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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.

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.


  • Tara Lane
    8 years ago

    I am in the same boat as you are, and have suffered from migraines for 43 years – it hardly seems possible. I am now dealing with a bad patch that has been going on for 3 weeks where I have had maybe 4 days without really bad pain and very little that gives me relief. My doc now has me on a medrol pack and for the first time this morning I am feeling some relief. I too do not go near caffeine, and when I went off that, I also found other food triggers – chocolate was a big one, but I never liked the stuff so it was not hard to give up, also raisins in quantity. My hearing is quite sensitive now and I can hear conversations across the street which is hard when your head is pounding and the kids in the neighborhood seem especially loud. I have taken depakote, and my hair started to fall out so I was taken off it – one of the 10% with that side effect. Try reading “Living Well With Migraine Disease and Headaches: What Your Doctor Does’t Tell You… That You Need To Know by Teri Roberts. Of everything I have ever read, it is the best informational book that has everything in one place, easy to read, does not talk down to you and gives you straight, helpful information about migraines and where to get the help you need. Best book I ever read, and I have read plenty. If your doc is not a migraine specialist neurologist, go find one and be proactive. No one needs to live with the kind of side effects you are putting up with. There are lots and lots of meds out there, and as another post said, I too am trying CoQ10, Vitamin D, and especially Magnesium as possible vitamin supplements that will help me. I am just keeping a record of what I take, just like all my other meds, so I can keep track as best I can of what is doing what. Read Teri’s book! She has a lot of things in there that many people don’t know about helping themselves with migraine disease.

  • Tracy Brooks
    8 years ago

    Depakote made me like a zombie, weight gain, etc….neurotnin and topamax were also not good for me…good luck, hope you feel better….botox at this point is the only thing that has helped my chronic daily migraines.

  • Kathleen Morgan
    8 years ago

    Like many of you, I have suffered from chronic migraines for 42 years, chronic meaning several times a week. Have been on most or all of the drugs mentioned. My Neurologist said I have to start making some changes! I am 62. Sleep is #1 – I know I don’t get enough – that is my own fault – I am working on it. I have eliminated all caffeine from my life. I used to drink DD decaf coffee and realized that even that had caffeine. My decaf tea was strong from Ireland, that is gone and I have started (again) Co Q 10 – 400 mg (200mg in the am and 200 mg in the pm). For the first time I have definitely experienced a difference. I have also increased my hydration with just water! I am also practicing breathing! Yes, even breathing helps! 🙂 Hang in there all of you!

  • Linda Mary Roberts
    8 years ago

    I don’t like migraine headaches I feel really sick when I get them and try and stay quiet in a dark room and have it quiet around my house but people just don’t care>>>>>>.

  • Barb Parcell
    8 years ago

    Thank you for posting this. It is nice to hear other people’s experiences with chronic migraines because sometimes I feel very alone in this disease.

  • Maureen Baxter Douglas
    8 years ago

    I hope the Depakote works for you. I have tried the Amitriptyline and Propranolol and Verapamil with no success. I am now on Topamax. Not sure as it has only been a little over a month. I am hoping. I understand that nagging migraine.. Seems if it is not a migraine the feeling is always sitting right behind your eyes just waiting to strike. I hope they find something to help. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • Tracy L Thomas
    8 years ago

    I too suffer and so do family members. It is awful to live life around a migraine. I keep Imitrex nasal spray on hand at ALL times. Sometimes even that doesn’t work but will usually take the edge of at least! I do anything I can to prevent them. Those who don’t have to live w/migraines just have no clue what we sufferers go through. I have triggers also, cigarette smoke, bright lights, certain smells: cut onion, moldy smells from ac/heating vents, BAD perfume, someones B.O, just to name a few. And of course tensing u from stress.

  • William Miller
    8 years ago

    I get them to. They started at age 10. I take some preventative things but when I feel one coming on I take a half of imitrex and an aleve. Works pretty good. I feel for all that suffer with migraines.

  • Dee Holman
    8 years ago

    Have you read the book ‘heal your headache’ by David Buchholz? I would highly recommend it to anyone with migraines.

  • Kris Kelley
    8 years ago

    Thank you for your story and info. I myself am on Gabapentin for preventive treatment. It really helps, though it’s not a cure and migraines do break through occasionally due to triggers like stress and sinus trouble. The meds do make a difference though.

  • Jason author
    8 years ago

    I do experience weakness from time to time but not to your extreme from the sounds of things. I get weak and have to stop doing whatever it is I am doing to go rest. I wish someone could carry me but I manage to make it to the couch or bed. Looking through your symptoms I do experience everything you do, save the slurred speech, but at a very minor level. I think some of these were from the amatryptiline I was taking to help prevent migraines.

    I rest, eat something if I can, take a shower and rest some more. These symptoms are more of an annoyance to me and they don’t wipe me out like they do you. But when my head starts hurting, I am out for the count.

    When I do get a migraine, nothing helps except for medication. Imitrex works really well for me and Relpax is a close second. Over the counter meds do nothing. Other than that, I have to suffer through my migraines.

    I started taking fish oil and ginger root tablets. I have noticed a positive change in my migraines but I also changed my Rx meds to get away from amatryptiline so I am not sure if they are actually doing anything or not. Ginger root also helps with digestion so if you are having stomach problems, you may want to try it.

  • Nydia
    8 years ago

    Hey there!
    I am new to this site as well and I can completely understand your frustration as well. I too feel the same way, I have been dealing with these for a little over 10 years now, and am only now getting hopefully a true diagnosis of migraines-I’ve been to every other doctor and now the neurologist I’m currently seeing is now ruling out everything else in order to diagnose me with migraines, which is what he is currently treating me for. I had a question to ask if you don’t mind answering (and I understand if you dont) but as part of my symptoms, I experience severe weakness and fatigue of my body (to the point where my husband has to carry me to the bed sometimes), slurred speech and difficulty talking (almost as if I appear to be drunk but have had absolutely no alcohol, my husband says I sound like a stroke victim), double/blurry vision, incoordination and poor balance, and stomach issues. My question is do you experience any of these same symptoms? And if yes what do you do to relieve them? If not, do you mind me asking what your symptoms are? I just don’t know what to do anymore and I’m to the point of complete frustration over these migraines, and I’m just curious as to how other people handle them or what they experience. If you could please answer, I would truly appreciate it!!! Thank you!

  • Jason author
    8 years ago

    I have gone to a neurologist that works with migraine patients. Whether he was a headache specialist or not is another story. I was entirely unimpressed with him as he told me the same things that I have heard from every other doctor I have been to and did all the same things that have been done many times before. He was sure that having botox shots would “cure” me. I did that only to find out that I couldn’t grimace when I had a migraine, at least for a while.

    I do not think that I have been on Melatonin yet, unless it has another name.

  • Ellen Schnakenberg
    8 years ago

    Jason, Do you see a headache specialist yet? Has anyone ever considered putting you on Melatonin?

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