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Living with Migraine

Migraine and Depression

  • By Anonymous

    They could be a sign of Migraine, but they could also be symptomatic of other things such as stroke or TIA. Only your doctor can safely answer this for you.

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  • By Ellie Hair

    PLS HELP. I am at my wits end. I suffer headaches almost daily, these either ease off, or more commonly develop into full blown migraines that can last days (I suffer nauseau, dizziness, vomiting, my head feels like its in a vice, my eyes hurt etc).
    I work as a receptionist so I’m constantly viewing a pc and answering calls, I dont let migraines interfere too much for fear of losing a good job, I either shut up and put up with it or when its been very extreme I’ve left early, but avoid doing so when possible.
    I spend alot of my time lying down trying to rid myself of headaches, wasting weekends and half days as I get so many.
    I am thoroughly depressed and often find the usual treatments dont work (I take paracetemols and if its really bad I take Irfen but more often than not it ends up being a case of it passing at length).
    I look forward to anything you can suggest

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  • By Diana Lee

    Ellie, seeking treatment from a doctor for both your migraines and depression would be the very best first step. Treating both is often key to seeing improvement in either condition. Good luck!

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  • By WildZan

    Ellie, one thing I learned when I first started having migraines, just taking over the counter meds most often just results in a rebound headache.

    When I first started having migraines, I had no idea that was what they were. I thought they were just headaches, maybe because of stress. For the first couple of weeks, I was living on ibuprofen. Then it stopped working at all, so I tried acetaminophen (paracetamol), which worked for another week or two, but the pain kept coming back. Once that stopped helping, I tried naproxen, which did nothing. Then I remembered that I had some left over percocet from gall bladder surgery…etc etc etc.

    Once I finally got to the doctor, and told him the saga of my headaches and attempts to medicate, he explained that those types of pain relievers don’t typically really help with a true migraine, they just “put off” the pain until later, if that. And over medicating with drug store pills like I had been doing caused was is known as a “rebound headache”.

    Essentially, the pills I was taking to get rid of my headache were giving me a headache!

    If you are having to fight the pain that often, it is well worth taking an afternoon to see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis and the correct medicines that can help. Only a doctor can tell you if it is migraines or something else, but they can tell you, and start you on a treatment path to help you.

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  • By darkenvy

    I have been out for a whole month with only 2 days of relief. One of the days was from me being in the ER and they gave me this horrible drug that took away my migraine but brought forth sooo many side effect that I didn’t know what was worst. I was shaking so bad it was painful and couldn’t form words or answer simple questions. Knowing that the ER is not a choice and no medication working for me I am at my wits end. I lost my mind a while back ago on the Nortriptoline and had to get off of that just like the anticeizurals and depakote before it. I need help, my neurologist and doctors have done everything they can to help me but now they are cycling me back on the medications that are worst than the migraines. (constant panic attacks that dont subside after weeks are not a solution; that felt like death.)

    just writing this is excruciating. I need help and am willing to try anything, even surgery, if I could even just find any information on how I would begin on that journey.

    ~Anonymous X

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  • By arden

    If you are ready for surgery check out the Reed Migraine procedure site. Also check Harold Wolf Shevel who does nerve surgery. These are NOT FDA approved and an extreme last resort from my point of view. You would need deep medical screening before taking this leap, but investigating can not hurt.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    darkenvy, I feel so awful for you. I’ve been where you are right now. They offered me nothing but a nerve stimulator, which I wasn’t able to utilize. When that was off limits, I was told I was “hopeless”. Not a good thing to hear.

    Have you tried Botox yet? Can you get to see another headache specialist who might be ready to try something else?

    I don’t know what you’ve tried yet, but there are so many things out there to try that it would take a lifetime to try all the combinations.

    I know the desperation that drives us to surgery – I was ready to have PFO surgery, but didn’t qualify – had too many Migraines if you can believe that one.

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  • By rilniski

    Hi all. With the migraines I get so depressed sometimes because I feel like family members and friends don’t always care or get tired of hearing it so I withdraw. I know that’s not a good place to be. Yesterday I really struggled as I just felt at my wit’s end. Sometimes I just feel like giving up but won’t do that as that’s not an option for me. But feeling that way is scary.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    RILNISKI – you’re right – giving up is not the solution.

    There is a very real difference between situational depression (based on what is going on in your life at the time) and clinical depression.

    Have you ever been evaluated for your depression? Most Migraine and headache specialists have a multi-modal aproach to treatment of patients, and this usually includes seeing a psychologist for evaluation. This doesn’t mean you are a mental case! What it means is that the doctor cares enough and understands that living with a chronic disease or illness is really tough, and that there are ways to make our lives easier by helping us learn coping mechanisms for these kinds of issues. If we do it right, we learn those coping mechanisms before we ever even need them.

    Here is are a couple links that may be helpful for you:

    Choosing Forgiveness – the Eighth Emotional Stage https://migraine.com/migraine-and-mental-health/eight-emotional-stage-of-living-with-migraine/

    When Migraines Endanger Our Friendships https://migraine.com/blog/when-migraines-endanger-our-friendships/

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  • By Mike

    Im all out of hope.
    Im 47 years old and have been married for 26 years. I have a son who is 22 years old. I have always lived with migraines. I have to work for myself as my hours can be so erratic due to illness.I would love to get a job but am under no illusion I couldn’t hold one down. i have no social life as my friends who I go fishing with etc are clearly fed up of me letting them down and worst of all im in constant pain.
    I have truly had enough. The only single solitary things that are keeping me going are my wife and son. If it wasn’t for them I would likely give up.
    I no longer have any hope of having a normal pain free life as after having migraines since the age of 14-15 I know I won’t grow out of them.
    I have no enjoyment whatsoever out of life other than my family.

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  • By Ellen Schnakenberg

    funkyboogalooo – There is hope for all of us. It sounds like we have much in common, but one of the reasons I am a patient advocate is so I can keep up to date on all the most recent research re: new treatments coming down the pike for us. There’s some amazing stuff!

    Like you, I have realized that I will likely not be pain free again, but that doesn’t mean we can’t live fabulous lives – we just have to learn to do it a little differently. Okay, a lot differently sometimes.

    I know it’s hard to find enjoyment while struggling with pain. What kinds of things do you like to do. If your day would be pain free tomorrow, what would you spend it doing??

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  • By Otter MacAilein

    I have recently started seeing a therapist to help me see if I am suffering from depression and see if it is contributing to my pain.
    To those of you who have sought counseling for depression related to chronic pain, what did you gain through therapy?

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi ottermacailerin,

    This is a tough question because the outcome won’t be the same for each of us. Depending on what you are discussing with your counselor some issues may be resolved, or brought to the surface. Either way when someone is depressed therapy can be very helpful.

    Here are a few things that have come up acceptance at having a chronic illness, learning how to live and cope with chronic pain and being kinder to oneself.

    Does that help?

    Nancy

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  • By Otter MacAilein

    Thanks Nancy. That is helpful. I felt a bit silly seeking counseling when I didn’t have some major life trauma to discuss. I feel like a pretty well adjusted person, but it seems like depression can kind of sneak up on you, no matter who you are. It’s good to hear how one can benefit, because I didn’t want to just be told “Yes, you’re depressed take two of these and try not to sleep all day.” Especially since half the meds I’ve taken for headaches are used as antidepressants as well and have not helped me at all.

    Otter

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi Otter,

    My counselor has told me I am one of the most sane people she knows. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t suffer from depression.

    It is interesting that antidepressants are used for migraine prevention. We really aren’t sure yet how they work, but it may have something to do with serotonin levels in our brains.

    I hope your counseling goes well.
    Nancy

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi Otter,

    If you haven’t heard me say this before, I’m a strong proponent for counseling when people are diagnosed with a chronic condition. I strongly believe many of us are not equipped to cope and/or should be expected to know how to deal with a condition that may last the rest of our lives. It’s too much to learn about the disease, how to combat it and then learn to live with it.

    It would be advantageous to everyone with migraine, in my opinion, to have a bit of counseling when diagnosed, and then in for “tune-ups” as needed. Chronic illness is a lot to handle even for the most sane of us!

    Nancy

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  • By CM

    Does anyone ever feel like doctors try to push a diagnosis of depression?

    In the last few years, I’ve had a number of crises–sudden shift in migraine symptoms, migraines that come out of nowhere and go on for weeks or months, etc–and I always feel like when my doctors don’t know what else to try, they try to convince me that I have depression, as if I were making the whole thing up and the pain (pardon the pun) is all in my head.

    Granted, I think a good argument could be made for the diagnosis, but I’m terrified that as soon as it gets in my medical record, I’ll have an even HARDER time actually getting help for the pain. Does anyone who is being treated for depression feel like they’ve encountered that kind of thing? The idea of seeing a counselor gives me SO much anxiety, because I don’t want my doctors/nurses to see me as a mental health patient rather than a pain patient.

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  • By Chris Hicks

    CM,

    I have not had the sense that my neurologists have tried to “push” a diagnosis of depression at/on me. I always go into this critical relationship with the intent of being fully present, open and honest. This includes openly sharing feelings of frustration, sadness and, yes, depression. I hold true to the fact that, for me, any depression is directly tied to, and in fact a result of, chronic migraine. Ultimately, I trust my neurologist to apply the appropriate screening tools and diagnostic models to discern whether any depression rises to a level that needs to be treated in addition to the chronic migraine.

    As for speaking with, or seeing a counselor, I fully agree with Nancy’s post, just above, that this is a great idea for those of us suffering from migraine and chronic migraine, or any chronic condition for that matter. My last neurologist was part of a team at a clinic in Ann Arbor Michigan. Part of the program included sessions with their team psychologist. I can tell you that having that time, discussing not medications and procedures, but feelings, frustrations, and more importantly, coping skills was a great part of that experience! Beyond coping skills we talked about some of the common emotional and spiritual aspects around migraine. Another great benefit was working with him on biofeedback. Somewhere during every session he would hook me up to the biofeedback device and we would work on relaxation exercises. On a daily basis I still use many of the techniques I learned there!

    Take Care,
    Chris

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  • By Nancy Harris Bonk Moderator

    Hi CM,

    The truth of the matter, that many don’t like to discuss or admit, is migraine and depression can be comorbid conditions. This means many times they can occur at the same time, but are not caused by one another. We have a lot of information on this topic as many people with migraine, myself included, are treated for depression. Let me share some information with on this topic:

    https://migraine.com/blog/expert-review-migraine-and-depression/
    https://migraine.com/living-with-migraine/migraine-and-depression/
    https://migraine.com/blog/depressions-impact-on-development-of-chronic-migraine/

    Are these doctors prescribing antidepressants? Antidepressants can be used for migraine prevention, in fact, quite a few of them are. SSRI, SSNRI’s and other types are commonly used to treat migraine. Let me give you a list of all the preventive medications that can be used to treat migraine; https://migraine.com/blog/migraine-management-essential-4-preventive-treatment/.

    I don’t think its that they “push” depression on us, more likely they are aware of its comorbidity. The focus of a good migraine management plan should be on reducing the frequency and severity of our attacks, not masking the pain. Yes, some of us may need pain relievers when abortive medications fail or can’t be used, but the name of the game is prevention.

    No, I’ve not had any problem being treated for any of my vast array of conditions due to a depression diagnosis. In fact, I would venture to say people would probably rather be seen as a ‘depressed patient’ rather than a ‘pain patient’ as far as stigma goes in this current atmosphere.

    Nancy

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