Preventative migraine meds: a new part to my old problem?

Hi everyone. I am new to this board, feeling a little hopeless and digging around to see what I can find. I thought I would share my latest development for anybody that may benefit from it and some of my history.

I am 35 y/o male and have had migraines for as far back as I can remember. I used to only get them a couple times a month but they were severe. As I got older, my migraines became more frequent and just as severe. For the past 6+ years I have been taking high doses of Amitriptyline and Propranolol combined, to “prevent” my migraines. These meds succeeded in helping with the severity of my migraines 90% of the time but I get them several times a week now and have a mild, nagging migraine almost all the time. The only time I really feel well is right after I take something like Imitrex. Over the counter meds do nothing at all.

I have several triggers, which I know about, that bring on different severity of migraines. I have gone to many doctors, have had all sorts of tests including blood work, ekg’s, mri’s, sleep tests, allergy tests, eye tests, neurological exams and the list goes on but have found nothing unusual. However, a big trigger for me is irregularity in sleep patterns. I was always a light sleeper so this proved to be a problem with me. The doc put me on Amitriptyline and I became a heavy sleeper and I loved the med for how it allowed me to sleep and have been on it for years, in combination with Propranolol.

Unfortunately I developed many other health problems due to Amitriptylines side effects. Some of the major side effects included weight gain, snoring, IBS, swallowing difficulties, dry mouth, severe fatigue, and mood swings. I also believe the med keeps me from sleeping well even though I am sleeping heavily. I didn't dream much and think I have been lacking good REM sleep for years. After going to a new Neurologist he confirmed this belief and said that this in itself could cause migraines. So after years of being on this drug, I weaned myself off of it, which wasn’t easy. Many of my side effects went away but after several months my migraines became so bad that I had to start taking Amitriptyline again. I have been back on it for about a year, dealing with the side effects.

Recently I heard about Depakote which is an alternative to Amitriptyline and asked my family doctor about it. He told me that it doesn’t work as well as Amitriptyline but I told him I wanted to try it anyway. Now that I am taking it, my dreams are rushing back to me again. I am trying to adapt to not sleeping as heavily anymore and even though I am dreaming like crazy and waking up several times during the night, I feel more rested when I get up in the morning. I still get frequent migraines though the severity has only lessened slightly. I have only had 1 BAD migraine in about 3 weeks…that’s a big deal for me.

My battle with my migraines is far from over but there is a slight improvement (at the very least in the side effects) and figured I would throw it out there for anybody that may by on Amitriptyline, struggling with the side effects and have not heard about Depakote.

I just want to add that I am not a doctor, only a patient and I am not giving any medical advice here. What may work for me, may not for others. This is just an observation I have made through my own experience.

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