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Worsening Episodic Migraine

Worsening Episodic Migraine

For quite some time, my migraine episodes seemed to be coming more and more frequent. That seems to have tapered off and actually gone back down to just a few per month. The thing I have noticed more recently is that when I do have a migraine, it is considerably more debilitating than they used to be when I got one before.

Effects on mental health

I couldn’t say with any certainty which thing affected or contributed to the other, but I have gained a large amount of weight and I find myself feeling down/depressed or stressed out more often than I ever did before. The seemingly never-ending construction going on at home still from Hurricane Harvey and the ever tightening financial limitations I’m sure are definitely factors.

It is hard to say if the stress from the house, work and weight are causing the depression and more severe migraines, or if the migraines being worse than usual are contributing to the depression. Some days it is simply harder to get out of bed and face the day than others.

The weight gain could simply be a coincidence and completely unrelated, but that is really hard to say. My eating habits and daily routine have not changed, but I would be lying if I said my stress levels and mood had not changed significantly. It has definitely affected both the amount and quality of sleep I have been getting nightly.

Evolution of my migraine

Up to this point, my episodic migraines have most of the time been bearable. I would get a debilitating migraine on rare occasions. Like many other people who suffer with these type of migraines, I would have to retreat to the migraine cave and call it a day.

This newest evolution of migraines take away any chance of fighting through it. It goes directly from a minimal throbbing in the middle of my head, to me having to sit down and close my eyes in a matter of minutes. There is also very little warning. What’s worse is that the beginning stages of these migraines is that they feel like nothing more than a good old fashion headache in the beginning.

Due to the mild start to the migraine, I typically take Motrin like I would for any other headache. Unfortunately, by the time I realize what is going on, the migraine is in full swing and my abortive is only able to dull the pain a little instead of breaking the cycle like it used to do.

Migraine sneaking up

I don’t want to sound like my abortive is no longer helpful because that is simply not the case. If I recognize that a migraine is coming and take my abortive right from the start, it still makes a world of difference in breaking the cycle of a migraine. The problem I am currently having is simply not recognizing right away that what I am feeling is the start of a migraine. Unfortunately, as many others who suffer already know, once the migraine is there, the abortive medications are much less effective.

Does anybody else struggle at times to realize when a migraine is coming until it is too late?

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.


  • Drea99
    8 months ago

    Yes. Sometimes they trick me, seeming like I’m just tired or getting a headache or coming down with a cold, but I’ve learned to go ahead and take almotriptan right away. Many times I get nerve pain in my left fingers and then I definitely know. I was doing really good on aimovig for several months but have entered a high stress period with lots of weather too, both causing migraines one rolling right into the next. That’s caused me to stop swimming and I am also gaining weight and experiencing some depression. It seems when I’m feeling well, everything is so much better (even bad things). When I enter a migraine cycle, everything is so hard. I hope all of you migraineurs find some relief and happiness. This disease really sucks.

  • joy
    8 months ago


  • Ducecoop
    1 year ago

    I read your comment with sadness but yes, I too have encountered such migraines. I remember saying the exact sentence about them coming on stronger and being harder to endure than in the past.

  • BrownT
    1 year ago

    Hi Steven
    Sorry to hear of your new challenges. It seems a common migration to go from periodic migraines to chronic migraine. My conversion took about a month going from two or three a week to everyday. It’s a different challenge and required me to learn a new way to cope and take medication. Having a headache most of the time does not really provide a time when premigraine drugs can be taken.
    Having increased migraines stresses the body and it puts on weight to protect itself. It is like watching a new executive entering a new high stress position, they always put on weight. I could no long go jogging, do weights or take classes. Swimming did help if it is more leisurely. When my head is bad, I am less active. When my head is bad I may take drugs that put weight on. Lying down in a dark room meditating or sleeping tends to add weight. Prednisone is one of my most effective rescue drugs and it messes with the thalamus and puts weight on.
    I found cymbalta was helpful as a preventative and helps with moods. Mine is anxiety which is the flip side of depression.
    Even reducing medications in the hope of avoiding the side effects is not necessarily helpful as the body under constant pain creates its own issues.
    I have relied on stronger abortives for those day my migraines gets away from me. Imitrex injection acts quickly as does prednisone.
    You may get to the point of regular/constant headaches where there does not seem an early point to abort. Then you get comfortable living with pain and finding those times you can crash and take strong meds to help sleep it off.
    Find a considerate doctor who will let you try the multiple combinations for the various migraines. I figure I have over 50 unique migraines that need to be analyzed and requires different responses.
    Life gets complicated and migraines af the strongest group of people I know. Find other and let a support group help as the ground shifts under you.
    Take one day at a time.

  • Laurallm
    1 year ago

    One thing, I learned when I gained about 30 pounds over a matter of a couple months — the medication I was taking for headaches, at the time, Amitriptiline (ten or so years ago-not common anymore, I hear) had the side effect of weight gain. I don’t know how it is related to the triptans that are more common now. Also, I have been on beta-blocker blood pressure medications, which are also noted for the side effect of weight gain. I asked my doctor to find a blood pressure medication that was “weight neutral” and ended up with Lisinopril. Also, Amitriptiline was used as an anti-depressant, and since then, I hear that most anti-depressant medications cause weight gain — which is depressing! Just thinking it might be your medications.

  • Anne
    1 year ago

    HI Steven:
    I would like to suggest that your worsening migraines created the weight gain – at least it did for me. I had to rest more with the increase in frequency and severity of my migraines and I also found myself eating more because I craved carbs all the time to settle my stomach from the nausea. Migraines also mess with your serotonin which aggravate depression. My migraines got progressively worse over time – I’ve had them for 37 years. Over the counter medication used to work, until it didn’t. Now, I’m on a preventive and Relpax. I had to moderate my diet and define my triggers (alcohol, weather, gluten, dairy…).

    There is a lot of patient shaming when it comes to migraine as no one knows what causes it. They tend to confuse triggers with cause. I’m sorry your migraines are getting worse. I am still looking for a good preventative, but until research discovers the cause of migraines, I fear we’ll just have to keep managing our illness instead of conquering it.

  • whitedogpurple
    1 year ago

    Perhaps your headaches begin as rebound headaches. I recently stopped taking any over-the-counter medications and my migraines have improved in frequency. For the first month of no OTC meds, I just had to power through the headaches that felt like ‘just a headache’ and eventually I just stopped getting them. Now when I begin to get a headache, I know it’s probably a migraine and I take an abortive (I use Maxalt) and 2 Aleves at the same time (per my migraine specialist.)

  • DinaMay
    1 year ago

    You’re probably up to here (hand at forehead) with unwanted advice but I have a bit for you. First, don’t worry which aspect is causing which – weight, insomnia, migraine, stress – because it’s only going to strain your aching head. Instead, I suggest you focus on the sleep element in this vicious circle/network/knot. Set a time to go to bed and a time to get up and force yourself to stick to it whether you’re actually sleeping or not. Meditate, do relaxation exercises, listen to soothing music or whatever helps to temporarily relieve stress. This way you are getting rest even if you don’t sleep. If you can begin getting a little more sleep, you have a much better chance of regulating your weight. This is because studies show that people who are fatigued unconsciously eat more in an effort to raise their energy level. And if you sleep a little better, fatigue is less likely to trigger a migraine. And if you can break the cycle, you’ll probably feel better about life. And so on, around the cycle.
    I suggest this because this is how it works for me. If sleep really isn’t the one factor you can do something about, then just pick a different one to focus on. Making even a little headway combating one element will likely have a positive effect on all the others. Which is great way to lift depression.
    Am I making any sense?

  • bbergs2802
    1 year ago

    Although I’ve been dealing with migraines for about 15 years, I also do not always take the preventative medicine first – thinking it might just be a regular headache (unless I get the ocular migraine aura & know that a real migraine is about to hit)! I’ll start taking my Fioricet & hope it helps, but if I don’t get relief within a half hour, I’ll take a triptan & hope i’m not already past the point that it will help – or that I’ll need another dose soon! I cannot take the triptans every time I start to get a headache- I’d be taking them all the time (and I get uncomfortable side effects from them)! It’s difficult to know what to take and when – especially if it hits me in the middle of the night!

  • oscar2
    1 year ago

    I have just been diagnosed as having migraine after many years, and I struggle to realise when one is coming on.

  • Kate
    2 years ago

    Yes, I too have a tough time recognizing a migraine early enough. I have a constant baseline headache (NDPH), and get exacerbations of that, plus migraines. Often I think the migraine is just a bad headache day, and by the time I actually stop and pay attention to my migraine symptoms (pain worse on one side, nausea, sensitivity to sound) its pretty late. The migraine also makes me have trouble focusing / thinking straight, so often it won’t even click in my head that I need to take migraine meds!

    My husband is helpful and asks me if I remembered to take my meds if I’m feeling unwell enough to not be functional. But often by that time its too late for a Triptan to work. The pain is bad, but for me the nausea is worse, as if I don’t take a Triptan early on, it doesn’t respond very well to nausea meds.

  • Steven Workman moderator author
    2 years ago

    Kate it is great that your husband reminds you about taking your meds. Migraines make focusing a challenge and it helps on the really bad days to have someone to remind you of little things that may have slipped your mind in the moment. Thank you for sharing your experience.
    Steven Workman.

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