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Relaxation & Mindfulness For Migraine Patients Living with Depression & Anxiety

Depression and anxiety are extremely common among migraine patients. According to a 2010 National Headache Foundation survey, as many as 80% of migraineurs have symptoms of depression. Relaxation techniques and meditation can be helpful in managing the often debilitating symptoms of depression and anxiety.

They are great on their own or when combined with other treatments like medication and talk therapy. These techniques can be incredibly helpful in managing migraine symptoms, too.

Start with your breath.

Breathing slowly and fully is the best place to start when you’re feeling anxious. You may not have developed any other relaxation skills yet, but you can still tell yourself to slow down and breathe. Breathing is the key to relaxation and meditation techniques.

Explore guided practices.

One of the most wonderful things about the Internet is the abundance of free relaxation and meditation resources from amazing teachers. I recommend exploring a few different resources and trying them to see what clicks with you and your taste. Then establish a regular habit of practicing by listening to the guided programs you like and following along. Relaxation techniques take time to build and will help you more and more as your body becomes more accustomed to the process.

Get your mind right.

It’s important to approach these techniques with a spirit of openness toward the process. You don’t have to believe any of this will help you, you’ve just got to be open to the possibility that if you practice the techniques they might become an important additional tool for you to rely on in coping with mental health issues and migraine attacks.

Suggested free resources:


Suggested resources worth buying:

  • Relaxation Body Scan & Guided Imagery for Well Being by Carolyn McManus
  • Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Mind to Face Stress, Illness & Pain by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Break Through Pain by Shinzen Young
  • How to Be Sick by Toni Bernhard


Do you have questions about relaxation and meditation? Please share them in the comments.

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.


  • Buah
    12 months ago

    You have got to be kidding me, right?

    PLEASE someone tell me this is a joke, I’m not actually being told not only to live in pain, with depression, 5 foods, no dairy, no alcohol, no pizza, no ice cream, no eating out,
    But like it, get cozy with it, focus on breathing&somehow the hunger & despair & pain & never ending ishing it was over us just going to be ok.

    I’m going to go now. This us nit helpful. all. OMG.

  • Holly GL
    3 years ago

    Meditation has helped me so much, both with my battle with depression during grad school when the migraines were daily & with stress management in general today. I loved Toni Bernhard’s How To Be Sick! Also, the book that really helped me meditate on a regular basis (I’d tried many times before reading it but I kept having the problem of “my head hurts too much to relax and focus on my breath!”) is You Are Not Your Pain by Penman & Burch, a book that teaches meditation for those in pain. It has guided mediations that come with it too 🙂

  • Elaine Gross
    8 years ago

    Great post Diana! Wonderful resources also. I know I can use all the help I can get. And I love all the relaxation and mindfulness materials. Thanks.

  • Ellen Schnakenberg
    8 years ago

    Thanks for the fabulous resources Diana! I think all chronically ill patients can benefit from these practices, even when they don’t suffer from anxiety or depression. 🙂

  • Cyndi Jordan
    8 years ago

    A good way to practice the “right” kind of breathing is to lie with a book on your stomach. If you are breathing from the right source, it will move up and down with breaths. If it doesn’t, you are breathing too shallowly (many people with anxiety do this).

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