I have recently been reading Migraine by Oliver Sacks. He has a chapter on “situational migraine,” which largely refers to “habitual migraines,” a category that can include chronic daily headache (a.k.a. transformed migraine) as well as migraines following a particular pattern of occurrence (i.e. every Sunday). After listing several cases of from his patient history, he concludes “that the majority of patients who experience very frequent, severe, and unremitting migraines, for which no obvious circumstantial antecedents can be traced, are reacting to chronically difficult, intolerable, and even frightful life-situations.” Many of these patients found relief when their life situation changed (i.e. they reverted from daily migraines to their previous pattern of periodic migraines).
I am inclined to believe this thesis because it correlates with a lot of the scientific papers I have read on the subject of chronic migraines and the stories of chronic migraineurs, such as those I have read on this web site. From my personal experience, it is no coincidence that my migraines transformed from episodic to daily at the time that they did. There were some very upsetting things happening in my life at that time. These problems have not yet been resolved, and neither has my pattern of daily migraines.
It is a scary thesis for a few reasons: 1) Many people would interpret a psychosomatic illness, being purely psychological, to be a sign of emotional weakness. Who would not want to admit that their physical illness is the result of a psychological problem? 2) It implies that you have to make a courageous change in your life in order to overcome your illness. 3) It means that many people may be medicating for a physical illness rather than dealing with a potentially fixable situation in their lives that are the root cause of the frequency of their headaches.
Again, this thesis implies that the frequency of the migraines is psychosomatic, not the migraines themselves, which were already occurring on a periodic basis. Many of you on this forum currently experience chronic daily migraines or have experienced them in the past, and many of you have done a lot of research on migraines as well (I am learning a lot from you all, btw). I am curious what you all think about Sacks’ suggestion that at least in some cases the transformation from episodic to chronic migraines could be of psychological origin.