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Migraine Symptoms: Anger & Irritability

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.

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.


  • Brad Harris
    8 years ago

    I would suggest getting a Urinary Pyrroles test done to see if your anxiety is draining your body of B6 and Zinc. The Bio-Center Laboratory is an “open lab” that does this testing on individuals without a doctor’s prescription. They also offer essential fatty acid which have been proven to play a huge role in irritability and management of anger. Check them out online.

  • Susan Stacey
    8 years ago

    Have shown this to my poor, so understanding husband, feels good to read all this information and feel it’s normal, agitation is my worst problem before a migraine! 🙁

  • Elaine Gross
    8 years ago

    Oh my, yes. I was horrified with myself the other day. I was sitting on the sofa the other day and my Maltese was at my feet. He started to bark. His bark is high, loud, and piercing. Immediately my reaction was to kick him off the sofa. I’ve never felt like that before. Thankfully I restrained myself, but his bark hit my last nerve. I knew a migraine was coming on, I could feel the anxiety building, the pressure and pain in my head. I did calm myself using mindfulness. Buddhist monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh suggested this in his book “Peace is every step” – when feeling stress coming on, say to oneself “Breathing in I calm my body, breathing out I smile”; breathing in while saying the first part, and breathing out saying the second part. I find this really calms me down in moments of anxiety, tension, and stress.

  • Teri Robert
    8 years ago

    I hear you, {{{{{{Elaine}}}}}}. I yelled at one of our cats one day when I had a Migraine, then I sat down and cried because I’d yelled at the cat. I was a mess; the cat was a mess. Sat down in the middle of the floor, and she came over and put her little head in my lap. That just made my cry harder because I didn’t feel like I deserved it. There are days when I should be totally isolated from everyone, including pets.

  • Jennifer Collins-Gonzalez
    8 years ago

    yes, this is very much misunderstood by everyone I think! Except migraine sufferers! We must have patience & understanding with others! Even when we feel so much pain, we should still have compassion for others, because we do know they do not have this understanding of what we are going through at the time! Later, when we are back to our normal happy self we should go back to the peple that share our lives and try to have a loving & knid conversation about this situation when it happens the next time! Also, copy & print this article, it really gets to the core of the migraine situation for all of us. God Bless, Jen.

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