things much worse. Don’t boo-hoo, take action!

  • Amanda Lewis
    7 years ago

    Crying is a trigger for me as well. I’ve had some severe migraines that have caused me to cry in pain. That didn’t help matters one bit.

  • Ann Pest
    7 years ago

    did you ever find success using petadolex as a migraine preventive?

  • Ann Pest
    7 years ago

    I just read your post from 2008 ( I am new to this website) in which you discuss starting petadolex as a migraine preventive. Was it successful in helping you at all in preventing or reducing the number of migraines you experience? did you have any side effects?

  • Vicki Thompson
    7 years ago

    Hmmm. I’ve never been much of a ‘cryer”. But then again, maybe that’s why….maybe I subconciously programmed myself not to, for fear it would trigger one or make it worse. A couple of weeks ago, I ran out of my Topamax, and had a major outbreak. One of the days, I had one of the worst ones I had ever had, and couldn’t help but bawl, because it hurt so bad. At that point, it COULDN’T hurt anymore.

  • Danielle Howell
    7 years ago

    Crying brings migraines on for me all of the time. I am a crier too so it is one of my almost constant triggers.

  • Kittens Austin
    7 years ago

    When I’m in pain SO bad from the migraines…I’ll start to cry and THEN they get WORSE! My Neurologist told me that crying is the worse thing for a migraine…nerves getting inflammed..etc…So I don’t anymore…just take my Imitrex and zonk out…

  • Paula Lowrey Dierkes
    7 years ago

    So sorry about the loss of Wally. Our pets are like family members and I know how sad you must be!

  • Paula Lowrey Dierkes
    7 years ago

    So true! On the flip side, I have triggered a migraine when I didn’t cry. There have been a few occasions when I held back the “full blown sobbing” and I ended up with awful migraines.

  • Tammy Milam
    7 years ago

    I try to not cry because if I do I end up in the emergency room with a full blown migraine and if I am stressd out another migraine.

  • Dysa Lindsey
    7 years ago

    I remember being 8-9 years old and crying myself into migraines – the crying always initiates a migraine 🙁

  • Melanie Grossi
    7 years ago

    I’ve been triggered by emotional upset, I had a meeting last week that got my Irish up, and then brought me to the verge of tears, and I no sooner walked out if that room than I had a migraine… you’re not alone in this one.

  • Deborah Yoder Jones
    7 years ago

    A good cry sometimes lets me sleep but ends up to be a vicious migraine for days.

  • Tina Collins Woodward
    7 years ago

    I did it this week-end. 5 yrs ago Saturday my dad died. Well, I cried all day… I been fighting a migraine now 3 days…. 🙁 I just have to be careful, because I cry all the time anyway..

  • Erika Untch
    7 years ago

    This just happened to me yesterday. I got angry and blamed someone for something. There was a screaming match, then I started sobbing. Next, a full blown migraine that kept me from sleeping until I took a LOT of meds to calm it down…..definitely a trigger….perfect storm = anger, yelling matches, and tears……..

  • Linda Castellano
    7 years ago

    Crying is a huge trigger for me, and being a very emotional person sometimes I will star to cry and before I know it my crying is out of control and during this I know I am going to suffer worse. This happens to me quite often, sometimes there are some songs that I cannot listen to because I know I will cry too hard. I forever worry about special times in my life, like when my kids get married or I become a grandma–This is not fair to have to think of such special times in my life and worry if a migraine will take over and I again will suffer. I have had experience in a situation that was really something that I will never forgive myself for this. My grandfather passed away a few years ago (we were very close-great guy I love him)I was at the wake surrounded by family and friends. But I sat next to my grandmother they were married over 50 years and were still in Love, anyway I cried terribly at the wake–Guess What? I woke up the next day with a migraine and I could not attend the funeral–Talk about the stigma that comes with this illness, I felt horrible that I missed it and stayed in bed all day. I don’t know but can it get any worse than that-God I hope not!

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