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Difficulty concentrating

Migraine attacks can impact many areas of life. Some migraine sufferers complain that they have difficulty concentrating. This migraine symptom takes a toll at work and at school as well as contributes to the diminishing quality of life caused by migraines.

For many people, difficulty concentrating is a migraine symptom that occurs during the migraine prodrome or postdrome, which are the first and last stages of migraine. However, individuals experiencing a silent migraine may have difficulty concentrating without feeling any head pain.

One study of 141 migraine sufferers found that 84 of them complained that concentration problems were a warning sign of an oncoming migraine attack. Another study of 120 patients found that difficulty concentrating struck 51 percent before the headache phase, 73 percent during the headache phase and 56 percent after the head pain and other symptoms ended. Sufferers in that study also mentioned difficulty with their thoughts, problems reading or writing as well and trouble speaking.

Concentration difficulties are also described as trouble thinking, problems focusing, slowed thinking, trouble paying attention or a “foggy” feeling.

A 2005 study of 690 patients found that almost 90% of these patients had difficulty concentrating:

Another study of 63 women and seven men found that during a migraine attack:

  • 54 percent had trouble making decisions
  • 54 percent described a loss of interest
  • 64 percent experienced changes in work productivity


Managing migraine symptoms can be helped by keeping an accurate account of each migraine attack in your migraine journal. Rate the severity of your symptoms, how often they occur and how long they last. This will help determine what your migraine triggers are as well as help you prepare to treat migraines before the pain becomes too severe.

Written by: Otesa Miles | Last review date: November 2010
Depression in chronic migraine; Arq Neuropsiquiatr; Mercante; 2005